The Beacon Hill Shell Station Has the Best Fried Catfish in Town



My favorite south of the I D food was the time I got to Willie's Taste of Soul just as the chicken livers were done!
Yeow! You can feel the arteries clogging up!


I read CM for the little gems. Again, I was not disappointed.


I'm 100 percent behind this take on customer service. Having to sit through someone being obsequious for no reason other than avoiding the wrath of frangible Seattleites is torture


If it were a group white people offering this type of dismissive customer service, Mudede would call it racist.


group of*


Charles, do they offer hush puppies there to go with the catfish?


@4 - If they were white it would be racist because white culture views curt service as an insult. Thus, if a white server - who almost certainly grew up in and inhabits white culture - is curt with you, they are almost definitely insulting you, and probably aren't treating other customers the same way. Mudede was pointing out that this place is not white - not the people, not the service.


Servers don’t fawn over customers because of management. They do it for the tips. Duh.

And while I agree the catfish at the Shell station is TDF, the sooner they tear that eyesore down, the better. Too many damn gas stations on Beacon Avenue. Two at that intersection alone.


Oooh, a five star gas station.


@8, Why would you want a business to go out of business? Just because it's unsightly to you?


Great pic Anthony, That Shell / fish looks good enough to eat. Never had catfish. Is it sustainably Harvested (with DuPont Sinkers*)?

I wonder how it might compare to whitefish from our rivers or perch from the Sound ... both delicious. Probably all about the batter...

*aka TNT


Yes, Jakkay dear. That, and the land has much higher purpose than a gas station. It has a big footprint. You want density? There's your density.


Keep the Shell station, its employees, its Excellent food and simply build up and over and around it. Take out the gas pumps and tanks and add charging stations... I know it's not 'cost-effective' or whatever, but I can spend other people's money much faster than my own...

"Crows in tall trees watched me as I ate the fish."

I had gulls watching me as ventured to enjoy some of Ivar's delicious deep fried oysters n' chips (a little treat, having just finished a months-long, at-times-challenging project), next to the fire station, there on Elliott Bay.

Ready to eat, I stood up to toss one to a well-grizzled gull over on the rail, less than two or three steps from the table; they must have been on the roof -- very hungry. enterprising handsome gulls, who spotted their opportunity, seized it, and when I turned around there were three screaming thieves, all over my table in full attack mode, all over my dinner.

I put my hand under one, turned him around and off he flew (their bellys are AMAZINGLY fucking SOFT), and the other two flew away too. Yukky sloppy sloppy seconds -- so I fed the rest to the old gull (who winked at me as he flew off), washed my hands and got another order ... delicious (delayed), deep-fried oyster dinner for two -- twenty two bucks. C'est la vie.

I want some of that Catfish.


Vel-DuRay is right, @8, about the service. That off-putting "friendliness" and intrusive fawning is a result of the American tipping system.

Where I live (outside the US) food-service work earns a normal wage, not the sub-starvation wages allowed by US law. As such, tipping is not necessary, and neither is that world-famous embarrassingly fake-friendly act put on by American waiters and waitresses.

Without the need to sing for their supper, the service where I live is friendly and functional without being smarmy. When the service is particularly good or personable—for example, if the party was large or in some other way difficult—a tip may be offered as a thank-you. This usually involves rounding the bill up to the nearest whole number (small change) or nearest increment of 5 or 10.

By earning a normal wage, the waiters and waitresses are able to maintain their dignity without being resentful. (I did restaurant work as a student in Seattle, and it turned me into an angry Marxist. I got better when I left the industry. I'm less angry.)

The living-wage system sometimes slows the pace down a bit, as everybody on the café floor isn't panicking over any possible error affecting their tips. But it calms the place; restaurants and cafés feel relaxed and pleasant, rather than fraught and frantic. It feels less like a battle between the customer and the help, as it often does in the US. It's not quite the "hard-core functionalism" of the third-world, I guess, but I'd take that over the corn-ball operatics of American service.

When Americans—or worse, class-conscious Britains—visit my country, they often are shocked at the "lack" of service they're used to. They complain. This says more about them than it does the service. Some people just need to be treated like nobility to feel important.

I don't care for fried food, and I'd only eat bottom-feeding catfish if I were in survival mode, but I can appreciate the Shell station style service. It must feel like a respite from the chirpy cheerfulness found elsewhere in the city.


My understanding is that the employees at this Shell station are cashiers, not waitstaff, and as such, are subject to Seattle's generous $15/hr minimum wage (that's over $30k/year if you're FT). Not a princely sum to be sure, but if you're frugal, you can make it in this town (it ain't easy, but immigrants do it all the time; it's amazing how many things we consider 'necessities' just aren't).

But that's not the point. What Charles and some of the other posters are suffering from here is 'The Bigotry of Low Expectations', that is, the idea that snotty service is somehow OK if the people aren't white. @7 illustrates this with their idea that 'nonwhite' service is somehow different from 'white' service.

Can you stop for a moment and realize how incredibly racist and condescending that is? You see this in schools where black kids tease their peers for 'acting white'. You see this when Mayor Durkan suggests that our libraries should'nt charge overdue fees because they hurt 'communities of color'. You may as well just come out and say that blacks are inherently rude, and that the personal qualities that ensure success in life (delayed gratification, courtesy, industriousness, responsibility) are not inherent traits in black people.

If a white person says things like this, they're vilified. Sports handicapper Jimmy the Greek sparked a firestorm and lost his job in 1988 for suggesting that blacks were superior in sports because of breeding.

The idea that any race is inherently this or that is rubbish; it's nurture, not nature, and giving a group of people a pass on their behavior because of their race is patronizing at best and racist at worst. As a multiracial society, we will never realize our potential if we accept lower standards from some groups because of their race. We must all expect - and give - the best from each other.

Rant out.


Interesting observation about the service.
I had similar epiphany when I moved from the big city to a rural area 25 years ago.
I'm white, most folks out here are, so no racial component.
But the staff at the auto parts store or the hardware store or the burger joint could often be curt, borderline cold or rude at times... it was puzzling at first.
But I came to appreciate in time that they knew they were in no danger of being fired for lack of graciousness to the customer, they had their way of preserving their dignity as 'the help', they weren't going to pretend to give a shit about you as a human being.
It is sort of refreshing.


Charles, you had every opportunity to write about the Nipsey Hussle funeral instead of catfish, yet you chose catfish.

What gives, my man?


@14 That may be the case where you live, but it isn't some universal rule that cheesy niceness in service only exists because of tipping. The most over the top deferential and polite service I have ever experienced was in Japan, and it existed no matter where you went - and none of them were places you tip, which doesn't really happen for basically anything there. It is a misapplication of logic (and also based on a false pretense) to claim that because people in countries that don't rely on tips don't give exaggeratedly polite service, that American service workers who (sometimes) do rely on tips do.


@20 It may be endemic to the US and it probably isn't just financial. I'm certainly not going to tip someone at a call center, but I get that cheesy cheesin' service when I call any customer service number. "I do apologize for that. I will do everything in my power to improve your experience. Tra la la ... " Any time I call with a question about any bill I have to sit through a lengthy ass-kissing. I would vastly prefer to spend one less minute on the phone, however.


Mudede sure likes to eat at Shell Stations. I do believe that over the years, he has covered every Shell from Beacon through Georgetown, and raved about the food and being able to buy a bottle of cheap wine.. I lived in G-town. I was persuaded to try both of the Shells after reading articles posted by Mudede. At the end of the day, you are still eating cheap to make, expensive to purchase, convenience food, from a gas station.


I don't need Ritz Carlton service but I do need some sauce & lemon. Does it come with wedge of lemon? A cocktail sauce? A tarter sauce? Is there a bun? I'm so confused. How is someone just eating plain fried fish? The inhumanity!


I just read all the comments on this article. An article about fried fish at a gas station in the central district. Of all the things I could have read today, aside from the article, this is what I chose to read. This is probably why my life hasn't worked out the way I thought it would.


First, Charles is to be commended for these tasty gems.

@12 - Sounds like you think the government should determine what business should or shouldn't exist at particular location. Dwell on that for a bit and amend your commentary if appropriate.


Yes, Raiindrop dear, I do think the government should determine what businesses should be there, at least as far as zoning is concerned. The only people who disagree with that are Republicans, and everyone knows Republicans are horrible people. No amendment to my commentary is necessary. That gas station is a huge waste of space.


I'm late to this thread (catching up on Slog) so I suspect no one will read this - shouting down the well so to speak - but throughout the reading of these comments I had to continue to remind myself that there is a difference between culture and race. While frequently intertwined, you simply cannot anticipate a particular characteristic on the basis of race without understanding the culture involved. People are molded in part by those around them, so those that group themselves economically rather than by race (or are forced by society or oppressive factors to share space) frequently share similar traits. A big brush has been applied by many Sloggers here...


Speaking of customer service, what's going on in retail banking? It seems there was a push a few years ago by the big banks (Wells, Chase, etc.) to absolutely fawn over you as soon as you walk into one of their brick and mortar locations, despite the fact that the employees have been reduced to simply taking deposits or showing you where on their website you need to go to actually get something done.