Ellis Buckner, his wife Brandy have turned a near-tragedy into a blessing.
Ellis, 46, was forced to retire from his job as fireman/paramedic for the county after suffering cardiac arrest that left him in a coma for eight days. With this change in circumstances the couple began searching for something they could do together.
Then came a delicious crab lunch in Daytona Beach.
That meal at the main Crab Stop location in Daytona Beach began the discussion that inspired them to open their first franchise location on a busy corner on the north end of 14th Avenue in historic downtown Vero Beach.
They embarked on this new path as entrepreneurs and owners. Their restaurants are two of eight Crab Stops located throughout Florida.
Ready to Go
The Vero location was perfect – it was already outfitted as a restaurant, and ready to operate after some sprucing up.
“It is your baby,” says Ellis. “You wake up with it and put it to sleep.”
They supervise the operation, both front and back of the house, from early morning to closing, seven days a week. Brandy Buckner still works as a secretary, but she is also very much involved with the restaurant.
The Buckner’s are lifelong residents of Vero Beach and are devout Christians.
“As a former fireman/paramedic in Indian River County, I loved to serve my community and experienced joy in that endeavor,” said Ellis, whose father Ellis Buckner, Sr., gained fame as a Highwayman artist. “We continue to serve the community with the best Maryland and garlic crabs in town and give each
customer the personal experience of eating dinner with family.”
On the Menu
The Crab Stop’s fare is all homemade, including lobster bisque and clam chowder. The Maryland and garlic crabs are cleaned, steamed and coated with a secret spicy seasoning mix (not Old Bay) and slathered with an addictive garlic butter sauce.
The most popular menu item is the Snow Special: three clusters of snow crabs, 12 jumbo shrimp, one pound of steamed red potatoes and two corn coblets. It’s a generous portion for two or three people.
Not up for crab?
There are fried fish sandwiches, including a local Florida whiting. To make them a complete meal, there are additional sides such as corn fritters, garlic rice, corn coblets, hush puppies, sausage, red potatoes, coleslaw, garlic eggs and conch fritters.
Other favorites are the fried shrimp dinner, with 10 jumbo shrimp, potatoes or fries, slaw and soda, and the Snow Snack Pack, with one highly seasoned snow crab cluster covered with garlic butter, three jumbo shrimp, sausage, one egg, half-pound of potatoes and beverage.
Additional meat options include an eight-ounce burger with fries, 12-ounce Hurt me Burger with fries, and chicken wings with a variety of sauces.
Save room for the house-made desserts: triple chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, cheesecake, red velvet cake and pound cake. We now offer gluten free options from Nazhi Thee Baker LLC too! Ask your wait staff for all available options.
Ellis often travels to the restaurant’s main purveyor, in Daytona, to pick up fresh live crabs, which usually come from the Gulf of Mexico. They are perishable, so the restaurant cooks them up as quickly as possible.
Live crabs are sold by the dozen for carry out, subject to availability and at market price.
Lunch and dinner are both served daily and they offer lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They include a crab cake patty sandwich, or five wings and three shrimp, fried or steamed, or 10 wings. All are served with French fries and beverage.
In 2018 they decided to open a second location in Sebastian, FL. This place was larger than Vero and had an outdoor patio right on the river. With an expanded menu, this place was an instant hit with diners!
In late 2019, they decided to move the Vero location to the old Cajun Cove location in Royal Palm Pointe. This would allow them to almost triple the amount of space from the location on 14th Ave to better serve their customers.
The owners envision The Crab Stop as a community gathering place and encourage their clientele to write their favorable comments on the “I ate here wall” or follow them on Facebook.