The Crab Cooker

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The Crab Cooker
The Crab Cooker.jpg
Restaurant information
Slogan"Eat lots a fish!"
EstablishedAugust 15, 1951
Owner(s)Bob Roubian
Food typeSeafood Restaurants
Street addressCorner of 22nd & Newport Blvd
CityNewport Beach
CountryUnited States
Other locationsTustin, California (1992)
WebsiteOfficial Website

The Crab Cooker is a popular Southern California restaurant specializing in seafood,[1] located on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California. The restaurant is housed in an old branch building of the Bank of America located at 22nd & Newport Blvd. The logo of the bank prior to its merger with NationsBank can still be seen embedded in the corner of the building. It was established in 1951,[2][3] and is considered a local landmark.[4] In 1969, Venture Magazine rated it as one of the top two restaurants in the world.[4]


Originally located at 28th Street and Marina, the restaurant got its start when owner Bob Roubian was offered the opportunity to take over a local fish market in August 1951.[4][5] Roubian, a carpenter by trade, had helped remodel the market three years earlier and had an interest in fishing.[5]

Fish Sign

The outside of the restaurant is painted in bright red. Inside the restaurant, the decoration is a pastiche of unique items ranging from paintings by famous artists, theater chandeliers, pots and pans, a wrought-iron gate, nautical equipment – and a giant shark.[5] The restaurant is known for its casual atmosphere.[6] While a favorite local haunt, tourists[5] from around the world visit to sample the cuisine and send one of their post cards,[7] eat off of paper plates, and see the iconic fish sign.[1] It is not uncommon to see patrons waiting in lines snaking down the street.[3] These lines once elevated The Crab Cooker to national headlines when advance staff for then President Richard Nixon once asked Mr. Roubian to allow the president to be seated for dinner, and Mr. Roubian informed them that the president would have to wait along with rest of the folks (he says any president would have gotten the same treatment).[8]

In the popular show The O.C., the restaurant dubbed the Crab Shack is actually The Crab Cooker. However, in one episode, Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke) refers to the restaurant by its real-life name.[9]

The 1,700 square feet (157.9 m2) restaurant is now adjoined by a 9,000 square feet (836.1 m2) annex next door. In 1992 a second restaurant was opened in Tustin, California.[4]

Temporary Closure[edit]

The original location in Newport Beach is currently closed. Construction of an adjacent condominium complex undermined the Crab Cooker's foundation, causing major structural damage that resulted in the restaurant's insurers declaring the building to be "unsalvageable". The owners made the decision to completely demolish the building and rebuild on the current site. The last day of business in the original building was September 2, 2018[10]; it is expected that the new building will open in Fall 2019.[11]


The restaurant is known for its Manhattan-style clam chowder, skewers of scallops, crab and lobster are entrees, oysters, crab or shrimp cocktail, salmon fillet and other fresh fish.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Robinson, Alicia (August 8, 2005). "Change just sign of time". Daily Pilot.
  2. ^ History Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Reger, John (June 13, 2007). "RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Crab Cooker will reel you in". Daily Pilot.
  4. ^ a b c d Goldner, Liz (November 1, 2001). "The Hottest 25 People in Orange County". OC Metro magazine. OC Metro magazine.
  5. ^ a b c d Wylder, Greer (January 6, 2006). "Crab Cooker is no-frills relic of Newport's past". Daily Pilot.
  6. ^ Evans, Elizabeth (March 8, 2007). "Nostalgia - and lots of fish - at The Crab Cooker". Orange County Register.
  7. ^ OC Register
  8. ^ Liddle, Alain Roubian's landmark Crab Cooker still reels 'em in after 48 years Nation's Restaurant News, June 7, 1999
  9. ^ Edwards, Andrew (August 8, 2005). "Bureau points to 'OC' on map". Daily Pilot.
  10. ^ "Beloved Crab Cooker on Balboa peninsula to be torn down for a rebuild; it will be closed for about a year, starting Monday". Orange County Register. 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  11. ^ Editors, West Oceanfront (2018-12-14). "The Crab Cooker to Reopen Fall 2019". West Oceanfront Magazine. Retrieved 2019-09-10.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°36′36″N 117°55′41″W / 33.6100°N 117.9281°W / 33.6100; -117.9281