DAYTONA BEACH – Oliver Ross is an accomplished barber and he didn’t necessarily intend to go into the restaurant business.
But a conversation with a client whose hair he cut led Ross to become the owner of Crab Stop II. Now with two local locations, the seafood (and other main course) restaurant has been so successful that it offers franchise opportunities.
Ross attributes the success of his restaurant to excellent food and excellent customer service.
âOur customers are loyal,â said Ross, 48. âWe know a lot of them by name. It’s like the Cheers show. Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name. We provide that kind of culture here.
The two Crab Stop II locations in Daytona Beach include a take-out restaurant located at 240 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and an on-site and take-out restaurant at 933 W. International Speedway Blvd.
More gems next to it
Ross bought the business in 2010. The take out outlet opened in 2011. There are also locations in Sebastian, Florida and Dallas, Georgia.
A conversation in a barber’s chair
The Crab Stop II menu offers a variety of seafood options, including snow crab, Maryland and garlic crabs, fried clam strips, fried shrimp, and conch fritters. For non-seafood lovers, the menu also offers 14 different flavored chicken wings. Desserts include a lemon pound cake or cheesecake.
This is all the result of a conversation with a man in Ross’s barber chair.
âI was a barber at (Derrick’s) Cut Masters on Orange Ave,â Ross said. âI was a hairdresser for 14 years. The owner of The Crab Stop at the time, Ricky Reed, was one of my clients. He said he wanted me to buy the business every time he was about to sell it.
Ross said two years passed before Reed again mentioned the sale of his restaurant.
âHe showed me the numbers,â Ross said. âI was like, ‘Wow! Do you do those kinds of numbers? We started with one location and now we have four.
“It was a whole different industry, but the opportunity presented itself and it made sense. The rest is history.”
“We show them the plan”
Other locations outside of Daytona Beach are franchises.
âA lot of people have inquired about the company,â he said. âWe show them the plan and people like it. This is how we have the other locations.
Ross said he’s always been an entrepreneur.
âI have always had leadership qualities,â he says. âIt’s actually ironic because when I was younger all I did was work in restaurants. I started at 15. I worked at Burger King, Popeyes, Wendy’s and Krystal’s. I became a manager at Krystal. So I had this whole restaurant experience without knowing it would come full circle. “
Ross said that at the age of 23, his career path also led him to the military.
âAt the time, I was working for Belfab in microscopic welding,â he said. âAfter about a year, I was fired. Walking through a gymnasium, I saw a Marine outside. He asked me if I had ever thought about joining the army.
Ross was asked to come back to the office the next day to take the pre-test.
âI have always wanted to join the military since I was a child,â he said. âSo I stopped by the army recruiter’s office. I did the pre-test and did well. They signed me up to go to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Jacksonville. I was in the military for almost 3 years. I was released for medical reasons.
“I would just tell myself to be patient”
Ross enrolled in the International Academy of Hair Design located in South Daytona in 1998 following a conversation with his then hairstylist.
âI went to have my hair cut and the owner of Cut Master’s asked me if I had ever thought about going to hairdressing school,â he said. âI started barbering school while working as a manager at Krystal’s in 1998. I always knew there was something more to me.
If Ross had any advice for his young self, it would be to practice patience.
âI would just tell myself to be patient,â he said. âOver time, I’ve learned that what’s for me is for me. So there is no need to try to rush it. It’s going to happen when it’s supposed to happen.
Being a business entrepreneur takes responsibility, he said.
âThe responsibility ends with you,â Ross said. âAt the end of the day, it’s all up to me. Being an entrepreneur comes with a lot of responsibility. ”
There are certain advantages to owning the business, he added.
Future plans include expanding the footprint
âIt’s better for me to own it (the building) because I can dictate what I want to do at any time,â Ross said. âSo that’s a plus. “
Plans for the near future focus on expanding his restaurant’s franchise footprint. Two more Crab Stops are scheduled to open in Florida.
âWe definitely plan to open more franchises,â he said. âWe have a location that will open next month in Leesburg and another in Jacksonville that will open soon. “
Community involvement is also important to Ross.
âWe buy and distribute bikes every year,â he said. “We also provide turkeys every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Claudia Fernandez, director of Crab Stop, said being on staff is like working with family.
âThat’s the definition of a family business,â said Fernandez, 23. âHe’s (Ross) a very genuine person. He is always looking for an opportunity to help someone.
Daniel Daughtrey, a Palm Coast resident and frequent Crab Stop customer, said he liked everything on the menu.
âI’ve been a client since day one,â said Daughtrey, 70, also known as Uncle Duck. âI love fried shrimp and whiting. The problem is, they always give me too much food. The people are very friendly, the food is great and the prices are reasonable.
The crab stopover
933 W. International Speedway Blvd.
Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
240, boulevard S. Martin Luther King Jr.
About this series
The Gem Next Door is a series that highlights local entrepreneurs running businesses in your neighborhoods. If you are a business owner or would like to nominate a business for recognition, please contact reporter Erica Van Buren at [email protected] Make sure to include your name, phone number and a bit about the history of the business.