The Crab Man

Out of the way and off the beaten path, Sunbury is an incredible foodie haven adventure. Views here will leave you breathless, especially if you visit at sundown. So bring a hearty appetite, roll up your sleeves and head on out to Sunbury, Georgia to do some real crab crackin’ at Sunbury Crab Company, which has been owned and operated for over 20 years by Bernie Maley and his family.

Bernie greeted us at the door and seated us on a partially open and perfectly elevated balcony high above the river system. It felt more like a treehouse sitting above the landscape with unobstructed water views as far as the eye could see. This place is hands down the most unique dining experience in all of South Georgia. Once Bernie seated us, he excused himself and came right back with lemonade, lots and lots of fresh squeezed lemonade. Sunbury Crab Company is a staunchly no frills seafood dive with a menu that couldn’t be simpler: sweet fried or steamed shrimp and seafood year round, calamari, the best coleslaw ever and, when the chill hits the marshes, fire-roasted oysters. Bernie prides himself on pulling his blue crabs right out of the marshes in front of the surrounding waters and serving them the same day. In fact, at the local pier and boat ramp out front, you can even drop your own line. It’s a great spot for river fishing or just enjoying the views.

Our steamed blue crab arrived in buckets cleaned and ready to eat. Bernie gave us a wooden mallet for crackin’ and a big piece of parchment paper as a placemat. He waited until we were through with our meal, then came up to us and said, “Come on down to the dock and get aboard the boat while I check the traps.” There was hardly room to sit down amidst the yards of line, bait and buckets that filled the 17-foot aluminum skiff. Suddenly we took off full throttle down the creek out towards the first crab pot – a large trap attached to a line down in the water with a white marker. The first trap was full of blue crabs. Bernie dumped it all into a black plastic bucket on board and grabbed some Menhaden baitfish to refill the pot, then slowly lowered it back into the blue waters. A seasoned waterman, Bernie had a passion for his work as he moved on to the next trap and then the next, all the time talking with pride about his family, his land, his restaurant and his love for serving the freshest, most delicious seafood in all of South Georgia. For this was his inheritance, these primitive vistas untouched by civilization. There’s a timeless appeal here reflecting the history and character of a community and the generations of fishermen and their families who went before him.

Darkness was settling in as the tide ebbed, exposing miles of black pluff mud along either side of the creek. Our adventure was about to end. So next time you’re down this way, grab a cold beer and hang out on the docks with Bernie Maley and watch the sun go down. There’s no other experience like it. No place. No where.

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