Our Story : Our legacy

In 1943, William “Cap” Barrow, Sr. and his wife Mary founded Barrow’s Shady Inn at its original location on Mistletoe Street in the Carrollton – Hollygrove neighborhood where it remained until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. From the beginning their reputation of melt in your mouth, flaky and slightly crispy fish – plates and sandwiches – served out its back door grew and was consistent.

Little known fact: the original sandwiches sold for only fifty cents.

William, Sr. and Mary Barrow expanded into a fully operating restaurant and bar with a jukebox of favorites. The atmosphere was warm, cozy, family-friendly and the menu was simple: fried catfish, Mary’s potato salad, soft buttered white bread a delicate balance of tart ‘n sweet lemonade that regulars raved about. Mary later began to cook weekly specials too that weren’t officially on the menu, but regulars grew to expect, like baked chicken and a favorite, stewed rabbit.

Though William (Billy) Barrow, Jr. was an educator for a time he always worked in the restaurant and as his parents aged he, along with his cousin, Freddie Hilliard together managed Barrow’s Shady Inn, which went from a cozy neighborhood fish plate stop to become a beloved catfish specialty must-stop for people all across the globe including Oprah who stopped mid-sentence as she relived her Barrow’s catfish moment and shared it on her talk show, heavy weight champion Riddick Bowe, Saints legend Rickey Jackson who was a weekly regular and many more.

As was expected, William “Lil Billy” Barrow, III was being groomed to continue the family legacy and was working full-time in the business until his untimely death in 1987. At which time, daughter Deirdre, who always worked the business became more active and in 1999, when Billy Barrow Jr. was struck and killed by a vehicle near the restaurant, the legacy continued with Deirdre Barrow Johnson and her husband, Kenneth Johnson.

Deirdre and Kenneth also opened a second location on the Westbank, Barrow’s II, with an expanded menu – more seafood dishes, pastas and desserts. It was just a year later when Hurricane Katrina hit, and both restaurants became casualties.

At that time they had 2 small kids, relocated and settled in Georgia.  They always knew they’d bring it back and now, July 2018, is the right time, for the family, for the community and for the City.

Barrow’s Catfish stands as one of the longest-running black businesses in the City of New Orleans. The family’s recipe and legacy has been carried in the hearts of its founders and heirs for 75 years and 4 generations and it our hope and intention that it will for many more to come.

Barrow’s is thrilled beyond measure to come back to its community, Carrollton – Hollygrove, as the City of New Orleans celebrates its Tricentennial!

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