Faidley’s is as much about the people as the seafood. Whether gathered around the store’s raw bar at one of the stand-up tables near the busy line of workers making crab cakes, customers are often feel like they’re simply sharing a meal with old friends.
Faidley’s started out at Lexington Market in 1886 when John and Flossie Faidley combined their seafood stall with the adjoining business to form Smith & Faidley’s seafood. John’s son, Edward took over the business before World War II, and, 1948, John W. Faidley, Jr. joined him and changed the name of the company to John W. Faidley’s seafood.
A major fire at Lexington Market that same year forced the business to move to the Lexington Market garage but Faidley’s was one of the first establishments to return to the new Lexington Marker in 1952. The idea of selling prepared foods at the stall originated around this time, reportedly after customers smelled a fish sandwich John, Jr. was making for himself—and asked if they could buy one. In 1966, the Liquor Board gave Faidley’s a liquor license making it the first bar in the long history of Lexington Market. John W. Faidley applied for the license after he and his regular customer agreed that “it just isn’t right” to eat crabcakes and steam crabs with no beer to drink.
Over the past twenty years, Faidley’s has won international renown for its crab cakes. The current recipe was created in 1987 by Nancy Faidley Devine, John’s daughter. That was the same year she resumed working at the “family firm” where her husband Bill Devine had worked since he finished a term of military service in 1964.
Not long after, food critics started making their way to Lexington Market and featuring Faidley’s in national publications including the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and USA Today. Baltimore Magazine gave Faidley’s the “Best Crab Cake” award so many times the magazine had to retire the category. Faidley’s even worked with Old Bay to prepare crab cakes for astronauts on the space shuttle. Unfortunately, NASA officials cancelled their order at the last minute over worries that oil might escape from the crab cake under zero gravity conditions.
The future of Faidley’s Seafood looks just as promising as the past. Damye Devine Hahn, Nancy and Bill’s daughter, is now an integral part of the business and is keeping up Faidley’s fresh seafood and out-of-this-world crab cakes.