Crab du Jour, a Cajun-style seafood boil restaurant and bar, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 31 in Ozone Park.
The preparation for the grand opening didn’t prove to be too much a hassle because the pandemic gave the owners plenty of time to prepare and become familiar with diners’ desires. However, the pandemic has taken out the “pomp and circumstances” that usually come with a grand opening.
“In a way, the pandemic actually worked in our favor. Not financially, of course. But we were able to fine-tune our menu and figure out which dishes were a hit and which ones we need to work on. The only difficulty that we encountered was being able to host the elected officials,” said Kevin Zhang, the managing partner.
The eatery, which is part of a nationwide chain, is located at 91-02 Atlantic Ave., and can comfortably seat about 80 guests at 50 percent seating capacity, ensuring a a COVID-friendly distance between diners. After guests leave, seats and chairs are thoroughly sanitized.
One of Crab du Jour’s staples is the ultimate seafood boil experience. Seafood enthusiasts can pick their “catch” from a variety of sea creatures like clams, crawfish, lobster tails, crab legs, shrimp and scallops; select one of the four different sauces; and choose their spice level ranging from mild to hot.
“The pleasure of the sea” is served in a giant plastic bag and comes with corn and potatoes. Plenty of wipes are provided because guests are likely to get their hands dirty once they dig in.
According to general manager Ezma Samuel, the ultimate seafood boil experience is also a hit among the young guests who celebrate their birthdays at the eatery.
“Where else are they allowed to eat with their hands?” Ezma Samuel joked.
For those who are not too keen on getting their hands dirty, the menu offers oysters, various Po’Boys, soups and salads, wings and fried calamari, to name a few.
The restaurant’s fun nautical-themed setting is suited for children and adults alike. The kids can marvel at the sea creatures hanging on the walls or from the ceiling, while the adults can indulge in one (or two) of the eatery’s handcrafted signature cocktails, like whisky punch made with pomegranate and mango infused vodka with a shot of whiskey, mojito, or Malibu sunset.
If guests want to forgo dessert because they can’t possibly eat one more morsel and the belt has already been loosened, they can conclude their meal with the liquid alternative, a dessert cocktail.
According to Zhang, the COVID-19 safety guidelines are easy to follow since the restaurant industry is well-versed in hygiene and sanitation protocol.
“The guidelines just changed the way of doing things, with regards to guest intake, seating arrangements, overall capacity and hours of operation,” Zhang said.
He feels that the state could better assist business owners and explained that the PPP loans helped, but that businesses need further financial aid to keep operations running and pay staff.
“Any restaurant owner or manager you ask will tell you the same thing. The restrictions on restaurants need to be loosened. We feel like we’re operating with one hand tied behind our backs. We need to be able to reopen our bars, as that not only increases our seating capacity but there is also added revenue from the bar patrons,” Zhang said.
Crab du Jour is open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.