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Joe’s Stone Crab

11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

3056730365

Mon - Sat: 11:30 am to 9:00 pm Sunday: 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

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In 1913, Joe Weiss opened up a small lunch counter on Miami Beach. This was before Miami Beach was even a city. Folks stopped in to chat and for a top-notch fish sandwich and fries. This, of course, was only the beginning, and what happened next is a story worth telling. Joseph Weiss-the “Joe” of Joe’s Stone Crab-came to Miami in 1913, when his doctors told him that the only help for his asthma would be a change of climate. Joe and his wife, Jennie, both Hungarian-born, were living in New York, where their son Jesse was born in 1907. Joe was a waiter, and Jennie cooked in small restaurants. Some seventy years later, Jesse recalled the move: “My dad borrowed fifty dollars on his life insurance policy, left my mother and me in New York, and came to Florida…He stayed in Miami one night, and he couldn’t breathe. So he took the ferry boat that used to go to Miami Beach. Oddly enough, he could breathe there.” So, he stayed and started running a lunch stand at Smith’s bathing casino. That was the beginning of the restaurant that was the seed for Joe’s. According to JoAnn, Joe’s granddaughter, “You’d come over and rent lockers to change your clothes to use the ocean or use the pool. The women used to have the long bathing suits with the stockings…that was 1913. He sent for my mother and myself-she had this brat on her hands. We came down by train; I was six years old when we arrived. Collins Avenue was not really a street-it was sort of a trail with ruts in it. In 1918, Joe and Jennie bought a bungalow near the casino, on Biscayne Street. They moved into the back, set up seven or eight tables on the front porch, cooked in the kitchen, and called it Joe’s Restaurant.” Jennie waited on tables, Joe cooked, and everything started to grow from there. They served snapper, pompano, mackerel, and some meat dishes. “We used to open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in those days,” Jesse remembered, “because we were the only restaurant on the beach. For about eight years there was no competition. And my father made a hell of a fish sandwich.” By this time, Joe’s was off and running. “We got the ‘in-crowd; the society crowd,”; Jesse remembered. “At that time, we could seat maybe forty or fifty.” But stone crabs were yet to come. In fact, no one then knew that this local crustacean was even edible. In 1921, James Allison built an aquarium at the foot of the bay and Fifth Street. “He got all hopped up on having marine research done,” Jesse said. “I used to go up in the lab and watch them work.” Allison invited a Harvard ichthyologist down to do research. One of them came down one day and said to Joe, “Have you ever used these stone crabs, these crabs from the water?” At that time, Joe’s was serving crawfish, all kinds of fish-but not stone crabs. “Nobody will eat them,” Joe said. That was at breakfast. That day when the ichthyologist came down for lunch, he brought a burlap sack, full of live stone crabs. He and Joe went around and around about how to cook them. Do you broil them, or what do you do with them? Jesse remembers, “My dad threw the stone crabs in boiling water and that was the beginning of it. The bay was full of them! When we started serving them chilled and cracked with hash brown potatoes, coleslaw, and mayonnaise, they were an instant success. We charged seventy-five cents for four or five crabs, twenty-five cents for potatoes and twenty-five cents an order for coleslaw. And this is the way we have been serving them since. We hit the jackpot with that one!”  

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  • roncrider

    Due to the Pandemic, Please call first for hours of operation.

    on September 14, 2020   |   Reply
  • roncrider

    The legend lives on since 1913 Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant is still doing better than ever. If you are spending any time in Miami you must come here. I come here just about every time I’m in Miami for more than a few days. Yes, It’s that good!

    on September 14, 2020   |   Reply

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