New downtown restaurant to have shrimp, crabs, lobster and something called a red velvet waffle

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Krustaceans Seafood, pictured in February 2021, is set to open in mid-March near the corner of 10th and New Hampshire streets in downtown Lawrence.

Crab and lobster are essential foods because I’ve been told it is uncouth to put that much butter directly into your mouth. In other words, I like a lot of butter on my shellfish, and a soon-to-open Lawrence restaurant is betting lots of other people will too.

Signs have gone up for Krustaceans Seafood to open at 947 New Hampshire St., which is the spot that formerly housed the Bayleaf Indian restaurant. The company has been posting on social media for months that it is coming to town, but hasn’t said when it would open. Well, general manager Byron Myrick told me the restaurant now plans to open on March 11.

“We’re excited to get some shrimp and lobster into people’s mouths,” Myrick said. “We think we basically are going to be kind of like no place Lawrence has ever had before.”

Myrick said Krustaceans would take pride in a certain degree of simplicity. The menu really will focus heavily on crab, lobster, shrimp and, of course, butter.

“A definite attraction will be all the different ways you can season it,” Myrick said.

The restaurant will have traditional melted butter with an Old Bay-like seasoning, but also will have a Cajun version, honey garlic, lemon pepper, garlic parmesan, and even a garlic jalapeño offering.

The restaurant also will feature sides that you might see at a beachside bash with a big batch of shrimp or lobster boiling in a pot nestled in the sand. (Can you tell I’m ready for the beach?). Those sides include andouille sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes and even boiled eggs.

If you like seafood boiled, you can get it that way at Krustaceans. But if you are among those who believe a batter isn’t just for baseball (I do get a corn dog every time the umpire yells “batter up”) you also are in luck. You can definitely get large amounts of fried shrimp and even fried lobster tail, Myrick said. The menu also features fried fish that is served both in a sandwich and in a traditional fish-and-chips dish.

Less traditional, though, are waffles. No, this isn’t a chicken place, but it taps into some of that vibe with a multitude of dishes that pair waffles with fish, shrimp or lobster tail.

“The whole chicken-and-waffle thing has gotten very popular, but a lot of people don’t know as much about seafood and waffles,” Myrick said. “It is a real good combination.”

What could make it even better? Perhaps if a piece of red velvet cake was actually masquerading as a waffle. There is kind of a version of that on the menu. In addition to traditional waffles, the menu will feature red velvet waffles. Those are basically what they sound like. Red velvet cake batter gets modified in such a way that it can work as a waffle. Myrick said the dish would come with a house-made white cream frosting that will be drizzled over the dish.

Perhaps that is traditional seaside food and my dinghy just hasn’t made it to that port yet. If I had to guess where, maybe it is a Carolina delicacy. Krustaceans is a bit of a chain, but not a very large one. The original restaurant got its start in Charlotte, N.C., and bills itself as a purveyor of “low-country” cooking, a style of cuisine that features shrimp and crab boils and a Cajun to African assortment of spices.

It appears that Lawrence is only the third restaurant location for Krustaceans and the first one in the Midwest of any kind, according to its website. It does look like the chain has a Kansas City connection, though. A partner in the original restaurant in Charlotte is Marcus Lucas, a former Kansas City resident who played football at the University of Missouri from 2010 to 2013 and then bounced around a few NFL organizations. I’m not sure he has any involvement in the Lawrence restaurant, but he is a founder of the chain, according to an article in the Charlotte Observer.

As for Myrick, he is a longtime manager of several Lawrence restaurant ventures, but none that has had this heavy of an emphasis on seafood. There just haven’t been that many who have tried the concept in Lawrence, which has him believing there is pent-up demand. He said he’s been fielding lots of inquiries ever since word started to get out about the restaurant’s pending arrival.

“I think there are people who have been craving seafood like this for years in Lawrence,” Myrick said. “At the end of the day, we are going to do what we do, execute at a high level and make sure people are smiling when they come in and go out.”


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