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Alcee H.
Democrat FL 20

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  • Recognizing the 100Th Anniversary of Joe’s Stone Crab

    by Representative Alcee L. Hastings

    Posted on 2013-01-03

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    HASTINGS of florida in the house of representatives Thursday, January 3, 2013 Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Joe's Stone Crab on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. Established in 1913 by Hungarian-born Joseph ``Joe'' Weiss, Joe's Stone Crab has since gone from being a small lunch counter in a quiet, backwater town to a beloved institution in the Miami Beach community.



    The story of Joe's Stone Crab is truly an American one. Joe and his wife Jennie were both Hungarian immigrants living in New York when their son Jesse was born in 1907. At the time, Joe was a waiter and Jennie cooked in small restaurants. Suffering from asthma, Joe's doctors told him that a change of climate was the only remedy.

    According to Jesse, his father borrowed fifty dollars on his life insurance policy and left his family in New York to try his luck in Florida. After one night in Miami, Joe took the ferry boat to Miami Beach, where he was able to breathe. He stayed there and started running a lunch stand at Smith's bathing casino in 1913, serving top- notch fish sandwiches and fries. That was the beginning of the restaurant that would later grow to become Joe's.

    Joe sent for his wife and son to join him in Florida. In 1918, Joe and Jennie bought a bungalow near the casino on Biscayne Street. They moved into the back, set up seven or eight tables on the front porch, and called it Joe's Restaurant. Jennie waited on tables, Joe cooked, and everything grew from there. For about eight years, Joe's was the only restaurant on the beach, serving snapper, pompano, mackerel, and meat dishes all day long.

    Joe's Restaurant was a hit, but stone crabs were still yet to come. At the time, no one knew that the local crustacean was even edible. In 1921, James Allison, Fisher's partner in the Speedway, built an aquarium at the foot of the bay and Fifth Street. He invited a Harvard ichthyologist down to do research, who gave Joe the idea to serve stone crab. After much thought, Joe threw the stone crabs into boiling water and the rest was history. They served them cracked with hash brown potatoes, coleslaw, and mayonnaise, and they became an instant success.

    Although his parents started Joe's, Jesse Weiss became its face and brought in the VIPs, from movie stars to journalists to politicians, athletes, and gangsters. He knew everyone, and everyone who came into Joe's wanted to see him. At the age of 75, Miami anchorwoman Ann Bishop spent many hours recording his memories, particularly the love and support of his family in keeping Joe's Stone Crab going through the years.

    Anyone who is anyone, from anywhere in the world, would stop in at Joe's if they were in Miami Beach. Notable guests include Al Capone, Will Rogers, Amelia Earhart, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Swanson and Joseph Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, Walter Winchell, and Damon Runyon.

    Mr. Speaker, Joe's Stone Crab is a monument to the people who built it and those who continue its legacy: Joe and Jennie Weiss, their son Jesse, granddaughter Jo Ann, and the entire Joe's family. I have frequented Joe's on numerous occasions and always enjoyed a marvelous meal. Please join me in congratulating the entire Joe's Stone Crab family on this momentous occasion. I wish them another 100 years of success and, of course, great food and company.

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