In 1921, 22-year-old Percy Ledbetter, a Clayton, Ala. native, opened Percy’s Soul Food in Pittsburgh. He and his brothers had relocated up north to work in the steel mills, but it’s his culinary legacy that continues on a century later. On Nov. 9, his granddaughter Roxanne David and her husband Andre will open Grandaddy’s Skillet in Annandale. The specialty? The same fried fish sandwiches that made Ledbetter a local legend back in the roaring twenties.
“We have some awesome seasonings that the Lord has blessed us with that gives it that special taste,” David says of the fish, which retailed for 50 cents when the public first tasted the recipe. As the restaurant’s name suggests, the fish is fried in cast-iron skillets.
“My fish talks to me. I know when it’s done,” says David. “I’m hoping and praying that I will be able to train someone to be fish whisperer just like me. It’s something that’s been passed from my granddaddy to my mom to me.” Sandwiches come with a hot sauce created by Ledbetter, though diners can also choose from a range of other dips, including tartar sauce.
But unlike the original Percy’s, Granddaddy’s will have a full menu that goes way beyond fish. Additional options include pork chops (served either fried or grilled), ham dinner, salmon cakes and Granddaddy’s King Wings–fried up with their own special seasoning. There will also be a different vegetarian or vegan specialty served every day. “I don’t want anyone to walk away from Granddaddy’s Skillet saying, ‘They didn’t have anything for me,'” David reasons.
David ran the second location of Percy’s until the late 1980s when she moved to Northern Virginia and worked for 26 years managing the cafeteria at Poe Middle School in Annandale. She retired two years ago and was on the hunt for the perfect location for reinvigorating her grandfather’s dream since then. The former Flippin’ Pizza location proved to be “just perfect” for the business. “Now here I am sitting here with the key to Granddaddy’s Skillet 99 years after my granddaddy opened his doors,” marvels David. And next month, the business will start winning fans all over again. // 6544 Little River Turnpike, Annandale
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