Updated: Mon, 02/11/2013 - 18:25

Joe's Crab Shack ready to open on River Street

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Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News -The new Joe's Crab Shack on River Street.
Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News -The new Joe's Crab Shack on River Street.
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Waterfront dining makes its River Street debut today, whether the weather cooperates or not.

Joe’s Crab Shack opens at 11 a.m. on the former Moran Towing facility site along the riverfront. The national chain restaurant will mark the occasion with a live zydeco band and a slew of food and drink specials. The first 100 guests, many of whom began lining up outside the restaurant Monday night, will be considered “founding members” and will receive free crab for a year.

Joe’s is the first of what promises to be a handful of restaurants on the waterfront side of River Street. Developers have purchased two other riverfront parcels in recent months and plan hotel and retail offerings for those sites.

Joe’s Crab Shack features an outdoor dining terrace along the north and the east facade of the new building. Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon, however.

“We’re excited to be one of the first restaurants on the riverside and to offer a great outdoor dining option for our guests,” said the Savannah store’s general manager, Deidra Hall.

The restaurant opens a year to the week of when Joe’s Crab Shack’s River Street plans became public knowledge. The project met with pushback from those concerned about commercial development on the riverfront, as well as from the Savannah Historic District Board of Review about the size and style of the building.

The developer, GDP Group, tweaked its plans to address many of the concerns. The new structure stands two-stories tall and is a simple design that reflects the warehouse-like look of buildings along River Street.

The developer included a riverwalk between the building and the river’s edge.

“We looked at the Savannah market for a couple years and knew it was a market we wanted to enter,” said Jim Mazany, Joe's Crab Shack’s COO. “There were some obstacles along the way, but there was a positive resolution. We’re excited to open.”

The finished product pleases Tom Thomson with the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission. The building is in scale to surrounding structures and is a testament to the historic review process, he said.

“We strive to maintain the integrity of the historic district as best we can interpret and reach a point where we and the developer can agree on what new structures should look like,” Thomson said. “The Joe’s Crab Shack is a good example of that.”

Joe’s Crab Shack was founded in Houston in 1991 and boasts more than 130 locations in 31 states, including six in Georgia. The local store will employ 140.

 

ON THE WEB

To learn more about Joe’s Crab Shack and to view the restaurant’s menu, visit joescrabshack.com.

 

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