"We're all really excited"- what to expect from the second Crabshakk restaurant

As the much-loved Finnieston restaurant turns 13, Rosalind Erskine spoke to Lily Brown, manager of Crabshakk Botanics about what to expect from the new restaurant and how Covid almost spelled the end of the original.

Published 14th Feb 2022
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Crabshakk was one of the first 'must visit' Finnieston restaurants, before the strip became one of the trendiest and popular places to gather in the west end.

Set up by architect John Macleod in 2009, the Finnieston restaurant has become a pillar of the food and drink scene in the city and is booked out weeks in advance at weekends thanks to its menu of fresh seafood and cosy proportions.

It's this small space that led to the hunt for a second venue, which started as a potential plan to shut the Argyle Street original.

Covid lockdowns and restrictions meant that Crabshakk was shut for almost a year, with John drawing up plans and writing to Glasgow's Lord Provost with a scheme for outdoor dining on Argyle Street.

Since then, it has been announced that Crabshakk Botanics is on the cards, with Crabshakk Finnieston thankfully staying open.

Picture: Crabshakk

Manager of the new site, Lily Brown, explained how the new restaurant came about, saying: "The new restaurant came out of the pandemic.

"John and Lynne weren't thinking about opening another Crabshakk until the pandemic happened and then the space at the old garage came up, which appealed to John as it's such as iconic building but they did think of closing or changing the Finnieston site to open somewhere bigger."

The reason they didn't, Lily explained, is because of how loved the restaurant is. "Over time it became clear that the Finnieston site is so, so loved, and people have such an attachment to it. I think that people would be really upset if we got rid of it."

With the new site still under construction and an opening date of spring this year, Lily talked about what customers can expect: "It's going to be much bigger, over 100 covers so that's quite a big step for us.

"We're going to very much take the same core values and menu from Crabshakk as we want people to come in and feel like it's familiar.

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"The menu will have all kinds of Crabshakk classics on there but we will be scaling up so there will be a couple of changes in the menu.

"We'll also going to focus more on the drinks side of things, and offer an extensive wine list and cocktails.

"We really want it to be a space where people can come and enjoy a lovely bottle of wine or cocktails and end up staying for a while and getting some oysters or something from the new evening snacks offering.

"The kitchen is much bigger so it will be really interesting to see how we develop in this new space."

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Karen Harvey who owns interior shop Hoos on Great Western Road, will open Green Hoos, a plant shop concession, on the mechanic's ramp that's part of the building.

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"It's great because it means that she can then she's going to be a big part of helping our interior in terms of bringing a bit of green into the space," Lily said.

As well as Karen's input, Sculpture & Design Ltd in Maryhill are working on bringing some of John's designs for the restaurant to life.

There's also a family connection to the business for Lily, whose grandad was a lecturer in architecture when John was at university.

"My nana, artist Rita Mcgurn drew a sketch for John and Lynne some years ago that will be used as a visual in the new restaurant, so that's pretty exciting," Lily said. (You can see the sketch on the Crabshakk Botanics Instagram).

It's nice to hear some good news from the hospitality industry after two years of covid and closures, and Crabshakk and seafood fans will be delighted to try the new restaurant.

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While Lily admits that a new venture is scary, the team are just really excited to get going: "I think sometimes the concept of opening a second site could be quite daunting, but I feel like we are just so excited as a team to be progressing and doing something,"

Crabshakk Botanics will open on April 22. Opening times are noon till midnight between Tuesday and Sunday.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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