I grew up in Baltimore--although my parents hailed from a non-crab eating city, and not huge fans of crab picking--but I have always called a place to go and eat crabs out a 'crab house.' It is not until reading CH that I have heard the term 'crab shack.'
Am I missing something? Is there a difference?
Is, for instance, Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn a 'crab house,' and is Chris' Seafood on Montford Street in Canton a 'crab shack? Or, is every place for crabs both a 'house,' and a 'shack?' FWIW, no local I've known has ever referred to a place for crabs as a 'shack.'
(And, yes, I do know in some parts of the country there are 'clam shacks,' but, conversely, I don't think anyone ever calls them 'clam houses,' or do they?)
And, while I'm on this subject, is there anyone who calls the wooden thing you use to get the claw meet a 'hammer,' and not a 'mallet?'
Thanks for you thoughts on this weighty matter!