Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Greatest Catfish in the World rises from the muck in Georgetown

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

or: If You Fry It, They Will Come

The other day, I was surfing around online (okay, I might have been Googling my name to see who's been talking smack about me), when I ran across a post on Rex Nelson's Southern Fried Blog about the destruction of the Georgetown One Stop during the Biblical-grade flooding on the White River last spring.

My heart sank. As you well know if you know me, or if you've read Arkansas Times food reviews for any length of time, I gush over the fried catfish at Georgetown One Stop — a former gas station on the banks of the White River which I was turned on to by my friend and White County native Lindsey Millar — every chance I get. Not to get too grandiose, but I consider the fish there to be a gift from a kind and loving Creator, who wants good things for all mankind. There simply is no better fish in the state in my estimation, and the thought that all that might have been wiped off the planet by a deluge was a thought too great to bear.

Just before resolving to commit ritual seppuku with my knife and fork, I gave the One Stop a call. Imagine my relief when owner JoAnn Taylor picked up the phone, and confirmed the place is open for business once again.

Taylor said that water has gotten close to the door of the One Stop before, but never this high. During the spring floods last year, she said, the White River surged over its banks and drowned the restaurant and most of the town three and a half feet deep. The water then proceeded to sit there for three weeks, floating the refrigerator, ruining the stove, the heater, the air conditioner and all the other appliances. When the river finally withdrew, Taylor said, the floor was covered in a layer of muck and thousands of nightcrawlers.

"I wasn't going to reopen," she said. "I just thought it was one of those things that was kind of disastrous."

Then a funny thing happened. As if drawn by the miraculous, life-affirming power of fried catfish — in a scene I imagine as a fatter, more french-fry-scented version of the ending of "Field of Dreams" — local diners who love the One Stop came out of the woodwork to help rebuild it. "The people in town and some of the churches in Searcy just came down and started knocking out the walls," Taylor said, "getting the bleach out and saving everything — rebuilding things. They just did it voluntarily... I think they wanted it to stay so they could come down and eat fish."

After a slew of donations and four months of demolition and rebuilding work, the One Stop re-opened last summer. Taylor said they've been so busy since then that they haven't had a chance to repaint the concrete floors. A bucket of high-dollar epoxy coating donated by the local Sherwin-Williams outlet still sits in the back, waiting for business to slow down enough for them to have time to do something with it.

For my part, I hope those damn floors never do get painted.

209 N Main St

Phone: (501) 742-3781

Hours: Thu-Sat 10 am - 8 pm (Note: call ahead. If fisherman aren't fishing the White River, the One Stop will be closed)

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