With reporting by Mohamed Adan
A year ago, the Central District’s iconic Catfish Corner shuttered after accumulating thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and taxes. The legendary restaurant had been acquired from original owners Rosie and Woody Jackson in 2008 by family friends who “brought it down to the ground,” according to grandson Terrell Jackson. Terrell has since revived the business under the name Jackson’s Catfish Corner in the Southend. And, after a few weeks of being quietly open, new life for the old Catfish Corner begins at full pace next week as Fat’s Chicken and Waffles looks to keep the soul at MLK and Cherry.
CHS stopped by earlier this week and met Fat’s new general manager Erika White and dug into a plate or three of Louisiana soul. Fat’s is a family affair — we also met White’s son Upendo Moore. He’s sporting the apron, above. White tells us she was born and raised in the CD and went to Garfield. She managed Barrio and was with the 12th Ave restaurant’s parent company for nine years before leaping at the chance to work in her home neighborhood.
CHS told the story behind Fat’s — including owner Marcus Lalario’s friend Fats — here last April in the wake of Catfish Corner’s closure. With New Orleans-born Patrick Dours’ menu of chicken and waffles plates, red beans, and fried oyster sandwiches, the nostalgia-soaked Lalario set out to “try to keep a little bit of the past” as built out a new restaurant in the old Catfish Corner.
As for the original Catfish Corner, Terrell told CHS that the restaurant is thriving in its new location at the corner of Rainier Ave S and S Garden and that he intends to return to the Central District.
“We were raised in the Central District,” he said. “We want to go back for the customers who have known us for a long time.”
Terrell plans to have the new CD location up and running around January 1st at 23rd and Jackson in the space formerly occupied by a Quiznos. He said he tried to negotiate a return to the original MLK and Cherry Location but a hefty rent increase and costs of upgrading the building steered him away.
Although primarily known for its authentic, deep-fried catfish recipe that was mastered by Terrell’s grandmother while growing up on the Louisiana Bayou, Jackson’s Catfish Corner also serves up snapper, seafood gumbo, fried chicken, and a special 8-ounce burger. They also have a killer tartar sauce, a recipe they vow to never reveal. The full menu, business hours, and updates from the Jacksons can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Fat’s menu, meanwhile, is also full of delicious — though the prices have climbed from the Corner days. Fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, fried okra. Lalario has also brought in wine and beer and added a small bar. Yes, there are cocktails. Yes, there is fried catfish.
With Capitol Hill’s Kingfish Cafe long gone — and the hope of a new chain of Kingfish Cafes still just a hope, apparently — Fat’s instantly becomes Central Seattle’s northernmost outpost for legitimate soul food. And the new joint also carries the spirit of the original Corner forward. Lalario upgraded the old restaurant but has kept a look and feel that fits with the history. Meanwhile, James Crespinel, the artist who created the classic Martin Luther King, Jr. mural on the building’s eastern wall outside the restaurant, is coming back in a few weeks to touch up the huge painting and add a few new touches.
Fat’s Chicken and Waffles is located at 2726 E Cherry. Its hours are still in flux — expect an announcement of official hours of operation next week. In the meantime, you can learn more at facebook.com/chixnwaffs.
Capitol Hill food+drink notes
- Meanwhile, things are also rounding into shape at 12th and Jefferson where a new Nate’s Wings and Waffles is expanding from its Rainier Beach home turf.
- Monsoon and its new roof deck looks poised to survive a new round of big apartment development on its corner — but the (probably) exceptional cedar tree might not.
- Chuck’s CD has a nifty new beer canning machine that apparently is so nifty it broke right after we wrote about it. Last we checked, the canner was up and running again.
- Broadway’s next new cocktail bar? Spirit Animal, a “slightly mystical” venture from two first-time bar owners in the former home of Capitol Hill longtimer The Byzantion.
- Check out Makini Howell’s new vegan sweet shop Sugar Plum this Sunday at the 15th Ave East Merchants Association Sidewalk Fest.
- Meanwhile, next week is the Sweet Week promotion “with a host of bakeries, ice creameries, and sweet shops around town offering $5 treats made specifically for the occasion” — including Hello Robin’s “ice cream sandwich with chocolate chai brownie chunk cookies, Molly Moon’s Stumptown coffee ice cream, and Pop Rocks.”
- Renee Erickson will get some help in the kitchen at her new Capitol Hill projects Bar Melusine, Bateau and General Porpoise Coffee and Doughnuts. Portland pastry chef Clare Gordon is joining the team.
- Newly re-envisioned Vivre is hosting an October 3rd benefit for the Northwest Film Forum in connection with its Local Sightings fest:
The night will consist of a happy hour that begins at 5pm, and dinner will be served at 5:30pm. The $135 admission ticket will give attendees the opportunity to mingle with the Local Sightings Film Festival jury and filmmakers, a three-course meal of traditional French cuisine and wine, as well as entrance to the closing night awards ceremony of Local Sightings. All proceeds will go to the Northwest Film Forum.
- Revolver sends word of its new grilled cheesy brunch menu.
- Laura Miller, real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, is behind the new restaurant project shaping up (with a mystery chef) in the old Harry’s Fine Foods grocery building at Bellevue and Mercer.
- Capitol Hill’s Rosebud? Dead and gone. This one planned for Ballard apparently unrelated:
- With the Lodge Sports Grille now open in Greenwood, the company can turn its attention to its project overhauling the old Charlie’s.
- RIP Crazycherry.
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer 12th Ave is supposedly at the center of a new Seattle culinary trend: soft serve.
- Happy 25 years to Montlake’s Cafe Lago.
- The vegan activists were on Broadway — target: Witness.
— Imperaptor GRRiosa (@cyndisision) September 5, 2015
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