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Former food truck Crab Cab lands permanent home on Richmond Highway

Former food truck Crab Cab has found a permanent home along Richmond Highway.

The seafood restaurant and bar opened last week in a 1,500-square-foot space in Penn Daw at 6238 Richmond Highway, as first reported by On the Move. It’s next to also newly-opened Kung Fu Tea and across from Krispy Kreme. Menu highlights include crab cakes, salmon fries, and shrimp baskets.

This is Crab Cab’s and owner Ghazal Amir’s first brick-and-mortar location after nearly a decade serving out of a mostly-D.C.-centric food truck. Amir is a mother of three, from Alexandria, and went to high school just down the road at what’s now called Alexandria City High School. So, it made sense to bring her business back close to home.

“It’s a very busy location,” Amir told FFXnow about why she decided to open up here. “Along Richmond Highway, it’s a lot of fast food or older [restaurants]. So, we are bringing something a lot newer and modern to the neighborhood.”

Since she was a kid, Amir had always wanted to open her own restaurant. For years, she worked in nearly every aspect of the restaurant industry – from buser to cook to bartender to cocktail waitress, she said. In 2013, she decided to strike it out on her own and open a food truck that served crab cakes and other seafood dishes.

“I wanted to offer people something higher quality than just a burger,” she said.

Amir said for much of the time running the Crab Cab food truck was quite successful, living off recommendations and knowing what blocks were best for business. But when the pandemic hit, office workers and their appetites dried up.

She started taking the truck to apartment buildings and hospitals, while also donating food to nurses and workers at the height of the pandemic. The kind act didn’t go unnoticed.

“People said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come to our neighborhood? People would actually buy your food. It’s really good.’ So, we went to one neighborhood and after that, it just grew,” she said.

It was earlier this year when she started seeking out space for Crab Cab’s permanent home. But “a lot of doors were closed in our face,” she said because she would ask for a tenant improvement allowance that a lot of landlords didn’t want to provide. In the end, Amir found a landlord – JCR Companie – that “believed in me” and provided some funds to revamp the space.

A combination of her own funds and the landlord resulted in an updated, modernized space that Amir said is “really beautiful inside.”  Crab Cab opened last Monday with help from her three kids, who all work at the restaurant.

“They have helped me a lot and stuck by me,” Amir said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing if I didn’t have those people in my corner helping.”

There’ve been challenges, of course, in the first week of operation, including the need to hire more help and Amir learning how to run a full-service restaurant for the first time.

But the shell of success is there. While Amir spoke with FFXnow, twice she stopped to ask customers how their meal and service was.

“I just want to leave behind a legacy for my children,” she said.