When Mike Perez and his two sons went on vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida, they visited a restaurant where they chowed down on a crab boil. After that, his sons kept asking Perez to take them back to Florida, but it wasn't the swimming or the sun that they were hooked on: It was the food, especially the crab.
Now, since September, Krabby Daddy's has been bringing those same seafood flavors to Crystal City, Missouri.
Perez is no stranger to being a business owner, having already owned a video game shop and a landscaping business. But he had to do things a little differently for Krabby Daddy's – he had to create his own recipes at home. He started making boils at home to craft his flavors. After learning about boils in Louisiana and on the East Coast, he started to understand the differences in flavors: In Louisiana, seafood boils are spicy and seasoned, while farther east, the seafood is just served with butter. He created his own recipes somewhere in between.
"I kinda just came up with my own thing and got my own recipes and it's actually working really well for the Midwest," Perez says.
The flavors aren't the only thing that Perez has had to balance in creating his restaurant. He says that Krabby Daddy's isn't the kind of restaurant you would typically see in a small town like Crystal City, which is home to just under 5,000 people. That means that he has to price his plates considering the size of the town; he can't charge what you'd expect to pay in a bigger city.
He manages the costs in a few ways: guests order and pick up from a counter, they serve themselves soda and plastic cutlery and Perez offers a fairly small menu of combinations of crab, shrimp, lobster, sausage, potatoes and corn. But that's also what makes Krabby Daddy's so good: customers get their food fast and fresh, and the small menu is done right.
"We make almost everything to order," Perez says. Since seafood has such a short cooking time, Perez says that they don't even start cooking to-go orders until the customer arrives to pick it up.
The most popular dish on the menu is the Date Plate, which is designed to feed two for $39.99. Customers get three clusters of Canadian snow crab (a generous portion of a crab body with legs attached), 15 shrimp, two sausages, two eggs and three halved corn cobs plus potatoes.
"Most people cannot eat it all," Perez says.
As for Perez's sons who became obsessed with the boils in the first place, crab is still their favorite thing to eat. One is now in college and the other works at the restaurant as a busser from time to time, but when they eat at Krabby Daddy's, they are masters at breaking apart the crab and getting to the good stuff.
"They're good at it," Perez says. "They love that crab."
Krabby Daddy's, 120 Mississippi Ave., Crystal City, Missouri, 636.638.1173, facebook.com/KrabbyDaddysCrystalCity