By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
UNCERTAIN – Becky Arnold can tell you about second chances, about third chances, and about …
Becky and her husband, Todd Arnold, own the Shady Glade Cafe.
“We bought it [the cafe] two weeks before big flood of 2016,” Becky related this week. We put everything we had in it and the flood just took everything we had away from us.”
Shady Glade Cafe sits at the edge of Caddo Lake just off Cypress Road. Rising water has now flooded the popular eating spot three times in four years.
The Arnolds didn’t let a little water discourage them.
“We started over,” Becky said. “And another flood followed it. We started over, yet again.”
The Arnolds learned from their experiences.
“This time when it flooded, we were prepared for it,” she said. “We took everything out in about a four-hour span. Equipment, everything, we took it all out.”
Once lake waters receded, the Arnolds moved back in.
“We reopened in three days once the water was out of the building,” Becky said. “We went straight to work and opened Friday.”
The effort to reopen the cafe involved many in Uncertain.
“A lot of family and friends joined in the effort,” Becky said. “You know when you ask for help, the whole village arrives. People, you don’t even know from other states, came to help.”
The Arnolds are custodians of a tradition that stretches back more than 90 years.
“There is a whole lot of history to this place,” Becky said. “I just can’t let it go or fall apart.”
A restaurant has been identified with the location since 1926.
“The men had a bait shop here where the restaurant is,” Becky explained. The women had a restaurant on the hill across the street.”
The Heinz family were the ones who opened the business.
“The men would cook food here because there was no air conditioning back then, and they would take the food to the top of the hill,” Becky said. “It would be served to the customers by the women.”
Shady Glade is Becky’s first experience in owning a restaurant.
“I was a waitress for two years,” Becky said. “The owner (Jackie Maples) said, ‘I’m out. I’m done.’”
Maples said she had given it two years and had had enough.
“I said, ‘I’ll take it,’” Becky said.
She almost lost the cafe two weeks later when the lake rose.
“In 2016, it was pretty much taken away,” Becky said. “If it hadn’t been open and running, I think it would have been boarded up and torn down.”
Despite the frustration and the work to constantly redo Shady Glade, the Arnolds think the old cafe is worth the effort.
“It’s kind of the heartbeat of Uncertain,” Becky said. “It’s kind of a tourist spot. You get all your local fishermen stories here and history stories.”
Customers still line up for the cafe’s two signature dishes.
“Our catfish and chicken fried steak are our most popular dishes,” Becky said. “It’s a tie.”
Becky and Todd can’t even agree which is best.
“I like the fish,” Becky said, “and Todd likes the chicken fried steak.”
Diners have a choice of the half-order of chicken fried steak or the full one-pound order.
“We ask for it to be cut 16 ounces,” Becky said, “but sometimes, it’s like 20 ounces.”
Shady Glade is also a restaurant where the owner gives food away. While patrons wait for their food, they help themselves to bowls of fiery beans and beef.
“It’s not only Tabasco in the beans,” Becky said. “You have a little bit of Cayan, a little bit of jalapeno, little bit of haveneros, you have a little bit of it all. It depends on what cook is here.”
Word spread that Shady Glade has reopened.
“Business was amazing over Memorial Day weekend,” Becky said. “It was one of my biggest weekends since I’ve been here.”
Even in the glow of the reopening, Becky knows another flood is likely.
“Oh yes, it will flood again. My next vacation is my next flood,” she said. “I will rebuild again. I am here. You have to give back to Caddo what it gives to us.”
Becky finds the sense of rebirth exhilarating.
“It’s refreshing,” she said. “I feel like here we go. We can do this. It’s a blessing.”
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