After four years away, Peoria seafood restaurant returns home — with a twist

A catfish po'boy is prepared at the newly opened Peoria location of Anchor's Away seafood restaurant on Wednesday.
JJ Bullock
Journal Star

It was time for Sandra Cabbell and her restaurant to come home.

After a four-year hiatus away from Peoria, Cabbell opened a new location for her seafood restaurant, Anchor's Away Crab n' Go, at 8807 N. Knoxville Ave. 

Cabbell has been operating an Anchor's Away location in Springfield, making the commute there nearly every day.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the toll it has taken on the restaurant industry especially, made her decide it was time to once again open a Peoria site.

"With the way things are going, it's probably best to be back closer to home," Cabbell said. "A lot of people getting unemployment, not wanting to work, it's easier for us to deal with it here if we have to come in and work ourselves if we don't have workers, as opposed to driving back and forth every day."

And thus, Anchor's Away is back in town, but with a twist.

Peoria dining:Craving something new? These 12 Peoria-area restaurants have opened in 2021

Anchor's Away returns with new style

Sandra Cabbell, owner of Anchor's Away restaurant, and her daughter, Jasmine Moore, stand outside of the newly opened Peoria location on Knoxville Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.

While the Anchor's Away location in Springfield is a more traditional restaurant with a liquor license, the Peoria location is described as a "crab 'n' go" eatery — with emphasis on carry-out. 

Cabbell's goal, however, is to one day have the Peoria location operate the same way as the original Peoria eatery, with more focus on dine-in opportunities. 

The top sellers at Anchor's Away are the gumbo and the shrimp and grits. But it also offers crab legs, catfish, frog legs, po'boy sandwiches and many other items.

Ready to eat?:These 6 restaurants are coming soon to the new food hall at Keller Station in Peoria

There is more competition in the seafood market in Peoria than there was four years ago — with the recent opening of Jersey Crab in Northwest Peoria and Holy Crab in East Peoria — but Cabbell is confident her food at Anchor's Away can thrive.

She says her customers attest that Anchor's Away is as close to New Orleans seafood as you can get without being in the bayou. 

"If we are comparable to New Orleans, I consider that a plus," Cabbell said. 

When Anchor's Away first came to Peoria, the restaurant had a chef who handled all the recipes. He left, however, and took all his recipes with him. When Cabbell moved operations to Springfield, she says, they had to start the menu from "square one." But she said it turned out "really nice."

"A lot of the stuff we sell was what we cooked at home and ate anyways, so we kind of had our recipes," Cabbell said.

Genghis Grill:A new create-your-own stir-fry restaurant opening in Peoria will replace another

Cabbell used to own World of Wings in Peoria near Bradley's campus, but when "everybody started getting into the market of selling wings," Cabbell and her family felt they needed to do something different. 

"Wing prices started going up and we were like, 'let's do something different,'" Cabbell said. "We ate seafood a lot at home, so we thought, 'let's do seafood.'"