After 48 years of ‘meat with no feet’, Catfish Parlour in north Austin closing

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the “meat with no feet” that’s always fresh never frozen. That’s how Dave Kerbow describes the US farm-raised catfish he’s been serving at Catfish Parlour in north Austin for the last 48 years.

The founder and co-owner first opened up shop after spending 15 years working at another longtime Austin establishment, Holiday House.

“It just got into my blood,” Kerbow said about his love for working in the restaurant industry.

The iconic north Austin restaurant is closing its doors Saturday, and Kerbow simply said, “it’s time.”

“I just figured that I could sell our real estate, take a long vacation and then come back and find bigger fish to fry,” he said smiling.

There are two other Catfish Parlour locations that will remain open — one in south Austin and the other in Georgetown.

Kerbow said he decided to get into the catfish business after spending years with his family on the lake cooking and eating the fish. That decision paid off. Today, Kerbow and his son Tommy have been running the restaurant, and for nearly five decades, it’s been open. There have been patrons and staff alike who have stuck by his side for years.

People like Bruce Moore, who first went with a friend seven years ago and turned the restaurant into his Thursday lunch meetup.

“I think this has been in this community for a long time and there are a lot of people who have memories, there are a lot of memories here,” Moore said.

When it comes to the staff, there are people like Tony who have been there for 32 years. The self-proclaimed “foodologist” has a contagious laugh that patrons can’t get enough of. Shawn has been there for 21 years and Shelley has been there for 18 years. Many others, including kitchen staff, have been there for a decade or longer.

“I wish I could win the lottery and keep it going,” Moore said.

While Kerbow has decided to close the north Austin restaurant in order to retire, for some that is not the case for others in the industry.

Skyrocketing costs of food, lack of workers, and COVID-19 are all factors leaving some restaurant owners struggling. Some have even wondered if they should continue to keep their doors open.

Tuesday, the Texas Restaurant Association will discuss how restaurants are preparing for the holiday season and share the hardships many have had to face in the last couple of months. 

“Restaurants have gone through a beating not just generally over the past year and a half but over the past three months specifically, and so with the holidays coming up now is the perfect time to help us come out of that difficult time period and set ourselves up for success in the new year,” Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the association’s chief public affairs officer said.

The event will take place at the County Line on the Hill in Bee Cave starting at 10:30 a.m.

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