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Drunken Crab and the Art of Being a Waiter.

I will start by saying that I feel bad for Wile E. Coyote. In other words feeling bad for someone who is in over their head, out matched and can’t deal with what’s going on... no matter how much they are responsible for it

Dommy and I have been in quite a few restaurants which have not been ready for primetime. We expect occasional gaps in service and are more than patient as new staff gets their legs. When we go to a newly opened restaurant we like to see the raw potential and keep our focus strictly on the chow.

It is with this mindset we went into Drunken Crab in Culver City. We were comforted by flyers in the mail with coupons heralding their opening and being ready for business. The fliers worked, half the tables were full and the place smelled of cooking seafood, garlic, butter and beer. Perfect. Seated and handed menus by the waiter, we picked what we wanted, the waiter went to another table to take their order and disappeared. We waited for the waiter to return to take our order and waited and waited...... Finally He came back with a jumbled pad of Post-it notes and rushed us and another table for our orders and scurried away before the table who had ordered 15 minutes before could flag him down and asked where their drinks were. Then 10 minutes later he came by to deliver some of the food to people who had ordered before we got there. He just plopped down a bag of steamed crawfish There were no Plates, Utensils or drinks at that table either. 5 minutes later he came back with that table’s Shrimp cocktail and they were able to convey the need for what they were missing and also asked how to eat Crawfish, the response was mumbled just take it out of the shell. and he scurried again but not before the table that ordered when we first got in grabbed him and demanded drinks.

I felt bad for the Novice crawfish eaters and gave them a real lesson in how to eat them. but around us the lack of service for all the tables was starting to snowball into a bit of chaos. missed orders, wrong orders, a 1 Lb order of shrimp which looked like 1/2 lb. and no Drinks. People started to get really angry and some even walked out. This waiter was overwhelmed and detached (ignoring tables, never appoligizing... ) and the Kitchen didn’t seem to be able to handle more than 1 or 2 orders at a time.

About 35 minutes later, our dishes arrived, though it took another 10 to get plates. But the waiter would scurry away before we could ask for our sake. Dommy had Shrimp, Sausage and Potatoes which was very good. The Sausage was smokey and moderately Spicy, potatoes a hair underdone and the shrimp over the course of the meal started to taste over cooked since it was in the cook bag longer than it should since we had no plates. I had the Fish and Chips plus a Side of Onion rings. On the Fish and the Rings was a heavy tempura-ish batter which seemed a little under cooked because of the amount of batter but the underlying fish and onions were cooked perfectly. The fries were Sysco, but were cooked well.

While eating the other patrons were discussing the incompetence and how they felt the need to get compensated for it. While we realized that it was not a good situation, the attitude of a few of the customers was toxic and made an uncomfortable situation even worse. Though the service was bad when we actually got our food it was good enough for us to hope they make changes to work out the problems so we can go again and recommend to others. But if you decide to make the trek soon, please let us know if it gets better.

Take Care

- P.

Drunken Crab
10706 Jefferson Bl, Culver City, CA

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  1. We just had dinner. The food was pretty good, but that server will single handedly make this business fail. The restaurant was full and people were walking out because they couldn't get there orders taken. We stuck it out, but this guys attitude will make it unlikely that we will ever go back. Why isn't the owner paying attention to what is happening?

    1. That's rough. A friend of mine's a waiter and he'd love to work Culver City. Maybe I'll tell him about the situation there.

      By the way I clicked on your post because "Drunken Crab" means something very different in Chinese cuisine


      1. E-mail or call the owner, sounds like the place is understaffed, they need more help. Sounds like they need experienced help and maybe some education on the food they are serving.

        1. I've had this happen in other restaurants. A couple of times, I've seen the owners notice, come out, start waiting and bussing tables. Other times, you notice that those in charge just sit around and do nothing to help.

          Guess which restaurants I'll give a second chance to.

          1. Sounds typical, a waiter in the weeds. Happens all the time, and I know exactly how that waiter feels.

            You need to talk to the owners. They need to pitch in, esp. if they want their place to succeed. No owner is above expediting, waiting & bussing tables. It's what you need to do until your staff is in the zone.

            1. Patrick, you paint a very colorful picture, as always, albeit a dismal one. I'd call management, not to complain, but to explain and give them a heads up as to what's happening in their shop. It would be a shame for this place to fold because of poor staffing.

              7 Replies
              1. re: TomSwift

                I think that will be a bit harder to find the owners since there is a feel of Cookiecutterness of their operations. The Menus look very professional, there were signs on the street, flyers were sent out as if they were following a playbook. but it seemed like there were only 2 people on the staff. that waiter and the cook. Maybe I will stop by this week in the afternoon and see what I find.

                1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                  Is it a corporate-run chain, perhaps? There must be info somewhere in the restaurant as to who is running it.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    According to a Yelp post I read (however, I don't know if this is fact or fiction) the owner is operating the restaurant and was there during one of the "service nightmare" evenings. So it seems as though they are fully aware of what is going on.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      It might have just been the server we encountered... A patron demanded (LOUDLY) to speak to the manager, and he claimed he was the manager and that he had nothing to do with the issue... As P. mentioned, we'd been to places with slow and clueless service... I grew up in the SGV and can even handle gruff and terse service... but this guy was SO caustic that it seemed to embolden the patron's "I'll show YOU!" attitude (mind you, these folks were NOT the typical DINKY/Hipster westsiders either...).

                      Anyway, my feeling is that by now the owner HAS to know about it... But by hiring the staff he did (The chef didn't look like he cared at all about the situation either) and then giving them no support staff (Really.... even the cheapest SGV places are smart enough to hire Mexican busboys...), and probably blowing his wad on mailers, proves that it was a novice owner and gosh knows if he'll be able to fix it...


                      1. re: Dommy

                        This particular post said that they left an "estimated" payment on the table (after they returned half of their order of clams which were unopened and then, when their waiter never came back to their table, and they couldn't find anyone else to give them their check) and then departed, only to be chased down by the "owner" who proceed to knock on their car window and slap the side mirrors.

                        They then got out and some CC police came over and it was determined that they had "shorted" the restaurant $1.60 in their estimated payment. I don't know if they gave him the remaining $1.60 or drove away at that point.

                        Sounds like excellent dinner theater if nothing else (or psychodrama perhaps).

                          1. re: kevin

                            That's what Miketsu says below. I haven't been by to look.

              2. Really a shame about the Drunken Crab. The wife and I were in the mood for lobster so we tried it. I insisted they bring out the lobster to take look. It was ok. We didn’t go for the ambience. We made it VERY clear that we wanted a plain steamed lobster with just lemon and butter on the side. I also wanted to try their fried shrimp. Our waitress confessed it was her first day - ever. The lobster arrives in a plastic bag cooked in Cajon seasonings! It was served whole rather than split. Hard to eat and Very messy. The seasoned liquid in the bag gets all over the place when you open the bag and pull the lobster out. $17 per pound. Almost everything they make comes in a plastic bag. The shrimp arrived 15 minutes later. Batter fried. Not what I expected but ok for the price. About $8 for six, along with some very good fries. The place need someone who knows how to run a restaurant. Aside from the execution, their whole concept is wrong, in my opinion. Sad. I was hoping for a place to go back to.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Baron

                  Is it me or is the waiter/manager with the hair that looks like he just woke up, a complete moron? This guy has no manners, doesnt know how to talk to people and everything we asked our waiter for, this guy had to come by and confirm. We ordered 2 lbs of shrimp and when it came, i took one look at the bag and called BS on them. I called the waiter over and told him that there was no way on earth this was 2 lbs of shrimp. He shyly admitted that it wsa only 1 and ran back in teh kitchen to get another. If anyone from this board is heading over there pay attention to what shows up at your table. The crab we ordered also came out, broken in pieces, which left me a bit skeptical as to whether or not its live in the kitchen or not.

                2. All the problems have caught up with them. The place is closed and there's a notice of eviction on the door dated August 6th. Fastest restaurant death I've seen in that location yet. And there have been a lot of them.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Miketsu

                    It is a real shame and I am saddened since the food was decent but they couldn't keep up the facade of knowing how to run a restaurant.

                    1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                      Strange, really. Maybe the Boiling Crab people can take it over...

                    2. re: Miketsu

                      what other restaurants were in that particular location?

                      1. re: kevin

                        Mind you, I've only been living here for 3 years.... but in the three years...

                        Chinese Food Buffet (name explains it all)
                        Grand Bistro (Grand ambitions turned out to be hotel wedding food)
                        Marlar (Muslim Chinese/Thai)
                        Drunken Crab (The worst run restaurant I've ever been to... and I've been to A LOT of bad restaurants...)

                        *sigh* Any body knows how I can convince Huckleberry to move in next?


                        1. re: Dommy

                          Yes this location is truly cursed. We had a quick bite there and it was a bizarre, surreal experience. A supposed Cajun seafood joint, with the fixtures and decor untouched from the Grand Bistro days. Shrimp served messily in a plastic bag, heads on, coated with delicious spicy sauce whose redolence of 5-spice reminded me more of Hong Kong than Baton Rouge.

                          As an aside, this tired strip mall is perhaps the first I've ever seen to undergo an expensive, major renovation and emerge somehow looking worse.

                          I think it was me who made the first crack about the GB having "wedding food," which I eat a lot of. It was actually a cut above that, and very reasonably priced, but not the kind of thing I wanted to eat often enough to keep it in business.