By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – What is fall in South Florida without stone crabs? And what is stone crab season without Joes’ Stone Crab?

For stone crab lovers, the wait is almost over and CBS4 got a sneak peek as the restaurant gets ready to reopen for one more season.

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It officially opens this Friday, October 16, with major changes, explained by the owner of Joe’s Stone Crab, Steve Sawitz, in an exclusive interview.

“We’re opening for the 107th season and one of the main things that is new is Joe’s backyard which is Joe’s al fresco dining. This is something we’ve never done before, and it’s something that we’re looking forward to. I guess you’re the first to know that.”

Whether it is dining in or dining out,  it’s still all about fresh stone crabs, and this is a season like no other.

“Our ‘backyard’ is in our east parking lot, where we’re going to put one main tent which will seat about 60 some odd people. It will have tables and plants and chairs all around outside of that so people can enjoy dining in the outside area.”

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While the main dining room has a capacity for 450 people, under current COVID-19 related mandate, they are reduced to seating half of that, and adding as many comfortably and spaced outside- for the first time.

“Some of the dining is under the cover with the tent and some of its outside. Some people might wait we don’t really know…because it’s such a new thing. But the cool thing is if we can expand or if we need to expand it we can see almost 300-400 people in the backyard. The important thing is to make people feel comfortable to feel at ease  to feel relaxed to just chill.”

As this year has been so hard for so many, Sawitz wanted to not only provide guests with their best, safe, experience but also to provide jobs.

And so we asked him, is he excited?

“I’m excited but I’m cautiously optimistic I’m nervous it’s a huge change other restaurants have done it and we hope to do it right we think will be doing this right and I’m just happy to be back.”

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Joe’s Stone Crab opens indoors and outdoors with fresh crabs and they expect and hope to be open through May.

Lisa Petrillo