Former rapper Ben Flowers — who went by the moniker Mally Racks during his musical career — recently opened a North Charleston restaurant after years of operating his Chef Racks food truck, which debuted in 2018. Named Chef Racks Garlic Crabs, the 8780 Rivers Ave. eatery opened April 2 with a seafood-centric menu, starring Flowers’ signature garlic butter coated snow and blue crabs.
“That’s why they come because of the handcrafted sauce by me,” Flowers said. “The sauce I make kind of clings to the shell, so you get that savory in every bite.”
The decision to open a brick-and-mortar space comes three years after Flowers debuted his popular food truck in T-Mobile’s North Charleston office building parking lot, where he specialized in those same garlic crabs. The sauce is thick and lucious, as opposed to the thin garlic butter often served with crabs, Flowers said.
Flowers credits his mom, aunts and grandparents with exposing him to different recipes during his youth, a passion that only grew during his Mally Racks touring days.
“I’m a little older now — the rapping days are over,” Flowers said. “When we used to tour and stop in these cities, one of the things I always treated myself to was fine dining.”
When he first launched his food truck, Flowers was known for blue crabs, which he topped with even more lump crab meat, something he says no one else in Charleston was doing at the time. You’ll find blue crabs as a Friday special at the new Rivers Avenue restaurant along with the more readily available snow crabs, Flowers said.
“I took a five-star cuisine type of style and put it in a crab box, and that was never done before,” he said. “The blue crab market’s kind of up and down — I needed a bigger demand.”
Demand for the crabs has been plentiful since he opened, Flowers said, and the restaurant is also giving the chef the chance to add to the menu fried whiting, shrimp and oysters, seasoned with his specialty blend.
“What I do with the fried seafood to make it signature is everything is hand-breaded, and I do all the seasoning blends,” he said. “It’s fried to golden perfection.”
And, don’t miss out on Flowers’ house-made pineapple lemonade.
“It’s light, it’s refreshing, it’s sweet — it’s something you’ve got to try,” he said.
Chef Racks Garlic Crabs is open for takeout and dine-in Tuesday through Saturday. According to Flowers, the decision to focus on takeout was not related to the pandemic.
“I knew I always wanted to do takeout because I felt the crabs were something people could pick up and take to enjoy,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do fast service.”
For those who want to dine at the restaurant, Flowers hopes to create a little bit of that fine dining feel he fell in love with on the road with hanging lights and his light jazz playlist.
“It’s got a nice little ambiance in there,” he said. “I didn’t want to go for your traditional seafood market look.”
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