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Meet Kim Phan of Crab Hut in Downtown San Diego and Mira Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Phan.

Kim, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My husband, sister and I created Crab Hut in 2007 with a passion to bring Southern-inspired seafood boil to San Diego. At the time, our parents were running a small mom and pop restaurant in El Cajon city. Growing up in a restaurant family, we saw the long hours and hard work our parents put into their restaurant. However, that did not scare us away from the industry. Crab Hut was started as a fun project for us, with a hope that one day we can alleviate our parents from their small family restaurant. But, we never expected the multi-location success of the concept.

Our family landed in Texas after we left Vietnam as refugees. We were introduced to Cajun food and seafood boils from our family who had already settled in Houston for many years before us. Ever since we have been hooked on the complex flavors of Cajun and Creole cuisine. When we decided to open Crab Hut, we were broke youngsters. My husband and I were 24 years old and my sister was only 18. We had no collateral for the banks and a limited credit history. We turned to our parents for a loan and used our credit cards to supplement restaurant equipment costs. Our roles were divided among our strongest strength. My husband is construction and design, my sister with recipes and menu planning, while I am in-charge of finance and office work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely has not been a smooth sailing for us. Although we were introduced to the industry at very young ages, we feel that every day is a new lesson for us to learn. There have been many struggles, but one that stands out to us is to keep our food affordable without compromising on our quality and guests’ experience. We have to truly love what we do and never put out anything that we would be embarrassed to serve to our friends and family.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Crab Hut story. Tell us more about the business.
Our specialty is Southern Seafood boils. However, in the past years we are also known for the only Cajun seafood boil restaurant in San Diego with craft cocktails on the menu. We’re in good hand as we have our talented beverage director, David Tye, running our cocktail programs for all three locations. Being a locally owned business, we want to promote San Diego’s ever growing dining scene. We’ve partnered up with many local breweries, distilleries and eateries in San Diego for collaborative nights, tap takeovers and cocktails nights. I think what set us apart from others is our passion for quality ingredients and our hardworking team. Many of our staff has been with us through thick and thin since the very first day. We are thankful and feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful team.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think we have been very fortunate in term of timing. After signing the lease for our very first location in Convoy, we worked nights and days to get it open as we don’t have much cash flow to keep the door closes. But we’re not prepared for such a big crowd waiting for us to open. Back then, social media was still not very popular. We did not have a Facebook page until years later. We were underprepared and made a lot of mistakes during the first week and the crowd turned their back on us. It took us months to regain their trust and they gave us another chance. We thought there is no way we will survive another month, then all of the sudden, we’re busy again.

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1 Comment

  1. Donna Kriege

    May 18, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Amazing food and great service!! cocktails are also top notch.

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