Today, October 15, marks the start of the 2013-2014 stone crab season in Florida, prompting a feeding frenzy among diners who seek out the first sweet claws of the season.
Though you won't see many stone crabs on menus today, there is one restaurant that's opening its doors with a flourish to welcome the season -- Joe's Stone Crab.
The iconic restaurant begins operating at 4 p.m., with first seating starting at 5 p.m. This also marks the beginning of the restaurant's second century. It opened in 1913 as a beach shack selling fish sandwiches.
Though most restaurants (or any business) celebrating such a milestone would have mega-parties with celebrities, when you're Joe's, why bother? After all, there's not a celebrity including Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali, who hasn't "eaten at Joe's".
General Manager Brian Johnson said it best. "When you think of it, every day is special, so the best way to celebrate is to do exactly the same thing we always do. Offer great food and great service."
We asked Johnson, who's been with the restaurant since 1980, if he has any tips on nabbing a table. "Sure, lunch. It's the best deal you can get. The atmosphere is not as crazy, busy. It's just awesome."
If you must have stone crabs for dinner, Johnson suggests coming during the week, the earlier the better. "If you come between 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., you should have no problem."
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And what about that age-old tradition of slipping a few bucks to the maître d' for a table? "I have no idea about that. Can I take the fifth?"
Once you secure a table, the rest is easy. Johnson says that stone crabs are the ultimate finger food. "Once they're cracked, you just peel them like a hard boiled egg. I just eat them with lemon."