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Shortage Of Crab Meat, Means Sticker Shock For Maryland Restaurant Owners, Customers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland restaurants happily welcomed back customers for the summer season at full capacity. But owners are not only dealing with staffing issues -- a crab meat shortage is causing some sticker shock for both owners and customers.

It's not even a week into the summer and the crab supply across the state, and nation, is on John Minadakis' mind.

"We're definitely in a crisis point right now," Minadakis, the owner of Jimmy's Famous Seafood, said. "Everybody in our industry is really kind of panicking right now and there is no light right now at the end of the tunnel."

Prices at Jimmy's and other places are up. That's because crab meat is in short supply. Because of the pandemic, there aren't enough laborers to catch crabs or pick the crabs for packages. Many of those workers comes to Maryland and other parts of the country on H-2B visas as seasonal workers.

"Right now, we're paying 60 percent more than what we're used to paying for crabmeat," Minadakis said. "While we haven't done that to our crab cakes, they're definitely paying a few dollars more for crab cakes."

"If you're a Baltimorean, this is a crisis when there's not enough crabs because we love our crabs in Baltimore," diner Beth Harbinson, of Ellicott City, said.

At Pappas in Cockeysville, a pop-up on their website says they've added $3 to all crab dishes because of the shortage.

At True Chesapeake in North Baltimore, they've decided to adjust their menu.

"Crab meat is double what we normally pay for it, so there's a balancing act of trying to keep a couple things on that we know that everybody wants to come in for," Head Chef & Owner Zack Mills said.

True Chesapeake tells WJZ it was about a month ago when this shortage caught their attention. They also say they're afraid they don't see an end in sight.

This story was originally posted on June 25, 2021. 

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