Home CultureBlack-Owned Crabbae: A Speakeasy-Style Caribbean Restaurant in West Orange

Crabbae: A Speakeasy-Style Caribbean Restaurant in West Orange

by Diana Cooper
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Crabbae, a Caribbean fusion restaurant, has opened its third location in West Orange. Following the success of the Maplewood and Kenilworth eateries, founder Kashif Jones has turned the former Bonds Tavern into Crabbae West, bringing a different kind of speakeasy to Essex County. Known for its specialty items, seasoned crab legs, Rasta pasta, and rib eyes, the newest edition of the Crabbae family, located at 643 Eagle Rock Avenue, hopes to bring the same flavorful dishes to their customers with a mysterious twist. Read on to learn more about Crabbae West.

crabbae west interior

Photo Credit: Kashif Jones

From The Ground Up

Crabbae was derived five years ago out of Kashif’s apartment in Irvington, New Jersey. Spending days by the ocean catching crabs and then serving them out of his apartment window, Kashif’s initial success came from word of mouth from his friends, co-workers, and neighbors, who were his biggest customers at the time. “There was so much support. One weekend I was absolutely flooded and had 60 orders. There was a line outside of my house,” Kashif told The Montclair Girl.

The Ivy at Chatham

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The 33-year-old former correction officer officially opened his first storefront in Maplewood in 2020 — the grand opening took place the same day the nation shut down. The flagship restaurant is takeout only. However, the second location, which opened in Kenilworth a year later, is dine-in and has a more intimate space with a dozen or so tables.

crabbae west lobster dish

Photo Credit: Kashif Jones

Kashif noted, “I went viral on social media. People would travel from New York, Pennsylvania, and all over New Jersey. Customers still come from various places. It became a social media thing of, ‘I have to try it.’” Crabbae’s Maplewood Instagram account has 96.7K followers whereas Crabbae’s Kenilworth has grown to 120K.

Finally, Crabbae’s West Orange location opened at the end of August 2023 with help from Kashif’s business partner Ketan Amin. Given its speakeasy vibes, Crabbae is hidden inside Bonds Tavern and is dimly lit inside, which adds to the relaxed atmosphere and the black and green Caribbean decor. Kashif said, “There’s nothing like this in Essex County. I just stand on that, and we put our own type of love here.”



About the Menu

What also makes Crabbae stand out from other seafood restaurants is the huge portions — two to three-person servings — and fresh ingredients, Kashif says. “All of our sauces are made here and crafted by me. I made all of the items on the menu. I can cook anything. The seafood is fresh, all our food – you can taste the love in it.”

crabbae west rasta pasta

The menu consists of the popular dish, Rasta pasta, which “is like a jerk Alfredo pasta,” cauliflower bites, oxtails, crab legs, seafood fajita, honey jerk wings and loaded bae fries that are topped with crabmeat.

Kashif explained the inspiration behind the menu, “My family is from here, originally from Africa, but I’ve always been in love with Caribbean food, whether it’s Dominican or Jamaican. Anything in the Caribbean is my favorite type of food. But it also has a little Italian in there, a little Asian, like the sweet chili shrimp. And our tacos would be inspired by Mexico.”

crabbae west shrimp cauliflower bites

Aside from enjoying a meal in the dining area, customers can also grab a drink at the bar. The restaurant has signature alcoholic beverages such as Blue Lagoon, Sailors Rum Punch, Tipsy Crab Sangria, and Crabbarita, a twist on the classic margarita.

The father of two says the team just rolled out the brunch menu, featuring pancake flights, waffles, and shrimp and grits. “It’ll be Saturday and Sunday. I think Saturdays will be a really fun brunch that I’m working on. Sundays are like a family-oriented brunch. We do have a DJ, but it’d be a lot of families in here,” Kashif told MG

Check It Out

The owner says that customers have been really into Crabbae’s newest location since it makes them feel “exclusive” and “like they discovered something.” The restaurant was designed by Feifi Deer, an interior designer who works with celebrities and at big events. In addition, there are normally fun events throughout the week, such as R&B nights, Ladies Night, networking night, and Taco Tuesdays, which are unlimited tacos for $16.

crabbae west speakeasy nj

Ever since the beginning, Kashif has given back to the community in one way or another and has created over 100 jobs throughout his three locations. He revealed, “I get involved with the town, the Chamber of Commerce. I’m always active. I support the businesses in the towns that I’m in. And since I was a first responder and was in law enforcement, I made it my job to give back to police and fire and get involved with the local high schools as well. I don’t like just being here, I like being a part of the community.”

See More: Freetown Road Project: Delicious Caribbean Food in Jersey City

He’s not done yet. Kashif is looking in Bergen County for his next Crabbae location and has been eyeing Montclair. His goal is to have six locations in New Jersey and then branch off and have a farm to “really grasp the farm-to-table concept.”

For more information, visit crabbae.com and for the latest updates, follow Crabbae West on Instagram.

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