LaShone Middleton and her twin sister RaeShawn Middleton both enjoyed their jobs in the restaurant industry when COVID-19 upended their world.
Like many others in the business, the sisters lost their jobs after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser mandated a shutdown of all nonessential businesses.
Then one spring afternoon, the Laurel, Md.-based sisters craved the taste of crabs, but a search for home delivery services turned up empty. But that’s precisely when their quest turned into a new career as entrepreneurs.
“We knew the market in our hometown well and found an opening that no one had filled,” LaShone told The Washington Informer. “We put together a business plan and put it into motion, delivering Maryland’s famous steamed blue crabs to our neighbors in Laurel.”
The business has grown steadily through repeat customers and unique social media promotions, but the sisters have maintained a GoFundMe page to continue to pump resources into their new venture.
LaShone said such support offered to other small businesses during the pandemic would help put their R&L Crab company on the fast track for expansion.
It could also solidify the business, enabling the dedicated twins to relocate to a full-time commercial kitchen space or a food truck.
“Growing up in Maryland, all we ever ate was crabs,” LaShone remarked, noting crab is a favorite for the twins.
“We both got furloughed because of COVID on the same day, and we didn’t really know how long we were going to be out of work,” she recalled.
“But we did know that once restaurants did reopen in the summer, they would most likely have to close again in the winter because of COVID.”
LaShone continued explaining their journey:
“So, one day we were sitting in our room, and we were really craving crabs, but it was raining bad, and we didn’t feel like going out to get any. So, we wondered who delivered steamed or even live crabs to your door and realized no company did that. Then we got advice from a restaurant owner, and he told us just to do it, and we did.”
R&L Crab Company boasts steamed or live crabs “delivered straight to your door year-round.”
The company delivers within 15-miles of Washington, D.C.
LaShone noted that she and RaeShawn faced some of their biggest challenges at the start of their business.
“We had to figure out how to get the crabs to our guests without having them overcook due to the steam in the bag,” LaShone remarked.
“We also had some challenges once we started receiving more publicity because it went from just being my sister and I, to us having to hire delivery drivers at a very fast pace,” she said.
“We’ve had to expand quickly, and it’s been challenging, but it is really exciting, and we’re extremely grateful.”
LaShone offered that R&L Crab Company’s customers have shown that they have enjoyed the new business’s offerings.
“They’ve enjoyed our customer service, the actual flavor of our crabs, and the fact that we deliver,” Lashone said. “We offer something that no one has offered our customers before.”