Leola’s Crab Shack building legacy as Southside fixture

[subtitle]Business of the Month[/subtitle]

Mary Rosier showcased Leola’s signature seafood platter to  a delighted customer.  Photo by Sean Sanders

Mary Rosier showcased Leola’s signature seafood platter to a delighted customer. Photo by Sean Sanders



By Sean Sanders
Outlook writer

Walk into Leola’s Crab Shack and the aroma alone is enticing. It’s distinctly garlic crabs and fried catfish.
For more than a decade, the family-owned seafood restaurant has served thousands of home-styled meals on Tallahassee’s south side.
For some it’s a place to fill the urge for Southern fixings.
Others make it a daily stop. “I keep coming back because of the quality of service and food,” said Tahara Jordan, a returning customer. “I can never get enough Leola’s.”
The food isn’t all that’s attracting. Waiting customers can always enjoy old-school music mixed with a blend of today’s favorites.
The ambiance is cozy and the service is second to none, customers say. For the family that owns the restaurant, it’s a labor of love that they’ve established since it opened in 2007.
They’ve named it in honor of Leola McKinnon, an honor intended to keep her legacy alive in the nearby community. It’s fast becoming a fixture that hundreds, if not thousands, have come to rely on.
“At the time of us first starting, there was no authentic southern seafood business in this area,” said longtime employee Mary Rosier, who is affectionately known to patrons as Ms. Mary.
Customers say its convenient location is one reason they keep coming back. They also seemingly like the personal attention that they receive.
But the food definitely is the main fare on a menu that includes crabs dipped in their signature garlic butter, juicy garlic corn on the cob and other popular items that are available for breakfast, lunch or dinner including shrimp and tilapia.
Not every customer has experienced Leola’s delicacies in the restaurant, as they also provide a mobile service. Leola’s food truck is always a popular choice at community events.
“That’s how I found out about them in the first place,” said Brian Pace, a returning patron.
Leola’s location is especially convenient for FAMU students like Shawntell Delice who is sold on knowing the food is always as desired.
“I appreciate Leola’s consistency, not only with their service, but with their attendance,” Delice said. “Leola’s is never not where I expect them to be, at every homecoming, at a majority of community wide events. They are a reliable service.”
The students of FAMU have the added benefit of having Leola’s just down the street from the university’s main campus.
The appeal for Kayla Crowley, another FAMU student, is the variety on the menu.
“I love Leola’s, they give the average college student something amazing to eat,” said Crowley. “We don’t have to travel far to get it.”