By Tony McCray
Big Al’s Crabs Seafood Restaurant has discovered the best recipe for its Pensacola location is at the historical site of the former Oscar’s Restaurant, “Cooking up ‘Good old Florida Seafood’ and providing great hospitality,” according to owner, Dontell Watson. The Pensacola seafood restaurant joins the family’s sister companies in Louisville, Kentucky (The Seafood Lady), Washington, D.C. (The Crabboss), and Columbus, Ohio (Shrimp Lips).
Oscar’s Restaurant was opened in the 1940’s under the name of the Brownsville Restaurant by Oscar Woerner. The name was changed to Oscar’s because Woerner’s pancakes earned him the name of the ‘Hot Cake King’. The ownership changed hands in 1980 and again in 2015. Watson acquired the building keeping the Oscars menu until recently when he decided to make his seafood cooking the specialty and named the building at 2805 West Cervantes, Big Al’s Crabs.
Dontell Watson has a following in Pensacola from the Raceway Service Station on “W” Street and Fairfield Drive to the first Brownsville location at 701 North “V” Street. This entrepreneur is following in the footsteps of his family to find the best location to grow the local franchise. Watson is a native of Pensacola. He grew up watching his grandfather, the late Arthur Lee Watson, prepare tasty dishes from his cooking experiences in the military where he served as the personal chef for a colonel.
Watson shared a personal secret with the Gulf Coast Voice for this article that it’s a best kept secret that Big Al is actually Dontell’s grandfather, and his grandchildren have named a family run national restaurant franchise after him. Arthur Lee Watson was a local firefighter and a gourmet cook that took Dontell under his wings. Soon he began to realize that he also had a skill for creating delicious meals that would attract customers to his kitchens.
Dontell added, “Big Al’s Crabs in Pensacola prepares and serves crabs, shrimp, oysters, and lobsters in a unique manner that assures you that all of our dishes are made using the finest and freshest ingredients. You see healthy eating and healthy food is my passion, so I want to make sure our seafood is fresh and mouth-watering”.