South Philly residents know the best fresh seafood doesn’t come from a supermarket. Phil’s Live Crabs has been a neighborhood favorite since 1984, attracting patrons from all over the Greater Philadelphia area including Chestnut Hill, the Northeast and South Jersey.
Rita D’Amore runs the pickup truck shop at the corner of 10th Street and Oregon Avenue. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, Rita is at this “store” selling only the freshest crabs, mussels, clams and oysters to hungry Philadelphians. The family-run business imports fresh blue point crabs from Maryland and the Carolinas.
Founder and Rita’s father-in-law, Phil D’Amore, started the business in 1984 but passed away in 2007. A sketch of him remains on the sign on top of the truck, welcoming guests 365 days a year.
“In the winter, I’m usually hiding out in the truck but once the weather gets warmer, I’m outside all day. Everyone asks where I get such a great tan,” laughed Rita.
Along with an array of seafood, Phil’s sells packages of Old Bay seasoning and gives out recipes for the novice crab chefs. The most popular recipes are steamed crabs and crabs with macaroni. To ensure every customer enjoys their crabs from purchase to consumption, Rita gives her phone number in case of any last minute questions.
“Most people know what they’re doing but I do get a few calls when people are really at a lose,” said Rita.
Although some days are slower than others, Phil’s sells about five bushels of crabs per day. In such a globalized economy, it’s refreshing to see a local business going strong.