Joe’s Crab Shack Files for Bankruptcy

“Ignite Restaurant Group Inc., the operator of the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern & Tap chains, has filed for bankruptcy.”

I like seafood, and I have no problem patronizing a moderately-priced seafood chain. In fact, there’s a crying need for solid seafood offerings between Long John Silver’s and Truluck’s. (There are some, but not nearly enough.)

Despite all that, I haven’t eaten at a Joe’s Crab Shack in more than a decade. By way of context, here’s my review of Joe’s Crab Shack from way back in February of 2003:

OK, we finally bit the bullet and tried Joe’s Crab Shack. It was as loud, noisy, and crowded as I expect, with just about every cliche from Making It’s classic “Good Taste: You Can’t Afford” cartoon on how to make a killing in the restaurant business, including decor from BMTCRSC.

Service was a mixed bag: While attentive and prompt, I have fundamentally philosophical objections to a restaurant where the servers are encouraged to sing and dance their way through The Village People’s “YMCA.” (To callow Generation Y-ers, Disco is instant kitsch. For those of us who lived through it, it’s a war crime.)

And the food? The gumbo was on the thin side, and the salad unexceptional. Calamari was OK, but nothing to write home about. I went for the steak, crab, and shrimp combo. Tasty enough. but it’s hard to screw up crab legs. My biggest complaint is about the size of the portions. The crab portions were OK, and the side of shrimp, though skimpy for scampi, was still in the acceptable range. But the steak was tiny, as were the portions of crab claws appetizers. (I note that you used to be able to get two-three times as many crab claws from Landry’s, but guess what? It’s not there anymore! Yes the Landry’s that used to be on Lake Austin Boulevard has been replaced with (wait for it) another Joe’s Crab Shack! Converting a Landry’s into a Joe’s Crab Shack is like converting a Bennigan’s into a Planet Hollywood. Yeah, there’s a difference, but not one that’s going to stir any real food lover to the battlements. As to what this says about the taste of the average Austin diner I leave as an exercise for the reader.)

I know such a judgment may not be popular with the Trendoids, but I think Red Lobster offers better food at a better price, and even for loud, noisy seafood barns, the fare at Pappadeaux blows this place away.

There’s a Brick House Tavern a couple of miles from my house and I’ve never eaten there, either. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try if the atmosphere isn’t as loud and obnoxious.

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