6 Reasons Why Joe’s is One of the Most Successful Restaurants in the U.S. and What All Business Owners Can Take From This Success

This is not a restaurant review – but a business review. We all love eating at great restaurants, but, what makes a great restaurant and what can business owners learn from that?

So, it turns out, the ‘Restaurant Business Magazine’ looks at the annual revenues of restaurants all over the U.S., and ranks independent establishments. I thought this would be a good place to start – so I headed to number 2, in the top 100:

Joe's Stone Crab, in Miami Beach, Florida had annual sales in 2018 of $35,860,000 – that’s an average check of $70      per head with over 306,000 meals served. The have 450 total seats and a square footage of 8,800. For one location – it’s big.


Let’s take a closer look at what makes Joe's Stone Crab successful – and that leads us to six business insights that every business owner can take note of:

1 – Size Matters

As already noted, this restaurant is big. If you want your business to be successful, then you need to build it to allow it to scale.

In 1913, Joe Weiss opened up a small lunch counter on Miami Beach. This was before Miami Beach was even a city. Folks stopped in to chat and for a top-notch fish sandwich and fries. This, of course, was only the beginning, and what happened next is a story worth telling.

What was once small, has expanded. Create your business so it can expand.

2 – Your customers are everything

Customer service is the way you show that you care, and at some level they are often more important than the product or service you sell. Customer service we received at Joe’s was amazing. No 17-year-old inefficient hostess here – a well-respected and very capable mid-aged gentlemen that knows his regulars and makes everyone feel special as he seats the 450 seats – often multiple times in one day. The bar staff knew how to mix the perfect dirty martini (with 3 olives) and the waiting staff (more on them later) were exceptional.

And it’s always been like that - Jennie Weiss (Joe’s wife) had her own criteria for who belonged at Joe's in the early years. Al Capone came in, and he used the name Al Brown. Every day at 5 o'clock (because no one dined 'til about 5:30, 6:00 P.M.), he'd pull up with his entourage and sit down and have dinner and go. One night Jennie walked up to Mr. Capone. She said, "Mr. Brown, I must tell you something. If I don't like somebody, I don't allow them to come in here, but you've always been a gentleman, and anytime you want to come into this restaurant, you can." It touched Al Capone. Every Mother's Day, up pulled a truck with flowers, a horseshoe reading, "Good Luck Mother Joe's." She never realized who he really was.

Keep your customers happy – and they will keep you happy.

3 – Keep reinventing

By 1921, Joe’s was off and running, but that was before Stone Crabs.

A team of Harvard ichthyologist came to the area to do research. One of them came down one day and said to Joe, "Have you ever used these stone crabs?"

At that time, Joe’s was serving craw-fish, all kinds of fish-but not Stone Crabs.

"Nobody will eat them," Joe said.

That was at breakfast. That day when the ichthyologist came down for lunch, he brought a sack full of live stone crabs. He and Joe went around and around about how to cook them. Do you broil them, or what do you do with them?

Reinventing the menu was completed shortly thereafter!

Keep up with times and keep re-inventing.

4 – Sustainability

If you’re in the business of pulling crabs out of the ocean and eating them, you’ll run out of crabs.  What if you could pull a live crab out of the water, take off its largest claw, then return the live crab into the water for the claw to grow back?  That’s sustainability.

That’s how Joe’s is run.

How do you add sustainability into your business?


5 – Controlling the whole supply chain

Basic business school classes tell you that control of the whole supply chain is profitable. That’s how many of the largest brand names we know today have done so well.

As you’ve already heard. Joe soon started controlling the supply of the Stone Crabs.

Here’s the clever bit – as they have a virtual monopoly on Stone Crabs, they dictate the market price for Stone Crab.

When you dine at Joe’s, the price you’ll pay for your Stone Crab is based on the market price for Stone Crabs. Who controls (and dare I say pushes up) that price… Yes, you’ve got it!

Can you control your whole supply chain?


6 – The Up sell

The up sell is one of my most favorite way for a business owner to make more profit. At Joe’s the up sell that the waiters are trained at is superb.

You can purchase the small, medium, large or giant crab claws. ‘Market’ price differs increasingly, the larger the claw. But today, our waiter tells us, you can get the limited time ‘colossal’ crab claws – more meat that the ‘giant’, but for the same price as the giant!

Wow, who doesn’t want that! Previously I was considering the ‘large’, but for a small increase I can get the ‘giant’ which I can now get a free upgrade to a ‘colossal’. Sold.

How can you up sell?


As you can see, there is business inspiration and lessons all around us.

If you want to be exactly where you want to be – live your passion, make more profit and have more fun – then connect here and let’s take your business to the next level. We offer executive coaching to the right business owners that ‘get-it’ nationally - you can find details here - and we have a new Orange County, CA peer-advisory board taking membership applications - details here.