Bob Crechale is quick to tell you that his name may be on the door, but it is his staff that has made all of the difference. As popular as Crechale’s is—and in the 62 years that it has been open—the longevity of its employees is nothing less than astounding. From the present chef, Janet Hunter, who has been working here for 34 years to chef Lena Mae Ward, who started with its opening in 1956 and taught Crechale much of what he knows, you might say they are the backbones of the operation. When one of the newest employees, Kim Daugherty, has been on staff for 14 years, you know that Crechale is doing something right.
Staff longevity is crucial to the story of Crechale’s, but the other side of the coin is the food that makes this a regular spot for a great night out, a special meal with friends or family, and celebrations. The menu can be best described as Gulf-fresh seafood and great steaks. The beef Crechale’s serves is USDA prime, the best there is, and it’s hand-cut every day. The seafood is the freshest Bob can get and includes flounder, trout, snapper, shrimp, oysters, and crab.
After starting with homemade rolls, butter, and the crisp garden salad served with the house comeback dressing (which can be purchased here or at several retailers), the seafood side of the menu is pretty impressive. From king-size seafood platters to classics like stuffed or broiled (deboned tableside) flounder, trout almandine and, of course, shrimp, salty oysters, and Gulf blue crab. The steak selection includes everything from a classic hamburger steak all the way to an excellent filet mignon. There is also a chicken selection, including chicken tenders for the kids and chicken livers (served broiled, on a shish-ka-bob, or en brochette with bacon) for the old-school crowd. They will also make smaller portions of any entrée for pint-size patrons.
As I sat down with Crechale, he moved his calculator off the table and we had a long chat about the restaurant. I had a hard time changing the subject away from the employees he holds dear to his heart. He insists time and again that they were the key to the restaurant’s success. When discussing the menu, I asked for the top three or so bestsellers, and Crechale was quick to share that the menu has been so carefully crafted and adjusted over the years that it would be hard to say one dish is more popular than another.
The dishes that came out of the kitchen were pretty impressive, from the crab-topped Snapper Lena to the piled-high onion rings (which were delicious) and the homemade fruit tarts. Bob also had the kitchen bring out an uncut rack of prime rib, and it was USDA stamped prime (only 5% of beef is prime) and beautifully marbled.
Crechale’s philosophy seems pretty straightforward and has stood the test of time. Treat your employees like family, buy the best quality food that you can, and don’t vary from the time-honored recipes that made this restaurant what it is. Take a seat, play an old tune on the jukebox, and let the nostalgia set in. Then, settle back for a great meal, six decades in the making.
3107 U.S. Hwy. 80, Jackson
601.355.1840 or crechales.com
Open: Wednesday-Thursday 4-9 P.M. • Friday-Sunday, 4-10 P.M.