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Crabhouse opens today, pays homage to venue’s history while offering a new twist

crabhouse

Aug. 2, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan

The Waterfront Crabhouse, a Long Island City institution that closed two years ago, will officially reopen tonight after being revamped by two local entrepreneurs who have kept much of its history alive.

Joseph Lucil and Skinny Lee, who together own Skinny’s Cantina and Kavala Estiatorio, will reopen the restaurant at 5pm tonight.

The establishment, called the Crabhouse Restaurant, is the latest incarnation of the local hangout that Tony Mazzarella ran in the same location for nearly 40 years.

Long known as a hub of community life, the new owners pay tribute to the memory of what the restaurant used to be, while updating it to put their own mark on the venue.

The design showcases the exposed brick walls that were always part of the structure of the restaurant, and uses ivy to pay homage to the chandeliers that hung in the space in the 1880s.

The new owners made sure not to forget Mazzarella’s legacy as a pillar of the community during the update.

Waterfront Crabhouse

Waterfront Crabhouse

Lee dealt directly with Mazzarella’s family through the process of taking over the restaurant, said Event Coordinator Amanda Pierce.

“He really respects what they did over the years and has a strong relationship with them,” Pierce said. She added that he might even try to get some of the boxing memorabilia that hung on the restaurant walls from the family to display.

Though the new owners respected much of what made the Waterfront Crab House unique, they have also made some significant changes.

The menu will still include crabs and seafood, but also includes a raw bar and full steakhouse menu, including a wide variety of steaks and sides a la carte. They plan to add a brunch menu in the near future.

The upstairs space that was not used for several decades has also been renovated and will be used as a private event space called the Gantry Loft, explained Pierce. It will be used to host large-scale parties and events, including weddings.

“Taking it over has been awesome because the community has been so excited about watching the progress of the rebuilding of the inside,” said Pierce.

The Waterfront Crab House closed in February 2015, right after Mazzarella died, and for a while it was unclear what would happen with the building.

Lucil and Lee took over the lease in July 2015 and announced that they planned on keeping it open as a crab house, though they expected to open by the beginning of this year.

“The community is showing a ton of excitement and support that the venue is still a crab house,” Pierce said.

The owners celebrated the opening of Crabhouse on Saturday night with a party that was open to the community, offering free food and drinks to everyone in attendance.

Tony Mazzarelli passed away in 2015

Tony Mazzarelli passed away in 2015

The party was such a huge success, Pierce claimed, that they had to push the official opening back until today—instead of Monday– in order to restock on food and drinks.

“People keep coming in and sharing their stories about the restaurant, and I look forward to continue hearing what the restaurant used to be,” Pierce said.

“We keep getting all this information from the older community who saw it grow in different stages, and many call it a second home or remember their family dinners here. We’re thinking that we will learn more and more as we are open and talk to the community more,” she added.

Crabhouse will be open from Tuesday to Friday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 10:30 p.m.

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78 Comments

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Leah

The first time I was there was for a wedding. I had the chicken stuffed with crab meat and shrimp. THE BEST I EVER HAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope that is still on the menu.

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No new guys

None of you know good food. Stupid new hipsters go eat meatloaf and fried chicken. And go eat it back in your hometown. Oh and ‘i hope its reasonably priced.get the fuck out of here snd take your doosh beards and bikes

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MRLIC

To the JOKER that continues to call himself MRLIC. I am organizing a bowl off at “The Gutter” in LIC. The winner claims MRLIC and the loser is banished from posting again.

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MRLIC

The thing you need to understand about crabs is to keep the hedges cut and rinse with alcohol.

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Anonymous visitor

Maybe they’ll make a T-shirt that says “I got crabs” on the front and “LIC Crab House” on the back.

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Tanya

Walked in and ate at a hightop in the bar last night. Miss the funky old vibe, but the food was excellent. We shared the crab salad (super fresh), seafood stew and lobster tail. All were excellent. The lobster came with a side of risotto and veggies. Prices are higher, not surprisingly, and service has some kinks to be worked out. We’ll be back for sure!

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Anonymous visitor

Something fishy (no pun intended). I think there are many fake posts on this thread.

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Laura

I’ve been going there since it first opened in the ’70’s. Great food, wonderful staff, fun atmosphere, interesting décor, relatively inexpensive. The many family celebrations there are so memorable. So glad to have it come back as The Crabhouse. Best of luck and success to the new owners. Keep the good times coming!!

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Anonymous visitor

I was a waitress there for years hired by tony and his sister Mickey I loved every day there I have great memories good luck to the new owners Anne Marie

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Anonymous visitor

Is anyone else disturbed by the amount of people unable to write in complete, coherent sentences on here?

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Anonymous visitor

C’mon, they were former Crabhouse customers. What do you expect? Shakespeare?

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Spectator

I think it should be:

“Is anyone else disturbed by the number of people who are unable to write complete, coherent sentences here?”

Grammar debate! Go.

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Hmmmm

They’ve been going to the crab house since it opened. which means they’re probably all arthritic and don’t know how to use computers in the first place

Ps, The people of this neighborhood seem to show more concern over a shitty restaurant run by shitty new operators than the possible attempted rape of a woman nearby

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brooklynmc

Ever stay at an old hotel, kind of dirty? When you pull down the comforter to kind of scan the bed for signs of hair, or bed bugs, or worse, and that face that you make, cringing? That is how I looked when I walked into the Crabhouse. I just could not get myself to eat there.

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John Mahoney

I have been going to the Crabhouse since the very day it opened. Tony, his family and the entire crew of the Crabhouse were special to me. Great friends,great food, great memories. Tony’s brother, Andy “Butchie” Mazzarella is an old friend and I have last touch with him. If anyone is in touch with Butchie please have him contact me via Facebook. I had just finished working a job directly across the street when Tony passed, though I did not hear about it for a few weeks. Cant tell you how happy I am to hear the venue will remain.

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Eileen

The article states that the upstairs space was not used for decades which is false. It was used all the time as a catering hall known as the Waterfront Terrace. I worked there for many years and sorely missed it when it closed. I hope the new operators enjoy the same level of success as Tony did. I’m sure he’s smiling from above for the homage being paid to his business.

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MRLIC

They should have put a bowling alley in upstairs. I hope their menu isn’t made for all the HIPSTER newcomers.

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Gaetana Croce Bellington

Was there many times years ago! Never had a bad meal! It was always fantastic! Hope I get to go to the new one! GOOD LUCK,

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Anonymous visitor

If you make over 30k a year your in the top 1% of earners amongst the world populous.

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Dolores cudak

I lived in Greenpoint for many years. I would drive an hour and half just to go to the crab house. I haven’t been there in 2 years
The food I ordered had hair and steel wool in it. Ask to speak to manager,hostess refused. Never I was given an apology or compensation for the disgusting experience
My daughter and I walked out. Hope you got a different chef! Have not return to eat there. It was my favorite place for parties.and.family events.

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Anonymous

You have no idea where i live so dont assume. Greenpoint is not the only place to go. So keep your opinions to yourself. Its a shitty place to eat!!

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Sue

The picture looks beautiful. Good luck to the new owners. It is nice to see that the history of the restaurant will still be featured and that the owners are reaching out to the local community.
I was fortunate to sing at the Crabhouse for many years. I met many special people and have great memories.
Again, good luck with the reopening!

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Anonymous visitor

It’s funny that you sang there. Because I cried — for Ruth, over the toilet once when I got home after having dinner there. Not a fan of the old Waterfront Crab House. It was like the old Mama Leone’s, a place that became a legend despite serving crap for years. And if you weren’t a friend or business associate of the owners, good luck to you. My ex-wife doesn’t even ignore me as much as the waitstaff in that place did.

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Kiki

Anything will be an improvement. That place was a dump with the worst food. I worked there and they would use the dead lobsters in the lobster bisque soup rather than throw them out. I became a vegetarian after that. Gross.

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Anonymous visitor

I have never understood why people raved about the food at the old WCH. I never had a decent meal there, and had the worst bout of the shits after going to an event there years ago. Sometimes just staying in business for years and serving up lousy food to people who can’t tell the difference gives a place a much better reputation than it deserves.

To the new owners, I hope that your “paying homage” to the old WCH doesn’t include the quality of the food you serve!

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brooklynmc

The place had character, drinks and cheap food and in a lower class blue collar neighborhood, you don’t need the food to be very good. Red Lobster has been in business for a long time.

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august west

PO has a point

skinny cantina is the worst mexican i have ever had

they make sub par bland food for the lemmings in lic

enjoy

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Frank

Skinny’s kitchen is vile, but Kavala’s is excellent. But I guess the “I can’t like anything new in LIC” lemmings cannot admit that.

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brooklynmc

Skinny’s is very average but neighborhoods need places like that. Kid friendly and sidewalk seating are two positives. Yes, I wish I could get a good taco in LIC, but you can’t knock a place like Skinny’s unless you are a complete food snob. I am still annoyed at that tall, bald jerk of a bar tender though and the fact that I can’t mix my 3 tacos but every hood needs a place like this. My kids love hot dogs. I like the chicken soup. Place is decent. The fact that they are successfully starting a small restaurant empire in LIC is undeniable. They are doing something right. Lemmings? Whatever. It would be easy to fire back insults but that would be really childish. Just go retire in the Pocono’s already.

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brooklynmc

Unfortunately, I only got into Casa Enrique 2 times before it got its Michelin Star. Now it is pretty hard to get in. That place is obviously good, but not really a taco place.

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LIC Risk Guy

Has anyone eaten at Zona Rosa in Williamsburg. Now that is the type of Mexican Restaurant we need hear.

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Hmmmm

When you’re the only damn place to go in the neighborhood from the beginnnng then it’s hard not to succeed.

Restaurants that serve horrible food succeed all over. They basically have a strangle hold on LIC

Imagine of Casa Enrique took over this space and opened for lunch

Imagine if we had 1-2 less Italian restaurants here and a more diverse selection of food.

We have 2 Chinese spots in the whole neighborhood and they both suck

LIC leaves so much to be desired when it comes to food. Owners would rather get that high rent instead of being selective of their tenants and providing something we need.

For instance, old Army navy store = ice cream and bubble tea.
From what I hear they’re also paying $12,000 a month or $151 sq foot. Obscene! Those people did nothing for the neighborhood

The Paris smoothie store is asking $9000 a month. Come on!

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Darla lind

I’m glad it’s finally opening again great place ,great atmosphere and I’m sure with the respect the new owners have to Mr Tony it’s all gonna be good.the food good ,owners are respectable to prior owner ,it’s a win ,win now they will make Thier own memories and I wish you all the best on your new journey and memories.

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Gayle

I worked in the Waterfront Crabhouse for 27 years. Going to be strange seeing it owned by someone other then Tony! Good luck

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PO

I had very high hopes up until the time I learned that the Skinny’s Cantina folks were going to run it. LIC will never attract the types of new, exciting restaurants opening up just over the Pulaski Bridge and into Williamsburg because the LIC “insiders” find out about new retail spaces before it hits the market and monopolize the listings for themselves or people that they know. I’m sick of the same old here in LIC.

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Spectator

Casa Enrique was opened by the same people who own Cafe Henri – seems like that worked out pretty well…

Il Falco, Hibino, Mu Ramen, Sushi Daizen, and Maiella were all opened by LIC “outsiders” so I’m not sure what the problem is…

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Nope

Don’t forget M.Wells. We have some of the best spots in the 5 boroughs. People come to Queens from Manhattan to eat at Enrique, Mu and M. Wells. Maybe walk a few blocks, idk?

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PO

Why don’t you find out how most of the venues mentioned above secured their leases. You think they just called up the landlord and got it? They had help from certain “people” in LIC who have some influence. And, outside of Enrique and MWells, I hardly think that the other restaurants would qualify as great, first rate restaurants (Mu would have been on my list up until recently when I went back – jesus what happened to that place?).

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LIC Risk Guy

And honestly when you compare the M. Wells prices. I think Del Frisco’s in mid town is better than them for the same price point. Unfortunate people see M. Wells as a great restaurant. There steaks are good but now worth the hefty price. They need to do a better job purveying their meats for the prices they’re charging. I truly do wish we would get a great Steakhouse in the Hood. If anyone every ate at Prime Meats in Brooklyn then you know what I’m looking for.

Anonymous visitor

Sounds like you’re a bit bitter because maybe your clients didn’t get this space PO?

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Maryann

Sure hope the reasonable prices remain and music !
What happened to all my dining points accumulated at WC?

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Paul

This will be successful, just like it had been successful…why? Cuz none of that ridiculous experimental brunch menu crap or exotic animal part tastings.

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JO. TORRENTE

SO HAPPY YOUR REOPENING THE CRABHOUSE. MY FIRST VISIT TO THE CRABHOUSE WAS OCTOBER 1977, WHEN MAZZARELLA HAD SAWDUST ON THE BAR FLOOR I REMEMBER MANY YEAS LATER I TOLD MAZZ. THAT I HAD FOUND 3 TWENTIES ON THE FLOOR BACK AROUND 1978 OR 79, HE SAID THEY WERE MINE I’LL TELL YOU WHO IS ON THE BILLS. MAZZ. WAS A CHARACTER. I HAD WALKED IN ONE DAY AND ASKED TONY WHERE MY CHARACTURE I PUT IT IN THE BATHROOM GIVES US SOMETHING TO DO WE THROW DARTS AT IT. HE IS GREATLY MISSED. I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK.AND THE SAME SUCCESS THAT TONY MAZZARELLA HAD.

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Lorissa borgia Clausi

I remember going there as kid, my dad and his boxing team, Kevin Kelly – the flushing flash. Their photos were on the wall so it is so amazing to see that they are trying to bring that back and the more they already have! So wonderful to see a beautiful history being respected!

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Natalie C.

I graduated high school with Kevin Kelly the Flushing Flash in ’86…I need to check it out!!!

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Ellen

Had our wedding upstairs at the crabhouse 21 years ago. Beautiful warm setting .
Went back for our 20th anniversary in 2014.
Looking forward to dining at the new restaurant.

Reply

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