For the better part of the last decade, the Blue Crab in downtown Bethany Beach has been dishing up heaps of the tasty crustacean for customers who keep coming back, again and again. But as they enter their ninth summer, owner Tim Haley has big plans for the restaurant, in the form of another shelled favorite. After an offseason expansion added 2,000 square feet to the already 4,000-square-foot restaurant, Haley is now readying for the unveiling of Bethany Oyster House & Raw Bar, a fully-functioning oyster bar.
“If you’re going to have oysters at your restaurant,” said Haley, “you’ve got to do it right. In the past, we didn’t have the room to do it, but now we do.”
And he’s pulled out all the stops. In addition to a full-fledged raw bar with a shucking station, The Bethany Oyster House & Raw Bar will boast an abundance of styles of oyster, including raw, steamed, fried, baked and plenty of others.
As he’s traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard, Haley has drawn his influences from a wide range of regions.
“I’ve tried oysters from all over,” he said. “I’ve considered a lot of different ideas up and down the East Coast, and I’m bringing together the best ideas I can find, while keeping the traditional taste that we’ve had with the Blue Crab, too.”
The Blue Crab of Bethany Beach will still guarantee its staple lunch and dinner fare, available for dine-in or carry-out. Their all-you-can-eat shrimp and crab feasts, and entrees including their Blue Crab Pasta and crab sauté sandwich, will remain on their original crab-house side of the restaurant, but as Haley noted, his latest addition is a different animal. “It’s all about celebrating the oyster.
“We will definitely have oysters on the half-shell,” he said, “and all the traditional ways to prepare them, but we’re going to have some different styles, too. We’ll introduce an oyster au gratin, and we’ll be making buffalo oysters, too.”
Granite countertops and tables, along with new tile, will give the Bethany Oyster House & Raw Bar addition a suave look, as it fits into the former location of Silverworks at 208 Garfield Parkway, directly beside the Blue Crab’s current location.
In addition to the full-service bar and high-top seating in an upscale, yet casual atmosphere, Bethany Oyster House & Raw Bar will be equipped with a private room in the back to accommodate parties of up to 24 patrons.
“We get new customers every year,” Haley noted of his Bethany restaurant, “but we also have people who have been coming year after year. Some customers come in every week, all season long. We even had a group of 20 who stopped in every night during their week-long vacation. With a larger room for private parties, we can handle large parties like that a lot easier, without taking away from everything else.”
Regular customers may be pleased to know that familiar faces will be returning, once more, to the Blue Crab’s staff, but with the added space, Haley noted, the number of employees will span more, as well.
“We’re going to be pushing that 50 number of employees,” he assured. “I really try to focus on the college students in the area, and we have a great return rate from some of the students who come here from abroad, too.”
Asked which of his two starring crustaceans is his favorite, Haley pondered the question for a moment.
“I love them both,” he said, with a smile. “Crabs and oysters are what have been bringing people to the beaches year after year. There’s nothing like it in downtown Bethany, and everyone in town is really excited about it, and so are we. The feedback has been very positive, and I think it will be a great addition to the area.”
For more information, including menu details, stop into the Blue Crab at 210 Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach, or call them at (302) 537-4700.