Art’s Crab Shak, formerly the Hayward Fishery, can be found at the corner of Foothill and C Street in Hayward. The Hayward Fishery was an establishment from my childhood and was immensely popular locally. I don’t know when it changed hands, but it seems different than I remember from when I was a kid (granted, that was a long time ago), and, in short, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Let’s discuss.
A bit of confusion stems from the signage — they still maintain the “Hayward Fishery” neon outside (which is awesome, btw, see the thumbnail pic) and have both restaurant names scattered throughout different parts of the restaurant. Not sure what that’s about. The Fishery used to have a front area that was sort of like a covered patio, but had walls and felt more permanent but not totally like a part of the building. It had wood slatted floors, permanent tables and a sort of tarpaulin roof, if I recall correctly (which I may not). Anyway, at Art’s, this area was like a fossilized relic of what was previously there. It had weathered the storms of disuse, but not in a way I really wanted to see. It’s sort of a sad disused area that’s just sloppy and derelict now. And it’s the first part you walk through when you enter Art’s. Sigh.
After making our way through the wasteland of an entry and into the proper foyer, we waited for someone to seat us. The foyer used to be a market of sorts, I believe, that had various seafoods for sale behind a series of refrigerated countertops; picture the Seafood area at Safeway but in a souvenir store. Maybe it still works like this in the day; but it was closed in the evening when we were there. Adjacent the foyer is a teeny tiny bar that seems to still be in use; a few stray stools allow a very limited amount of bar seating.
We were seated in the main dining area. The decor in this place is almost indescribable. I typically start “writing” blog posts in my head while I’m in a restaurant, but I was at a loss in Art’s. Ok: 60′s style fake veneer dark wood tabletops; padded chairs that were somewhat mismatched throughout the dining area; dark wood paneling halfway up the wall, trimmed green; turquoise paint for the rest of the wall height with odd sea-themed decor such as giant fake fish scattered around the walls. Dingy tile ceiling; scattered ceiling fans. I don’t think anyone else in there cared, but I found it depressing and a bit sad.
Menu has a variety of items ranging from casual to fancy-ish seafood, and priced quite high in some cases. Which may be good; you don’t exactly want to each cheap seafood. Crab is, assumingly, a specialty, but I hate eating things that require manual labor to consume, so I stuck with a fork and knife dish. Though all kinds of other people were eating the crab — yet another mildly appalling spectacle here at Art’s. Watching people slurp and drip and crack crab with greasy mouths and shiny fingers is probably one of the more sickening things that I am easily able to view in my daily life. I don’t like it; it’s gross.
The food we ordered was actually decent, however. It was heart-attack food (at least mine was), but it was not bad. Fried sole with asparagus and hollandaise sauce (how could it be bad with hollandaise sauce) and a side of fries and veggies. Can’t say I was hungry after. The Caesar salad was mediocre, and boyfriend’s tuna melt was diner-good. The service was friendly, but seemed understaffed. We could not get any face time with our smiley waitress. Too bad. I don’t feel like I will return.