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An uncertain future for Joe’s Crab Shack

Joe's Crab Shack has been at the same site, on both sides of the Boise/Garden City city limits, since 2003. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Joe’s Crab Shack in Garden City. The restaurant has been at the same site, on both sides of the Boise/Garden City city limits, since 2003. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The fate of Joe’s Crab Shack in Garden City is uncertain as its corporate parent weighs selling the chain or filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A local Joe’s Crab Shack manager referred the Idaho Business Review to Ignite Restaurant Group, the Houston-based company that owns  the Joe’s  Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern+Tap chains.

Ignite did not respond to IBR calls and emails.

Ignite has closed 18 of its 130 Joe’s Crab stores in the past year and now has 112 stores in 31 states.  Joe’s Crab Shack has a thin presence in the Pacific Northwest, with one restaurant in Idaho, one in Washington, none in Oregon and two in Utah.

The owner of the 2.2-acre property on which Joe’s Crab Shack sits, South Dakota-based Oregon Trail Landmarks LLC, has received no notification that the restaurant is closing, said Nancy Davis, a bookkeeper at Carolyn Boyce & Associates, which manages the property.

“It’s a definite maybe,” Davis said about Joe’s Crack Shack staying open or closing.

Joe’s Crab Shack was established in Houston in 1991. Landry’s Restaurants Inc. acquired the company in 1994 and opened the Boise restaurant in 2003 at its existing location, on land that was later annexed to Garden City. Landry sold the Joe’s Crab Shack chain to Ignite Restaurant Group in 2006.

Ignite in its May 16 quarterly report to the Securities & Exchange Commission reported Joe’s Crab Shack revenue decreased 20.9 percent from the first quarter 2016 to first quarter 2017. Ignite is trying to sell both chains together or separately.

“It is possible that even a successful implementation of one of the strategic alternatives that we are pursuing will require us to make a filing for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,” Ignite said in its SEC filing.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows a business to reorganize and, often, remain in business. Chapter 11 filings don’t necessarily involve store closings, but Ignite last year closed 14 percent of the Joe’s Crab Shacks that it deemed “underperforming.”

There were more than 130 Joe’s Crab Shacks when the Boise store opened in 2003, and 112 at the start of 2017.


About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.


  1. Love Joes Crab Shack. Good food great atmosphere. Would love to see one locally. Have to drive to find one. Hope they don’t shut down. Get it together we like it so much

  2. The food is awful, not surprised that it’s teetering. Rooting for it to fail and create room for an actual local restaurant! The riverfront location and the space itself are fantastic and deserve a better use than hackneyed corporate food.