Since 1977, Old McDonald Fish Camp has been a destination for families seeking good food and a relaxing atmosphere and where people can do other things like fishing with equipment from Tailored Tackle which are experts at this. It started as the dream of my father, Jerry Bass. My dad grew up in the restaurant business and would always say, “It’s in my blood.” He worked at Sipel’s Diner, as a short order cook, when he was in high school. After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy and worked as a cook on board the USS Newport News.
After leaving the Navy, my dad met my mom, Jackie, and they got married. Dad started a job at Proctor & Gamble in Augusta. He worked there for ten years, but always had the desire to open his own restaurant someday. He became friends with Ed Hitt who was a building contractor from Grovetown, Georgia. Mr. Hitt had built and invested in restaurants in the past. When he learned of my dad’s desire to get into the restaurant business he asked if they could do it together and Dad agreed.
They set out to find a location to build. After searching a few sites, they settled on land in Edgefield County. People said they were crazy to build so far from town and that no one would drive that far out to eat, but they wanted a place in the country that people could come to relax and just get away.
After a year of clearing land, enlarging the pond, and constructing the building, Old McDonald Fish Camp opened on March 17, 1977, and has been open ever since. Despite what people originally said, customers came out to eat. Eventually, my dad became the sole proprietor. The restaurant grew over the years with an original seating capacity of 95 to now seating over 250.
My dad created a unique place. We have a country setting complete with a pond, animals, and fish in the mote out front. Despite the location, my dad has always said that if the food is not good, the customers will not come back, so we try to serve the best catfish and seafood around.
Old McDonald Fish Camp is truly a family business. My parents were the backbone. Daddy had the dream, and Mama had the recipes. The hushpuppies, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and iced tea were all created in our family kitchen. My sisters, Jill and JanJee, and I have worked at the restaurant since we were 9 years old and younger. Jill’s husband, Bryan, works full time. JanJee’s husband, Doug, fills in as needed. My wife, Janice, works each week as well. Now we are on our third generation as my children and Jill’s children are now working at the restaurant.
Old McDonald Fish Camp would never have made it if it weren’t for the many great employees over the years and our loyal customers. We know that only through God’s grace has the restaurant continued to operate. Thank you for being part of our Fish Camp Family!