A Midlothian seafood staple is under new ownership.
Crab Louie’s Seafood Tavern was sold in May by longtime owner Bruce Wilson to Brian and Marie Steele. The transaction was handled by Bruce Hobart of Sunbelt Business Brokers of Richmond. Neither Wilson nor Brian Steele would disclose financial specifics of the deal.
Crab Louie’s 3,600-square-foot space is at 1352 Sycamore Square. Developer Doug Woolfolk owns the building, which dates to 1745. The building housed two failed restaurants in the 1970s. Wilson had owned and operated Crab Louie’s since 1988.
“I haven’t had a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve off in the last 25 years,” said Wilson, who turned 60 this year. “It was just a good time to sell.”
The restaurant employs about 55 people, Wilson said. It serves a loyal lunch crowd that comes back for the eatery’s bread, relish, crab cakes and she-crab soup, he said.
The Steeles took over June 1. This is the couple’s first time owning a restaurant, Brian Steele said, but they aren’t strangers to the business. Steele said he has more than 30 years of food experience, starting with working at family-owned establishments in the 1980s and ’90s in Virginia Beach.
Steele said the couple has no big changes planned for the restaurant.
“Crab Louie’s is an institution. It’s been here for over 25 years. It does not need changing. Our job is to keep Crab Louie’s going as it is,” he said.
Steele said that he would tweak the menu a bit but that “my clientele would run me out of town if I changed the menu.”
Wilson is the second local seafood restaurant owner to call it quits in recent months. In June, Skilligalee owner Richard Stephenson announced that his restaurant would serve its last meal July 12 after more than 40 years in business.
For Wilson, the time was right and so was the buyer.
“When I first met Brian to discuss the possibility of selling the restaurant, I went home and told my wife that he reminded [of myself from] 25 years ago,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to pass it on to someone you have confidence in.”