Island Crab Co.

Pssst... You wanna know a little secret? Finding a bit of shell in
your crab cakes is a good thing. "Huh? How can THAT be," you ask?

It's really simple. At the Island Crab Company - the Pine Island business where Pinchers Crab Shack gets all its seafood - doesn't pasteurize its crab meat. All the crab used for Pinchers crab cakes is hand-picked, placed in containers and delivered to one of Pinchers seven current locations daily. What this all means is that Pinchers and Island Crab are ensuring only the freshest seafood arrives on your plate.

Island Crab, located in St. James City - which is at the southernmost point on Pine Island, is the brainchild of Jeff and Denise Haugland. The Hauglands, two North Dakota transplants, moved to Matlacha in 1988 to join Jeff's mother and step-father in their crabbing efforts. After gaining valuable experience on the emerald waters of Pine Island Sound, the two decided that instead of selling their catch to local wholesalers, they could do it all themselves.

In 1992, the couple leased a small space and called their new company, Island Crab, and began buying fresh seafood from approximately 30 commercial boats. When the Hauglands started, they operated their business in one bay of a six bay unit. Inside, just a desk and a lamp.

Then came Pinchers. Grant Phelan, Pinchers director of operations, needed to find a more reliable source for the restaurant's growing demand for fresh seafood. His search led him to the Island Crab Company and it was during that first meeting, that a partnership began and both companies grew exponentially from there.

Pinchers went from one restaurant with six employees to seven restaurants with more than 400 employees and Island Crab now fills all six bays with coolers, freezers, a picking room, ice machines and a full-time office.

So impressed with Island Crab's ability to provide fresh seafood, Pinchers wanted to ensure its customers' demands for fresh crab, shrimp and fish are always met. So what did they do? They bought a 50 percent stake in Island Crab. There is no faking fresh with either of these two companies.

Click here to visit Island Crab Company's website