Food & Drink

The seafood wars continue: PETA and Jimmy’s Famous Seafood have new dueling billboards in Baltimore

One of two Jimmy’s Famous Seafood billboards stands in the restaurant’s parking lot in response to a PETA billboard a block away.

Maryland blue crab season is almost here — and the crab claws are already out.

A long-running feud between animal rights organization PETA and Southeast Baltimore seafood house Jimmy’s Famous Seafood was reignited this week with new billboard advertisements on display near the restaurant.

A pair of Jimmy’s Famous Seafood billboards stand in the restaurant’s parking lot in response to a PETA billboard a block away.

PETA kicked off the latest round of barbs with a Lent-themed ad featuring a picture of a fish and the message: “I never lent you my flesh. Go vegan.”

Jimmy’s, known for its active social media presence and online sparring with vegans, was quick to respond, promising a billboard of its own. On Thursday, the restaurant tweeted a picture of two side-by-side billboard ads, each with its own references to the Lenten season.


One, featuring a picture of steamed and seasoned crabs, says: “They died to be enjoyed. Savor the sacrifice.” The second has an image of a crabcake and the message: “It’d be a sin to waste them. Come and get ‘em.”

John Minadakis, a co-owner of Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, said the latest PETA campaign didn’t come as a surprise. The Norfolk, Virginia-based organization has sparked discussion in seafood-loving Baltimore before. In August 2018, the animal rights group unveiled a billboard ad at the corner of East Baltimore Street, near the Shot Tower, with an image of a crab and a pro-vegan message: “I’m me, not meat. See the individual. Go vegan.”

The seafood spot shot back with a billboard parodying the PETA ad, which read: “SteaMEd crabs. Here to stay. Get Famous.”

Minadakis said the last round of ads has had the effect of driving more attention and business to Jimmy’s.

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“It definitely serves as a sort of rallying cry every time they attempt this, and it’s great for us because we see people often that we haven’t seen in a few months or a few years,” he said. “It just reminds them that we’re here.”

A PETA billboard is seen along Holabird Avenue, a block away from Jimmy’s Famous Seafood.

PETA, meanwhile, said the intention of the campaign is to encourage people to think more compassionately when it comes to the food they put on their plates.

The ad comes amid Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month, a promotion organized by local restaurateurs Naijha Wright-Brown and Sam Claassen to encourage Maryland restaurants to add more vegan options to their menus.

“The Jimmy’s team seems to have a sense of humor, as do we, but they don’t have a heart or the marketing wherewithal to realize that people are snapping up vegan vittles,” said Tracy Reiman, an executive vice president at PETA, in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. “Instead of getting their claws out, they could join PETA’s appeal to show kindness to fish during Lent and year-round by adding a tasty vegan option to the menu.”


A PETA spokesperson said last week that the Lent-themed ad would be on display through Monday this week. Minadakis said his billboards would stay up through Easter.

He also hinted there would be a “phase two” of the restaurant’s response, in the form of more billboards.

“They will be closer to PETA’s headquarters is all I can say,” he said.