Worth the Drive: 50 Taters
Comfort food in a rustic atmosphere.
Story and Photos by Aaron Tanner
Among the different restaurants in Scottsboro, 50 Taters stands out as a warm, inviting place to dine. The down-home appearance is evident throughout the property: From the rustic water tower and old pickup truck at the front of the place, to walls decorated with old movie posters, to the television that plays classic films from opening until closing time all day – except during Alabama and Auburn football games.
Owners David and Celisa Barclay had a goal of opening a restaurant that would make the customer feel like they can take their time and dine in a friendly atmosphere. “Life is too busy,” David Barclay says. “This is a place where you felt at home 20 years ago.” The restaurant’s name comes from their signature dish, which is a 50 Count potato stuffed with different types of meats.
Though David Barclay’s family is originally from Scottsboro, he spent most of his childhood in Detroit, where his father worked in the auto industry. After moving to Houston as an adult to start his own office supply company, he came home to Scottsboro to visit his grandmother in a local nursing home. It was there he met his future wife, who happened to be his grandmother’s nursing aide.
The two married and Celisa moved to Houston with David. After the newlyweds felt homesick for northeast Alabama, David sold his office business and the two moved back to Scottsboro in 2004. While living in Texas, he learned to barbecue different types of meats and wanted to turn that passion into a way of making a living once he and his wife replanted their roots in Alabama.
“I wanted to barbecue for fun, but it quickly became a business,” David says.
Growing with demand
After opening the first location in downtown Scottsboro in 2009, the restaurant exploded in popularity, so the Barclays moved to a larger location in a busy shopping center on U.S. 72 in 2012. But the second location promptly outgrew customer demand, so they moved to the current spot, an even larger location, in March 2017. They opened a second 50 Taters in Rainsville in 2015.
The design for the current location came about as construction went along. David likes old movies, while Celisa likes a country, rustic look; the couple decided to combine both interests.
“What is seen in the restaurant was not planned,” David says. Longtime customers also had input, such as the design of a rock garden by the water tower that pays tribute to first responders and the military. “People will paint rocks and add them to our garden for someone who served,” Celisa says proudly.
From spuds to ’cue
Although barbecue plates and stuffed potatoes are the restaurant’s biggest sellers, other comfort food staples are on the menu, such as catfish, pot roast, chicken fried chicken and steak. Also on the menu are large sandwiches, such as the Triple Bypass, which is a hoagie bun stuffed with smoked pork, brisket and sausage and topped with their homemade sweet barbecue sauce.
The barbecue is smoked on site daily for 12 hours using hickory and pecan wood. Both the famous sweet red barbecue and white sauces are the owner’s recipes. An indecisive diner can try the sampler platter, which features smoked pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, a pork shank, Texas toast and a side.
Daily specials are available for lunch and dinner, such as a meat and two vegetables deal for $6.99, which is popular enough that the restaurant often runs out in the middle of the afternoon. “Come early because when it’s gone, it’s gone,” David says.
There are several options to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, including sweet potato waffle fries with caramel sauce for a side dish and various desserts, including hot fudge cake and peach cobbler. For early risers, 50 Taters recently started serving breakfast on weekends featuring traditional and unique breakfast entrees including a country spin on eggs Benedict.
Although the location has changed several times, locals enjoy coming back to 50 Taters, no doubt thanks to the affordable prices, consistency of the food and the low staff turnover. Some of the employees who worked at the original downtown location are still with the restaurant almost a decade later.
“Customers who return the next day or a year later will see most of the same staff,” David says. After starting out handling orders, the Barclays now handle the daily operations along with payroll and inventory while the nearly two dozen staff members are responsible for getting the orders to customers.
The Barclays also receive many compliments from people eating there for the very first time who are amazed by the atmosphere and service. “We feel honored to hear people tell us where they are from and that they choose to eat with us,” David says. “It is one of our greatest rewards.”
1497 County Park Road
Scottsboro, AL 35769
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday