Established at its cabin-like location about six months ago, Current is the new sweet spot in Gadsden, right on the river. Current joined several restaurants that dot the shores of Etowah County’s largest lake, but its proximity to River Rocks Landing RV Resort & Venue enabled the eatery to catch campers’ business.
Customers get a bit of “lagniappe” – a little bonus – with their tasty meals. Campground customers who forgot to pack a toothbrush, sunscreen or pool toys, for instance, can buy those items at Current Market – and enjoy Current’s laid-back, friendly vibe that encourages folks to stay awhile.
“We wanted to create a fun, super-casual environment with good food and good drinks,” said Jessica Wilson, owner of Current Market and Deli with her husband, Gadsden City Councilman Jason Wilson, and Chris and Christi Robinson, who also own Blackstone Pub & Eatery in Gadsden. “People can come in wearing their swimsuits.”
From the start, the Wilsons planned to serve campground guests in their RVs. They also found the patronage of boaters and jet skiers, who can leave their watercraft at a couple of piers within walking distance. Ample parking is available, and a graveled path travels to Current’s doorstep. After a leisurely lunch or dinner, folks can walk a few yards downriver and relax in a swing.
Word-of-mouth about the delicious food has made Current a Coosa River hot spot. Diners come for the catfish po’boys, handmade hamburger patties “cooked like you want them,” 12-inch Blackstone pizzas, stacked nachos and refreshing tropical drinks. Those who seek low-carb fare can select from five salads with a mix of “power greens.” The kid’s menu features chicken fingers, cheeseburgers, foot-long hot dogs and popcorn shrimp.
“For lunch, lots of people come in for the hot, Nashville-style catfish sandwich,” Jessica Wilson said.
Current’s hand-battered catfish filet basket with shoreline fries (flat potato wedges) and a side of jalapenos are a hit. But the catfish po’boy stole the heart of frequent customer Grady White, who ranks the sandwich No. 1 on his personal rating system.
“Their hoagie at Current has the right amount of dexterity along with fluffiness,” according to White, who said the po-boy “hits five stars in all categories.”
Current’s $9 cocktails add to the fun of a day on the lake. The 759 – named for the 759 spur that runs from Attalla to Gadsden – combines rum and a blue Curacao floater. The menu includes many different margaritas, always made fresh with lime juice and agave, with the customer’s choice of tequila, rimmed with spicy Tajin or salt. It is “happy hour” all day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with select beers and drinks at half price.
Carson Dabbs has frequented the restaurant two to three times a week since it opened.
“My favorite meal is their barbecue chicken with an added pineapple slice and loaded fries,” said Dabbs. manager of River Rocks Landing RV Resort for three years. “The fries are key because they are just different from everybody else’s. It is amazing.”
“We make it just for him,” Wilson said, with a laugh. “We may have to rename this dish as the ‘Carson.’”
Dabbs said campers talk about how Current makes it easy for them to pick up dinner, making their visit a real vacation.
“They only have to walk over and get their dinner, get their lunch, get their drinks and go back to their house,” Dabbs said. “Current is a huge amenity and a terrific addition for us at River Rocks Landing. The ability for someone to order at the restaurant or get food or drinks, you don’t have to leave the resort. They’ll deliver out to you at the pool or your campsite. You can always walk up to the bar to get your food, get your drinks. There are few places with many campgrounds that offer places like this.”
It’s not unusual for Wilson and her staff to deliver nachos or mozzarella sticks to families at Rocks Landing swimming pool, about 200 yards away.
“They can place an order and we’ll deliver it to them at their campers or at the pool,” Wilson said.
Current recently began serving breakfast Thursday through Sunday, with Bloody Mary and mimosa cocktails for $3. Customers can indulge in French toast, a classic breakfast platter with eggs, and biscuits with sausage, gravy and bacon. The veggie scramble is a lighter option.
Customers who prefer air-conditioned comfort can seat themselves at wooden tables inside, while the deck provides the ambiance of outdoor dining under large blue umbrellas.
On a recent weekday, Pastors Wes Walters and Noah Kiser enjoyed a quesadilla lunch outdoors on Current’s expansive deck, enjoying the serene beauty of Neely Henry Lake.
“We’re talking about Jesus and enjoying the scenery,” said Kiser, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Opelika.
Sharing the lake life
Wilson has loved every minute of working at Current: “I love the water,” she said, with a huge grin.
She and her husband conceived of Current as a snack shop, but the business instead “morphed” into an eatery. Now serving about 300 customers a week, Wilson is proud that they are building a solid customer base that extends beyond families’ campground stays.
“We have only been open a short time, but this is a unique thing in Gadsden,” Wilson said. “My husband and I have always loved camping. We are focused on campers and boaters at River Rocks Landing, but we get lots of customers from around the city, too.”
Wilson developed strong customer-service skills while working in the restaurant industry in her early 20s. She “cut her eyeteeth” as a hostess at The Club on Red Mountain, a private dining club in Birmingham. After about a year, she graduated to serving and worked with The Club’s food and beverage management. She later was a bartender at Back Forty Beer Co. in Gadsden and managed the Tap Room.
The Wilsons hope that Current remains busy through fall and early winter, when boat parades and Christmas light shows attract visitors to Neely Henry Lake.
“That will keep us busy,” Wilson said. “I would like to have traffic flow where they hit our restaurant first.
“I love that I live in a river town,” said Wilson, who lives about a mile from the Coosa River. “I love the water. It is beautiful. I want our customers to love the lake life as much as I do.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)