OCEAN CITY – Armed with this month’s approval of a beer and wine license and a new family direction, the Crabcake Factory Express on 25th Street has reinvented itself.
In December of 2011, Crabcake Factory USA founder and CEO Johnny Brooks bought the Crabcake Factory Express property on 25th Street and Coastal Highway with the intentions to franchise the business. His original location, Crabcake Factory USA, has been located on 120th Street since 1996.
In July of 2012, the restaurant opened as a franchise but following complications Brooks decided to go in a different direction and placed Crabcake Factory Express under the Brooks family business with his wife, Krista Brooks, serving as CEO and president of the family’s new corporation, Crabcake Factory Downtown.
Last week, the Board of License Commissioners approved Brooks’ request to sell beer and wine after being turned down previously.
“We are a valuable part of the community, always have been, and now that we are running it, it is going to have the same quality as uptown,” Brooks said. “But to be honest we were losing business without beer and wine.”
Now with a license in hand, Johnny and Krista Brooks are looking to expand the beer menu, adding a wide variety of craft beers.
“We are going to establish a basic beer and wine menu at this time but it will really start to transpire in the off season. We are really going to experiment with the craft beers. We want to add 24 taps,” Brooks said.
Crabcake Factory uptown is known for its Crab Bloody Mary, Shrimp Bloody Mary and Bacon Bloody Mary. Brooks said they will still be offered downtown but with a vodka that falls under the beer and wine category.
“Uptown and downtown I am learning are two different worlds. I have been in business for 20 years one way or another in Ocean City and I am just learning the ropes downtown. It is a whole different story,” Johnny Brooks said.
The crab cakes offered at both locations will be the same as will other popular menu items. A larger selection of Beignets is offered downtown, which is a New Orleans traditional hot donut, along with an expanded coffee selection. The downtown location also offers authentic milkshakes made with real milk and ice cream.
“The biggest thing we have going down here besides the beignets is fish tacos with beer battered cod. We make our own pico de gallo, mango salsa with our famous boom boom sauce. We also have a shrimp taco and a pork carnita,” Brooks said. “Downtown people like to grab food and go on the Boardwalk. We are only a block from the Boardwalk tram, so you can come here, grab a cold beer and have dinner, then jump on the tram and ride down and back.”
The Brooks family plans on keeping the downtown location open the same times as the uptown location, which starts to close during the week around Thanksgiving but remains open on the weekends offering NFL specials, such as two Crabcake dinners, drinks and two home-made beignets for dessert for $25.
“I am from the Washington D.C. area,” Krista Brooks hinted to what team the downtown location will claim, as the uptown location has claimed the Baltimore Ravens.
The couple is excited about the new venture’s direction and its potential.
“This is really exciting for us. It is really exciting to be working with my wife now hand-in-hand … and my kids are having a great time where now we are near the beach and I can take them to the Boardwalk,” Johnny Brooks said.