There is just something special about a restaurant that has been doing it the same way for almost 50 years. Laney’s Fish Camp is a throwback to generations past when food was good, yet simple, and served by friendly people and is still the same way today.
Lamar Laney opened Laney’s Fish Camp in 1965. His son Larry started working there when it opened and still mans the kitchen today at 65 years young. Mickey, Lamar’s other son, joined the team in 1970 after a brief stint as a teacher and still mans the front of the house a couple days of the week.
I had the pleasure of meeting the men behind my favorite salt/pepper catfish and vinegar slaw with hopes that they would share a secret or two.
Laney’s Fish Camp is located on Charlotte Highway and is open Wed-Thurs:3:00-9:00 and Fri/Sat:3:00-9:30 Take-out and private dining are available. For more information call 704-664-2184
Chef Troy-This has been a family run business for many years, how may generations have worked at Laney’s?
Mickey-We now have three generations that have worked here. Dad, Larry and I, and Larry’s son, who is a firemen in Statesville works here.
Chef Troy-For folks who aren’t from around here what exactly is a fish camp?
Mickey-The story goes that the “fish camp” got its name when it was tradition to fish and cook on the river, especially on Fridays. They would cook the fish that night and a large group of people would gather. It became known as a “fish camp”.
Chef Troy-What do you contribute the restaurants success of all of these years to?
Mickey-The main thing is that we appreciate everyone that comes through the door and we have a lot of regulars that have be coming here since we opened. We have been blessed with some really great employees. We have several employees that have worked here for 20 years.
Chef Troy-My favorite thing on your menu is the salt/pepper catfish on the bone; can you share the secret to a good batter?
Mickey-Ours is homemade. It is salt, pepper, corn meal, flour and some tender love and care.
Chef Troy-I didn’t think you would give me the recipe but I had to try.
Mickey-You aren’t the only one, over the years we have kept a lot of what we do a secret. But I will tell you even if you had the recipe it probably would taste them same at your house. There is a lot to be said about the atmosphere where you really enjoy something good to eat…it adds something to the recipe that isn’t tangible.
Chef Troy-What is your favorite thing on the menu? Why?
Mickey-The whole flounder, when I first started working here I ate 3 or 4 a week for a lot of years and still have never gotten tired of it.
Chef Troy-Who came up with the recipe for your vinegar slaw?
Mickey-A gentleman that dad hired when we first opened and it has never changed.
Chef Troy-When I played Legion Baseball for Post 66 our end of season celebration was always at Laney’s, do you still do private parties?
Mickey-We sure do and I remember you boys coming in, you guys were quite a bunch of characters.
Meet the Chef: Larry Laney
Chef Troy-What is your favorite junk food?
Larry-Lance cheese crackers
Chef Troy-If you could work for any chef past or present for one day who would it be?
Larry-My old Army mess sergeant, Sergeant Moore.
Chef Troy-What would your death row last meal be?
Larry-A plain hamburger with fries and ketchup
Chef Troy-If there was no blank I have no reason to cook.
Chef Troy-What is the best meal you have ever had and where?
Larry-My wife’s home cooking, I love her meatloaf.
Chef Troy-What is your greatest food memory?
Larry-My mother’s cornbread bread.
Chef Troy-What is for favorite growing season and why?
Larry-Summer, everything is fresh.
Chef Troy-What was your first food service job and where?
Larry-Here at the fish camp, I started out learning everything.
Chef Troy-What is your go-to drink?
Chef Troy-What type of food would you like to learn how to cook?
Chef Troy-What would you call your style of food and who was your main influence?
Larry-Good southern family seafood and one of my main influences was Jesse Kay Jones.
Chef Troy-If you weren’t in the restaurant industry what would be doing?
Larry-Something with sports, I am a sports fanatic.
Chef Troy-What is your favorite part of the restaurant business?
The people, I love being able to give them what they want.