Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ode to Mac's Fish Camp

Woe is us

and all the other devoted patrons of Mac’s Fish Camp.

On a recent Saturday night, my family pampered our palates with this river restaurant’s southern-fried cuisine, not knowing it was our last Mac’s meal.

Then, here I was Monday morning…writing a post about local catfish restaurants when Mr. G (my husband) called from work with the news.

Our favorite all-you-can-eat catfish place was gone! It burned just hours after we left. So what kind of jinxes are we? Or for that matter—a couple of neighbors, friends from across the river and the probate judge— who were also there that evening?

Mac’s Fish Camp was a local landmark. It had owners who greeted you, patrons who welcomed you and a delightfully laid-back décor that could never be achieved by a professional designer.

Take a concrete-block building. Add some Plain-Jane lunchroom chairs, red-and-white checked tablecloths, and a bunch of hunting and fishing mounts. Place the menus, condiments and roll of paper towels in Bon Secour oyster buckets. Install big windows for a view of the river, and embellish with trees draped in Spanish moss. That was the blueprint for the most popular fish camp on our side of the Alabama River.

As my oldest son lamented, “It’s the only place I’ve ever been that had an alligator gar hanging on the wall!”

In recent news articles, photos show the devastation, but most of the mounts appear to be hanging on— deer, wild turkey, owl, largemouth bass —to name a few.

As for clientele, the place had universal appeal.

Everybody fit in. It was pretty much a come-as-you-are spot, even if you trolled in off the river. It was the place where we introduced our children to eating out. The reverberation of a conversational crowd kept the Sound of Un-Silent Kids to background level!

Several years ago, it was the choice for my father-in-law’s birthday party, and it’s been the choice for Sunday School get-togethers and political fundraisers. I’m told that country music singer Hank Williams Jr. even ate there.

To further expound upon the Mac’s memories of my son, he said the pond-raised catfish “never tasted fishy,” and “the hush puppies were the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere.” A bowl of coleslaw came first, and “all-you-can-eat” specials were delivered with the fish, hush puppies and French fries all in an oblong pan. You just passed it around and kept your plate full.

Yesterday, I tuned the radio to Selma’s Dixie 100 and heard a Mac’s ad. But, instead of hearing an upbeat fish duet inviting me to come on down, they thanked their supporters and said they would either have to take a long vacation or early retirement.

So, hear my plea.

We feel as if we’ve lost a good friend!

Mac’s Fish Camp, won’t you please come back?

PHOTO: Last Meal at Mac's Fish Camp


Kristen said...

That is so devestating. I can't imagine having your livelihood pulled out from under you like that.

It is hard to find fantastic restaurants like these. I hope for your sake they come back!

Do they know the cause of fire?

Janet said...

Hi Kristen.
Thanks for your comment. A lot of people are hoping that Mac's comes back! This week, there have been letters to the editor in the local newspaper with tributes to the restaurant. I understand that a decision hasn't been made about whether to re-open, and news accounts said the initial investigation showed the cause to be an electrical short in the kitchen area.
There are other restaurants here that serve good catfish, but it was nice to go down to the river and order all you could eat.

GardenGoose said...

aww so sorry to hear about this fire. I hope that the community backing will encourage the owners to re open.
thank you for visiting my blog. how did you find me if I might ask? I'm glad that you did though..and I hope that you will visit again.
I'm another one of those G.R.I.T.S. (girls raised in the South)... ha.
Born and raised in Florida.

Janet said...

Gardengoose, The green tomatoes photos at the Whistlestop Cafe blog drew me in, and I found you and the Small Town Magazine from there. I'm a small-town girl myself. Come visit again. I'll soon be adding more here.

Awesome1 said...

I enjoyed eating there and do hope to see it back in business! Their catfish fillets were the best.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, Janet, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Very nice to meet Selma, you are a neighbor. I'm sorry to hear about your favorite restaurant burning to the ground. That's terrible! I love fish too & there's nothing better than fried fish, hush puppies & coleslaw.

Please come back & visit me when you can.


GardenGoose said...

hey there! I'll definitely visit again. It's always so nice to meet another Southern Belle.:0)I'd like to invite you over to my little blog to join in the drawing I'm having over there:0)hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Janet said...

Thank y'all for visiting!
Awesome1, you must live within driving distance! I think somebody should start a "Bring back Mac's" petition!

Hi Rhoda. You're right. You are pretty much a neighbor! When we come to B'ham, we stop at the Calera exit off 1-65 or the Oak Mountain exit and eat at the Cracker Barrel Country Store. Homewood is about 1.5 hours away from our house.

Garden Goose, thank you for the invite! I love a good contest about the South! Now, like Harry Potter, I am putting on my "sorting hat," to try and sort through the best things I like about the South so I can share it on your blog! It's not gonna be easy to narrow them down.

Anonymous said...

I really like the Fish Camp. I went there about three of for time's With my Mom and my Brother and my Sister in-low and her Family. It was good. I hope they can fix it back again. Becky

JANET said...

Hi Becky,
Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope Mac's returns too!