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Staff At Joe’s Gets Crackin’

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(Source: CBS4 / Al Sunshine)

(Source: CBS4 / Al Sunshine)

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Lots of people have October 15th circled on their calendar. Not only is it National Grouch Day (really) it’s also the start of the stone crab harvesting season.

That means one of Miami Beach’s most famous eateries, Joe’s Stone Crabs, will re-open their doors Tuesday to serve up the delicious and highly sought after crab claws.

Joe’s Stone Crab opened in 1913, two years before Miami Beach was incorporated.

According the restaurant’s website, it all began when Joe Weiss opened up a small lunch counter at Smith’s bathing casino on Miami Beach.

“In 1918, Joe and Jennie bought a bungalow near the casino, on Biscayne Street. They moved into the back, set up seven or eight tables on the front porch, cooked in the kitchen, and called it Joe’s Restaurant. Jennie waited on tables, Joe cooked, and everything started to grow from there. When it got crowded, they’d spill over into the dining room. They served snapper, pompano, mackerel, and some meat dishes.”

The restaurant didn’t become famous for stone crabs until 1921 after James Allison built and aquarium at the foot of the bay and 5th Street. It was a Harvard ichthyologist, in town doing research at the aquarium, who suggested the Weiss try serving stone crabs.

After figuring out how to cook them, Weiss began serving them cracked with hash brown potatoes, cole slaw, and mayonnaise. According to the family, they were an instant success.

“We charged seventy-five cents for four or five crabs, twenty-five cents for potatoes and twenty-five cents an order for cole slaw. And this is the way we have been serving them since. We hit the jackpot with that one,” wrote the Weiss’ son Jesse on their website.

As word grew, well know figures vacationing in Miami Beach would stop by. Famous customers have included Al Capone, Will Rogers, Amelia Earhart, the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Swanson, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali and Jennifer Lopez just to name a few.

The restaurant doesn’t take reservations. Guests can begin arriving at 4 p.m. Tuesday for the first seating at 5 p.m.

Stone crab season runs through May 15th.

The nice thing about eating stone crab claws, other than they are delicious, is that stone crab claws are the only renewable resource from the water. Crabbers take only one claw from each crab, which is then regenerated over time.

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