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Captain D's testing new menu items in Hartselle

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Following in the footsteps of more traditional sit-down restaurants, Captain D's is expanding its menu to attract the diet lover in you.

And, by all indications so far, the bait the Nashville-based company has tossed in the water has consumers biting in Hartselle.

Adding to its long-standing menu of fried fish and shrimp, the company is offering grilled wild Alaskan salmon, tilapia, coastal flounder, mahi mahi, shrimp skewers and chicken breast.

Counting the 16 side items, Captain D's new Hartselle location is the only restaurant in the 600-unit chain with the company's new menu, Vice President of Marketing Sandy Smith said.

"It's diet-friendly because we're trying to meet the changing needs of our customers," she said.

At a national restaurant show in Chicago earlier this year, Captain D's received top honors for its revamped menu, which it spent two years designing.

"We are incredibly delighted to be bringing this exciting new look and menu to Hartselle," President David Head said.

In addition to fries and slaw
that have been on the menu since 1969, the Hartselle site is offering apple slices, macaroni and cheese, lemon herb rice, roasted red potatoes, garden vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, side salad, corn on the cob and fresh tomato slices.

"This represents a big change for Captains D's," Smith said about the Hartselle location. "We're eventually going to have this in all our restaurants."

Although the restaurant's official ribbon cutting wasn't until Thursday, Captain D's has been open since Monday and the company has had record sales.

"The guests have responded, and we're serving at capacity," Smith said.

There's no indication that local support is going to slow.

For almost two hours after the restaurant opened Thursday, cars lined the drive-through window about 20 deep. During the dinner hours Monday through Wednesday, cars backed up on U.S. 31, trying to get in.

"This is my fourth time coming and the first time I have been in," Councilman Bill Smelser said. "My daughter waited in line one night 30 to 40 minutes, but the food was worth the wait."

Rebirth

Describing the building design and menu change as the rebirth of Captain D's, Smith said Hartselle is the first to fully employ the company's new direction.

"This restaurant has a larger dining area," she said. "We want to be America's everyday seafood restaurant. We have the drive-through where people can get stuff quickly. But the inside is designed with a more homey atmosphere."

The Hartselle restaurant has 74 seats and is creating between 45 and 60 jobs.

Longtime Hartselle resident Bob Jaques ate at the restaurant for the first time Thursday.

"It's good, very good, and you have a lot of choices," he said. "The service is friendly, and you couldn't have asked for a nicer place to come and eat."

Mayor Dwight Tankersley and Council President Kenny Thompson were out of town. But both have said market surveys indicate that Captain D's is the restaurant people in Hartselle most wanted.

Jaques said people have been talking about Captain D's coming to Hartselle ever since the chain landed its corporate jet at the city's airport about eight years ago.

"This is something that has been on the table for a long time, and I'm glad it finally worked out," he said.

The Hartselle restaurant is also crowned with the company's new logo, which is a stylish fish beneath the company's name.

"We believe our new logo represents our seafood expertise — fun and authentic, underpinned by high quality and value," Head said.

"The unique logo colors communicate tradition, freshness and warmth."

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