While Million’s Crab is new to Louisville, those who created the brand have more than a decade of experience, having opened successful restaurants in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
“We combine traditional low-country seafood boils with an American flair, because we add seasoning from all over the world while also using a traditional southern style of cooking,” says Eric Tung, managing partner for the chain.
The average meal ticket for two at Million’s Crab is around $50 if you order a seafood boil, which is approximately three pounds of seafood. Boiled seafood (clams, crawfish, mussels and shrimp) is served with corn and potato. They also serve fried baskets (oysters, fish, chicken wings, shrimp and calamari) with Cajun fries. One of the most popular menu items is the lobster roll, though ironically it’s the item that initially was getting sent back the most often, because many customers didn’t realize that traditional New England style calls for the bun to be served warm and the lobster meat served cold.
“People were asking, ‘Why are you serving me cold stuff?’” Tung says.
Customers also gravitate to the New England clam chowder, which the kitchen staff creates from scratch. Million’s special sauce, made of a mixture of Cajun spices, lemon pepper and garlic butter, is a big hit, as is the creamy garlic butter seasoning, made with butter and heavy cream.
Patrons can choose their spice level – mild, medium, spicy or Carolina Reaper (rated the hottest chili pepper in the world by Guinness World Records). There is an extra charge for choosing the latter seasoning. Tung says that after a long day of work, he sometimes feels numb. To get a bit of pep back into his step, he takes a bite of the Carolina Reaper, and it works wonders.
“After eating it, I feel alive,” he says with a chuckle.
“We want our customers to have a happy experience,” says Tung, noting that the staff members also take great pride in greeting folks as they enter the restaurant and wishing them well as they exit. “We say hello, and when they leave we tell them goodnight or to have a good day.”
Tung notes that not all seafood lovers want to get their hands dirty, especially if they are out on a date.
“Just because you don’t want to get your hands or mouth dirty in front of a date doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have a terrific seafood meal,” Tung says. “We might change the way we serve it or bring you extra silverware. Just let us know what you need.”
The menu also includes items for those who don’t fancy seafood at all, such as burgers, ribs and pasta. They also have fried chicken sandwiches, as well as key lime pie, brownies and New York cheesecake for dessert. There is definitely something for everyone.
In an effort to appeal to the younger crowd, Million’s Crab introduced crab comic characters, with stories and biographies for each character listed on their menu and website. Williams, a bright red crab, is the main character, described as warm-hearted and brave with a liking for money and sneakers. Parents and grandparents read the comics to their children and grandchildren, making it a fun way to pass the time as they wait for their food order to arrive at their table.
“We wanted to make Million’s Crabs more family-friendly – kind of like how McDonald’s has their own characters,” says David Pang, another key partner with Million’s Crab. “We wanted to do the same in order to attract kids because, let’s face it, kids are the ones in charge of the family. When you go out to dinner, usually it’s the children who suggest the restaurant. Also, often parents use restaurants as an incentive for good grades and tell their children, ‘If you get a good grade, I’ll take you to whatever restaurant you choose.’”
Tung and Pang traveled from New York to open the St. Matthews location in February of 2021.
“We wanted to establish a location in St. Matthews because it’s such a great community,” Pang says.
The pandemic put a wrinkle in their construction and inspection timeline. Then once they opened their doors, staffing was a bit of a problem.
“Because of the government money, we had a hard time finding people to hire,” Pang says.
Thankfully, customers who are hooked on the delicious dishes have remained loyal.
Though COVID-19 has hit the restaurant industry hard and forced management everywhere to adapt and adopt new safety protocols, throughout this year one thing has become abundantly clear. Many people still want to eat out.
“Many people crave that dine-in experience, so with the counter service versus full service, it’s even safer,” Pang says. “It has inspired us, in future locations, to do the same thing.”
As the country works to get vaccinated, management is continuing to adhere to their safety protocols in order to keep everyone safe. Spreading apart is easy, considering that the restaurant is 7,000 square feet.
“We have plenty of room to spread out so customers feel comfortable,” Pang says. “It doesn’t feel crowded at all.”
In the future, Million’s Crab leaders plan to open three more locations in the Louisville area.
Million’s Crab is located at 4600 Shelbyville Road, Suite 124 in Louisville. For more information, call 502-742-2485 or visit millionscrab.com.