By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Beachside residents are used to finding great food in family owned restaurants along Flagler Avenue and down Atlantic Avenue, but they may be surprised to find some real gems on the mainland. One of those gems is the new Crabby Chris Crab Shack at 440 N. Dixie Freeway just 2 blocks north of Canal Street.
Crabby Chris Crab Shack owners Chris Horton and Kari Little opened the food shack here recently in a little building at the corner of Mary Street across from Suds-N-Subs New York Style Deli. The building used to house a hotdog stand just a few months ago.
"We live in Ormond, but knew we wanted a place here in New Smyrna Beach for our restaurant," Mr. Horton said. "We have quite a following from our food truck over in Orlando and when those folks come to the beach, they don't go to Daytona, they come to New Smyrna so we knew this was the place to be."
Mr. Horton and Ms. Little owned a food truck business and traveled to Orlando and all over the eastern and central Florida beaches and festivals. "After a few years of that, we decided we wanted to stay in one place for a while." he said. Just one day after selling their food truck, the building at 440 N. Dixie came up for sale on craigslist.com at a price they could afford. Since they opened the doors of Crabby Chris Crab Shack their business is growing and they couldn't be happier with the decision they made.
They offer a variety of beach foods in addition to their delicious crab cake sandwiches for only $10, which feature fresh, handmade daily, blue crab, crab cakes served on a fresh Kaiser roll available in four different styles: Original, Southern, Californian and Caribbean. Other sandwich choices include Mahi Mahi, a crab and shrimp salad roll, pulled pork and beef brisket and a blackened chicken sandwich.
"I make all the sauces myself except the mayonnaise," Mr. Horton said. "You can get a sweet BBQ sauce or a spicy one and each of the meals have their own special sauces that are all handmade right here."
They also have a variety of tacos like the Mahi Mahi Fish Taco for $8, which is two large flour tortillas filled to overflowing with blackened Mahi Mahi, shredded cheese, lettuce, Pico de Gallo and Baja white sauce. A sweet and slightly tangy, fresh made coleslaw can be served on the side or in the BBQ taco if desired.
Other tacos with pulled pork, shrimp, lobster or chicken are also on the menu, ranging in price from $6 to $9 and, like all of their meals, are served with a basket of fresh made chips with a unique flavor. Their burgers are packed with thick grilled hand-trimmed Angus beef patties and come with a variety of toppings. They have burritos, nachos, pasta and jumbo coconut shrimp. They also have salads, sides and a children's menu where every kid's meal is $5 and comes with fries and a special drink.
Crabby Chris' has freshly made fruit drinks from real fruit, such as strawberry lemonade or cherry limeade, sodas, iced tea and smoothies. For dessert you can get a Gelati, chocolate dipped pies, homemade Italian Ice or soft served ice cream cones.
"We let the food speak for itself," said Mr. Horton, who noted their food truck was voted "People's Choice Award" three times in a row in the Food Truck Wars in Tampa, Titusville and Oviedo. "People come from all over to these Food Truck Wars and they taste the food and then vote on their favorites," he said. "We are proud to have won this award three times in a row and are very thankful to our customers for voting for us."
The day-to-day operations of Crabby Chris Crab Shack are overseen by Mr. Horton's friend and operations partner, Dave Carey. "He runs the restaurant and I handle the business end, but we both developed the menu," Mr. Horton said. "I couldn't do this without him or the support of Kari." Ms. Little is a nursing administrator so is not at the restaurant often but she has invested money and emotional and administrative support to Mr. Horton in this business venture.
Mr. Carey and Mr. Horton feature daily specials and also offer free samples of most items on their menu. "We want people to try everything and are happy to cook up a sample so they can try something new to see if they like it," he said.
Their hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. The Shack has outdoor seating under beach umbrellas in a quaintly decorated patio that makes you feel like you are dining on a pier.
Contact Crabby Chris Crab Shack at (386) 957-3878, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by at 440 N. Dixie Freeway.