Local bakery owners take over seafood restaurant Crabby Maggie’s | Every day

STRASBOURG — In an effort to preserve a local seafood spot, Gina McDonald and James Ruff have taken over seafood restaurant Crabby Maggie in Strasbourg.

The couple, who also own Bretzel’s Hand Crafted Breads and Treats inside the Strasbourg Emporium, said they had developed a friendship with former Crabby owners Maggie, Steve and Maggie Steiner, and were eventually reached a deal that would keep the popular seafood restaurant in business.

“We didn’t want to see them go, and we didn’t want to see Maggie go. It’s a unique little place for this small town – a seafood restaurant in a country town like this,” Ruff said. “We talked about it for a while and it didn’t fit our plans, but they put out an offer. We had Bretzel’s for a year and a half as a very established business doing very well in this town, so we said, “Why not?”

Crabby Maggie’s, located at 650 E. Washington St., was opened around 2017 by the Steiners, who are used to running businesses in the Strasbourg area. Wishing to retire, the couple set out to find a buyer for the business.

McDonald said the couple joked with them about the pick-up, but that joke quickly came true.

Feedback on McDonald and Ruff stepping in to operate the seafood restaurant has been positive, the couple said.

“We’re finding out that a lot of our regulars at Pretzel are also regulars here,” Ruff said. “When we announced we were taking over (at Crabby Maggie’s), many other Maggie’s customers started coming to Bretzel’s to see us. A lot of people in town seemed thrilled that we were taking over.”

Although the two have personal training in cooking and baking, they have no seafood or restaurant experience, they admitted. Ruff, however, said they were confident in their abilities to successfully operate a business. Part of this has to do with relying on the skills of their staff, which can be used at both sites.

Ruff also trained with Steve Steiner for two months before taking over Crabby Maggie’s.

Ruff and McDonald’s said they would make their own changes to the restaurant, but about 80% of the menu and business will “stay true” to what Crabby Maggie’s was before taking over the business.

Upcoming new menu items include the Cajun Crab Fries, Mahi Mahi, and the Fat Maggie, which is an 8-ounce steakhouse burger topped with a 6-ounce crab cake. They will also optionally add crab dip and pretzels.

The couple are also planning to add daily specials and other dishes to the menu.

A big factor in feeling comfortable taking on a second business, the couple said, is based on the city of Strasbourg.

Bretzel’s opened about a year and a half ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Ruff said they haven’t felt many of the effects that have plagued other businesses.

“People told us we were crazy to open up during a pandemic, but we never would have known there was a pandemic as busy as we have been,” he said. “I think it’s because the city wanted to get out there and support local businesses. This city stood together and helped everyone.

McDonald worked as a salesman at the Strasburg Emporium, occasionally dropping off baked goods, which enabled him to open the bakery and cafe.

The success of the store and the expansion of Crabby Maggie’s led McDonald and Ruff to quit their full-time jobs at FedEx.

“In terms of salary, it was a leap of faith. But right now, faith is definitely on our side,” said Ruff, who served as a manager for several years at FedEx.

Although the two businesses are different, Ruff said he believes both can be operated under the same management style.

“It’s very fast here (at Crabby Maggie’s). We have already sold everything. But it’s the same kind of clientele, usually upscale and older,” he said. “They can be performed the same way even though they look different. I think after calling Maggie they will work the same way.

McDonald will cook and oversee operations at Bretzel’s while Ruff will cook and manage business at Crabby Maggie’s.

A future goal is to combine the two sites.


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