Vernon’s Kuntry Katfish has been serving Conroe residents its famous catfish and Good Pie for more than 30 years.
The Bowers family, including Vernon, his wife, Mary, and their four children, initially arrived in Conroe from South Houston to open Vernon’s One Stop. The convenience store sold groceries, barbecue, fishing bait and tackle to local residents.
Vernon, a homebuilder by trade, decided to venture into the restaurant business with his wife, opening a 10-table catfish restaurant a couple
of years later in 1984.
“He just decided that we need to do something else,” Mary said. “So he looked in the paper, and finally he saw this place over here in Conroe that was for sale.”
Three renovations later, the restaurant has grown into a 40-table restaurant that serves fried, grilled and blackened catfish along with other seafood options and burgers.
Buster Bowers continues to run the restaurant following Vernon’s death in 2001. Buster said becoming a positive part of the community, a philosophy he shared with Vernon, has helped customers embrace the restaurant.
“[My parents have] a firm belief in giving back to the schools and the churches,” Buster said. “They were so involved right from the beginning—more involved than some of the people [who] had been here forever. As much as the quality of the food and the service, that is what spurred the growth of the restaurant.”
All of the food served at the restaurant continues to be hand-breaded and farm-raised, Buster said.
The restaurant also serves dessert like the Good Pie, a flaky crust filled with cream cheese, bananas and pineapple topped with whipped cream, syrup and pecans. The pie is made to resemble a banana split.
Vernon’s Kuntry Katfish is also known for the complimentary eggnog it serves each holiday season, Buster said. For three weeks between early December and Christmas, the restaurant whips up more than 1,000 gallons of eggnog each year, he said.
Buster said the growth of The Woodlands has helped make the restaurant a popular stop for customers traveling to the township for errands or appointments.
“We have a lot of older clientele [whose] doctor is in The Woodlands,” Buster said. “They’ll say, ‘Whenever we’re going to the doctor from Huntsville, we’ll always come down the road and eat with y’all.’”
The southern-style restaurant is filled with repeat customers, with some who show up 15 minutes before Vernon’s Kuntry Katfish opens each day just to get their favorite seat near the window, Mary said.
“I don’t know that we expected it to grow like it has been, but it has been a real blessing that we’ve had the customers that we have,” Mary said.