The images of Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant (30160 Hwy. 51, Akers, 985-386-6666; www.middendorfsrestaurant.com) that emerged after Hurricane Isaac were heartrending and all too familiar. The famous eatery between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas was inundated by storm surge.
Co-owner Karen Pfeifer reports that not all of Middendorf's was flooded, and repair work is underway to get the restaurant's signature thin-cut catfish back into circulation. She and husband Horst Pfeifer hope the restaurant can begin serving in part of its facility as early as this week, though prospective diners should call for updates.
Located in the fishing village of Manchac, La., Middendorf's was founded in 1934 and has been a landmark for generations. Its location between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has made it a popular meeting spot for families and friends spread across the region. Its specialty of thin-sliced fried catfish has earned such a following that some New Orleanians routinely make the 40-mile drive for a meal.
The damage Middendorf's suffered in Isaac looks a lot like the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008. The Pfeifers got the restaurant partially functional within weeks of Ike. As they made those repairs, they also built in a little more survivability into their restaurant, like a new kitchen raised substantially off the ground.
That kitchen and one dining hall escaped major damage this time around, Pfeifer says, and that is giving them hope that, once again, they can reopen quickly.
"We have our moments, but we have a great group of people here surrounding us, incredible people who have done work here in the past, and right now it's looking good," she says.