Chef Johnny Spero, formerly of Minibar, is better known for fine dining. But this summer, he’ll help run a crab shack pop-up called Cappy’s Crabs in the former Crane & Turtle space.
From May 27 through Labor Day weekend, the restaurant will serve blue crabs by the dozen or half dozen, pitchers of beers, and Orange Crush. Other dishes will include hush puppies, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, peel and eat shrimp, fried fish sandwiches, popcorn chicken, soft shell crabs, and crab cakes.
“The idea was to do a fun concept where it’s not fussy… No spheres or anything like that,” Spero says.
Cappy is the nickname of owner Paul Ruppert‘s 79-year-old father, who built his first boat at age 14 and has been spending summers on the Chesapeake Bay ever since. Restaurateur Nick Pimentel, who designed Crane & Turtle, will transform it into a crab house with picnic tables.
Spero grew up in the same Maryland town as Pimentel, and the two bonded about summers at their parents’ houses buying bushels of crabs and hanging out on the back patio. “While I’m in between projects, we thought it would be something kind of fun,” says Spero, who recently spent some time working at an avant-garde restaurant in Spain and is looking to eventually open a restaurant of his own in D.C.
The team is talking about doing steamed crabs to-go as well so people can pick some up for their own backyard parties. Spero has been playing around with his own version of Old Bay, although he may end up just using the classic spice mix. The chef is still figuring out his exact sourcing, but he’s planning to keep the crab as local as possible.
“We’re not going to get any pasteurized Venezuelan crab,” he says. “We’ll keep it on the East Coast.”
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