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Black History Month: Women Recount 6-Year Road To Successful Crab Restaurant In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As we celebrate Black History Month, several New York restaurants are taking part in Black Restaurant Week.

One of them is run by two friends who took a chance on a dream -- and are now on a roll, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported Tuesday.

Six years ago, Fifi Bell-Clanton and Gwen Woods answered a calling, a calling to open up a restaurant in Crown Heights to satisfy crab lovers' cravings.

"We both left our careers and six months later... we opened up The Crabby Shack," Woods said.

And ever sync, their customers can't seem to get enough, slipping on gloves for some crab in a bag.

The Crabby Shack
(Photo: CBS2)

"It's really different. That's fun, too, that you can sit here and eat with your hands," said Jeanette Henderson, who was visiting from Sweden.

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The two friends were inspired by their crab-consuming family traditions rooted in Philadelphia and Chesapeake Bay, respectively. It was a true leap of faith.

"Gwen left her VP position at Bad Boy for 20 years. I left working as a fashion stylist for 18 years to sort of leap into something that we had no idea about," Bell-Clanton said.

They learned quick and impressed even faster with their mouth-watering menu of all things crab.

Crab legs, crab cakes ... and their now famous Clobster Roll.

"Most of the New York places are Cajun style. Ours is basically Maryland mixed with a bit of Philadelphia, if you will," Bell-Clanton said.

"I'm telling you you've got a taste this to believe it. Talking is cheap. You got to taste it," customer TP Ellison said.

"The service here is great. The food is phenomenal. The sauce is phenomenal. It's literally my favorite crab spot," Sheila Pressoir added.

"Years ago there were black-owned restaurants, but because of the changing neighborhood a lot of them have been pushed out," Woods said. "So the fact that we were able to come in and open up on Franklin Avenue is really, really something special for us."

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As part of Black History Month, The Crabby Shack is joining more than a dozen restaurants in the New York-Metropolitan Area for Black Restaurant Week, with each restaurant offering discounts or specials.

"As black people, I also feel like it's really important for us to come together," Woods said.

"I make it a point to support black-owned businesses, because I know now that I'm in it how hard it is to even sustain," Bell-Clanton said.

They're hoping their success story continues to inspire beyond this week, and beyond Black History Month.

New York Black Restaurant Week was created in 2013. Participating restaurants serve various cuisines, including West Indian, Haitian, Jamaican, and African.

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