When it comes to running an Angry Crab, Lou says, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. You’re not dependent on someone to learn the design, dishes, and trends in the industry. Because this is one thing I believe in: I’m not looking for a trend.”
Walk through any town in America and what’s likely to be the oldest restaurant? The steak and seafood joint. Maybe they’re the same restaurant. Either way, seafood is not a passing fad or segment restricted by demographics or the latest diet movement. “If you notice,” Lou adds, “most restaurants, their life expectancy is what, four or five years? Then people get bored and they look for something new. Or they’re asked to pay an outrageous price.”
The Angry Crab is hitting the middle and working class with everything it's got, Lou says. “They’re our main base to succeed. This is their home food. Hispanics. Blacks. Asians. Every aspect. You go into our restaurant and you see that we cater to every spectrum of the world.”
“Our food is international, meaning people enjoy it,” he adds.
Angry Crab draws on Cajun and Asian flavors, sourcing lobster from the East Coast, Dungeness Crab from the Pacific Northwest, King and Snow Crab from Alaskan waters, and crawfish from the Gulf of Mexico. If that sounds pricey and white tablecloth it’s not. Lou says it’s more likely families will grab bibs, roll up their sleeves, and forget they’re out in public. There’s everything from Angry Edamame to breaded scallops to gumbo to Cajun seafood boils priced by the pound.
“I’m hoping this will be a concept where it’s a national chain with casual seafood. A fun place. And this is one thing that I think is happening with all these restaurants,” Lou says. “Customers need a place where you’re not restricted when it comes to value and seafood.”
He likens eating at the Angry Crab to a tourist checking out the native spot. “You want to experience things. That’s what the Angry Crab is. You’ll experience a fun, no-care place that’s a working-class meal, where you can buy a pound of shrimp or king crab, which for most people is in the upper tier. But here you can get value and you can come in with a large group, have a beer, and not feel like you ran out of money.”
He doesn’t think there’s a market nationwide where Angry Crab couldn’t work, even New York City. Angry Crab spots range between 5,000 and 6,500 square feet.
The idea to expand came from Andrew Diamond, the president and CFO of the company. Once they got the notion to grow, a few things needed to take shape.
Culinary wise, the chain built a system where it could keep the food consistent thanks to proprietary, house-label spices. The boiling itself is a one-day training process. All any location really needs, Lou says, is a solid kitchen manager. He never wanted Angry Crab to be reliant on a chef. “That’s the last thing I want to do,” Lou says, “is have someone hold me hostage.”