When cousins Mitch and Dalton Hall load The Catfish Hut food trailer, they stock it with all the provisions they need for the day including family recipes and industry know-how passed down through multiple generations.

The backstory

Mitch said his paternal grandparents opened Midway Camp, a marina on Grapevine Lake, in 1958. When fishermen returned from a day of fishing, his grandmother would cook what they caught.

“If you saw a fisherman at Midway Point, the original Catfish Hut, eating a hamburger he didn’t catch anything that day,” Mitch said.

In 1972, Mitch’s dad, Junior Hall and his uncle, Dale Hall opened Catfish Hut, where Paradise Cove is today.

“I basically came out of the womb, was put in a bassinet and put in the kitchen of the Catfish Hut,” Mitch said. “For me, growing up, it was like living in a party. As a 5 year old walking in the door, they’d get me a milk crate, stand me in front of the kegerator and I'd pour pitchers of beer.”

Junior and Dale decided to close the Catfish Hut in 1990 after the second time the building was flooded.

Over the following 33 years, Junior continued frying fish.

“People were constantly asking my dad to do fish fries and he, at this point, was 80,” Mitch said. “He said, ‘I can’t keep doing these.’ I jumped in and started helping him. I said, ‘Dad, why don’t we just build a food trailer and bring it back?’”

The details

Junior and Mitch worked together to get the food trailer ready and planned to launch the business in January. However, Junior died before the launch date.

“What was supposed to be our grand opening turned into my dad’s celebration of life which was the last weekend in January at the old Catfish Hut,” Mitch said. “Our first date to be out in public at the [Cross Timbers] winery was March 16.”

Although Dalton wasn’t part of the Catfish Hut heyday, he knew the family lore, including that his dad worked at the family restaurant, and was happy to carry on the family legacy and become co-owner of the new Catfish Hut food trailer.

“When my dad passed away, I used his life insurance money to invest in the business so my dad is a part of this too,” Dalton said.

Before Junior died, he taught Dalton how to prepare the family recipes.

“I can tell you what’s in it, but it's not about what’s in it, it's about how you do it—the process,” Mitch said.

What’s on the menu

In addition to the catfish, hushpuppies and french fries being made just like they were at the original Catfish Hut, the house-made tartar sauce is also the same.

“My 80-year-old mother sits right here at this table and makes this tartar sauce every single day,” Mitch said. “This tartar sauce will change your life. We’re going to bottle this recipe.”

Looking closer

The Catfish Hut gets the catfish from Guidry’s, a catfish farm in Louisiana. Mitch said catfish are naturally bottom feeders, but at this fish farm, they are trained to eat from the top.

“The catfish that comes to us is absolutely fresh and free of any dirt from the bottom of the lake,” Mitch said. “It's a light, flaky, non-fishy catfish.”

Quote of note

Mitch and Dalton agree that running a food trailer is not easy, but to them it’s worth the effort.

“It is continuing the family legacy ... in the community and getting the opportunity to rebuild the brand to tell the old stories ... and make sure it never goes away,” Mitch said. “In some capacity, The Catfish Hut will always be ready to deploy for the citizens of Grapevine on a moment’s notice.”
  • Various locations including Hop & Sting Brewing Co. and HTeaO in Grapevine. A schedule of locations can be found at www.thecatfishhut.com.