WHITE LAKE — Although it’s been coming for two years, the end of an era officially came Monday when the Potter’s Seafood building was razed.
“I didn’t want to be there when it was torn down,” said Kendell Potter, who bought the property in 1994. “I really didn’t want to see it; there were too many memories there.”
The White Lake icon came down after sitting vacant since late summer 2013, when Potter closed the business.
“The economy of White Lake got to the point where it couldn’t support a seafood menu,” Potter said. “I had started to see things changing from one summer to the next. A lot of folks started cooking at the campsites or ordering pizza — very few were still going out for seafood.”
He added that the decision to close was still a difficult one.
“It was good to us for a long time,” Potter said. “My wife (Rebecca) and I worked a lot of hours out there and enjoyed being able to hire the high-school kids.”
The property was first home to Captain Willie’s Restaurant, a steakhouse built in 1964. It then changed to Lois’ Seafood before Potter took over in 1994.
The property is now owned by Dean Hilton and will be developed to include 18 to 20 multi-family housing units and, next door, land will be developed into single-family units. Hilton also has plans to develop land across the street from the property to create lake access for both housing sites.
“We’ll be doing a lot of the prep work — sewer, water and engineering — ourselves out there,” Hilton said. “And it’ll all get started this spring.”
Potter, who purchased the Paul H. Sessoms Company the year after closing the restaurant, said he tried to sell the restaurant to someone else but nobody was interested at the time.
“It’s a tough business to get into,” he said. “But it was time to give it up.”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.