Our Story

Nestled on the banks of the Dania Cutt-Off Canal sits the Rustic Inn.

 

For more than 60 years, it has lured hungry locals and world travelers to its dock for exotic crustaceans. Communing at its tables, over a bounty of crabs, has not always been the Rustic Inn’s enterprise. No, the history of this old Florida remnant goes back to the days of sight-seeing tours in the Florida Everglades, gator wrestling and a beer-drinking pig named Suzette.

In those days, the Rustic Inn was a small Italian restaurant, until everything changed on a hot day in 1959…

Restaurant Sign - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Rustic Inn
Restaurant Seating - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Rustic Inn

Being so close to the Dania Cutt-Off Canal, the owner of the Rustic Inn, Hank, would often catch a couple dozen crabs behind the restaurant for himself. One hot Florida day, he was sitting at a table near the bar pickin’ at some crabs and talkin’ when a customer approached his table and asked, “What is that? Can we get some of those?

Six months after this encounter, Hank was sending his son, Gary, to Fort Meyers and Melbourne just to meet the 30,000 lbs of crabs they were going through each week. Then, on another hot day, a customer saw Hank was pickin’ at some crabs covered in a butter sauce and asked, “What is that? Can we have some of those?” On that day, the world was introduced to our legendary garlic crabs, and there has been a line out the door ever since.

One day, a customers walked up to Hank’s table and ask, “What do you call this place? Can we have a name” Hank didn’t have a name to give, since he’d never named his restaurant. The time had finally come to give his ship her name. Hank heard about a motel that had closed up the road. When he drove by, he noticed the motel sign was discarded. He seized the opportunity to get the sign. The Rustic Inn became the name of his restaurant from thenceforth.

Once people got to pickin’ and talkin’, it didn’t take long for the restaurant to garner a worldwide reputation. Today, people travel from all over by way of boat, plane, or car, to crack open a few of our World Famous Garlic Crabs™.

The Rustic Inn Crabhouse has built onto its original one-room bar to feed a hungry crowd of up to 600. You can perch at the original bar where Suzette enjoyed her Miller High Life. Grab a table by the Dania Cutt-Off Canal or sit in the main dining room. Keep your eyes peeled you might even see a celebrity or two. Either way, dress casual, grab your mallet and bib, it’s time to get crackin’.

Crab Dinner - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Rustic Inn