The Crabby Bill’s Story
Crabby Bill’s proudly celebrated its 37th anniversary in April of 2019! They are undoubtedly the best known seafood restaurant in Indian Rocks Beach, and it is not only because of the food they serve. The Loder family is just as much a part of IRB as the families that were born and raised here. The Crabby Bill’s adventure started much earlier with family roots of patriarch, Bill Loder, going back to New Jersey where a young man and his wife were beginning a life and a family together. Mom and Dad (Bill & Dolores Loder) had been in the seafood business since early after their marriage in 1954 in New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia. They sold blue crabs on the side of the road, and they also owned a small seafood restaurant together. Dolores and Bill loved traveling to the Jersey shore, Delaware and Maryland to acquire fresh product to sell to the public who enjoyed their style of serving fresh seafood. In 1968, they moved to Madeira Beach, Florida, where they not only sold blue crabs along the roadside, but also did the fishing, the clamming, and the hauling of seafood all throughout the state until they finally opened their very own small restaurant, Captain Bill’s Beach Kitchen in 1975. Mom cooked, (and what a great cook she was!) Dad shucked clams, oysters, and the like, while the kids pitched in to lend a helping hand. As the children married, another member was added to the Loder family team! After several locations, including restaurants in Redington Shores (1975), Madeira Beach, Bay Pines, and Tyrone, and many boats, crab traps and refrigeration trucks later, they moved in April of 1983 to Indian Rocks Beach into a small building, now known as Ready Set Yo; formerly known as The Fish Market and prior to that, Wolfies, a hotdog stand that sold hotdogs out of their front window on Gulf Blvd. Matt Loder Sr. who currently runs the Crabby Bill’s Empire, recalls how they all thought Dad was crazy at the time.
“We didn’t even have a sign, and we used to park a truck out near the road that had our name on it!” – Matt Loder, Sr.
Six months later, Bill Loder bought a second building on the block, which had been previously occupied by a group of doctors, from Joe Carbonaro, thereby opening a second restaurant on the block. In February of 1987, with Dad now in his 50s and whose desire was to own a business that could support his family and be passed down to his kids, purchased another building on the southwest corner, from Jim Sparks, owner of The Blue Lagoon (previous businesses include Scoop’s Ice Cream Shop, the Mamba Club, Blue Hawaii), and now Crabby Bill’s. Matt Loder Sr. reflects back on how Indian Rocks was different back then, in a time where there were more ma-and-pa-type motels with lots of people from Tampa having second homes and cottages in the area, where they came to IRB for the weekends and brought their families and friends. “And how did we arrive at the name Crabby Bills? Well, since we had sold the Captain Bill’s name and its location in 1982, we needed to drum up a new name for our family business and that is when daughter Eleanor declared, ‘Dad is crabby, we like crabs, why not Crabby Bill’s?‘” And history was made. Crabby Bill’s is one of the largest employers and one of the largest sales tax contributors within Indian Rocks Beach. It has grown from a small 800 square foot building on Gulf Blvd to include several additions to The Original Crabby Bill’s Family Brands: Crabby Gifts, Jake’s Mexican Cantina , LuLu’s Oyster Bar and Tap House, Ready Set Yo!, Seabreeze Island Grill, Crabby Bill’s Off The Hook, Clearwater Oyster Company, Tropix Beach Bar, and Crabby Bill’s Fish Camp.”