How Angry Crab Shack Is Bringing Spicy Seafood to 'the Forefront of America'
Photo Courtesy of Angry Crab Shack
Noticing a recent trend of more Asian-inspired cuisine in the U.S., Angry Crab Shack founder Ron Lou seized the opportunity to bring traditional spicy seafood dishes to the states. A former football player who was the first Asian-American to play in the NFL, Lou has more than 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry and his full-service casual concept has grown to seven locations across Arizona in five years.
Angry Crab Shack first opened in 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. Two of the locations are franchised, with two additional locations are under construction, to be completed by the end of the year.
After 35 years as an owner-operator in the restaurant world, Lou decided it was time for a different venture. Wanting to bridge the “disconnect between Chinese restaurants and the American palette,” Lou saw a void to fill and aimed to serve the hardworking middle class with which he identifies.
“I’m a workaholic,” Lou said as he described his years in a working family. “I really enjoy people service.” The founder is always interacting with customers, and often makes visits to Angry Crab Shack locations to make sure everything is running smoothly. Describing himself as “not a corporate person” and needing to see things eye-to-eye to make decisions, Lou said he is always looking for ways to improve.
“I drive to each location because I want know the operations, know the staff, make sure the procedures are done right,” Lou explained. “I want to see things as if I were a guest, because they’re the most important part of a restaurant.”
Lou repeatedly described eating at the Angry Crab as a family affair, but in public. “You’re going to get messy, but we’ll give you a bib and you’re just going to have fun,” he said of the experience he wants customers to have. Affordable options range from po’boys to soups, lunch bowls to full Cajun seafood boils, with shrimp, crab, lobster and shellfish.
With full service and food options that hit all the bases, from gluten-free to vegan, Lou said his restaurant franchise is “looking forward to expanding wherever we can go.” The president and CFO of the company, Andrew Diamond, was the one who suggested expanding Angry Crab Shack beyond its initial location.
All you need is good management and good food for a successful restaurant, according to Lou, again emphasizing that his operation is a family. “This is a family for me and everyone that works here is a part of me,” he said.
Average Angry Crab locations are between 5,000 and 6,500 square feet, varying based on the amount of construction needed. Initial investment costs range from $392,000-932,000, not including franchising fees and inventory.
The casual concept is looking for passionate franchisees that have business acumen, specifically targeting franchise owners who are currently multi-unit franchisees. However, first-time franchise owners and those without restaurant experience are also welcome, according to the company.
Lou is confident Angry Crab Shack won’t be a flash in the pan: the ultimate goal is to expand to 100 stores. “It’s our challenge, and we’re going to do it,” Lou said.