El Campo – While El Campo is not extremely close to Cajun country, you’ll find colorful cafe here dedicated to the cuisine that includes crustaceans. Pinchers Boil’n Pot Restaurant is a unique place to pull some tails.
“Welcome to Texas,” Coy Radley said.
Mudbugs, mountain lobsters, crayfish, or crawfish, whatever you call these crazy looking crawdads one thing is for sure: They are delicious.
“Dam good place to come and eat,” Remington Morton said.
Craig Radley and his wife Debbie opened up this escapade in El Campo back when people liked to party in 1999.
“You know, I was a struggling farmer looking for a way to make a living and I tried several different things, got into real estate, and found a crawfish farm and, after a few years, then we decided to open a restaurant just to market crawfish,” Craig said.
We’ve all heard the term putting the cart before the horse, but buying the farm before the business worked out well for Craig and his family is a unique spin. Now, this entrepreneur might just have the only farm to table crawfish restaurant in the country!
“I never envisioned myself being in the restaurant business,” Craig said. “We were just trying to make a living. My Dad made a bet with me when we opened. He was angry because I was venturing out away from the farm and doing something risky and so he bet me 2:1 odds that I’d be broke in 6 months. He didn’t ask me any questions so we rented the building for 6 months and were supplying our own products so I wasn’t going broke in the first 6 months. So he paid up the day before with a check and on the memo column it said, ‘for a good bad debt.’”
Craig’s son Coy is usually holding down the fort at the family restaurant.
“It is full working with him,” Coy said. “I was promised a couple more golf days, but we will get around to that as soon as crawfish season is over. I don’t see him much. If you want to find him you’ve got to go to the farm. You’ve got to go hop on a crawfish boat.”
Coy makes it out to the farm too.
“I’m one million percent proud,” Coy said. “Nobody this age works as hard as this man does.”
Fortunately Craig’s taken to crawfish farming like a mudbug in the mud. Once he’s tidied up the traps, he brings the batch back to the restaurant to be purged.
“Every day we catch them on a boat,” Craig said. “We don’t put them in bags on the boat. We drop them in boxes, and then we bring them here and drop them in the water overnight and pull them out the next morning. That’s one advantage to waiting until April to start trapping. They’ve been able to grow all season.”
Once cleaned it’s on to the pot. Then, they’re seasoned and soaked before being savored.
“”That is a big one,” Coy said. “Doesn’t get much fresher.”
Of course that begs the question, what do you do with the heads?
“We come and suck the head at Pinchers,” Remington said.
No matter how you eat them, they truly are a Texan treat. These little lobsters raised in the Lone Star State can be found at Pitchers Boil’n Pot making it a tasty stop on the Texas Bucket List.
“I remember worrying, when we first opened up, there was a pipeline coming through and a lot of Cajuns coming through, and they would tell me right off the bat when they walked through the door, ‘We’re Cajun. We are going to tell you right away whether we like it or not,’” Craig said. “It made me nervous as hell, but I haven’t had a complaint from them yet.”