As Hank Williams, Jr. says they are "just
carrying out an old family tradition" and the food in these
multi-generational restaurants makes that family proud. These
restaurants are still operated by a family member of in one case
passed on to a "like family" member.
Hagy's Catfish Hotel
near Shiloh has a long and interesting history. It's
one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the country.
|Hagy's Catfish Hotel
The Henry Hagy and his wife Polly settled
here in 1825 and Hagys have been fishing
and cooking the catch ever since. Their son, John, built
what was to become "the Catfish Hotel" but it wasn't until the
1930's that it became a restaurant officially.
The Shack as it was known then was uses
for may purposes before it became a restaurant. Originally,
it stored items to be shipped by steamboats plying the
river and was later
occupied by Union soldiers during the Battle of Shiloh.
In 1938, Norvin Hagy who was well known
for the delicious catfish, hushpuppies, and hospitality he
served to friends and passerbys, held a political rally for his
friend, Gordon Browning, campaigning for his second term as
Tennessee governor. Gordon suggested Narvin should open a
restaurant as his food was so good.
The idea took root and Norvin followed his friends advice. He,
his wife, Dorothy, and sons Jack and Bob built a thriving
clientele until the building burned in 1975. Within a year, the
structure I visited was opened and the restaurant continued, now
under the leadership of the third generation of Hagys.
|Fried Green Tomatoes at Hagy's
You can get catfish almost any way you
can think of here, from catfish lightly breaded and fried to
Cajun Catfish and many other creative choices. If you are not a
big fish eater like me, you can have a choice of lots of other
dishes equally savory. I went with the baby back ribs and made a
complete pig of myself with the succulent juicy fall-off the
Hagys is no slouch on the traditional
southern food either. I sampled the fried green tomatoes and was
This one is a "must eat at" place. Put it on your bucket list.
The Catfish Institute rated it in the top ten catfish
restaurants in the country.
Brooks Shaw & Son Old
Country Store in Casey
Jones Village is a tourist attraction in itself. Even if
those huge buffets were not filled with delicious items, folks
would flock in for the
1890's aura, the old Ice
Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe , the Gift and Confectionery Shoppe
and the authentic Old Country Store would bring in people in
|Buffet at Brooks Shaw and Son
But there is no denying the buffet food
is delicious. I think the fried chicken is my favorite. Not
greasy and so tender. The made-right -in-front-or-you corn bread
is another treat I haven't seen many other places. This is
Southern cooking carried to an art form.
Brooks Shaw's first store had humble
beginnings. When he had a heart attack at 32. His doctor advised
him to get a relaxing hobby and he did. Brooks began collecting
antiques. When the collection began to overflow his home in
1965, Brooks decided to open county store where he could also
display the antiques similar to the store he had worked in as a
boy before he went in the service.
He and his wife, Anne, also had a small
selection of cheeses, cold cuts and other food items and before
long the country store/museum added another persona, a
Brooks passed away in 1971 but Anne continued to run the
business with the help of their children, Clark and Debora.
In 1978, they moved to the present location at the Casey
|Old fashioned candy store at
Brooks Shaw and Son
Today, Anne is still involved in the
business as is Debora but Clark had taken the reins as CEO.
Clark is his father's son and has carried on the antique
collecting. In fact he has carried it to a new high. The village
now includes Casey Jones home and museum, the original old
Wellwood Country Store his father worked at a s a boy, and
Clark's latest achievement, the moving of a beautiful antebellum
mansion to the grounds. All of the building are filled with the
collection of antiques begun by Brooks and continued by his
They have won the Jackson Sun Newspaper
Readers Choice Award Winner - Jackson Best Overall Restaurant &
Best Southern Cooking for so many years I can't count them all.
They have also won the best Jackson County Attraction.
This is a family tradition in the best
possible sense. Anne is still involved in the business and
Clark's and his wife, Juanita's, children are also working in
Here's Anne Shaw's own recipe for Chess
Chess Pie Recipe
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbs. flour
½ tbs. Meal
1 tsp. vinegar
¼ cup milk
1 stick butter melted
1 tsp. vanilla
To Prepare :
Beat eggs. Add sugar, flour, and meal to
eggs. Stir. Add vanilla, vinegar and milk. Lastly, add the
melted butter. Stir all ingredients well.
Put into unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes until firm
in the middle.
Peppermill and E.K.
Valentine Lounge is
located in little Valentine Nebraska. Valentine is a small town
in Cherry County (Isn't that a perfect county for any food
establishment) that is more known for its outdoor adventure than
epicurean delights. But who says just because you want to go
hiking the sandlhills or kayaking the Niobrara River that you
don't want a feast at the end of the day.
|Dinner at Peppermill
Peppermill specializes in beef. After all
you are in the heart of cattle ranching country here. You will
find unusual items (for us out-of staters) like Rocky Mountain
Oysters. If you don't know what these are, I'll not spoil your
appetite by telling you. They also serve a heart-shaped steak
that makes a great Valentine's Day treat..
Black Angus beef is common on the menu
but you can find some interesting chicken, turkey of seafood
dishes here. I had to be
different and ordered the ribs. They were fantastic.
The salads are great here , too. Unlike a
lot of beef heavy eateries, Peppermill knows that vegatables are
important as well.
The owner, Robert Joseph has a family tradition to live up to.
William and Betty Joseph, his grandparents, began the restaurant
in the Fort Niobrara Hotel and Peppermill Cafe on Main Street in
Valentine, Nebraska with the same dedication to good food and
good service many years ago.
His father followed in their footsteps.
|Ribs at Peppermill
Judging by the reputation Peppermill had
garnered in Valentine and all over the state, Robert is
upholding the family tradition. He has moved the restaurant to a
new location on Highway 20 and now offers a full service lounge,
E. K. Valentine, with lots of local Nebraska craft beers.
It's a great place to dine after a busy
day of adventure.
Roanoker Restaurant opened on July 1, 1941 in downtown
Roanoke as a partnership of three friends.
When war broke out, two
of the partners left to join the service.
|Bucth talks about the old days
Crafton Warren and his
wife, Florence, remained behind to serve in a different way.
Crafton and Florence helped the war effort as civilian
neighborhood volunteers by packing food for the soldiers on
troop trains that passed through
After the war they bought out their two
partners and continued with the fine food tradition they had
begun. In particular, the Roanoker was earning a reputation for
the best biscuits in town. the restaurant grew and moved over
passed away in December 1982 and Florence in 2005.
son, E. C., who had worked at the Restaurant since age 8 moved
into the ownership easily. As the restaurant continued to
prosper, E. C. hired a secretary, Renee "Butch" Craft, in 1970.
Butch would become just like family and when E.C. decided to
semi-retire in 2005, Butch was his natural choice as successor.
He still remained involved in the everyday working of the
restaurant until he passed away in 2008.
The restaurant continued in the tradition
mapped out by Crafton and 'Florence. Especially those biscuits
which have become famous in Roanoke. Butch told me they serve
about 1000 on an average day and on Xmas eve they stop at 3000.
People order them ahead as the restaurant is closed on
Christmas. Their buttermilk biscuits are so famous the recipe is
featured in the "Southern Living Off the Eaten Path" cookbook
and they also named the Roanoker as one of the top five
restaurants in Virginia, an honor that won the restaurant a spot
on the Today Show.
|Strawberry Pancakes at Roanoker
It's not only the biscuits that bring in
the customers. The Roanoker prides itself on having everything
homemade and fresh. They buy locally whenever possible. I
sampled the biscuits and gravy of
course and agree with the majority opinion. I got adventurous
and also tried their Strawberry Pancakes and would give those a
gold star as well. This place has got their act together. It's
no wonder many of the staff have been with them for 25 and some
even 25 years. Butch
confined their secret to the Roanakers success: "If a customer
says something is not right, we look into it. It doesn't matter
if we think it's okay.
If they don't then we
work to improve it.
After all, they are the ones keeping us going."
As a bonus, here is that famous recipe
for you to try at home courtesy of the Roanoker Restaurant:
The Roanoker Restaurant's Buttermilk
|Roanokers famous biscuits
Makes 8 biscuits
3 ½ cups self-rising flower
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. sugar
½ cup shortening
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first three ingredients
in a large bowl; stir well. Cut shortening into flour
mixture with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add
buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured
surface, and knead lightly three or four times. Pat dough to
one-inch thickness; cut with a three-inch round cutter, and
place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until
golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.
Why not take your family out to dinner at
one of these great restaurants and create your own "Family
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