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Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Shaw's Crab House Celebrates 30 Years of Bringing It to Chicago
Shaw's Crab House Celebrates
30 Years of Bringing It to Chicago
There has never been a restaurant like Shaw's Crab House, either before or after it opened
30 years now, Shaw's Crab House and the adjourning Oyster Bar (formerly
Blue Crab Lounge) have cast a warm and welcoming glow over Hubbard
Street, just steps from the dark underpass beneath Wabash. This
neighborhood in River North was once thought to be less-than-promising
for a new restaurant, even one that was part of Richard Melman's vibrant
though still quite young Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE).
one will ever find you there," was a complaint heard more than once by
Steve LaHaie, Senior VP of Shaw's Division of LEYE and one of the men
behind what is now widely recognized as a culinary institution on local,
national and international levels. Hubbard Street turned out to be a
perfect location for a restaurant that blends the geniality of a supper
club with the urbane grittiness of an old-time Chicago oyster house.
year, Shaw's Crab House celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. Over the
course of the past three decades, Shaw's has brought life to Hubbard
Street and the oyster back to Chicago, brought up the bar on fresh
seafood, and brought in a new era of entertainment to dining in Chicago.
Bringing life to Hubbard Street. In
the 1980s, the neighborhood around the future home of Shaw's was by no
stretch an entertainment district. Now home to many new restaurants,
hotels, and department stores, Hubbard Street has evolved to become a
vital commercial zone, fueled in large part by the anchoring influence
of Shaw's. Though no single business can take full credit for
revitalizing any area of town, it's undeniable that Shaw's was a major
force in bringing life to Hubbard Street. "We quietly opened the doors
and business was slow," remembers Kevin Brown, LEYE President/CEO and
founding partner at Shaw's. "Then one Friday night, about three or four
weeks after we opened, like magic, we were jammed...and we haven't
Bringing back the oyster.
Chicago used to be home to many oyster houses. Due to a number of
environmental factors, oysters lost popularity around the time of
Prohibition, and they didn't come back into mainstream fine dining until
relatively recently. Looking back to 1984, there were few restaurants
-- and certainly none as big as Shaw's -- serving several varieties of
fresh oysters every day. Today in Chicago, you'll find not only many
restaurants serving oysters but many restaurants specializing in them.
Shaw's brought oyster culture back to Chicago, and in doing so helped
drive the growth of North America's oyster industry. The influence of
Shaw's was soon recognized by the brightest chefs in America and Europe.
LaHaie remembers "Julia Child shucking in the Oyster Bar. She came
three different times to the restaurant in the late nineties to shuck
oysters with us." Executive Chef/Partner Yves Roubaud also recalls "chef
visits from Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon, and Jacques Pépin."
Bringing up the bar on fresh seafood. It's
called a "crab house," but Shaw's has done more than just ensure a
constant flow of this crustacean to Chicago, though Roubaud confirms
that King Crab remains his number one best-seller. With what is the
largest selection of fish and seafood in Chicago, and high levels of
customer traffic to ensure rapid turnover on all menu items, Shaw's has
long been the best bet in the city for the finest the sea has to offer.
And from the beginning, the chefs at Shaw's have cut fish in-house,
which ensures the highest qualities of seafood freshness. "When Shaw's
opened 30 years ago," says LaHaie, "our focus was on quality seafood. In
1984, we served two to three varieties of oysters and were not quite
sure how to shuck them. We now offer 12 varieties daily and many of the
employees are champion oyster shuckers." Over the past 30 years, Shaw's
developed many relationships with growers, fishermen, and farmers. Now
in addition to many varieties of crab, Shaw's offers a constantly
rotating and carefully curated menu of domestic oysters. Though
wholesale prices can vary radically for oysters of different types and
from different locations, Shaw's prices all oysters exactly the same so
that, explains LaHaie, "people will be encouraged to experiment with
ones they've never had before."
Bringing fun to dining.
Reflecting a fundamental LEYE philosophy, Shaw's has made a point of
entertaining as well as feeding guests. In the Oyster Bar, the annex
just to the west of Shaw's main dining room, blues and jazz musicians
serenade diners and create an atmosphere that's gregarious, highly
sociable ... and hugely entertaining. In the notoriously risky
restaurant business, Shaw's has had continuous success. "Part of the
reason for Shaw's longevity is the tangible culture of the place," says
Jon Rowley, who helped Shaw's get going in the early days and advocated
enthusiastically for live music in the Oyster Bar. "You walk in there,
and you feel it. It's welcoming. You get there and you feel, 'I'm in the
right place,' and you're always glad to be there." From the start,
Shaw's has been a fun and gregarious place where diners feel a certain
camaraderie: Bill Nevruz, Partner at Shaw's, fondly recalls it was where
he met his wife.
the 30th anniversary, Shaw's Crab House will be working together with a
number of local restaurants and chefs to present the greatest hits from
a menu that continues to draw thousands of repeat customers and
first-timers every day ... just as it has for thirty years. There has
never been a restaurant like Shaw's Crab House, either before or after
Goose Island/Shaw's Beer Collaboration
Designed to pair
perfectly with Shaw's seafood menu, Pearl: Shaw's Commemorative Common
lager is actually made with oysters. This American-style lager has light
salinity and minerality, with notes of roasted lemon peel. Only 18 kegs
are available, and diners can enjoy this special brew throughout the
early part of 2015 for $7 a pint.
Saturday, Dec. 27th: Triple Points for Shaw's Oyster Bar 30th Anniversary!
Triple points will be available at both Shaw's locations for Lettuce Entertain You Frequent Diners.
Wednesday, Dec. 31 - New Year's Eve: Ring in the New Year
For one night only,
in the Main Dining Room and Oyster Bar, guests will enjoy a tower of
King Crab Bites, Stone Crab claws, Empress Crab Claws, Peeky Toe Crab,
Golden King Crab, and two bottles of Moet Chandon ($100, serves two
people). New Year's Eve features the music of Big Dog Mercer in the
Oyster Bar from 9 p.m. until 12 a.m.. In the Main Dining Room, an a la
carte menu will serve Dover Sole, Nantucket Cape scallops, and Red King
Crab; in both dining areas there will be a Champagne toast and
complimentary oysters when the clock strikes midnight.
Wednesday, Thursday, January 1 - New Year's Day
The fun continues
into 2015, in the Main Dining Room from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where guests
sip Bloodies and chow down on the best brunch in town for $55/person (up
to two kids under 12 can eat for free). The New Year's Buffet features
make-your-own omelets, lobster bisque, beef tenderloin and crab legs,
salads, and a cold seafood bar featuring sushi, oysters and crab bites.
The regular menu begins again at 4:30 p.m. The Oyster Bar will be open
from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., with half-priced oysters from 4-6 p.m.
Sunday, January 18th - Shaw's Four-Course Crab Dinner, 6PM
Chef team (Yves Roubaud, Arnulfo Tellez, Pete Balodimas, Naoki
Nakashima) will feature a Shaw's dining experience paying homage to the
product we know best: Crab. This five-course menu will feature Florida
Stone Crab, Alaskan King Crab, Washington Dungeness, and Louisiana Blue
Crab, and a special surprise for dessert. Beverage Director Jim Haupt
will select crab-friendly wines for each course to pair perfectly with
our favorite seafood. Stay tuned for details on www.shawscrabhouse.com
Sunday, February 22nd - Oyster/Cocktail Event in Oyster Bar
Join Shaw's for a
special treat when guest mixologists from around the city of Chicago
create customized cocktails to pair with five different oysters from
around the country. Stay tuned on guest appearances and featured
oysters at www.shawscrabhouse.com
and on social media.
Thursday, April 2nd, 6pm: Renee Erickson Book Event with the Publican and GT Fish & Oyster
Cosmo Goss (Chef de
Cuisine) of the Publican and Giuseppe Tentori (Executive Chef/Partner)
of GT Fish and & Oyster partner with Shaw's Chefs Peter Balodimas
and Arnie Tellez to celebrate Renee Erickson's new book, A Boat, A Whale and a Walrus. Erickson owns several restaurants in Seattle, Washington.
Shaw's Crab House,
a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, features a 1940s-style take on the
seafood dining experience, with retro leather banquettes, polished wood
floors and Art Deco touches. The Oyster Bar
provides a more casual setting for diners and serves up live music five
nights a week at the Chicago location. Shaw's- The King of Crab! For
more info, call 312.527.2722 (Chicago) or 847.517.2722 (Schaumburg),
visit the website at www.shawscrabhouse.com