A brief drive around Bower Parkway and Harbison Boulevard reveals a salty new trend: crab restaurants.
Several have sprung up in the past year in a small radius: The Krab Hut, taking the place of the old Chili’s at 280 Harbison Blvd., has a sign saying they’re coming soon; the Juicy Crab coming to the old Ryan’s at 1340 Bower Parkway also has a coming soon banner that’s been up for a while; and Wild Crab Seafood just across the street at 275 Park Terrace Dr. is actually open. So what’s up with all of these crab places making the suburbs of Columbia feel like Myrtle Beach?
“From what I know in my research and reviewing industry trends, there is no ‘crab’ restaurant trend, but seafood offerings fall into the trend of healthier foods,” says Robin DiPietro, a professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, and director of the university’s International Institute for Foodservice Research and Education. “They are using ‘crab’ as a catchy name, but the restaurants offer other items as well that can attract people interested in something different.”
Crabs have invaded Northeast Columbia, too. We previously reported that the Yummi Crab is set to open at 150 Forum Dr. in late June, and the Crafty Crab is already open at the former Applebees location on O’Neil Court.
Should we expect crabs to infiltrate the city center as they have the suburban areas? DiPietro thinks probably not in the Vista, but maybe in Five Points due to the lower price points.
“I think that this revolution in the Columbia suburbs will be a short-lived ‘mini trend,’ but will not take off across the rest of the midlands and upstate,” says DiPietro.