Crabby’s On The Pass, the latest restaurant from Beachside Hospitality Group, is preparing to open in a couple of weeks.
The Treasure Island restaurant — formerly Gator’s Café & Saloon — has undergone extensive renovations in the past couple of months, said Greg Powers, Beachside CEO, during a “family and friends” pre-opening event Saturday.
The restaurant is on the south side of Johns Pass, just across the water from John’s Pass Village. Upgrades include a new west dock area for boat parking and new decking with lots of seating. The interior has new air conditioning, updated bathrooms, and a lighter and brighter look. There’s a fish-filleting station for boaters, live music and a large indoor space for banquets, weddings and corporate events.
“We bought a tiki trailer. It’s a 20-foot long trailer that is a full bar outside, so when it gets busy in here, people can go outside and enjoy themselves,” Powers said. “The next thing to come is a food truck to handle overflow crowds. The kitchen is not huge. It can only handle so much business. So we may designate overflow areas and have a separate menu and a separate bar so they can be served and enjoy the view.”
Beachside, a St. Petersburg-based management company for 10 other Florida restaurant locations, announced in March that it was leasing the property from Greenleaf Capital, the real estate division of HCI Group (NYSE: HCI) in Tampa. Powers is proud of the quick transformation.
“The amount of work that everyone has poured into this place in such a quick time period, from the management team all the way down to all the helpers, was amazing,” he said.
Crabby’s On The Pass is the second restaurant Beachside has opened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company opened Crabby’s Dockside Ft. Pierce last year and has learned a lot about operating in a pandemic, including remaining flexible to deal with changing conditions, said Julia Cassino, Beachside’s director of marketing and events.
“Everything has become a norm with our standards with cleanliness, spacing, masks,” Powers said. “It’s not something we have to continually manage. In the very beginning, yes, but now people are used to the situation.”
Crabby’s On the Pass will have upwards of 125 employees. Staffing has been an issue at many hospitality companies and Powers said Beachside is no different, but there is one distinction, Cassino said.
“We are very lucky to have an extensive staff list that the tenure is 5, 10 or more years. For a restaurant, that’s nearly unheard of. So when you see the amount of employees we have that have been here for the long-term, it helps bring in new employees because they see their friends have thrived with this company. We don’t have turnover like other companies do. Obviously we are hurting like everyone else, but we’ve been pretty fortunate to have a great staff that works hard,” she said.
Beachside is working on two additional projects, Power said. It owns a location on New Smyrna Beach where it just began demolition and plans to open Crabby’s Bar & Grill New Smyrna Beach in about 12 weeks. Also opening this year will be Crabby’s Beachside Bar & Bites Daytona Beach.
Beachside, a privately owned company, has grown rapidly in the past couple of years.
Other local Beachside properties include Crabby’s Dockside Clearwater Beach, Crabby’s Bar & Grill Clearwater Beach, Crabby’s Beachside Bites at Tropicana Field, Salty’s Island Bar & Grille Clearwater Beach and The Salty Crab Bar & Grill North Beach Clearwater Beach.
While many of Beachside’s properties have “Crabby’s” in their name, the company is separate from Crabby Bill’s Family Brands, with eight restaurants in the Tampa-St. Pete area.