When Catfish Corner closed in August, it inspired conversations about the Central District's identity, supporting longstanding businesses, and Seattle's slim offerings for soul food. Now Marcus Lalario, the guy behind Li'l Woody's and various other food and nightlife spots, is turning the lights back on in the former home of the neighborhood's legendary restaurant.
He will open Fat's Fried Chicken and Waffles in this space at MLK and Cherry this summer. As the name implies, Lalario promises fried chicken, waffles, and soul food, "done proper."
"It's not going to be Catfish Corner but it’s going to be in the same tradition for the neighborhood," says Lalario. "I’m real big on keeping the spirit of what Catfish Corner was."
In the kitchen will be Lalario's buddy Patrick Dours, a New Orleans native who has cooked at the Doe Bay and Rosario resorts on Orcas Island. Lalario's lining up other staff members who he says have Louisiana roots.
Lalario lives nearby and says he hit up Catfish Corner at least once or twice a week when he first moved to Seattle, coming for the catfish bits, hush puppies, sweet tea, and peach cobbler as well as the warmhearted ribbing from the woman behind the counter. When he heard the restaurant was closing, he wasted no time asking about the space.
Once upon a time, Fat's was going to be a Rainier Beach joint, but Lalario and would-be partner Darren McGill went separate ways; McGill and partners opened Nate's Wings and Waffles (now planning a second location at 12th and Jefferson). At the time, Lalario promised Fat's would surface elsewhere down the road.
If Nate's embraces the eclectic side of chicken and waffles, Fat's will be straightup Southern, says Lalario, doing fried thighs and drumsticks rather than focusing on wings. He's quick to say he remains very friendly with the Nate's crew.
Fat's will be a family-friendly kind of place, initially open from midafternoon until dinner. Daytime hours will come later. Lalario's crew is embarking on a quick buildout ("It will be vibed out for sure") but hopes to have Fat's putting fried chicken atop waffles by July or August.