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RSW Living Magazine

Pinchers Celebrates 25 Years

Nov 16, 2022 11:07AM ● By Kevin Rooney

There is no question that during the past two years, Southwest Florida has faced significant challenges, especially in the hospitality space during the pandemic and most recently with the impact from hurricane Ian. From staffing to keeping the doors open, the industry has been hard hit. Phelan Family Brands—the company behind Pinchers—was not spared the wrath of hurricane Ian, losing one of its signature restaurant locations on Fort Myers Beach. This makes celebrating success even more special when the family-owned restaurant group can say it not only survived these past few years, but also hit its 25th anniversary, with growth on the horizon.

Phelan Family Brands is hitting its stride and celebrating its humble beginnings from a 12-top location in Bonita Springs in 1997 to opening its 21st restaurant in Casey Key, Florida, this past July. Owner Grant Phelan and his parents, Tony and Kathleen, moved to the Sunshine State in the early ’90s and launched Pinchers Crab Shack with the goal of providing a unique Florida-seafood, Florida-style dining experience. Pinchers now has 11 locations from Tampa to Key West. The Phelans aim for each location to make its customers feel like they are on vacation. (Other Phelan Family Brands restaurants include Deep Lagoon Seafood, Two Fillets, Texas Tony’s Rib and Brew House, the Bay House, and Phuzzy’s Boat Shack.)

In the words of Tony Phelan, “God’s greatest dining room is Southwest Florida.” He took that into account when choosing locations, always striving for the best waterfront view available. Each restaurant is adorned with signs hand painted by Tony, along with examples of his blow-torch barrel art. Every facet of a Pinchers restaurant has the founder’s hands in making it even more unique. No two Pinchers are alike when it comes to décor, but one common theme is the tasty seafood each one serves.

Thanks to a partnership with Island Crab Company on Pine Island, which the Phelans co-own with Jeff and Denise Haugland, Pinchers is able to secure fresh blue crab, stone crab, grouper, and other gulf-caught fish, delivered “from the water to the table” every day to every customer.

Signature dishes at Pinchers include the never-duplicated Hot Crab and Cheese Dip served with warm multicolored chips. Its crab cakes are made in-house at Island Crab Company by workers who handpick the crab meat for each one. Of course, with a logo featuring a blue crab, Pinchers also offers blue crabs, Alaskan king, and snow crab, and when in season from October to May, stone crabs caught fresh in Gulf of Mexico waters. The vast menu also features deliciously mild, flaky black grouper and tasty snapper and mahi. The sides include fresh-cut fries and locally grown green beans from Immokalee.

If you’ve saved room for dessert, Pinchers makes its own slightly chilled Key lime pie. Customers can also take home a whole pie to enjoy.

Offering two-for-one drinks all day every day, a happy hour from 3-6 pm, and a kids-eat-free special, Pinchers is a family-friendly dining destination with a laid-back casual dining experience that has a Florida vibe.

Pinchers’ 25-year celebration is well deserved, with the unwavering commitment the Phelan family has made in Florida to create memorable dining experiences. It’s worth putting on a dining bucket list.

Kevin Rooney is living in Southwest Florida, and a frequent contributor to TOTI Media.