When Sweetums and I visited Shiloh National Cemetery in Tennessee, we saw lots of billboards for Hagy’s Catfish Hotel. It promised to be one of those local family restaurants that was famous for its food so we decided to check it out.
It didn’t disappoint. Hagy’s, pronounced hay-gee with a hard g, had a cozy atmosphere and the food was delicious. Plus, it was located on the banks of the Tennessee River, which offered a nice view.
Sweetums had the fish tacos, which he said were yummy. All I know is, I could have eaten a few baskets of hushpuppies.
Outside the fairly modern structure, built in 1976, were a tiny log cabin and a marker etched with the name “Elmo.”
We learned the cabin was the home of a former caretaker named Garfield (his history can be found on a wall inside the restaurant) and the monument marked the grave of a man said to haunt the area. Hagy’s explained on its Facebook page:
“So here is the story of Elmo. In the late 1800’s, a steamboat crewmember on the Tennessee River fell in and drowned. He was found and pulled from the river at Hagy Landing … now the parking lot of the restaurant. Because these boats had no way to transport a body, the common law was that a person be buried on the bank where they were recovered.”
How to visit
Hagy’s isn’t easy to find but several signs point the way. It is located at 140 Hagy Lane, Shiloh, Tennessee. Call 731-689-3327 or visit the website by clicking here.
According to CatfishHotel.com, the history of the restaurant begins in 1825.
“On this spot in 1825, Henry Hagy and his wife Polly docked their flat boat, laid claim to several acres of bottom land, and began to build a farm and family. Later their son John built a rough log shack next to the river to store items that were to be shipped by steamboats. The shack was occupied by Union soldiers during the Battle of Shiloh.
“The shack earned the name “Catfish Hotel” during the early thirties when Norvin Hagy entertained friends at cookouts. He became well known for the delicious catfish, hushpuppies, and hospitality he served up. Guests who had arrived by river were often forced to spend the night after becoming engrossed in yarns spun and darkness made it unsafe to travel the river, thus the nickname Catfish Hotel.
“In 1938 Norvin held a political campaign gathering at the site for his old friend Gordon Browning, who was seeking his second term as governor. Upon tasting the catfish and hushpuppies, Gordon recommended Norvin open a restaurant. With the help of his wife, Dorothy, and sons Jack and Bob, the restaurant became a success. Several additions were made to the original shack to accommodate the growing business.
“In 1975, fire destroyed the original structure. The present building opened as the Catfish Hotel a year later. The Catfish Hotel is one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the country. Today a third Hagy generation strives to bring you the same quality food and hospitality that has become a family tradition.”