Joe’s Crab Shack in Riverhead one of many locations to close this year

09/27/2016 4:01 PM |

Joe's Crab Shack in Riverhead

After three years in business on Route 58, Joe’s Crab Shack closed its doors for good this past weekend.

The Riverhead restaurant, which served its final customers Sunday, was one of two Long Island locations to close this week; the other was in Oceanside. Joe’s Crab Shacks in Deer Park and Westbury remain open.

On Tuesday morning, the “Eat At Joe’s” lettering that hung above the establishment’s front entrance had been removed and signs on the glass doors signaled it was closed, while encouraging people to visit the Deer Park restaurant.

“It’s sad when any business closes,” said Bob Kern, president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, of which Joe’s Crab Shack was a member. “We try to promote new business all the time and try to get people to open businesses who are interested in Riverhead or the North Fork.”

Representatives from Joe’s Crab Shack’s parent company, Texas-based Ignite Restaurant Group, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Ignite Restaurant Group announced in June it would close Joe’s Crab Shacks in the Bronx, Newark and Harlem.

The move was the result of the company deciding to downsize after it became the first national chain to unsuccessfully try to eliminate tipping at 18 of its restaurants. Menu prices rose in order to pay for employees’ higher wages. After seeing a 10 percent drop in sales, the company went back to the standard tipping model at 14 locations in May, CNN reported.

The Riverhead restaurant’s closure comes about a year after seven other Joe’s Crab Shacks were shuttered following same-store sales falling six percent during the third quarter in 2015, according to Newsday. At the time, there were nearly 130 Joe’s Crab Shacks around the country.

In June, there were 16 locations in the New York metropolitan area. On Tuesday, Joe’s Crab Shack’s website listed just six restaurants across the state.

Joe’s Crab Shack, which currently has 113 locations in 32 states, sells Southern-inspired seafood entrées and a variety of crab dishes featuring Dungeness, snow and king crab.

The Riverhead restaurant opened in June 2013 to a large crowd, with the first 100 customers receiving a free Snow Crab Bucket every month for a year.

Joe’s Crab Shack is the second chain restaurant to fail in the Riverhead Centre plaza. It follows Boulder Creek Steakhouse, which closed in 2011.

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Photo: Exterior signs for Joe’s Crab Shack on Route 58 in Riverhead were removed this week after the chain restaurant shuttered. (Credit: Nicole Smith)