Touring Texoma: Bill's Catfish

We're wrapping up our latest group of Touring Texoma reports at Bill's Catfish.
         Bill's is actually celebrating its 50th anniversary at its current location this summer!
         And, Bill and Nell Schram would be very proud that their recipes are still being served up to appreciative crowds, and still by their own family.
     Jeri Mays/Owner, Bill's Catfish:  "I'm not quite sure how it got started, other than the fact they needed something to do."
       When Bill and Nell Schram opened the restaurant southwest of Waurika on July 9th, 1962, they probably never imagined Bill's Fish House, or Bill's Catfish would become such a part of Texoma tradition.
      Well, that's exactly what happened.
 Jeri:  "It was right up my granddad's alley." 
       Jeri Mays started working at Bill's in the family business when she was just 10- years old.
       "As my children and my brother's children did." 
          And, that's just the way it's always been.
        Not a lot changes at Bill's, especially the product.
    Jeri:  "We would like to think it is special.  What we really do is all of our catfish is hand filleted in- house.  All the fat, it's a pure meat product.  We enjoy using an American grown catfish.  It's processed down in Arkansas."
     And, it's that thinly sliced catfish,  seasoned and fried in their secret family recipes, that keeps the masses coming back.
      "I want a half order of fish and a small order of onion rings.  Ok, and what would you like?  A half order of fish." 
Steve Conner/Conner Auto Group: "Oh gosh, been coming here all my life.  The food is great.  The service is fantastic.  You can't get catfish like this anywhere else."
Dr. Richard Chiles/DDS, Waurika:  "I've been coming to Bill's since 1968, and I keep coming back because it's the best fish, affordable price and good service, and they make you feel at home."
   For so many, it's all about tradition.  And, that goes for this old Red River bridge on highway 79 as well.  Throughout Bill's entire history, it's alerted many a customer, we're almost there.
Jeri: "We have enjoyed a lot of business from Texas.  I would say probably 50- to 60- percent of our weekend business comes from Texas.  And, always has."
Becky Fuller/Bill's Catfish:  "We have, people that come in, they come in on certain days, and if they don't come in we worry about 'em."
          It's because customers end up just like family, as have so many who've come to work at Bill's, and decided to stay.
          Those like Becky Fuller.
Becky: "Started when I was 12, and I stayed. Jeri Nell basically raised me.  She laughs and tells everybody I cut my teeth here, and I'm going to lose them here."  "My older brothers and my sister worked here.  So, when I became old enough to go to work, this is where I came to work."
David England/Waurika Resident:  "Always been coming out here.  It's the good food."
Jeff Gerstberger/Gainesville Resident: "It's some of the best catfish around.  It really is."
Linda Chiles/Jefferson County Resident: "This is the best fish place and chicken place in the country."
         It's just a family tradition for those who work here, and the customers too.
       Those who come back year after year to enjoy what Bill and Nell started one half a century ago.
          Bill's first opened in Terral in the early '60's, before it was moved to Waurika, and then to its current location southwest of Waurika.
         And, if you go there or to its second location now in Lone Grove, you'll find things like shrimp, frog legs and calf fries as well.
         Bill passed away in 1964, and then Nell ran it until she retired in the late '70's, which is when Jeri took over.

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