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Seafood Chain Boiling Crab Scuttles Into Harvard Square

The building at 96 Winthrop St. — formerly home of the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 — is set to be home to seafood chain The Boiling Crab.
The building at 96 Winthrop St. — formerly home of the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 — is set to be home to seafood chain The Boiling Crab. By Amanda M. DiMartini
By Tracy Jiang and Davin W. Shi, Crimson Staff Writers

The Boiling Crab, a seafood chain originally from Garden Grove, Calif., plans on debuting its first Massachusetts location in Harvard Square early next year.

The restaurant will be located at 96 Winthrop St., which previously housed the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 – an umbrella organization that comprises the Hasty Pudding Club, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and the Harvard Krokodiloes – from 2014 to 2018. The space at 96 Winthrop St. also housed the Irish pub Tommy Doyle’s from 2005 to 2013.

The Boiling Crab – founded by Dada Ngo and Sinh Nguyen in 2004 – specializes in Louisiana-style Cajun seafood. After the launch of its first restaurant in Garden Grove, it has since expanded across the nation to Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Texas, and Washington D.C., and internationally to China and Australia.

Customers can expect to order blue crab, lobster, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, or oysters at The Boiling Crab. Diners may also customize their meal by selecting from a variety of sauces – including the seafood chain’s famous The Whole Sha-Bang! sauce – and spice levels ranging from “non-spicy” to “XXX.”

The Cambridge License Commission unanimously approved The Boiling Crab’s request for a liquor license in late July.

Andrew Upton, an attorney representing The Boiling Crab in front of the License Commission, described the restaurant as a “communal dining experience.”

“It’s boiled shellfish with various sauces and other kinds of seafood. [It] pairs well with beer, wine, and cocktails,” he said during the meeting.

David Nguyen – the manager of the proposed location and vice president of operations at The Boiling Crab – told the commission that the restaurant will offer an “eat with your hands” type of food.

“Outside of the Texas-Louisiana area, most people have never really experienced a real crab boil,” he said. “Once people got a chance to taste and experience our authentic boil, it started getting very popular and gave us a chance to expand all over California.”

The restaurant’s proposed hours are from 3 p.m to 10 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 10 p.m. on weekends, and it plans to seat up to 218 customers.

The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission must confirm the license the Cambridge commission awarded to The Boiling Crab before the store can open.

—Staff writer Tracy Jiang can be reached at tracy.jiang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @_tracyjiang_.

—Staff writer Davin W. Shi can be reached at davin.shi@thecrimson.com.

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Harvard SquareRestaurantsThe SquareSquare BusinessMetro NewsMetroFront Middle Feature