Famous Baltimore crab house to shut its doors
December 8th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
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Next year, Baltimore will lose an institution.

The owners of one of the city’s most famous crab houses have announced that next season will be the last at their downtown location. According to their website, Obrycki’s has been doling out steamed crab goodness since 1944 when Melvin Alexander and his brothers-in-law, Mitch, Joe, and Eddie Obrycki, expanded their bar at 1729 East Pratt Street in the Baltimore neighborhood of Fells Point into a restaurant. Soon, Obrycki’s became one of the premiere locations to grab a mallet, throw on a paper bib and dig into a mound of Maryland blue crabs.

Over the years, the owners changed and as did the location (in 1986 they moved across the street to their current spot at 1727 East Pratt Street), but they maintained a strong following of fans anxious to shell out some coin for their renowned seafood. The restaurant also enjoyed quite a bit of national exposure with appearances on various popular television shows including “Martha Stewart Living” and “Man vs. Food.”

Current owner Rob Cernak told local Baltimore TV station WMAR the family made the decision to shut its doors next year after the passing of matriarch Rose Cernak this past September.

Obrycki’s will reopen for business on March 15, 2011 and then close for good in November 2011. The restaurant also has locations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

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soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. JR

    Born and raised here and I have never eaten there. There are so many crab shacks! Once you steam your own crabs there is no going out. Coveside Crabs in Dundalk is the best live crabs around! 7656 Old Battle Grove Road Dundalk, Maryland 21222 410-477-4709

    January 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Lee

      Thank you very much JR! We, the owner's of Coveside Crabs, work very hard to catch and sell only the best crabs from our bay. You should try our soft-shelled crabs too. We pull them directly from our tanks. We will reopen in April. Again, thank you!!!!

      January 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Kristen

    How hard is it to boil crabs and sprinkle Old Bay on them? A crab is a crab. What you now can't get at Obryckis you can still get at 50 other places in BMore. Its not like they invented crabs.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  3. W

    I live 1 block from Obrycki's – 1700 block of Gough Street. I will be sad to see it go for the nostalgia / tradition, but there are better places to get crabs in town. Try Bo Brooks in Canton.

    December 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  4. Melissa

    I grew up in Baltimore, now I live in DC. How come there are no good crab houses in DC or the MD suburrbs?

    December 11, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Jet Silver

    My gf lived for years in Baltimore and whenever we visited we had to go to Obrycki's. It's a real shame that the restaurant has to close. I'd never seen these East Coast crabs before (out West we have Dungeness crabs that are completely different) and had never before been issued a hammer as part of the flatware.

    December 9, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  6. Mark from Middle River

    I have to agree, I have lived in the Maryland area all my life and I had not heard of Obrycki's until a visitor to Hopkins mentioned it. She looked at those in the room as if we all went there every week to eat with our families.

    I think it is just one of those restaurants, such as Haussner's that only catered to a specific demographic of Baltimore so will not be severely missed. Chances are those that live in that neighborhood will miss it and thats it. Try this, the restaurant/take out called "the Roost" or just simply "LakeTrout" that catered to the African American community for decades nearly dropped off the face the earth when the old couple that ran it died and their successful offspring did not want to quit their job(s) and return to tend to the same grill and fryers that their parents did to serve the Baltimore community.

    Come on folks, Haussner's, Obrycki's and The Roost were our parents generation. They also were ran by owners that probably felt that everything would be a failure if the generations or their descendants had to do the same jobs that they did.

    December 9, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  7. misplacedtexan

    They will still be in mail order business, according to the owner in a TV interview.

    December 9, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  8. Mike

    Good idea for selling a business in a down economy: claim you are going out of business.
    Prediction: Obrycki's will still be serving crabs in 2015, it just won't be the Cernaks' place anymore

    December 9, 2010 at 4:30 am |
  9. DrJM911

    Went to Johns Hopkins undergrad in the 70's, but of course did not have the cash to visit the go-to restaurants as a student. I hope they still do mail-order crabs and keep their BWI location open so I can get my fix on demand.

    December 9, 2010 at 12:41 am |
  10. TXJK

    Sounds like a case of the crabs too me....

    December 8, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
  11. Zostar

    It's not such a sad day for the crabs.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  12. jimbo

    NOOOO!! i first learned how to eat crabs here. we'd go here during lunchtime at work and get pitchers of beer. and then i'd go back to work and sleep in the bathroom.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  13. Ashley Augustin

    I recall visiting Obryckis as a tourist many years ago, but I have now lived in Baltimore 8 years, and no one here ever eats at Obryckis, most natives have never heard of this place. But trust me there are still great crabs to have in MD!

    December 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • Ressie

      Yes I totaly I agree with you. I've lived in Baltimore my entire life, I'm a serious crab eater, and I've never heard of the place. Guess I'll check it out before its gone forever

      December 9, 2010 at 3:36 am |
      • whiteblaze

        i agree. lived in bmore my whole life and although i have heard of it, no one i know has ever been there. totally tourist place. usually real bmore crab eaters go to places in our neighborhoods; and there are a lot of them around.

        December 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  14. Poe's Liver

    Whenever I want crabs, I visit my ex.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Josh

      Well played sir.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
      • Aunt S.

        You wouldn't be living in Mongolia right now, would you?

        December 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • GG

      That's funny!!! Thanks for the smile :)

      December 9, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  15. Mel

    How sad! Like Hausner's, it's the end of another Baltimore icon

    December 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
    • Susan

      As a nursing student at Hopkins in the '60's, my very favorite place to eat was Haussners. Every big event, birthdays, graduations, and engagements were celebrated there. Altho I have traveled extensively and eaten at Michelin starred restaurants thru Europe, if I could have one final meal request, it would be for Haussner's shrimp stuffed with crabmeat, followed by their strawberry pie.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  16. Phil, Ohio

    Never heard of it!
    I thought it was going to be about Joe's Crab Shack because I thought people stopped going due to the help staff singing and jumping around during what SHOULD BE a quiet dinner time where you can enjoy your meal in peace.!

    December 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • Ms. Prescott

      Joe's is a loud, boisterous place, even the commercials convey that, it's their business model and a big part of the draw. You would be the only person who ever went there expecting a quiet dinner.

      December 8, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  17. Lan


    December 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  18. Samantha

    as long as Lexington market still keeps its doors open... this is sad though, quite an institution. Still, for a good/hot/humid/stanky Bmore afternoon – not a lot beats going to the Broadway market and grabbing a couple of crabs, a couple of natty's and a ton of napkins and feasting on the docks of the harbor.

    December 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  19. razzlea

    its sad , check out my blog http://shamirecipes.blogspot.com/

    December 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Sarah michele

    It is a sad day.

    December 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  21. Katie

    This is terrible. Whenever I go to visit my aunt in Maryland, Obrycki's got a visit. They'll be missed.

    December 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  22. Sir Biddle

    Though I grew up in the Midwest, there is nothing like hammer crab in late summer. This place will be missed as much as Rose.

    December 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • mmi16

      It is sad that the family doesn't share the passion of their elders in continuing the business.

      December 9, 2010 at 12:22 am |
      • Rob Cernak

        As the saying goes, "don't let the facts get in the way of a good story."

        Although we were deeply saddened by the loss of our Mother, she was fully supportive of the decision to close this location, and in fact she provided insight that helped us realize that this was the correct decision moving forward.

        Since retiring from the business 15 years ago; she was our biggest cheer leader and a valued advisor. Also, being a proud parent, she was delighted by our growth over the years.

        Our Pratt Street Crab House is only one location that is closing, but we currently have two locations under development, and several more opportunities on the horizon. Additionally, we have never stated that we are leaving Baltimore for good, as we are always looking for new opportunities.

        We look to this as evolution of our company, not the end of it. -Rob

        December 9, 2010 at 8:32 am |
      • Jimbo Coles

        Atta boy Rob. Best of luck to you and your family moving forward with your new ventures.

        December 9, 2010 at 8:58 am |
      • Shashinka Ichiban

        The title is a little misleading. It sounds like more of a relocation than a going out of biz deal, which is good. As a life long Marylander, I hate seeing any crab shack go.

        December 9, 2010 at 9:01 am |
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