Joe’s Stone Crab Opens for 2020 Season in Miami Beach With Outdoor Seating and Reservations
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Florida stone crab season kicks off today, October 15, with a few changes to when it comes to harvesting the crabs – and Miami’s favorite place to eat them.
The season brings some new rules with it, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For one, the end date was set two weeks earlier on May 1, 2020. In addition, the minimum claw size has been increased from 2-3 / 4 inches to 2-7 / 8 inches.
Fishermen must also limit the use of check boxes – the containers in which live crabs are stored before they are measured and their claws harvested – to two per boat. Each box must be at least two feet by two feet by two feet for a total volume of 24 cubic feet. Looking ahead, before the 2023 season begins, fishermen will have to equip all plastic and wooden traps with a 2 to 3 inch escape ring.
Roger Duarte of George Stone Crab (1-888-720-1252; georgestonecrab.com) says the new rules are designed to protect stone crabs and ensure crop sustainability.
In 2019, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which evaluates the environmental sustainability of wild-caught and farmed seafood in the US market, beat Florida stone crabs with a red “Avoid” rating, which translates as “Passing On” These Objects are initially overfished or caught in a way that harms other marine life or the environment. “
The assessment was more about the harvesting process and its impact on bottlenose dolphins than the abundance of crabs in the ocean.
“I think stone crabs are not an everyday thing, but special times call for an iconic product.”
According to Duarte, stone crabs are one of the most sustainable seafood that can be harvested.
“We don’t kill the animals we eat, and if they are too small they are thrown back,” he notes.
He adds that the coronavirus pandemic, while bad for humans, may have been good for stone crabs, as it has resulted in lower demand for their claws in the last two months of the 2019-2020 season. Because of this, Duarte sees a strong stone crab season ahead of it.
“I think there will be a lot more volume from stone crabs – although there may be fewer medium-sized claws available due to the new claw size restrictions,” he says.
Amid the pandemic, Duarte also sees a stronger market for its business, which supplies stone crabs direct to households and across the country.
“We buy the freshest of the freshest stone crabs straight from the boats and sell them 40 to 50 percent less than in restaurants,” he notes.
Even at this price, Duarte admits, they are a boon.
“I think stone crabs are not an everyday thing, but special times require an iconic product,” he explains.
Joe’s stone crab
Michele Eve Sandberg
For those who simply need to celebrate the start of stone crab season at Miami Beach’s iconic restaurants, Joe’s Stone Crab (11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com) is officially opening for the season today.
Owner Stephen Sawitz has been busy getting Joe ready for the big day and has made some small but significant changes.
Primarily, Joe’s has turned its back parking lot into a 1,400-square-foot backyard with 40 tables and a new al fresco kitchen. This increases the restaurant’s capacity for outdoor seating and provides a second entrance to the restaurant.
Other safety features include UV light in the HVAC system to disinfect the air flowing through and impact-resistant windows throughout the restaurant that can be opened to circulate more fresh air.
The temperature of the employees is checked before the start of the shift and masks are worn throughout the shift. An employee is ready to open doors.
Sawitz said about half of the indoor tables have been removed to allow adequate social distancing. And new waiting areas were created to allow long waiting times.
The biggest change could be Joe’s longstanding no-reservations policy: a limited number of reservations are accepted each night through the Resy app.
“Joe’s has remained an institution in Miami by constantly evolving. We never stay static.”
“Joe has seen the Great Depression, the Great Depression, two world wars, countless hurricanes, and any number of civil unrest,” says Sawitz. “Through all of this, Joe’s has remained an institution in Miami by constantly evolving. We never remain static. We always strive to improve things that are important to our guests, our employees, our fishermen and our suppliers.”
Sawitz, who owns the most successful independent restaurant in the United States, also wants to remind people who love stone crabs that Joe’s isn’t the only restaurant in the Miami area that needs love right now.
“Wouldn’t it be a great story if every restaurant in Miami had to wait that Friday night? The most important thing we ask your readers to do is support their local businesses. Do we want them to come?” The truth is, we want them to go out to eat – everywhere. Support the local restaurants. Support the local hotels, motels and markets. “
George Stone Crab. 1-888-720-1252; georgestonecrab.com. Delivery and shipping will begin on October 16th.
Joe’s stone crab. 11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com. Lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm (Joe’s Takeaway open Monday to Thursday for lunch.) Dinner Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm (cocktails start from Tuesday to Sunday at 4 p.m.)
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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the Miami New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.