Live crabs for sale at Seabreeze seafood shop in Tampa

TAMPA

As Linda Rogers waited for crabs at a roadside spot along North Boulevard, she relished her dinner plans: a crab pot starting with red potatoes, corn, a smoked neck bone, eggs, garlic and onion and a quart of beer.

The pot will boil an hour before she adds the live blue crabs.

"You talking about some good food," said Rogers, who has been a regular at Seabreeze, which opened in October in a long vacant spot just north of downtown and over the bridge from Blake High School.

Rogers got her first taste of crab meat as a child here at a store run by the Matassini family.

"I've been telling everybody," Rogers said of the reasonable prices and meaty crabs at Seabreeze.

Here, jumbos weighing a pound sell for $4 to faithful and patient customers.

"These are the biggest crabs I know of in Florida," said Danny Richards, as he sorted the day's catch into open tanks.

Rogers happily took four 1-pounders.

At sunrise, as most days, Richards had been out on his boat on the Alafia River pulling up traps.

"These crabs were sitting there waiting for me," he said.

He wears the sea on his face. Nearly 50 years of saltwater and sunshine.

His father, Robert Richards, had sent him out crabbing when he was 11 after showing him how to do it for one day.

"He sent me out with a life jacket by myself," Richards said. "I've been crabbing ever since."

Danny's parents ran a fish market and for a time, the Seabreeze by the Bay restaurant on the 22nd Street Causeway, a landmark for nearly 80 years, famous for its deviled crab.

In 2001, the family published a cookbook containing all of the recipes, which is for sale in their store. Also for sale: deviled crabs, made by Danny's wife, Donna.

The couple live in Palm River and usually have a dozen kids at their home, as well as two of their own who help out with the business.

Lately, crabs in the river have been unpredictable, chased by rains and southwest winds, Richards said, and hiding during a full moon.

Every three days, he goes fishing at the Skyway Fishing Pier for crab bait. Sometimes, in a few hours, he catches a thousand pounds of herring.

The shop will be closed until July 20, for a 10-day ban imposed by Florida Fish and Wildlife to remove lost and abandoned crab traps in the waters.

By then, the couple plans to have live fish for sale in tanks that Danny is building.

He plans to fill them with flounder, snapper and pompano.

"Whatever I can catch," he said.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3431.

Live crabs for sale at Seabreeze seafood shop in Tampa 07/11/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:53pm]

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