Whether you are aware or not, today is National Catfish Day, an observance celebrating the value of farm-raised catfish, and local restaurant, Triple R Barbecue, has plenty of it for their valued customers.
Located on Veteran’s Drive in Scottsboro, Triple R has been in business since 1987, when brothers Randy and Ralph Roberts started out with a small building that seated only 12 people.
Randy’s wife, Loretta, has been by his side the entire time.
“We got married in July 1987,” she said, “and they opened the restaurant in November. I joke and say he figured he’d better open his own restaurant if he ever wanted any supper.”
The early days of Triple R were not easy. It took effort on the part of everyone in the family to get the business and clientele established, but they did it.
“Everyone pitched in to build the original building,” she said. “Randy is the carpenter, and their dad helped with electricity and plumbing. I worked at Jacob’s Bank during the day, and here at night and on weekends.”
Ralph left his job to manage the restaurant full-time, and Randy worked weekends in addition to his regular job.
“We did that for about three years,” Loretta said. “Since we could only seat 12 people at a time, a lot of our business was to-go orders.”
In 1991, the Roberts family added the restaurant’s banquet room, expanding the capacity for hungry customers.
“Then Randy and Ralph purchased the log cabin of Pearl Lee Moody,” she said, “and disassembled the whole thing – chimney, fireplace and all, moved it here and reassembled it to make our dining room.”
The cabin was originally located in the community of Chicken Foot, located between Hollywood and Crowe Mountain.
“We put the windows in and I suggested we take pictures of scenes around Jackson County and put them behind the windows so it looks like you are looking outside,” she said.
The large corner booth in the restaurant is dedicated to Loretta’s father, ‘Uncle Josh’ Varner, a radio and television personality who talked about Triple R Barbecue everywhere he went.
“The name, ‘Triple R,’ stands for Randy, Ralph and their dad, Isaac Roberts,” Loretta explained. “The big letter, ‘R,’ in the middle of the sign is for him. He gave us the money to start the business.”
The menu at Triple R includes pit-smoked barbecue, ribs, chicken, and, of course, catfish.
“We only serve USDA, farm-raised catfish,” she said. “It’s hand-breaded and fried to a golden brown. The center is juicy, tender, and flaky just like it should be. It’s really good catfish and we sell a lot of it.”
The side choices at Triple R are all home made and include barbecue baked beans, sweet coleslaw or mustard slaw, golden brown hushpuppies by the basket full, and creamy Tartar sauce.
“People love our catfish and sides,” she said. “And we always say, ‘Our barbecue is slow cooked and gone fast.’”
The tender meat is pit-smoked for 12-14 hours and is served with traditional sides and Triple R’s own sauce.
“We have a vinegar based sauce,” she said, “and a special rib sauce that somehow picked up the name, ‘Rattlesnake Rib Sauce,’ years ago. I have no idea why, because it has nothing to do with Rattlesnakes, but people just love that sauce.”
Triple R currently has around 22 employees and offers a full range of services like catering, to-go plates, and even delivery.
“We also have the banquet room that customers can reserve for private parties,” she said.
Over the years, Triple R has built a loyal following of customers and regularly adds new ones to the family.
“I’d like to thank all of our customers that have supported us through the years,” she said. “They mean the world to us, and we really appreciate them.”