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    The Classy Crab

    Always excited about new businesses in Lancaster, I was intrigued when I heard about The Classy Crab. After skimming their website, I decided that this seafood market would be a wonderful local adventure. I love cooking and I love eating crab, but I’ve admittedly never combined the two. Feeling a bit like Forest Gump with his love of shrimp, I started thinking about crab legs, crab cakes, crab salad, crab bisque . . . .

    But because of my lack of crab-cooking experience, I quickly became a little nervous about going to this seafood market. Born and raised in Oklahoma, I had an abundance of beef in my diet, and my only knowledge of these curious-looking crustaceans was ordering favorite crab entrees from numerous menus. However, thoughts of succulent, flaky crab meat quickly overshadowed my potential embarrassment of being an obvious rookie when selecting fresh crabs.


    Relatively new to the Lancaster area, my adventures often begin with two questions: Where is the business and is there parking nearby? A quick Google street-view search let me know that The Classy Crab is located at the corner of Columbia Avenue and Ruby Street with off-street parking behind the building. That’s a win-win situation: convenient location with convenient parking!


    Upon entering The Classy Crab, my excitement grew and my fears subsided as I watched owner Joe Shoff, with over 10 years of crab industry experience, patiently answer a multitude of questions from customers. Listening to him passionately talking about his new business and his love of crabs eased my novice fears.

    Joe, born and raised in Lancaster County, ate his first crab as an 18-year old during senior week in Ocean City, MD, so he understood my self-proclaimed novice status and kindly answered all my questions about fresh crabs while showing his most popular item: large blue crabs, available live or freshly steamed. Because of customer demand, he also carries crawfish, clams, shrimp, mussels, and king crab legs. And if you are just wanting quick-to-fix options, check out the refrigerated case for cartons of delectable lump crab meat, homemade corn-crab soup, and delicious crab cakes.


    Watching the constant line of people at his counter, many carrying out large boxes of crabs, I quickly learned that while pre-ordering is not required, it’s appreciated and will save customers time since steamed crabs take about 20 minutes to cook.


    While Joe was steaming the crabs, his wife Jeannie kindly offered to give me a lesson on how to pick and eat a crab. Takeaways from my lesson:


    •  I love freshly-steamed blue crabs!
    •  I’m very slow at picking crab meat, savoring each elusive morsel.
    •  I now have a much greater appreciation of the containers of ready-to-eat lump crab meat.
    •  I enjoy using my new crab-cracking mallet, even when it’s not really necessary.


    Joe’s investment in Lancaster and his neighborhood is evidenced by his renovation of a long-vacated building which became The Classy Crab, with his home located above. As Joe proudly noted: “This is not just a crab house, it’s a crab home.”


    Thanks to Joe and Jeannie for making this crab-picking novice feel welcome, accomplished, and ready to return soon . . . because I’m now a proud owner of a wooden crab mallet and I know how to use it.

    The Classy Crab
    3 Ruby Street, Lancaster, PA