Kingwood business caters to customers
- Written by Kathy Parks
Catfish back by popular demand Kingwood Catfish Place recently celebrated its one year anniversary in Kingwood. It is a restaurant in touch with its community and its customers. “I love cooking for my friends,” said owner Genia Cole. Six years ago, Cole sold her popular Atascocita restaurant, Catfish Café. She continued to be known as the “glady lady’ as she parked off Hamblen Road on Fridays selling fish and shrimp plates on the side of the road. Cole said she has always listened to her customers, who continue to give her valuable advice for her business. “My customers loved the food and wanted a place to sit down and eat again,” said Cole. Cole opened a new restaurant in her neighborhood on North Park next to Gold’s Gym. “I had heard so many horror stories about how difficult it is to open a restaurant in Kingwood,” said Cole. “I prepared myself for a lengthy permitting battle and whatever else might come along, but things ran surprisingly smooth.” Cole said everything fell into place for her restaurant’s opening. She said she and her family did the “build-out” themselves and had no building code problems. Her table capacity in the new restaurant is 50. She provides both dine-in and carry-out. “I have four kids in different schools and on different teams,” said Cole, who is very involved in her community. She decorates the walls of her restaurant with jerseys and pennants from the various school sports teams. If a patron’s favorite school baseball or football team is not represented, Cole suggests bringing them in and she said she will gladly add them to the collection. She said her customers gave her a suggestion, which she implemented, to post menus on the wall to help people decide on their order as they wait in line. “That was a great idea,” said Cole. Her customers also asked her to offer home-cooked southern favorites such as chicken and dumplings. The dumplings are not on the menu, but by word of mouth, her regular customers know she makes a batch once a week from her grandmother’s recipe. The dumplings go on sale at 4 p.m. and are offered until they sell out. Cole also offers daily specials Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The special includes $1 off the regular meal price and a free iced tea. “I use the best seafood I can find,” said Cole, “for example, I only buy oysters that have been shucked the same day.” Cole recently added breakfast items to the menu. She said she considered offering a buffet, but decided against it. She said to keep the quality up, it is important to not only use the best ingredients, but also to cook food when ordered. She said none of the fish or shrimp is pre-breaded. Finding bread for her po boy’s proved to be challenging and she spent a month finding just the right one. Her menu includes: catfish, shrimp and chicken meals; combo meals; family meals; kids meals; a host of sides; and desserts. “I couldn’t ask for a better job,” said Cole. “This is a family business, all of us are involved. We know most of our customers by name and many of them have settled into a routine. I know, for example, a certain family comes in on Thursday, and I know what each member of the family will order.” Cole offers her restaurant as a place for sports teams and their families to meet before or after the big game. If a child comes in with a uniform, he eats free with the purchase of an adult meal. Reinforcing the spirit of community, Cole has a bulletin board where guests bring photos of their “big catch” for everyone to enjoy. Cole is a big supporter of the Shell Houston Open and Northeast Christian Academy in Kingwood. Kingwood Catfish Place is located at 2229 North Park Drive. For more information, call 281-358-2928. Photo: Kingwood Catfish Place owner Genia Cole creates a sense of community in her North Park restaurant. The restaurant recently celebrated its one year anniversary, but Cole, also known as the “fish lady,” has been serving the community for years.