With some businesses moving on and others moving in, Montrose’s main business district is getting a makeover this summer.
A few weeks ago, Three Drunken Goats, a tapas and wine bar, closed its doors, surprising neighboring businesses and Honolulu Avenue regulars. In its place, slated for a soft opening later this month, is a restaurant promising fresh seafood and Louisiana fare.
Eric Lee owns Cracking Crab, and Steve Kang will serve as manager. Patrons can expect a range of seafood to choose from, crawfish, lobster, oysters and of course, a variety of crabs
“Most people like spicy and seafood together,” Lee, 40, said. “In Montrose, we need a new kind of restaurant. People want it.”
Although the restaurant isn’t the first in the area to offer seafood, it is the first Cajun place.
“Everyone is welcomed here in Montrose,” said Andre Ordubegian, board president for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. “We’ll be here for them.”
Nearby, Bluejeans is looking to open in the former location of Rocky Cola Café, though no date for its debut has been publicized.
Both restaurants applied for alcohol licenses this year. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control approved a permit for Cracking Crab, but the owners of Bluejeans withdrew its application in January, according to the department’s website.
Through the years, Three Drunken Goats amassed close to 300 reviews, earning 3.5 stars on Yelp, according to that website. On the restaurant’s Facebook page, many praised the restaurant’s service and food. A post from the restaurant, dated June 26, thanked Montrose patrons and said it would open elsewhere, but didn’t expand on the new location.
Calls to co-owner Brandon Kim were not returned.
Although traces of the former establishment remain, a banner hung outside features Cracking Crab’s logo. Inside, power tools sit on the floor alongside scattered tables and chairs. Lee and Kang filled two of those seats, taking a break from rearranging restaurant decor.
Lee and Kang, both 40, have discussed opening a restaurant for the last three years. Kang has been in the business for 10 years. Lee, who lives in the Crescenta Valley, worked as a chef for Blue Fish, a Japanese restaurant across the street.
Opening Cracking Crab in Montrose came from a mutual understanding between the pair. They’ve been friends for 20 years.
Not only was the understanding about seafood, but about Montrose as a whole.
“We love this place,” Kang, a Koreatown resident, said about Montrose. “We hope to help make this a very active and popular street.”