We’re talking with Jeff & Emily Comer, owners of Riverside Fish House…
GA!: Jeff, you are young to have been in business so long-how long have you owned Riverside?
Jeff: We’ve been here for 22 years-both the building and business has really grown in that time!
GA!: Are you from Gaston County, and did you meet your wife Emily before or after Riverside?
Jeff: We met at 16 at North Gaston, and we’ve been together ever since. Actually we both started in the restaurant business when we were 15.
GA!: Your business had changed a lot since you started…tell us a little of the history.
Jeff: Emily went to Belmont Abbey and I attended UNC Charlotte. After college Emily was working at Carolina Freight in Cherryville and Carolina Country Barbeque nights and weekends. I worked as an engineer in Huntersville, but I didn’t really like it. Every day going to work I would pass this little building that looked like it had potential, so one day I quit my job and went home and told Emily that we were going into the restaurant business. She told me later that she cried for three days, but I think she is pretty happy about it now! As far as the business, in the beginning we could only seat 55, and now we can seat 280. We’ve added lots of equipment, coolers, expanded the parking lot, really too much to mention. We’ve been here 22 years now.
GA!: I know you have folks that come in every week, and have for 10 or 20 years and sit in the same booth…
Jeff: We do, actually Emily still has customers come in every week that were her customers at Carolina Country. Several of the other servers have loyal folks that have come in every week for years and years. They come in the same night of the week, sit in the same booth, and order the same plate of fish-they are like family at this point.
GA!: What makes Riverside special?
Jeff: I think Riverside is special because our customers are like family- we know them by name-plus the food is delicious!
GA!: Some of your servers have been here 16 years or more-that’s unheard of!
Jeff: We love our employees-they are not kin but you would think that they were.
GA!: Everything looks and smells great-what are some of the favorites?
Jeff: Flounder, green (Calabash) shrimp, and believe it or not, chicken tenders. And we recently installed a fire grill, and our grilled items have really taken off. Lots of fire grilled
flavor and healthy too!
GA!: What’s the best part about being the owner of Riverside?
Jeff: I think Emily loves getting out and talking to folks, and I enjoy being a manager and leader, and seeing my ideas come to fruition.
GA!: Jeff, for folks that haven’t been here-why should they give Riverside a try?
Jeff: Delicious food, great service and reputation, owned by local folks that are invested in the community, and the fact that we are not a bland, cookie cutter franchise-we’re hometown!
GA!: What do you and Emily like to do when you are not working?
Jeff: We don’t get to as much as we would like, but we love to travel, especially the Caribbean. I think Emily’s goal is to visit every island in the Caribbean, and we have actually been to quite a few.
GA!: What is the funniest or most unusual thing that has happened at Riverside?
Jeff: We had a pretty famous college basketball team come in
quite a few years ago. They came in the back door and ate in the back dining room so they wouldn’t be mobbed by fans while they ate.
GA!: Who is the most famous person to eat at Riverside?
Jeff: Really quite a few. Jimmy Wayne stops in when he is in town, James Worthy has been in. The country singer Jake Owen actually called a radio station in Charlotte and asked where to get some great fried shrimp, and they told him to go to Riverside in Dallas..so he pulls his bus off of I-85 and came here. One of the servers told him that he looked like Jake Owen, and he said “That’s because I am him!” He said it was the best fried shrimp he had ever had. We also have locals like Bill Melton and Eddie Pigg who eat every week…but we treat all of our customers like celebrities!
Riverside Fish Camp
1341 Dallas Stanley Hwy • Dallas, NC