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San Francisco has come to Mammoth.
Fresh crab right off the street corner, live or cooked to order, delivered fresh from the Bay Area.
They are here now at the corner of Main Street and Laurel Mountain Road, several hundred of them in big saltwater vats, swirled together claw to claw in the bubbling water.
And they will be there all winter for your eating pleasure.
At least thatâ€™s the plan.
It all started when Mammoth newcomer John Hill took a hankering to the Eastern Sierra recently. He brought his bear-carving business, The Bear Den, here from Tahoe where he had had a thriving business since 1995. But then the recession hit and chainsaw-carved bears were suddenly on the list of luxuries, not necessities.
A co-worker of Hillâ€™s, familiar with Mammoth, suggested he move to Mammoth, and while he was at it, bring fresh crabs down to supplement his bear-carving business.
It was just crazy enough to work, Hill thought.
â€śI liked it here,â€ť he said. â€śI liked the community and the more I saw, the more I thought something like this would work.â€ť
Heâ€™s banking on Mammoth resident and visitorâ€™s craving for something other than the usual food choices. Fresh crabs, especially without having to battle the Vons crowds, are certainly that.
Onlookers saw the giant vats of crabs being offloaded from a bobcat and tucked amidst hundreds of carved bears Wednesday behind the old Cuppyâ€™s Coffee place.
Each vat holds about two hundred live crabs and Hill said they can survive in the vats for as long as 30 days. The vats are insulated and can withstand the winter temperatures common to Mammoth, he said.
Once he runs low, he intends to make the long run to the Cresent City area, where he said the crabs and prices are even better than those he has now.
And he might even sell a few bears.
â€śI already sold one to your police chief the other day,â€ť he said. â€śI think this is going to be a good combination.â€ť