Louisiana Crab Shack has opened quietly in the former Twin Peaks and Scotty’s Brewhouse location at Central Texas Marketplace.
A family signed a 10-year-lease on the 7,000-square-foot building over the summer and said it would open following a renovation. Clint Gilfillan, manager on duty, said the restaurant opened three weeks ago but has kept its arrival low-key as it awaits approval of a liquor license.
Chatting amid 42 big-screen TVs mounted in the cavernous venue, which originally was built to resemble a hunting lodge, Gilfillan said response has been great, impressive enough to produce return visits and regulars.
“We’ve been listening to what people want in a bar,” Gilfillan said.
He said the restaurant will rotate 24 beers on tap, and offers amenities that include a fireplace and twinkling lights on the patio.
The restaurant seats 293 inside and another 60 to 80 outside, Gilfillan said. The current menu will expand after the grand opening, which will be scheduled after a liquor license is secured. He said Waco’s Louisiana Crab Shack is the fifth to be opened by the Austin-based ownership group. A sixth is planned in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, according to the company’s website.
The expanded menu will include a wider selection of appetizers, and the restaurant will offer lunch specials and happy hour, Gilfillan said.
Eventually, it could become a venue for live music, he said.
Part-owner Victor Nguyen, in an interview upon the lease signing, said the restaurant will serve beer and wine, and have a liquor permit, but the family places emphasis on food. He said the family takes a hands-on approach to running its restaurants that will include Waco’s.
The building has not yet had a long-term tenant, but Louisiana Crab Shack is its third occupant. It opened in August 2014 as Twin Peaks, closing less than a year later following an infamous biker shootout that left nine dead.
Indiana-based Scotty’s Brewhouse folded last December, also less than a year after opening. But Nguyen said earlier this year he thinks Louisiana Crab Shack is the right fit for the long haul, with its family recipes, focus on service and attention to detail, and its community activism.
Gilfillan said while pursuing a job with Louisiana Crab Shack, and receiving a job offer to work in Waco, he researched the history of the building.
In his opinion, its past enhances the character of the venue, he said.
“It’s certainly not anything to be afraid of,” he said.
Louisiana Crab Shack joins other area restaurants offering Cajun cuisine, including Buzzard Billy’s, Interstate 35 at Lake Brazos; Te’Jun The Texas Cajun, 711 N. Robinson Drive; Cajun Craft, 601 S. 11th St.; The Catch, 1230 N. Valley Mills Drive; Shaking Seafood and Wings, 414 N. Valley Mills Drive; and Sam’s Southern Eatery, 18th Street and Waco Drive.
Waco real estate agent Clay Fuller, with Turner Behringer Real Estate, closed the deal that brought Louisiana Crab Shack to Waco.