Circle A Catfish chef and owner Kimberly Aldridge Benson shows off the kitchen of her family’s restaurant. She will cook there for the last time this week as they close the restaurant after more than 20 years in business. | Alison James

Archived Story

Last call for catfish

Published 12:44pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

It’s the end of an era for one local Dadeville restaurant, and Saturday night will be the last chance for catfish from Circle A Catfish.

Circle A Catfish will close its doors after more than 20 years in the community.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” said owner and chef Kimberly Aldridge Benson.

The restaurant will be open regular hours Thursday through Saturday. The Aldridges started with Circle A Barbecue at what is now Oskar’s Cafe. After closing that restaurant, they opened Circle A Catfish in its current location in 1990.

Aldridge Benson has been part of the family business since she was 11 years old, learning how to cook from her dad.

“We have truly enjoyed our time out here,” Aldridge Benson said. “We’ve had a lot of good times.”

Aldridge Benson and her mother, Margaret Aldridge, gave credit and thanks to God for the opportunity to have the restaurant, which is truly a family business – Aldridge Benson’s husband also works there, as well as nieces and grandchildren. They said they are going to miss the people who come to the restaurant the most.

“(I love) seeing the people and knowing that I’m cooking something they enjoy,” Aldridge Benson said.

The catfish fingers from Circle A Catfish have been featured in the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die, and the restaurant was included in the recent book Alabama Food.

Aldridge Benson is planning to attend the Auburn Dental Assisting Program to become a dental assistant. But in addition to wanting to take on a new venture in life, the economy has also been a factor in Aldridge Benson’s decision.

“It’s so hard to try to keep things going with what everything costs, and you can’t keep going up on your prices,” Aldridge Benson said.

Aldridge Benson said their customers have insisted they will have to host a yearly cookout so customers still have access to the food.

“Everybody’s been sad, but they’ve supported us in the decision,” Aldridge Benson said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, no, you can’t quit. We can’t get catfish anywhere else!’”

Aldridge Benson said they are hoping for a full house Saturday night.

“It’s going to be hard to go out that door and lock it for the last time, knowing that I’m not coming back to do something I’ve done over half my life,” Aldridge Benson said.