Dothan, Alabama, also known as the “Peanut Capital of the World,” is famous for its unique attractions such as outdoor hunting and fishing, restaurants, golfing, and peanut festivals, all of which bring in visitors from all around. And until December of 2019, it felt like there was something missing: a good, old-fashioned catfish house.
Scott Porter, one of the Managing Partners of Florida-based Regal Stephens Construction, LLC, is a longtime friend of Parker Armstrong, Owner of the David’s Catfish House franchise in Dothan, Alabama. Porter was approached by Armstrong in 2017 to help with the construction of a new building for his planned 8,000 square foot restaurant and it didn’t take much convincing to get Regal Stephens onboard with building the new restaurant. Porter agreed, and the building planning commenced in early 2018.
After obtaining a contractor’s license in Alabama June of 2018, Regal Stephens Construction and Armstrong were ready to get to work. However, the prohibitive soil conditions they encountered during the first phase of construction had a much different plan. “We hit bad soils during excavation when we first got started. We encountered a bad stratum of soils 10.00’ below grade that extended about 20 feet below natural grade, and at the time it was determined by local geotechnical engineers that the soil condition would financially prohibit the continuation of construction activities.” Having dealt with poor soil conditions before, Porter and his team employed a company based out of South Florida that specialized in engineering foundation systems that were capable of dealing with these types of problems, and soon they developed a solution that was financially feasible to allow the project to continue. “It was still a pretty big setback financially, however, through our knowledge and efforts we were able to mitigate the losses to keep the project alive,” Porter recalled.
One would agree that there are certain characteristics which make up a classic Southern restaurant, and there are features that are expected to create a certain authenticity for its guests. David’s Catfish House is no exception to that expectation. “We worked with the architects, engineers, civil engineers, interior designers and structural engineers throughout the design process to create an authentic Southern style building while using modern metal building design elements. It wasn’t exactly a design build, but I was involved in all the design meetings throughout the design process,” Porter explained.
The building features a wrap-around wood-framed porch, that historically, has the look and feel of what people would consider a catfish house is supposed to look like – something you might find in rural areas, but not necessarily in urban environments. “From a design perspective, we were able to take a metal building and make it look more like an old-world, conventionally framed building,” Porter said. This building was constructed using a combination of both conventional timber and metal building components. The roof was constructed using Star’s Batten Lok HS panels in Galvalume Plus, and the walls were erected with custom siding comprised of hardie lap and corrugated wall panels.
Porter became a Star builder four years ago. “We were building and developing self-storage facilities for ourselves for several years and quickly realized that if we were going to be in this business of metal building construction, we would need a partnership. About that time, the company we utilized to facilitate the construction of our self-storage facilities put us in touch with Star, and that was the birth of our current relationship. We’ve completed multiple projects since then, including David’s Catfish House.” Porter mentioned that one of the benefits of working with Star is the involvement of the Star Building’s engineering team. “Once the building is delivered and erection has begun, they do an excellent job of answering questions and providing clarification on the more complex building details. During this process they are virtually working hand in hand with the erectors in the field,” he said. “I’ve worked with other metal building companies, and Star is superior in this regard in comparison.”
During the building process, feedback from future patrons and the community at large was incredibly positive regarding the building’s architecture and opening of the new eatery. In December of 2018, David’s Catfish House was opened for business.