Reflections of a Restaurateur

Ron Lou of Angry Crab Shack

An exclusive eskca interview with Ron Lou (owner) of Angry Crab Shack, which was honored in our:
Tell us your origin story. How did you come to be involved with Angry Crab Shack?

As a former NFL player, I spent four years in the league with the Houston Oilers and the Philadelphia Eagles. During the next 35 years, I created five different restaurant concepts, including a breakfast concept, sports bar, and three different Chinese restaurants. Ready for another success, I set out to create something unique – not just another wing, burger, or pizza place.

I launched Angry Crab Shack in 2013 in Mesa, AZ, which offers a vibrant, memorable dining environment and high-quality seafood at a more affordable price. The simplicity and bold flavors in Asian food attracted me. I was able to combine seafood boil with bold Asian-Cajun flavors, affordable prices, and strategic real estate practices into the winning combination we operate today. Seafood lovers from near and far have found their way to the Angry Crab Shack to experience the broad menu, outstanding service, and genuine hospitality. I believe seafood should be something that the average person can enjoy. Our restaurant is family oriented and provides comfort food with good portions and value. We provide a unique dining experience by enacting a casual eating environment with tongue and groove lined walls for guests to sign. People sit down to make their mark and can show they are also part of the restaurant.

Our mission is simple: Never be satisfied with what has already been achieved. This idea is the driving motivator of Angry Crab Shack. We continuously invest in our brand, processes, and products to improve every day. This is true for our franchise owners, corporate team, and Angry Crab Shack staff.

Angry Crab Shack also loves to give back to the community as a thank you to our amazing guests. Our primary partnership is with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to help ensure the children have a more comfortable stay. We are heavily involved with events and cross promotion on our platforms. Additionally, we partner with Arizona Veterans Standdown Alliance to help veterans in need through our annual “You Dine We Donate” promotion, where we donate 25 cents per guest that dines in with us throughout the month of July. More partners include Dogs4Vets (who help veterans train their dogs to become service animals), local sports teams such as FC Arizona, and high school teams, food banks, toy drives, and more.

What were the biggest hurdles you encountered in your journey?

Growing pains. Angry Crab Shack opened the Mesa location in November 2013 and by November 2016, we had grown to six locations, with two in Mesa. We continued our growth and now have twelve locations in Arizona (10 in metro Phoenix), with plans to open locations in Scottsdale, Prescott Valley, and a second location in Tucson. Transitioning from a single location to multi-units requires not only an investment of capital, but an investment in human resources. Regardless of the number of Angry Crab Shacks, it is our goal to maintain the same culture and environment as if we still just had a single location. That takes training, structure, and the employees to ensure our high standards.

What does the future hold for you and Angry Crab Shack?

Becoming a national brand. Angry Crab Shack has already expanded into Alabama and Nevada, with locations in process in Utah, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Washington. We have a goal of 100 locations by 2025 and are working to bring our culture and brand developed in Arizona to the rest of the country. This includes bringing our commitment and support to each community that is home to Angry Crab Shack.

What are your thoughts on the food scene in Mesa?

The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many struggling restaurateurs in the valley, Angry Crab utilized that time and invested resources to evaluate and rejuvenate our menu and flavor profiles. Now that restrictions are being lifted and the Mesa food scene is slowly reemerging with energetic concepts, I see restaurateurs and chefs bringing back the overall “dining” experience to guests. With everything from scratch made breakfasts to 4-star dinners, the food industry is focused on guests more so than ever before. Mesa’s restaurant scene offers all sorts of cuisine choices, including American, Italian, seafood, Asian, etc. If you crave it, Mesa offers it. Angry Crab Shack stays ahead by continuing to hone our operational skills and improve our menu selections.

What’s your best advice for aspiring restaurateurs?

Have a plan. Know who you are as a concept and operate and market to that identity. You do have to remain flexible as you run your business, but stick to your core principles. Make sure you are properly capitalized financially. You do not want to make decisions based on your bank account instead of what is in the best interest of your restaurant.

Our readers love recommendations! What’s your favorite item at Angry Crab Shack?

Angry Crab Shack is known for our seafood boils. Our Trifecta sauce is our most popular whether you are ordering shrimp, crab, or lobster. If you are looking for a sandwich, our Twin Lobster Rolls are a favorite, as is our salmon and gumbo. We are excited to add Shrimp and Grits to our menu, and a new Red Beans and Rice where guests can add sausage, chicken, or shrimp to make it a meal.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Reflections of a Restaurateur series