Relying on quality and consistency, and constantly catering to the whims of its vast clientele, has kept the Crab Trap in Somers Point doing business for decades.
Wander in through the back door of Somers Point’s iconic Crab Trap seafood restaurant early in the morning and you might be in for a bit of a surprise.
At just a few minutes past 9am on an otherwise quiet late-September Monday, the place is already abuzz with activity. Prep cooks busy themselves cleaning shrimp, fish and vegetables while another staffer carefully ladles a béchamel topping over their popular crab au gratin. All told, close to a dozen personnel are already hard at work despite the early hour.
Opened by Jack Wallace in 1967, the location was formerly known as Maenner’s Café, a casual beer and sandwich eatery. Now in his late seventies, Wallace still remains active in the business to this day. His son is second-generation owner/operator Ken Wallace, who tell us “we ran it with the same footprint for about 10 years and then slowly started expanding and adding on.”
That growth has resulted in a huge, sprawling venture — the Crab Trap may accommodate up to 400 customers — with a spacious bar and lounge, multiple seating areas, and a seasonal bayfront deck bar named in honor of its founder called “Crabby Jack’s.”
Currently employing more than 100 people year-round, the Crab Trap has achieved a unique status among seafood restaurants at the southern Jersey shore, which did not happen by accident.
“I think that you have to be here,” Ken Wallace says. “It’s a hands-on business, seven days a week. You really have to devote yourself.”
Key personnel reflect that philosophy. Chef Rick Kern is a veteran of more than 30 years and general manager Dan Cericola over 25.
Consistency is another Crab Trap maxim.
Every item gets measured, says Wallace, according to a specific recipe, ensuring identical results time after time.
During the busy summer season it is not uncommon for the Crab Trap to provide up to 2,000 “covers” — restaurant lingo for the number of plates delivered —between lunch and dinner. That sizeable volume allows price points to be kept reasonable, based on a combination of purchasing power and more than four decades of experience in the restaurant industry.
As an example, they will typically utilize between 200 and 300 pounds of lump crab meat in a couple of days, ensuring the freshness of that crucial ingredient at all times. So it makes sense when he tells us that among his favorite items are “anything with crab cakes” often accented by unique touches, like a southwestern version or another adding fresh lobster meat.
For the fourth annual Somers Point Restaurant Week, I decided to go to the town’s most popular restaurant while taking advantage of the bargain rates. Can there be any doubt that said restaurant is the Crab Trap, which usually manages to have lines out the door all year ‘round.
Genuine Jamaican cuisine has been a missing treasure locally for quite some time. Sure, lots of places serve a perfunctory, ersatz version of jerk chicken, but we challenge you to try and find less-common island fare like brown stew chicken, curried goat, callaloo or Caribbean-style oxtails.
Johnny Liccio is a rather busy guy these days. Already running a pair of successful Margate eateries — an eponymous full-service restaurant and an authentic south Philly style corner sandwich stand — along with wife, Joanne, the duo now counts the days until a third complementary food enterprise joins their family’s portfolio.
Florida-based troubadour Jimmy Buffett has built an empire of resorts, restaurants and retail, all dedicated to the finer points of his laid-back Caribbean lifestyle. A quartet of those enterprises — the flagship Margaritaville restaurant, the beach-fronting Landshark Bar and Grill, the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar and the Margaritaville Casino — arrived at Resorts Atlantic City earlier this year.
As we all try to get back in the rhythm of life post-Sandy, I decided that instead of waiting until Friday, I would ignore the wet snow being dumped by last night’s storm and head out to one of Somers Point restaurants participating in this week’s Somers Point Restaurant Week.
Keep in mind, this venerable facility, presently in its 44th year, is also huge. Their Web site boasts of seating for 400 patrons, which makes our 15-or-so-minute wait all the more impressive.
Spearheaded by Nick Regine, community projects coodinator for the Somers Point Business Association, the promotion runs a full seven days from Monday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 24.
As she traverses the corridors of two lengthy dining spaces during a burgeoning Sunday lunch service, patrons acknowledge and greet the Crab Trap daytime manager Danielle Librizzi. Those customers, whether local or visitors, all seemingly know her on a first-name basis.
ONE OF THE PERKS OF living within driving distance of the Shore is being in close proximity to restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. The Crab Trap is a favorite for this finicky "out and about" diner who loves seafood when it's fresh and properly prepared. A recent weeknight dinner at the Somers Point restaurant lived up to our previous visits. The Crab Trap has three dining rooms and a super-size bar area. If you want to dine, listen to the band and do a little two-stepping, you'll probably want to be seated in the bar area near the dance floor, or in the front dining room. That entire area, by the way, was recently renovated. If you prefer dining in quiet, more romantic environs, ask for a table in the Starboard Room or the Bay Room. Each dining room is tastefully decorated with a nautical theme, yet each bears its own distinct personality. We sat in the glass-enclosed area of the Bay Room which provided a view of the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Each table in this room is topped with a starched, white tablecloth and a small vase filled with fresh flowers. It started to rain midway through dinner, and the...
The high failure rate within the restaurant industry means that the establishments that offer good food at a fair price, plus good service and a pleasant ambiance, typically succeed. The Crab Trap, ...
It's long after Labor Day and the crowds have all gone home -- except at the Crab Trap on the Somers Point Circle, one of the most popular restaurants in the area. On a recent trip, there was still a...
Two o’clock on a sunny, unseasonably warm October Friday afternoon. By this time of day, ordinary bakeries have long shuttered their doors, already anticipating morning weekend sales. An exception to that norm is Mays Landing’s Brownie’s Squared Bake Shop, located steps from the Atlantic County Courthouse, midway between the dual waterways of Lake Lenape and the Tuckahoe River.
There exists an adage about winemaking that dictates that one cannot learn the business, but instead must be born into it. We like to think that axiom also applies nicely to the restaurant industry, where many of the most successful operators we’ve encountered were second or even third-generation scions.
In our annual Wish List column last January, the final item was a simple request; more women leading local kitchens. We got what we asked for at Tropicana’s new Casa Taco and Tequila-owned by restaurant/retail magnate George Siganos — in the form of executive chef Jennifer Galligan.