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Restaurateur makes a splash with new seafood house

Brian Morgan aims to give community a second seafood option with 17th Street Crab House

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NEW BUSINESS — Shyheim Marsh and Diamonds Holsey prepare an order of jerk chicken tacos and a low country boil at 17th Street Crab House last Friday.

Restaurateur Brian Morgan is reeling in customers at his new seafood restaurant, 17th Street Crab House, that’s situated in a small, unassuming building behind the Markland Mall.

Inside, though, is big flavor, as Morgan, who’s known by some as the man behind the former Da Roux House and Blues Barbecue, cooks up made-to-order seafood dishes and baskets that come doused in his own special house sauce.

“I’m glad about the great response we’re getting. It’s my passion, cooking, and I love the look on people’s faces when they eat my cooking,” said Morgan, who opened up shop about a month ago.

The idea for the restaurant, like many ideas, came as a solution to a problem. Morgan and his family frequented seafood joints in the Indianapolis area to get more variety since Kokomo only had one option, a chain restaurant. He'd then offer up recommendations to his family and friends on what they should try.

Before long, friends of friends started becoming regulars at places he enjoyed out of town. He’d see people he barely knew sharing their experiences on Facebook based on his recommendations. That’s when a light bulb went off, he said.

Instead of sending them out of town for seafood, he’d give them an option close to home.

With that, he began a month-long exploratory mission to discover the best ways to cook seafood, the best sauces to coat them in, and the best seafood to purchase by eating at almost every seafood restaurant he could find and scouring the internet on best practices, tips, and tricks.

“In that month, I almost didn’t know if I was going to like seafood again as much seafood as I ate,” he said, laughing.

From trying other restaurants’ sauces, he concocted his own special house sauce, while still offering the staples, such as Cajun, lemon pepper, and garlic butter.

He also chose a supplier, Cisco, that dealt only with one seafood supplier, he said, which better guarantees the same quality of seafood every time.

“We get a good product from them, and that was one thing I learned. A couple of those restaurants I went to, some of the seafood was OK. Some of it was better, but you could tell it wasn’t always the same,” he said. “I want to make sure that even if you don’t want sauce on it that you still have that sweet flavor from the meat.”

Now, he said customers have taken a liking to his seafood, but he hasn’t completely given up his grill. He still offers rib tips and jerk chicken tacos. Everything is made-to-order, which Morgan said may lead to wait times for his customers, as it has been. But, he said, it’s well worth the wait.

Morgan specializes in large boils, such as an eight- to 10-ounce crab boil for $25 that comes with crab clusters, five shrimp, andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, and boiled eggs and a low country boil for $17 that comes with 12 shrimp, andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, and boiled egg.

The restaurateur said he’s proud to bring more options to Kokomo when it comes to seafood.

“Everything else – Chinese, Mexican, Italian – there’s at least two of them. We didn’t have that with seafood. So anytime you say, ‘Let’s go get seafood,’ you think Red Lobster. There’s nothing wrong with Red Lobster, but you’ve got to have choice. And the customer always wins when you have choice,” he said.

17th Street Crab House is located at 1305 17th St. Hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Coupons can be found in the July 10 edition of the Kokomo Perspective, offering crab boils two for $40 and low country boils two for $25. Coupons are valid through Aug. 13.