Crawfish Factory sells new Cajun-California fusion in South Placer

Business owner in Roseville fills niche in area seafood market
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Roseville resident Kitt Lee has trained employees at the Crawfish Factory to welcome visitors as if they’ve never been to a place quite like it before, because likely, in the Sacramento region at least, they haven’t.

Lee opened the restaurant at 1251 Baseline Road a year ago, in January 2015, with business partner Sam Dahduli and a mind to bring something new to the local seafood scene. Coming from the Bay Area, Lee had experience opening a Camille’s Sidewalk Café and a Cold Stone Creamery there, along with Cold Stone stores in Natomas, Citrus Heights and Elk Grove; but in Roseville he wanted to start a business of his own.

Lee said he and Dahduli saw potential in the local seafood market, where the only quality options were high-end steak restaurants. Remembering a concept he’d seen in Louisiana, Texas and other regions of the country, Lee wanted to bring a more casual, family-oriented option to the table, serving fresh seafood by the pound at market price from a simple menu.

Under this model, customers pick a type of seafood – mussels, shrimp, crawfish, clams, lobster tail or various sorts of crab – and one of five flavors, including lemon pepper, garlic butter, Cajun Louisiana style, the “factory signature” coconut curry flavor or fusion Cajun, a combination of the other four. Then the customer orders it by the pound, either mild, medium or hot, and in minutes the server returns with a bag of steam-boiled shellfish seasoned accordingly.

Eating at the Crawfish Factory can be a messy experience, requiring disposable bibs, napkins, wet wipes and a table cover; but the food is fresh, generally shipped live from Louisiana, and the seasonings are unique to the restaurant.

“It’s a fast-growing theme you’ll find in a big city, like the Bay Area, Southern California and Nevada areas; similar to Golden Crab or Hot N Juicy Crawfish, Joe’s Crab Shack, that type of (restaurant),” Lee said. “Here, everything was more of a California theme, where we’d tweak it and make it a Cajun fusion style, rather than exactly like Louisiana or (elsewhere). We created our own flavors, we created our own recipes. Everything is made in-house – sauce, everything.”

The restaurant also serves fried oysters, fish and chips, soft-shell crab and a few other plates for those who would rather keep their fingers clean. The outlet itself is tidy and bright, with tall windows wrapping around the dining area and a painted mural over the bar.

Lee said the location he chose on Baseline Road has the traffic and visibility he wanted, although the view of the restaurant is being temporarily inhibited by construction in an adjacent parking lot.

Outside of Crab City, a crab-boiling franchise restaurant on Stockton Boulevard in south Sacramento, Lee thinks he’s the only game in town with this concept – the first and only original restaurant he’s opened. After a year in business, his future aspirations boil down to “we’ll see.”

“We get great feedback,” he said. “When customers come in, they sit down, we let them taste our sauces, we explain how we work, they love it. We have a lot of return customers.”