Seasoned coach runs a spicy business
Posted: Monday, Apr. 27, 2009
Joe “Coach” Crosby grew up in Charlotte, playing football for West Charlotte High, and the semi-pro Carolina Chargers and Storm. He later became head football coach at Savannah State and Morris Brown College in Atlanta. After retiring, the husband and father of two opened a restaurant in Fairplay, S.C., which gave birth to yet another career, as the creator of Coach's Low Country Boil Seasoning, which is featured in stores such as Bi Lo, Food Lion and Bloom.
Following are excerpts from an interview with Crosby, 53, by reporter Mark Price.
Q. How does one go from coaching football to running a seasoning business?
I'm an avid fisherman, and I had purchased some land on Lake Hartwell (in S.C.), and I noticed that a lot of people were going by. I thought “If I put up a grill by the house, I bet I could make it work.” My wife thought I was crazy. I don't believe in being lucky. I believe it's blessed when you can open up a restaurant in the middle of nowhere and, with no experience, people come to it. I did that. When I started the T-60 Grill (in 2003) we had eight tables, and it took off from word of mouth. Now, we'll average 600 to 800 people on a summer Saturday. And it's out woods, too. The first time my mother came to see it, she asked if I was safe there. …I've expanded the restaurant five times, because we had people eating in our backyard. The restaurant is right next to our house.
Q. You can cook?
I've been cooking since I was 9. My dad taught me and I learned how to do Lowcountry boil when I was at Savannah State. I made up the seasoning when I was doing boils at home, for some friends. Someone told me I should do it at a restaurant. When the seasoning took off, I started selling it in (plastic) bags. It got too big and I had to start getting it manufactured by a place in Fort Mill. They still do it.
Q. Your mom, Kathleen “Kat” Crosby, retired in ‘86 as the Harding/Myers Park area superintendent, a job that made her then the highest ranking black woman with CMS. How is she?
She has Alzheimer's and it is advanced. Her health is fine, but the (Alzheimer's) is something we deal with. She's living in Houston at a place where they take good care of her.
Q. Can I assume school was tougher because of her position?
There was no benefit from it, I'll tell you that. I couldn't get in trouble, because everybody knew me. It was like being the child of a politician. You can't do the things other people do, because it ends up in the paper. She used to always say, “Son, if you get in trouble, it won't just be you; it will be me, too.” No matter where I went, I was ‘Kat's boy' and I still am. And that's fine. They say you are your father's son, but you're always your mother's boy. She did a lot for the community, and every time I come back home, people tell me stories of how my mother had an impact on their lives. If she taught me one important lesson, it's that you always need to be doing something for somebody, otherwise, you ain't living.
Q. What's your dream?
I'd like to see Coach's Wings and Dogs develop as a brand, like McDonald's. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/story/689361.html