Local Small Business Stories
Why CabbyShack is One of the Best Restaurants in Plymouth, Mass.
Outdoor dining at The Cabby Shack. Photo source:
CabbyShack web site.
Story and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 12/10/17.
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Something feels so right about The CabbyShack in Plymouth,
Mass., and it goes far beyond the outstanding seafood, drinks
selection, festive atmosphere,
and outdoor and indoor seating water views of Plymouth Harbor.
In one corner of the nautical-theme restaurant with a fun, tropical
theme, long-time employee Ali Reynolds and her daughter Jen wrap gifts,
making one wonder if the restaurant is also a community goodwill
center. In a sense, it is
as the gifts are going towards an
event a local church to support local foster children.
A woman and her young children arrive at the restaurant and immediately are
welcomed with hugs from CabbyShack owner Cabby Brini and several
employees. The scene looks like long-lost families reconnecting with
emotion, smiles and local conversation anchoring this beautiful moment
that warms up the cold December day. Turns out the woman
-- Lindsey Ricardo -- worked at The CabbyShack during her school years.
That waitressing job stuck in Ricardo's mind as a special experience
and she couldn't wait to come back to say "Hello."
"I worked there starting in high school and loved it," said Ricardo.
"We were like family. Cabby was like a father figure to me. And
the food was delicious!"
CabbyShack owner Cabby Brini with current and former employees
(not including the kids, of course!).
"It's great working for Cabby," said Ali. "He cares so much about
everyone and could
probably do every job in the building. He worked those jobs at one time
or another, so he can identify with each employee. So many people have
worked here and became close. I wish we had started a yearbook because
there have been so many connections. Cabby has created something
Brini started from scratch The CabbyShack's lovable mix of a
creative menu and a tropical-island-style party atmosphere right by the
water at scenic, historic Plymouth Harbor. The delicious food, ice cold beer and creative drinks selection,
a down-to-earth efficient local staff that you'd typically find in a
authentic sense of community and the live entertainment are just part
of the fabric that makes The CabbyShack so special.
Cabby, however, has actually
accomplished something so much more important than just a restaurant by
ultimately creating his own life from scratch.
Without his personal
drive and love of Plymouth and its people, CabbyShack would not be here
and Cabby might have chosen a path in life far less meaningful. It's
like that classic line from the 1946 Frank Capra movie classic, "It's a
Wonderful Life": "Each man's life touches so many other lives."
Cabby grew up in Plymouth as one of seven children raised by a hard working
single mom. A 1986 Plymouth-Carver High School graduate, Cabby
initially found outlets as a standout athlete in football, basketball
and baseball and, at 13, becoming employed at restaurants where he
pretty much eventually worked virtually every job possible. Cabby's
industrious nature, at a young age, kept him focused and out of
trouble. He attended UMass Amherst in Amherst, Mass., but soon found
himself at a crossroads, however.
"I realized I was not a great student," said Brini. "I needed to do
something with my life and working in restaurants gave me that
He worked primarily at the Colonial Restaurant and Run of
the Mill Tavern in Plymouth (both closed) before becoming a partner at
Cornerstone's Pub & Grill in Carver from 1998 to 2002.
Being magnetized to the sea and the restaurant industry brought Cabby
to the former Souza's Fish Market at Plymouth Harbor where he had a
vision seemingly as expansive as the sea: renovate the building with
large additions and change the concept, making it a full-service,
restaurant. After extensive work, CabbyShack opened in 2003 at Plymouth Harbor with, at
first, some resistance from locals opposing the real palm trees and
bright colors, but, ultimately, Cabby found himself with a receptive
local and tourist base.
Today, CabbyShack employs 263 employees and averages about 10,000
customers a week while
making about 500 gallons a week of its signature New England clam
chowder, or "Clam Chowdah," as they call it. That clam chowder is
regarded as one of the best in
New England -- chock full of clams with an ultra-thick,
perfectly-seasoned base within a bread bowl. In the best sense, It
any other clam chowder we've tried in New England. Celebrity chef Guy
Fieri, of The Food Network, agrees, calling the CabbyShack clam chowder
one of his favorites on an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
The Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Guilty Pleasures" also
featured The CabbyShack's Clam Chowdah, stating,"It is awesome... What
sets them apart is they make it (fresh) every day."
Cabby's "World Famous Clam Chowdah" is to die for -- delicious!
In addition to the delicious chowder, the pound-and-a quarter boiled
lobster, the three-and-a-half pound Big Man's Lobster, huge lobster
rolls on buttered rolls, seafood pasta dishes and the amazing Captain's Platter with
haddock, whole belly clams, scallops. shrimp, onion rings and French
fries all serve as outstanding introductions to the greatness of
CabbyShack's food selections...
Seafood and drinks at The CabbyShack. Photo
source: CabbyShack web site.
Captain's Platter from The CabbyShack.
Going far beyond being just a likable tourist destination, The
CabbyShack clearly goes the extra mile to create comfort foods that
exceed the routine and pedestrian. Local Chef Rob Bono, who once
Beard Foundation scholarship to attend culinary school in Norway,
arrived at The CabbyShack about three years ago, and helped make an
already fine menu that much better.
"He is a great chef without the ego," said Cabby. "We met through a
mutual friend, and everything kind of clicked. I am so glad he is here."
Brini and Bono come across like a culinary version of Lennon and
McCartney by pushing the limits of its restaurant genre, being creative
by changing the menu three times a year, and sometimes disagreeing
until something good -- in the form of yummy food -- comes out of those
conflicts. In the long run, Cabby and Bono make sure that all walks of
life with varied preferences in food, are all happy with the menu
selections. While much of the seafood does
come right off the boat in nearby New Bedford, Mass., -- and brought in
to The CabbyShack seven days a week -- Brini and Bono have a dedication
to creating all types of food fresh and flavorful.
"You don't have to like seafood to enjoy the CabbyShack," said Cabby.
"We have steaks, pasta, flatbreads, pizza, just about everything. We do
it all well. Not just the seafood."
The braised boneless short ribs has a mouthwatering effect with the
tender meat braised a whole day and served in a maderia demi glaze. It
is the best short rib dish I have ever tasted, and that includes some
well-regarded restaurants in the Boston area.
Braised boneless short ribs from The CabbyShack.
Chef Bono's creative flair literally jumps off many of the plates,
including the unusual but truly delicious banana leaf haddock. This
haddock filet in banana leaf and coconut butter is served with
lemongrass shrimp, long grain rice and an edamame saute.
Banana leaf haddock from The CabbyShack.
One of the most pleasant surprises at The CabbyShack: the flatbread and
bar-style pizzas. The grilled flatbread pizza
has that thin crispy crust, and the right mix of cheese, tomato and
lighter toppings that add up to something you'd taste at
the best flatbread restaurant destinations. Case-in-point: this
wonderful Shrimp Scampi flatbread with sauteed shrimp, parmesan,
spinach, tomato, fresh mozzarella and garlic spread.
Shrimp Scampi flatbread.
A little secret about CabbyShack's bar-style pizza that virtually no
one know about: The recipe has connections to the legendary Lynwood
Cafe in Randolph, Mass. For those of you not familiar with the Lynwood,
this famous, hole-in-the-wall pizza joint has been around since 1949
and, along with places like Santarpio's (Boston), Regina Pizzeria
(Boston), the Venus
Cafe (Whitman) and Town Spa (Stoughton), is generally regarded as
having some of the best
pizza in the Boston area.
"I learned about the recipe from a former
employee at the
Lynwood," said Cabby. "I was pumping gas and started a conversation
with someone there, who, it turns out worked at the Lynwood. I worked
with him the create that taste people know at the Lynwood."
Cabby and company, however, have put a twist on the traditional
bar-style pizza with creations of their own. The Clam Bake Pizza is
topped with clam chowder, cheese and bacon. The CabbyShack Special
features diced tomatoes, bacon and feta cheese. The "Nachyo" pizza
applies a corn tortilla, refried beans, beef chili and cheddar cheese
to a hand=stretched pizza dough topped with shredded lettuce, tomato
salsa and sour cream. The Applewood bacon and scallop is a white pizza
with cheddar cheese, Applewood bacon, sweet scallops, scallion and
Aioli. If not into specialty pizzas, you can build your own with around
30 topping options.
Viewing the menu reveals many other one-of-a-kind dishes and comfort
food classics. On one hand, there's mac and cheese, burgers, fried
calamari (fabulous!), stuffed quahogs, crab cakes, boneless chicken
tenders, paninis and salads. On the other, there's a stuffed pretzel
with bacon, smoked mozzarella and jalapenos, habanero lime mesquite
chicken thighs, and a tremendous boursin chicken BLT. This masterpiece
features tender grilled chicken, Applewood bacon, garlic aioli,
boursin, arugula, tomato and shaved onions on a buttery, crusty
Boursin chicken BLT from The Cabbyshack.
The drinks list stands as a main attraction, also, including many
creatively-made cocktails that wouldn't seem out of place at a tiki
bar, 18 draft beers and 11 craft beers.
On its own, the food would be enough to make a visit to The CabbyShack
worthwhile. The fact that CabbyShack is a Plymouth Harbor waterfront restaurant
with outdoor seating -- and located in one of New England's greatest
destinations -- puts the overall experience over the top. The rooftop
deck seating offers commanding views of Plymouth Harbor, while the
indoor seating in the dining room
and bar features more water views (editor's note: the outdoor deck
water views are superior) and a light and breezy feel that perfectly
combines a party atmosphere with live music that is also family-friendly. In the
summer, there's even a sand area with
entertainment, and plenty of fun and games (like the Limbo, tug of war,
"It feels like you are on vacation here," said Cabby. "I have always
enjoyed places like Aruba and wanted to bring that kind of atmosphere
to The CabbyShack."
Dining room and bar at The CabbyShack.
Cabby is a hometown-boy-made-good by
sticking close to his working-class and geographical roots -- very close. He said, half jokingly,
that it virtually "tore him apart" when he commuted to his job at
Cornerstone's just minutes away in Carver. The hard work and resolve
that has saturated his heart, mind and soul throughout his blessed life
translates well to a positive influence on his children, Niko, 14, and
Enzo, 12, who are thriving academically in school. A Plymouth Hall of
Fame Class of 2015 inductee who was once named a Citizen of the year at
the Plymouth Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, Cabby has humbly channeled
his successful business and the accolades to giving back at every
chance to those in need.
"There's no feeling like working in your hometown and giving back,"
For fellow neighbors and CabbyShack staff, Cabby is like family. And,
fortunately, for locals and travelers looking for a restaurant that
serves fabulous seafood and beyond at a lively, family-friendly Plymouth Harbor
waterfront location, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place as good and
with such broad appeal in New England as The CabbyShack.
CabbyShack is located at 30 Town
Wharf, Plymouth MA. Tel. 508-746-5354. Web site: http://www.cabbyshack.com. Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook/thecabbyshack. The CabbyShack is open year-round.
If you're looking to enjoy some of the best homemade ice cream in New England after a delicious meal at CabbyShack, head on down the road to Cape Cod and be sure to visit Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville.
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