By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Earlier this summer the marquee changed at 7838 Church Street to read A&J’s Catfish Station. For some residents of Millington, the wait for a proven catfish restaurant began years ago when Miss Sipps Catfish Saloon closed.
“I am a resident of Millington and I feel like there is a need for what we have to offer,” A&J’s Catfish Station co-owner André Meyers said. “That really sums it up. I feel like the location is a great location. We’re praying we will do well.”
Meyers and his business partner, Janis Anderson, have done well with their first A&J Catfish Station located at 5950 Knight Arnold in Memphis. Over the 12 years, Meyers and Anderson have developed a large customer base with that area’s residents and those coming to Bluff City from the Memphis International Airport.
Part of Meyers’ routine travel is commuting from Memphis to his home in Millington. Once he saw the space become available in the Plaza Shopping Center, he was ready to invest.
After weeks of plumbing work, electrical rewiring and painting, some residents warned Meyers of the lack of success in that spot.
“No that didn’t make me apprehensive. I just felt like the right restaurant was not in this location the last three, four or five years,” he said. “That was what the problem was. There were mostly Hispanic restaurants here. And there are so many that Millington is saturated with, I think that’s why they didn’t survive. There were so many to choose from.”
With far fewer fish-based restaurants in the Millington area, A&J’s Catfish Station is ready to corner the market with the food that is popular in their original location.
“The breading for one is the biggest secret,” Meyers said. “So many are selling fresh farm-raised catfish, but the breading for one makes the difference. Plus the sides we do are freshly homemade, like mac and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw from scratch, our tartar sauce, cocktail sauce.
“All these items we make from scratch,” he added. “Green tomatoes and fried pickles are all hand breaded. The mushrooms are hand breaded. We even hand-bread our shrimp. That’s what separates us from all other catfish restaurants.”
When the new A&J’s Catfish Station opens in late August or early September, Meyers and his son Christopher will handle the day-to-day operations in Millington. Meanwhile Anderson and their daughter Elysee will run the Memphis location.
“We’re here every day,” Meyers said. “We’re working owners. We’re not just delegating and collecting money.
“Everyone has been extremely pleased,” he added. “A lot of time we get customers because they would just Google ‘catfish’ coming in from out of town. We would pop up first. They’d read the reviews and look at the reviews and would be pleased with what they saw. And anytime we would get anybody they were pleased with the food.”
He said customers will also be pleased with the ambiance as he will reach out to area schools to collect jerseys and paraphernalia representing the Millington Trojans, Munford Cougars, Brighton Cardinals and Covington Chargers.
Meyers said A&J Catfish Station wants all to come aboard from Millington, Tipton County and even Arlington.
“Foodwise, everything is made from scratch,” he noted. “The quality will be there. We will make sure the product is good before it goes out. If we have a problem, we’ll try to make sure we catch anything before it goes out.
“As for the atmosphere, I’m going for a family atmosphere,” Meyers continued. “We do offer the flat screen television for the single guy or group of friends who want to watch the game. They can have a good time with that. But we try to maintain a family atmosphere as much as possible.”
The wait for a family-oriented catfish eatery in the former Miss Sipps location is almost over.
A&J’s Catfish Station said the recipe for success takes one key ingredient.
“Of course God is first,” Meyers said. “Without Him none of this would be possible. Not just this location but the one I’ve had for 12 years. We’ll always put God first.
“Trust me I know it is a blessing because in the 12 years we’ve been open I’ve seen tons of restaurants close,” he concluded. “Not just mom’s and pop’s but even some franchises close down. To be able to still be relevant today and have the business we have is a blessing.”
For more information about A&J’s Catfish Station or hiring, call 901-872-3474 or apply on site.