Harford Magazine

At Richard’s Fish & Crabs, crustaceans are the ‘bread and butter’ for Bel Air favorite

Selling fresh crabs started as a side hustle for Richard Anderson. Three decades later, he has two crab houses of his own.

Anderson, the proprietor of Richard’s Fish & Crabs in Bel Air, was a teacher looking for extra income when he took a job at Gibby’s Seafood & Gourmet Market in Timonium. When the seafood shop’s owner asked whether Anderson would be interested in running a roadside crab truck in Harford County during the summer of 1989, he jumped at the opportunity.


“It was slow at first, a real one-man show,” he recalled. “Then, after about three years, it took off.”

That truck ended up being Anderson’s entree into the world of crabs. In 2000, he opened The Seafood Stop, his first brick-and-mortar crab house, in Fallston.

Richard Anderson, the owner of Richard’s Fish & Crabs in Bel Air, recently relocated his restaurant to a new building, just 150 yards from the old one.

Anderson, who quit his teaching job as the seafood business picked up, launched Richard’s Fish & Crabs six years later, on the site of a former gas station. The bright yellow carryout at the corner of Route 22 and Schucks Road became something of a local landmark, with eye-catching signs advertising hot, steamed crabs year-round and 80-cent wings on Thursdays.

“The corner was amazing,” Anderson said, but the small building left a lot to be desired when it came to the size of the work area. He placed two sea containers outside the carryout. In one, he stored the crabs; in the other, employees sorted and seasoned the crustaceans. Inside the building, the kitchen and steam room shared one space, making for very hot working conditions.

So last summer, Anderson moved Richard’s Fish & Crabs to a new building just 150 yards from the old restaurant. The new spot is three times bigger, an improvement for employees but also for customers, who can order from a much larger menu and enjoy their food at a handful of tables indoors.

While the old location was limited to fried food and salads, the new kitchen has room to broil, bake and sauté, as well. Customers can now choose from options like a steamed scallop platter served with coleslaw and deviled eggs, or the “Cream of Crab To Die For” soup featuring hand-picked crab meat, a touch of sherry and Anderson’s secret stock.

The shrimp salad, with its deep red spice blend, is a customer favorite at Richard's Fish & Crabs.

The crab house, of course, has kept its staple offering.

Steamed crabs have “always been our bread and butter,” Anderson said.

Another enduring favorite is the “Really Good Shrimp Salad” — so named, he said, for the exclamation that many customers make after trying a sample of the mix, which uses whole shrimp and a vibrant red spice blend.

Over the years — from the crab truck to the two crab houses — Anderson has accumulated a loyal following, some of whom have been buying crabs from him for more than 30 years. The crab houses are a family affair, with three of Anderson’s six children working for the business. His wife, Lisa, keeps the books.


“It’s fun to see the generations,” Anderson said. “Business is all about relationships: with staff, customers, suppliers. I think that’s what makes you successful.”

He’s since branched out further into the restaurant scene, opening One Eleven Main, a small fine dining spot on Bel Air’s Main Street, in 2015. But Anderson said his heart will always be with his crab houses: “Because I’ve been doing crabs for so long, I’m a little more comfortable there.”

Richard's Fish & Crabs moved to a new location, which allowed them to expand their menu.