After a devastating fire that destroyed much of the restaurant, Catfish Cabin has been rebuilt. There will be a week-long reopening celebration beginning January 31 through February 4. As a thank you to customers, there will be door prizes given away every 30 minutes during business hours for the duration of the reopening week.
They are having an invitation-only soft opening prior to the actual reopening week. They designated three nights to invite friends, family, staff from Lumberton churches, contractors who worked on the restaurant, elected officials, first responders, and law enforcement. Owner, Tim James said that their daughter is in nursing school at Lamar University and when they found out about the fire, they chipped in and purchased her stethoscope and books. The Lamar nursing staff are also invited to one of the designated nights. They have sent out around 600 invitations.
James said they had to gut the entire building all the way to the studs and had to pull the roof off. The exterior of the restaurant looks similar as before, however, the parking lot and lighting were redone. James says the interior is the most significant change. The layout is about the same, but aesthetically, it is different than before. The menu and prices will be exactly the same.
“We’ve been here for 22 years. The biggest fear is that I don’t ever want to take our customers for granted. It’s almost like starting over. I have the same anxiety I did 22 years ago when we first opened, “said James.
The fire happened in August and everyone who worked at the restaurant including the owners, had their lives changed by the disaster. James reflected on the five months where he was not running the restaurant. “I’ve done this since 1979 so it’s who I am. I think the hardest thing for me was not seeing all the people, our customers. We’ve become friends with our customers. At night going home, I’m used to working. I didn’t know what to do with my time.”
Although he was not running the restaurant, James was there every day working to rebuild. He and his wife, Susan, painted and stained wood throughout the restaurant. It took quite some time to remember every piece of equipment that was needed since it was all destroyed by the fire.
After the fire and during the period of rebuilding, there has been an outpouring of support from the community. “The word I’ve been saying all along is humble. I think, not that you do it intentionally, but when you’ve been in business as long as we have you may get to the point where you go through the motions so it was very humbling for me. The community has been unbelievable.”