Where to find mudbugs in Dallas in a pandemic

Fat Tuesday traditionally begins the lobster season for Texans. Corporations and restaurants host boisterous boils that attract hundreds of people.

But in 2021? Hardly anyone is geauxed to a mudbug bash.

“I’ve said many times that it would take a nuclear holocaust to turn off crawfish,” says David Snell, a Frisco-based and private pilot who has been hosting crawfish boils in Dallas-Fort Worth since 1998. Go on forever. “

He is determined to keep selling crawfish during the coronavirus pandemic, but time is short and with mud bugs “you only have a few months to make your money.”

Reyes Corro opens the sack of fresh crawfish to wash before they are cooked and served at the Big Fish Seafood Grill & Bar in Grapevine.(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

March, April and May are the “Chateaubriand of the lobster season,” says Richard Hotard, Frugé Seafood’s sales director in Louisiana. The company ships millions of pounds of lobster to Texan event providers and restaurants each year, starting with their first Texan client, Aw Shucks on Greenville Avenue some 30 years ago.

Today, Frugé’s drivers transport live lobsters 375 miles from the lobster fields in Branch, La., Nate’s Seafood in Addison, Big Fish in Grapevine, and dozen of restaurants in North Texas such as Dodie’s, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Fish City Grill and Flying Fish.

Last year, Snell’s Cajun Crawfish Company managed to sell 80,000-90,000 pounds of lobster at the start of the season, which is about half its usual sales before the coronavirus pandemic caused corporate events and family gatherings to be canceled.

But 2021 is worse than 2020: these lobster boils were not canceled. They were never planned.

Worse, Mardi Gras is two weeks earlier than 2020 this year. Fat Tuesday falls on February 16, a cold day in Dallas-Fort Worth, at a time when most North Texans are not getting their COVID-19 vaccines have and public health officials warn against group meetings. Even in southern Louisiana, Mardi Gras is nowhere near normal in 2021 as parades have been canceled. Even “Geaux Cup” bars are closed in New Orleans.

The contents of a freezer lie in the snow on the outside deck of a house in Richardson after a winter storm brought snow and freezing temperatures to north Texas on Monday February 15, 202.  More than 2 million Texans were left without power after the winter storm caused outages.  With teenage and single-digit temperatures, some residents took advantage of the colder outside conditions to prevent food from spoiling in their relatively warmer homes.

Prayers please

Cody McCommas, a Denton pastor who runs bayou boils part-time to make money for his family of four, typically pushes 40 lobster boils each spring.

“There are only 10 good weekends in the lobster season,” he says, and his team hauls multiple trailers for consecutive events across North Texas. In the past year, the events due to the coronavirus pandemic were reduced by 90%.

Do you love lobster  It is available in restaurants and by pickup or delivery from lobster cooking companies.Do you love lobster It is available in restaurants and by pickup or delivery from lobster cooking companies.(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

McCommas remains hopeful, saying that lobster cooking is part of his service. He will be hosting smaller events this year.

“I have the two best jobs in the world: I can work with people, serve them and help them meet their needs. And I can do the same during the lobster season, ”he says. Many of its events are related to charity.

The past year has already been a challenge for McCommas and his wife, who cared for a blind premature baby while they raised their two girls and opened a new church, the Christ Community Church in Denton. The church should have a party to mark its opening in the spring of 2020. Instead, their celebration was virtual.

“We had to change everything about the way we serve people,” says McCommas. He says the needs of his churchgoers were “astronomical” and the lobster business has taken a back seat.

“It took me a while to get through the first hit with the church and then I was able to think about the lobster business. But the Lord was faithful, ”he says. “I think we can survive as long as we stay smart and creative.”

Goldee's Barbecue opened on the outskirts of Fort Worth in February 2020.

Make lobsters ‘Monday to Friday’

Interestingly, the pandemic forced Texans who love crawfish to change their habits, Hotard says. While eating a few pounds of spicy crawfish was often a group event – at a bar, at a house party, or at a corporate event – Hotard says that in 2020 Texans began eating crawfish like many Louisians do: at home.

“We use it regularly here in Louisiana,” says Hotard. His wife often asks him to bring home 10 pounds of lobster in the middle of the week. Texans are now starting to make crawfish “Monday through Friday,” he says.

And while the events business is suffering, Frugé’s sales increased 12% in 2020 compared to 2019. The restaurant owners found that a few pounds of cooked lobster put in a paper sack was fine to take away.

McCommas and Snell also sell cooked lobsters to individual customers. Snell relates it to supermarket pickup with a Cajun touch:

“You stop in front of us, you have a cooler in the trunk. You don’t even have to go out, ”he says.

Many companies are not hosting lobster boils in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Make one more difficulty: the weather will be cold in Dallas-Fort Worth on Fat Tuesday.Many companies are not hosting lobster boils in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Make one more difficulty: the weather will be cold in Dallas-Fort Worth on Fat Tuesday.(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

Cajun Crawfish Company pick-ups are located at 1671 Riverview Drive in Lewisville. Bayou Boils are located at 3500 Fort Worth Drive in Denton. McCommas will also deliver lobster. Both take pre-orders online.

Any other year it probably wouldn’t have made sense to sell small quantities of cooked lobster. But any win is better than none, says McCommas.

For anyone ready to ride in the snow on Fat Tuesday, Snell travels in sub-zero temperatures and cooks lobster at Rock & Brews and Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux, both in The Colony.

Snell is hoping for recurring events at Walk-On’s, Revel in Frisco and Oak Highlands Brewery in Dallas as the lobster season begins.

“I’m just looking for a way to survive,” says Snell.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter @sblaskovich.

Nashville Hot Chicken is fried chicken that is coated with a blend of cayenne pepper spices.  It can be crazy hot or mild: it's all about which heat level you choose.  This is where fried chicken from Palmer's Hot Chicken in East Dallas is served with white bread and pickles.

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