Catfish and Family Business

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Last week Ray and I took off on a very rainy morning to join our younger daughter and her family at Shiloh National Military Park. Military parks make me so sad as I think about the heartbreaking events that took place there. We did have a good visit though. Even the weather was nice, the rain having stopped there before we arrived. I hope to tell you about Shiloh tomorrow. For today I want you to know a little of the story of a restaurant we enjoyed along the way.

As we drove through Savannah, Tennessee, on our way to meet our family members, I texted my friend Dena whose husband grew up there to ask for a restaurant recommendation. “Hagy’s is my favorite,” she replied. “I love the slaw.” Hagy’s is just a few minutes from Shiloh, so that sounded perfect. Ray and I decided to share a meal—with an extra order of slaw in light of Dena’s recommendation.

Before bringing our catfish and hushpuppies, the waitress brought each of us a salad bowl filled with chopped cabbage, carrots, and a few chopped dill pickles. Perched on the side was a container of house honey French dressing. This was different from any other coleslaw I have ever eaten, but Dena was right. It was scrumptious. The catfish and hush puppies were, too.

Inside Hagy’s Catfish Hotel

I saw helpful family business tips at Hagy’s Catfish Hotel. These I learned from the menu:

  • Hagy’s Catfish Hotel is one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the United States. It all began when Norvin Hagy cooked catfish and hushpuppies for his family and friends by the Tennessee River back in the 1930s. When Hagy practiced hospitality with his relatives and friends, he left a good example. Now his family follows that example and offers hospitality to others. Successful family businesses honor their founders.
  • The Hagy family has unique traditions which they are willing to share with others. The menu says that their coleslaw is a “unique family recipe.” It describes their lemon rub pie (known as lemon chess pie by my Mama Sue) as “baked here since 1938” and “our grandmother’s recipe.” In describing their German chocolate pie, they say, “This time it’s mom’s recipe.”  In its description of their delicious caramel pie (I know because we shared a piece), they say, “Dad always made this pie on special occasions.” The Hagys are proud of their family traditions and want to share them with others.

  • The menu promises that they will serve “the highest quality meals prepared with the level of skill and care that only generations of experience can bring.” In successful family businesses, each generation builds on what the generations before them have learned.
  • Gratitude is an important trait of successful family businesses. The Hagy Catfish hotel menu says, “We are thankful that guests like you choose to make the extra effort to seek us out in our humble country setting.”

Moses wasn’t teaching directly about family businesses in the Song of Moses, but the principle in this verse is instructive for families who have chosen to work together.

Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.
Deuteronomy 32:7

And gratitude is a key to every part of our lives.

Devote yourselves to prayer,
keeping alert in it
with an attitude of thanksgiving . . .
Colossians 4:2

I’d like to invite you to a webinar later this month. I am excited to join Gretchen Roe of Demme Learning for “History Should Be an Essential Part of Your Homeschool Journey” on Tuesday, January 24, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Please note that this is Eastern time. We usually advertise Central time when we host a webinar, but Demme is hosting this one, and we are grateful for the opportunity.  Click here to register.



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