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This chill Guntersville restaurant offers variety of fresh, hard-to-find seafood

GUNTERSVILLE — From selling steamed shrimp and raw oysters out of a van in 1987 to becoming one of Guntersville’s most beloved seafood restaurants, Crawmama’s attracts patrons from all over North Alabama. For a variety of fresh seafood, a cold beverage and a laid-back atmosphere, Crawmama’s is the place to be. 

Owned by Charlotte Webb and her daughter, Kathryn Baucom, Crawmama’s is known for its service and extensive menu. Dinner items include fried clams, three different types of crab legs, and even alligator.

Crawfish, of course, is a Crawmama’s constant. 

(Crawmamas Seafood/Facebook)

“It’s kind of our goal to offer all of the items that aren’t traditional,” said Baucom, who is now majority owner. “We always try to find the items that are maybe least known and categorized as seafood and then offer them in North Alabama.”

Webb began selling raw oysters on the half shell and steamed shrimp from a van in the old Walmart parking lot in Guntersville. The business grew to a 12-feeder oyster bar and has undergone five subsequent expansions since.

Now, Crawmama’s, which is only open for dinner Thursday-Saturday, has seating for 300, a sandy play area for kids, and offers live music every weekend.

Although Baucom took over the operational side of the business in 2004, it was her mother who not only started Crawmama’s, but whose vision for the seafood establishment has come to fruition over the years.

“Mom was the original founder,” Baucom said. “She still works every single day, alongside me. I took over a lot of the operational and managerial stuff back in 2004. We have just been tag-teaming it ever since.

“I couldn’t do what I do without my Mom. I am very thankful for her vision and for her support, and for her absolutely knowing her market and knowing her niche.”

The physical structure of the restaurant is a bit different in appearance than others like it. But it’s meant to look that way, according to Baucom. 

“Our atmosphere and building is different and it’s what sets us apart from everybody else,” she said. “And people ask all the time, ‘Did y’all just put this in a chicken house?’ It’s kind of funny, but no. It was her vision; she wanted it to look exactly like it looks.

“I’m very thankful for that, because I think that is our niche. And it does look just like an old chicken house, but it was designed to.”

(Crawmamas Seafood/Facebook)

Naturally, Crawmama’s attracts local diners, but Baucom estimates that some 75 percent of her regulars are from outlying cities and counties, mainly Blount and Cullman counties, which she believes is what keeps the restaurant so busy.

“We’re blessed that our customer base is a lot larger than just the city of Guntersville,” she said. “I’m super thankful, because it allows us to have a customer base even in the off season that maybe a lot of others don’t have. We pull our regulars from all over, which is very cool for us.

“And the fishermen that come to fish all the tournaments are really good to us. They make up a lot of our customer base, too.”

The Marshall County eatery has been so busy, in fact, that Baucom is beginning to weigh her options for the future of Crawmama’s. 

“I may begin looking next year into laying the foundations for franchising,” she said. “It will honestly depend on the labor market; I don’t want to brand my name and sell it if I can’t put quality people behind it.”

And that is the essence of what makes Crawmama’s so special: the people who keep it going.

Labor shortage aside, the restaurant business is notorious for a high turnover rate. Baucom, however, has retained loyal, committed employees, some of whom have been with her for a decade or more. 

“They just become family,” she said. “We really are a family-owned and family-operated business, even though we all don’t share the same last name.”

Crawmama’s, at 5002 Web Villa, is open for dinner only, Thursday from 4:30-9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 4:30-10 p.m.

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