Three decades into cooking crabs, Steamin’ Blues Crab House owner Donny Vechery knows it sounds funny that he’s never caught a crab in his life.
“I probably shouldn’t say that,” said Vechery, laughing while standing behind the bar at his first local restaurant, The Surfing Crab. “I grew up in my dad’s restaurant. I’ve probably cooked millions and millions.”
Steamin’ Blues Crab House opened June 28 in the old Jake’s Seafood in downtown Rehoboth Beach, on the corner of North First Street and Baltimore Avenue. Vechery said he wanted to open sooner, but the old Jake’s space needed all-new sprinkler systems, electrical and plumbing. The building didn’t look like it was in bad shape, but there were a lot of things that needed to be done behind the scenes to bring it up to code, he said.
“Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to,” he said, remaining positive. “So far the reviews have been good.”
Vechery said the menu of Steamin’ Blues is very similar to the menu of Surfing Crab. Same crabs, same crab cakes, soups, salads, hand-cut chicken tenders and half-pound Angus burgers. He said it’s all about the numbers, and crabs can be expensive, so it’s important to offer good food for customers who are only ordering a few crabs at a time. It’s a limited menu, but the food quality is good, he said.
The most important similarity between the two menus, Vechery said, is that No. 1 crabs are offered for the all-you-can eat. Other restaurants use No. 2s or smaller, he said.
“It’s the best deal on the menu,” he said.
In addition to his two Cape Region restaurants, Vechery also owns and operates the restaurant his dad started in Bethesda, Md., 59 years ago, Bethesda Crab House. He’s one of five kids, and he said he’s the only one who is in the restaurant business.
“I was the only one who didn’t do well in school,” he said, laughing at himself. “I wasn’t always my dad’s favorite, but he’s proud of me now.”
Vechery said he started working for his dad when he was 10 years old, mopping floors and washing dishes. He said his dad always said if a person is willing to work hard and put in the hours, they can be successful.
“When we’re open, I’m here every day,” he said.
Steamin’ Blues Crab House, 21 N. First St., is open 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday to Monday. For more information call 302-567-5520.