The Miami Beach restaurant, which has been around longer than the city in which it resides, opens for dinner at 5 p.m. sharp, with the bar opening at 4 p.m. for people who want to get a leg up on securing a table (and a drink while they wait).
The opening, of course, coincides with the official start of the 2021-22 stone crab season. Stephen Sawitz, chief operating officer of Joe's (and the great-grandson of the restaurant's founder) is looking forward to a bounty of claws. "We are bullish on this year’s season," Sawitz says. "Of course, we never know until opening day what we will get, but initial feedback looks promising and we always enter our new seasons hopeful and excited to see that first catch."
Sawitz says that, instead of a new menu or new cocktails, the best thing he can do for loyal patrons is to serve them a "huge slice of normal." That means that, while many of the COVID precautions from last year will remain in place — including enhanced cleaning and encouraged social distancing — the process will be less "visible and intrusive" on the experience of eating at Joe's. "We are committed to making our patrons feel safe, secure, and normal by providing the great food and great service they've come to know and rely on for 108 seasons," Sawitz says.
Although Joe's has added back some tables and seating capacity that were lost last season, it will remain at below capacity. In addition, the restaurant will also accept a limited number of table reservations nightly through resy.com — a policy that was implemented for the first time in Joe's history last year during the height of the pandemic to assist in social distancing.
And, with all the new faces that have moved to Miami in the past few months, there might actually be some newcomers to Joe's.
Sawitz has some advice for any first-timers: "New guests should come knowing there's something for everyone on the menu."
Translation: Joe's serves a large range of seafood dishes, along with aged USDA Prime steaks. And, of course, Joe's famous fried chicken — a bargain at just under nine bucks an order.
A trip to Joe's wouldn't be complete without cracking open some sweet stone crab claws. Sawitz suggests taking your time to savor them.
"Every server is prepared to show guests how to eat stone crabs, so don't be shy in asking for a quick tutorial on the delicacy," the Joe's executive suggests.
If you're still wary about dining in, Joe's Take Away, located right next door, serves the same stone crabs to-go. Order claws and sides and take them one block to the beach for the ultimate social distancing picnic.
Joe's Stone Crab. 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com. Opens for the season on Friday, October 15, for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Open for lunch starting Saturday, October 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.and then Thursday through Sunday thereafter (closed for lunch Monday through Wednesday). Joe's Takeaway is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday).