Tuesday, June 10, 2008
All Access: Joe's Stone Crab
It's the most famous restaurant in all of South Florida. Tonight, Seven's Dave Kartunen is giving us an all access pass into Joe's Stone Crab and shows us why customers have been coming back to eat at Joe's for almost a century.
WSVN -- As famous to South Florida as our beautiful beaches, everyone knows Joe's.
Open for business for nearly 100 years, Joe's Stone Crab is one of the most highly successful restaurants in the country.
Brian Johnson, General Manager, Joe's Stone Crab: "Joe's is still a family-run operation, it's been in existence since 1913, and I deal with a second, third and fourth generation family."
But what is it that has given this family-owned-and-operated restaurant such staying power?
We went behind the scenes to find out, and it starts with the stone crabs of course.
Brian Johnson: "The great thing about stone crabs is we control the source of the origin of the product, so what you're eating today was caught yesterday."
Dave Kartunen: "Now, cracking stone crab has been a tradition here for nearly a century, and although this delicious delicacy, even though I butchered it, is what draws the customers in, really it's the dedicated staff that keeps them coming back. Now, how much money am I wasting, you guys?"
Over the years, people thought they could improve this operation. Including current executive chef Andre Bienvenu.
When he was hired at Joe's nine years ago, he had visions of changing the entire menu but soon realized that wasn't in the cards.
Andre Bienvenu, Executive Chef, Joe's Stone Crab: "The family said don't touch the staple items."
Like the infamous mounds of hash browns, grilled tomatoes and coleslaw. Andre says on any given night the kitchen is pretty much organized chaos. During season, the staff preps and serves some 2,000 dinners a night, and each dish is made with special attention to detail, right down to the key lime pie.
Andre Bienvenu: "We squeeze the limes, we squeeze all our own lime juice, make the crust by hand. We make from 3-400 pies a day."
But Joe's does change things up a bit once and a while. Now that all the tourists are gone, they're cooking up a special summer menu.
Andre Bienvenu: "We have a new sea bass, a new grouper, a new snapper, a new lamb, so there's about a dozen new items we run every summer."
And here's an insider tip: it's easier to get a table during the summer season, and it's a nice change of taste for patrons.
From the shrimp burger to the lobster macaroni and cheese, customers can enjoy the special dishes and still eat fairly cheap, and one thing that doesn't change from season to season, great service.
Nathaniel Allen has worked at Joe's for 42 years!
Nathaniel Allen: "Started as a busman October the 6th, 1966."
For him it's not just a job, it's his second home.
Nathaniel Allen: "It'll be here a long time after I'm gone, I'll tell you that."
And that's what they say is the real inside secret to Joe's success, consistency and caring.
Nathaniel Allen: "It's not the food, it's all about the people. That's truly what Joe's is about, a family-run operation. I get choked up talking about this.
Joe's is planning a big celebration for its 100th anniversary, in 2013 but won't reveal any details just yet. Their summer menu is available until August.