But the men behind the brand started out modestly four years ago in an Opa-locka garage advertising free samples on Facebook.
It began in 2012 when cousins Darren Whitaker and Johnny Fannin decided to start a business. Whitaker set out to create the best seafood in town and enlisted the help of Fannin, who owned a barbecue catering company. They came up with a crab recipe that was amazing. After a couple of days handing out samples to lines of people stretched around the house, they knew they had something big on their hands.
“The first day we started selling, we made about $300, and by that weekend, we were making $1,000 a day. We had something special, and it caught on like wildfire through social media. It was a real blessing. When we started doing seafood, people started saying, “Y'all the Crabman.” We just put the 305 to represent Miami, and it kind of stuck with us. The public pretty much gave us that name,” Fannin says.
With rising popularity came the haters. After someone reported the operation to the city, they had to move out of Whitaker's grandmother's house. They settled for a take-out place in the only commercial spot in an Opa-locka shopping center. It was located between a Nicaraguan bakery and a Jamaican restaurant. Now they cook up to 200 pounds of steamed crab a week.
With more than 20 choices to combine, items include fried conch, snow crab with crab rice, and a lobster-and-shrimp combo that includes about ten shrimp and a lobster tail fluffy enough to look like a flavored pillow with just the right amount of bounce in each bite.
Adrian Brownlee, a childhood friend of the cousins and front-of-the-house manager, has been working with the team since the days at Whitaker's grandma's house. He says he’s happy to work there. It’s given all of them a way to stay out of trouble and provide for their families.
“It’s the same operation we used to do, but more professional," Brownlee says. "It taught me to be more responsible, patient, and business-oriented. A lot of people love seafood, and I’m thankful they let me be a part of the team. I’m proud of them and myself.”
Since opening the brick-and-mortar two years ago, they’ve doubled their catering business. Last year, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez recognized the hard work the team was doing. He proclaimed March 29 Crabman305 Restaurant Day and presented them with a plaque at their restaurant. Recently, Birdman invited them to Star Island to cook for him and his guests.
“It makes me proud, especially when I'm out, and people recognize me," Whitaker says. "I have to catch myself because I ain’t no superstar, but to a lot of people, we are.”
The cousins recognize that the new growth in customers also translates to growth in numbers. They are working on opening a full restaurant where guests can dine. Eventually, they plan to buy a food truck to take the signature Crabman305 taste nationwide.
Taronda Jones from South Miami drove to Opa-locka after seeing multiple Instagram posts. She was sitting in her car, saw their account, and stopped by.
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“I’m a seafood kind of person. I see food, and I eat it,” Jones laughs. “My husband doesn’t like seafood, but he loves their crab rice. I think they have us sold.”
2006 Opa-locka Blvd., Opa-locka; 786-444-3157. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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