Restaurant Gimmicks


At some restaurants, children are given coloring books and crayons, or word jumbles and mazes on their paper placemats. One pizza restaurant we went to gave children balls of dough to play with. Other places have play rooms and arcades to keep children entertained. But at the Crab Shack in Tybee Island, Georgia, they’ve taken a completely different approach. They’ve decided that the best way to keep children from getting antsy while they wait first for a table, then for their food, is to let them feed the alligators.

Guess what? This has been the best method yet.


It’s a good thing they’ve come up with this gimmick because the wait for a table at the Crab Shack is l-o-o-n-n-g. No matter what night of the week, expect a wait. You can get drinks at the bar, browse the gift shop, or feed the alligators. Just know that the wait for your food will take as long as a low country boil. And by that, I mean at least an hour.


Is it worth it? No. At least, I didn’t find the food worth the wait. But I did love the ambiance, the outdoor appeal and the way you discarded all of your shells and corncobs through a hole in your table. It takes little to amuse me. I liked watching my daughter feed (and “hug”) an alligator. But I was disappointed by the very limited menu and mediocre food.

So go to the Crab Shack for a fun family dinner experience. Just don’t go strictly for the food.

Have you been to a restaurant that was more about the gimmick than the food? And was it worth it?


22 responses to “Restaurant Gimmicks

  1. This seems like the most exciting gimmick I’ve heard of. I guess they put most of their effort into the alligators and not the food. πŸ˜‰

  2. That’s certainly novel – anywhere that appeal to children will do a good trade as all good parents will tend to frequent it. Here we once had an outdoor barbeque place, free and easy, very informal, good food where the entertainment was chickens pecking around under the tables. (There are apartments there now) 😦

    The most outrageous place I think I’ve been was Planet Hollywood in Orlando where, with the shameless upselling to the kids, a reasonably priced menu ended up extortionate for very little in the way of value.

    • We’ve never gone to Planet Hollywood. I suspected it would be like that. The place with chickens sounds fun. I went to a place like that in Key West. Made our egg breakfast seem very fresh. πŸ™‚

  3. The most ‘gimmicky’ thing I’ve experienced was at a salad bar place and every Friday (when the place was packed with mostly families and little kids), there would be a balloon man walking around making balloons. It got to a point where balloons were starting to crowd out people so maybe that’s why he stopped coming. We also started going to another branch that, while still often packed on weekends, did not have a resident balloon man (thank goodness).

  4. Oh gosh, I misread at first and thought you said “… feed them to the alligators” and then the pic ! Crikey, I have to not trip over words while reading. Phew! A one hour wait for a table is a real stretch, especially with kids.

  5. Sounds like fun! If you are ever in Jacksonville, FL there’s a really great gimmicky restraunt with an amazing stuffed wildlife menagerie on display like a jungle all around you as you eat, and the food was excellent, too – check out this link:
    I think they also have live alligators, too! β™₯β™₯β™₯ ;^)

  6. A very clever gimmick, Juliann. I suppose that if one has kids, it’s a good visit. I’m more about the quality of food and service now I don’t have little ones. πŸ™‚

  7. You’re right Jules, the food isn’t all that great — but as you said it is a fun place to go and not too bad waiting when there are other things to kill the time. I loved sitting outside on the Marsh and viewing the wildlife. Goin’ back someday!

  8. Well, isn’t that something?! LOL! Kudos to them for originality. I think it’s rare to find decent food at any of those places that have the high family entertainment factor, unfortunately. I suppose the focus lies elsewhere to lure people in, and if it works they cut corners and just keep doing what they’re doing.

    The place that comes to mind is Bahooka’s in SoCal, a Tiki/shipwrecked theme family restaurant that went all out. It received fame for being a film location for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. Sadly, I just went to Google it and Bahooka’s closed last year after being in business for 45 years. Guess the kitschy theme, somewhat mediocre seafood, and gigantic bowls of booze couldn’t survive out there. : (

  9. Pingback: Roadfood & The Floridian | Browsing The Atlas·

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