RED OAK — Whether it’s the line out the door, aroma of fresh catfish or the contagious laughter heard by all who frequent, Gran Gran’s Catfish & Soul Food in Red Oak knows how to dish out some of the best home-cooking in the Metroplex.
For 15 years, Ursula Medlock has satisfied the taste buds of Ellis County residents. From catfish to pork chops or turkey legs, customers from all over the state can be seen frequenting the celebrated restaurant. So when the family decided to move locations to acquire more space for the growing business, it was only right that their fans followed suit.
Transitioning from one Red Oak location to another, the new and improved space will offer more room to feed hungry customers. A decision made after agreeing that their booming business would require just that, this family is grabbing the attention of more than just those seeking an authentic home-cooked meal.
In a follow-up with the family at Gran Gran’s grand opening on Thursday, the shop has since found themselves in a business that goes further than frying catfish — the family is also in the process of releasing a television show that documents all that goes on behind its doors.
Using a different platform to highlight both the work and play occurring within the restaurant walls, television producers have been working with the family since last year in an effort to get this family business’ name out on television screens across the country.
Since last discussed during an interview with Medlock in January, the family has since finished recording the pilot for their potential show. As for now, they’re “waiting for things to play out.”
“We’re still looking to do a show,” Medlock said. “I was contacted three weeks ago and was told that some networks were looking at it so that’s where we’re with that now. We’d love to do it, we’re just waiting for the right time.”
With passersby and professionals alike, it’s no doubt that this down south restaurant’s customer base runs deep in the heart of Texas.
“We’re always getting people who come in from far places,” Medlock said. “I have people that call me and say they’re on their way, with only 100 miles left. They come from Houston, Temple, Waco, Garland, Corsicana, Ennis, everywhere.”
Thanks to a mouthwatering menu of eats like catfish, meatloaf, pork chops, baked chicken, turkey wings, collard greens, mashed potatoes, yams and cabbage — all served with a side of fries, pickles, peppers and bread — the lengths people travel to get to Gran Gran’s comes to no surprise.
“I really love seeing all the people who come in and watching the expression on their face when they eat the food and say how good it is,” said Medlock. “We used to have a man who would just fall asleep after coming in here, so I’d joke with him that I was gonna have to get a couch in here just for him because every time after he ate, he’d just pass out.”
As for who is behind this masterpiece, all signs point to one special woman.
“My grandma was my inspiration in this,” Medlock said. “I watched her cook when I was growing up, she taught me everything to know about it. My husband and I came up with the fish recipe, but all that soul food? That’s my grandmother’s. She taught me so much about cooking.”
Even before she passed away in 2015, Cecil Ernstine Kelley Anderson, who lived to be 107-years-old, knew how to prepare a quality cuisine. After all, nobody gets a restaurant named after them by just sitting around.
“My grandmother had dementia, so when we would bring her some fish, she would say ‘You must have gotten a new cook over there because there’s no way Ursula could have made that,’” she said. “We’d all just laugh and say. ‘No Granny, I really made that!’”
Of all the customers who flock to the restaurant, Cecil, who was nicknamed “Gran Gran” by her great-grandchild, will always be Ursula’s biggest fan.
“She’d always ask me, ‘Are y’all closed yet?’ And I’d say, ‘No, not yet!’ And she’d say ‘Can you bring me a pork chop?’ Oh she loved those pork chops. My uncle tried to get her to not eat so many, but she’d just say ‘I am grown.’”
As for what customers should expect from this new location? According to Ursula, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“Oh, we’re gonna have fun here.”
Gran Gran’s Catfish & Soul Food is now located at 205 S. Main Street in Red Oak. Open Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.