Baltimore is known for steamed crabs and places to feast on plump crab cakes.
Like many Marylanders, Arrica Ashe, owner of The Crazy Crab Bag, loves crabs. When she needed to pivot to another career, cooking seafood became the next part of her story. Ashe knows the power of change and growing a business in phases.
“Prior to the pandemic, I worked for a corporate company organizing events. I also ran my own company, Arrica Lindsay Events, planning multiple weddings a year. Once the pandemic came, my career path literally changed overnight,” Ashe said. “With no in-person events [being held], I lost my corporate contract. It was just such a task to plan a wedding during the pandemic, so I decided to take a break and [I] turned to food, which is when the idea for The Crazy Crab Bag came about.”
Ashe’s business began as a food truck in 2021. She opened a restaurant in May of 2023. The Crazy Crab Bag is located at 1741 Light Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Ashe’s food enterprise has grown to a seven- day a week operation that integrates other pieces of supporting fellow small business owners.
Ashe buys her business’ crabs, crab meat and some of Crazy Crab Bag’s fish from a local waterman. She stated that she loves her ability to support another Marylander’s small business.
“Buying seafood locally always just tastes much fresher and has better quality,” Ashe said. “We order local produce from some local farms for the same reason that we source seafood locally.”
The Crazy Crab Bag’s menu items include steamed crabs, crab dip, seafood boils, wings and the Maryland crab cake.
“All of our food is made to order and from scratch. I’m in the kitchen cooking and teaching recipes daily,” Ashe said.
Additionally, giving local people employment opportunities is important to the business owner. The Crazy Crab Bag’s staff is composed of people who are all from Baltimore, according to Ashe.
“At the moment, we have a staff of 15 and counting,” Ashe said.
They often take crab dip orders. It is currently the business’ number one best seller, but Ashe mentioned that customers also enjoy other menu items.
Ashe added, “They say our food is the best!”
Where did Ashe gain marketing cooking skills? She said that all of The Crazy Crab Bag’s foods are made from family recipes. The entrepreneur spent her early years growing up in West Baltimore. Ashe moved to Owings Mills during her high school years. Hattie Matilda Seward, Ashe’s grandmother who was once a schoolteacher for Baltimore City Public Schools, loved entertaining and cooking for her family and friends.
Ashe recalls helping to crush crackers while her grandmother created her own breading to fry oysters, when Ashe was around six or seven years old. She also said that her family always had a fish fry on Fridays. Seward would purchase lake trout and steak fish or other seafood. She paired them with delicious sides like collards and potato salad. This is why Ashe features that same dish every Friday in her restaurant.
In many Black families, food has been a cultural tradition that kept people eating together while staying connected. From barbecue to soul food, highly skilled cooks passed down traditions to make each dish with love. Seward’s gift of spending time with Ashe in the kitchen allowed her granddaughter to nurture her talent and turn cooking food into a business concept.
“I think growing up, my grandmother was old school, so she taught me all the domestic skills that I believe she thought a woman should know (cleaning and cooking), so naturally I learned to love cooking and keeping a clean home. Pursuing a business connected to food was easy because it’s something that I naturally love doing,” Ashe said.
The entrepreneur also added that she believes customers look for good food and great vibes, when they visit The Crazy Crab Bag.
Nicole Workman has been patronizing The Crazy Crab Bag for approximately three months. She stated that the food is delicious, the staff offers a great vibe and the drinks are always on point.
“Everything I’ve had has been really good! My favorite is Fish Fry Friday. And the steamed crabs, I don’t know what seasonings they use, but it is a must-have,” she said.
Visit www.thecrazycrabbag.com to obtain more information about The Crazy Crab Bag.