Middendorf’s will reopen swiftly despite damages from Hurricane Isaac
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 13:09
Hurricane Isaac’s destruction caused many local businesses to struggle in rebuilding after yet another hurricane.
In Manchac, local seafood institution and home of the famous thin-sliced catfish Middendorf’s, was drenched by Isaac’s constant rain even a day after the storm passed.
Despite the water, it will reopen just two weeks after the lagging storm. This time around, the damage was minimal compared to what was done by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
The 10 foot storm surge from Ike sent almost five feet of water into the historic 78 year-old restaurant, so preparations were made for future hurricanes. A new dining room and kitchen were built five feet from the ground, and because of these new additions Middendorf’s came out better for Isaac than Ike.
“This time around, we were on the course of the storm like everybody else. What I've accomplished the last couple of years though, the new dining room, deck, sand pit and kitchen, has put us way ahead of schedule with repairs,” said Horst Pfeifer, co-owner of Middendorf’s. Their reopening is scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Before Isaac hit the Southeast, Pfeifer and his staff were still serving up seafood as usual. After the storm, locals sought it out as a place of refuge from the heat though they were disappointed in what they found. Middendorf’s was not yet open.
“When I left before Isaac, there was little water in the building. We stayed until I knew we couldn't do anything anymore, and I drove out of here. When I came back after the storm, there was water in the building and parking lot. My first concern was to make sure everything was safe, and to make sure there were no intrusions,” Pfeifer said. “Now, if you were to drive up, you couldn't even tell we were closed after the storm. Yesterday, we were cleaning and we had people walk in and ask if we were open.”
The support from locals is felt throughout the community and luckily Manchac’s flooding didn’t displace any of their employees.
“They are slowly coming back by and picking up their paychecks. I try to have a good spirit, letting them know we are reopening, and coming back. And we have some here working with us to clean up. There are community members helping out too,” Pfeifer said.
The seafood production was not hindered by Isaac’s path. According to Pfeifer everything is lined up and ready to go. Fishermen in the area have all helped each other out. The southern hospitality Louisiana is known for has come true to form in the aftermath of Isaac.
Middendorf’s first opened in 1934 when Louis Middendorf received a $500 bonus from the government after serving in WWI. With that bonus, he and his wife Josie got approved for a $500 loan and they opened Middendorf’s. In 1947 Josie’s son Richard Smith took over managing the restaurant and then in 2007 Pfeifer and his wife Karen took ownership.
“Middendorf’s were on the front lines of the storm,” said Pfeifer. “We were one of the first ones to go down, and now we are the first one to get back up. I think it’s a pretty strong statement for small individual business in the community. We want everyone to know, we are coming back strong.”