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Schultz's Crab House in Essex receives James Beard America's Classics award

This Essex crab house was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as one of "America's Classic" restaurants.

Schultz's Crab House in Essex was among five restaurants nationwide to receive an America's Classics award this year from the James Beard Foundation.

The award honors "restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community," according to the James Beard Foundation. 

Schultz's, located at 1732 Old Eastern Ave., opened as Schultz's Cafe in 1950, and became a crab house in 1969 when the McKinney family bought it. Owner Steven McKinney could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Other 2017 America's Classics winners included Bertha's Kitchen in Charleston, S.C., Gioia's Deli in St. Louis, La Taqueria in San Francisco and Sahadi's in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

James Beard's America's Classics category was first introduced in 1998 and has since recognized about 100 honorees. To qualify, restaurants must have been in business for at least 10 years and be locally owned. The honorees are selected by the James Beard Foundation's Restaurant & Chef Awards committee, which includes restaurant critics, writers, editors and other experts.

"In an ever-changing culinary landscape, these honorees have created enduring restaurants and food establishments that have not only stood the test of time, but continue to bring people together in celebration of the unique flavors in America’s vast food scene," Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, said in a statement. "James Beard would have admired how each of these honorees authentically reflects the character and hospitality of their communities."

Nominees for other James Beard Awards, which recognize the nation's best restaurants and culinary leaders, will be announced in March. Winners will be celebrated at the 27th annual James Beard Foundation Awards Gala on May 1 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  

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