Fresh, authentic seafood, hundreds of miles away from a coast. Signatures of locals, visitors, and celebrities on the wall. Mismatched tables and chairs. And a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Those are just a few of the reasons Ripley’s own Crabby Patti’s Bayside of Ripley has been named one of the 101 Unique Places to Dine in West Virginia.


Fresh, authentic seafood, hundreds of miles away from a coast. Signatures of locals, visitors, and celebrities on the wall. Mismatched tables and chairs. And a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Those are just a few of the reasons Ripley’s own Crabby Patti’s Bayside of Ripley has been named one of the 101 Unique Places to Dine in West Virginia.

 “I’m so excited,” said Patti Wilson, namesake of Crabby Patti’s, of the designation.

The honor is given by the West Virginia Division of Tourism, working with the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia. The list of “can’t miss” places to dine across the state is determined by people’s choice.

Patti, who bought the restaurant with her husband Jim just more than two years ago, said she first learned they had been named to the list when she checked the mail two weeks ago. At first, she thought the large white envelope sticking out of their mailbox was junk mail. To her surprise, the envelope contained a letter of congratulations, sign to hang in the window, and a brochure.

Those brochures will be featured in the state’s eight welcome centers, allowing West Virginia travelers to find the unique eateries wherever they may travel throughout the state. But Crabby Patti’s food has already been drawing people in from around the area.

Patti said she has gotten many customers upon others’ recommendations, including that of Nikki Bowman, founding editor-in-chief of West Virginia Living magazine. After visiting Crabby Patti’s, Bowman praised the crab cakes and “sent business here,” said Patti.

In fact, it’s the crab cakes, along with the cream of crab soup, and other seafood items, that makes Crabby Patti’s one of the most unique places, certainly in Ripley, but in West Virginia. Hailing from Baltimore, Jim and Patti know how to make good seafood.

And they don’t cut corners. The famous crab cakes don’t have bready fillers like many other restaurants use. Jim said people have returned from beach vacations only to comment the crab cakes at Crabby Patti’s beat those of other more expensive restaurants.

The proof is written on the walls. So many people who have tried out Crabby Patti’s have signed the wall. While some just write their name and the date, others leave behind their appreciation for the food. Signatures on the wall range from locals who frequent to visitors and celebrities who come through town.

Most recently Crabby Patti’s catered the meal for Kathy Mattea and her band when she performed in Ripley on July 4, 2009. They have also catered dinners for which Gov. Joe Manchin and First Lady Gayle Manchin attended. The Manchins also left their names on the wall.

Patti said another thing that makes her establishment unique is the people. She credited “local girls” Myra Watts and Julie Southall with helping create the atmosphere that instantly makes people feel comfortable. She added Myra’s carrot cake is also a customer favorite.

The design of the place makes it easy for Patti, Jim, and their employees to engage in conversation with the customers while they dine. “Everyone gets involved in the conversation,” Patti said.

Jim and Patti have plans to grow their small business. Patti said the kitchen needs to be expanded to accommodate their growing seafood menu. Jim said the plan is to be exclusively seafood in the future.

And while those changes may make conversation between them and their customers more difficult, Patti said that is one element she wants to maintain. One reason for that is how the residents of Ripley and Jackson County have made them feel welcome since they moved here.

“Everyone just makes us feel so welcome here,” Patti said. “We love the people here. It’s so different from Baltimore. There are some very nice people here.”

Crabby Patti’s Bayside of Ripley is proof that a unique dining experience can be had close to home. They are located on Court Street, across the street from the courthouse. Crabby Patti’s is open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.