Update: Watershed serving fried chicken Friday, Saturday

Restaurant closes this weekend; Scott Peacock reflects on his years as chef.

Watershed will go out with a sizzle, if not a bang.

The restaurant on West Ponce de Leon Avenue will serve fried chicken Friday and Saturdays after 5:30 p.m. For years, Watershed only served fried chicken on Tuesday night, and often ran out because of demand. An email the restaurant management sent early Thursday afternoon explained what is happening:

"In response to a huge number of requests from our fans, we will be serving our Southern Fried Chicken both Friday and Saturday nights after 5:30 p.m. Please join us this weekend as we honor 13 years of business in Decatur. Thank you to all of our friends and loyal patrons for the amazing outreach of support!

We look forward to seeing everyone this weekend and in the near future at our new location!"

Watershed is closing after dinner Saturday. The owners say they'll move to a new location to be named later.

Earlier in the week, former Watershed chef Scott Peacock, who introduced fried chicken Tuesdays, said he's sorry to hear the restaurant is closing.

Under Peacock, Watershed became famous for serving an updated form of traditional Southern cooking with a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients. Food writers as well as diners from around the nation raved about the food.

Watershed and Peacock are often credited with sparking the town's growth and making Decatur a dining destination. In a telephone interview, Peacock said he doesn't know if that's true.

"I'm not somebody who thinks in those terms, though it's a wonderful thing to hear," he said. "What I can say with certainty is how much I've seen Decatur grow and thrive. In the beginning it was a little bit of a ghost town at that end of the street."

Peacock left Watershed in early 2010 to pursue documentary film work and write a memoir about his life with Edna Lewis, a legendary Southern chef and cookbook author. He said he was about to head west to cook for the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse, the organic food restaurant run by Alice Waters in Berkeley, Calif.

Peacock said he had great memories of his 11 years as chef.

"I love Decatur and I'm really proud of my time at Watershed and my work there," said Peacock, who splits time between his home state of Alabama and Decatur.

A note on the restaurant website said Watershed will close after dinner Saturday and move to a new location to be named later. Ross Jones, one of the owners, said in an email Wednesday that she'll make the details known soon. Decatur Metro reported that the Schumacher Group posted the Watershed space for lease on their website.

Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd said he heard Watershed was moving to a location with more space and parking. Watershed operates in a converted gas station -- one of several such transformations in Decatur -- located in the same building as a dry cleaners and Farm Burger restaurant. Parking near the restaurant is limited.

"They wanted to do new things for their customers that we couldn't provide in Decatur," he said.

Floyd said he thought Watershed heavily contributed to Decatur's "aura" as a special place.

"We'll miss them," the mayor said. "Watershed was one of the first prestigious restaurants to come to Decatur. It really attracted a lot of folks to Decatur, a lot of folks who still say Watershed is their favorite restaurant."

Peacock said the things Watershed brought to Decatur -- a sense of community built around good food -- will continue to thrive.

"It wasn't over when I left and it's not over just because Watershed closes," Peacock said.

Full disclosure: Decatur Patch editor Ralph Ellis is married to Susan Puckett, who is working on a book with Peacock.


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