Waterfront restaurant closes

Catches, along the banks of the Cotee River, was a popular location for community groups.

By JODIE TILLMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published August 30, 2007

PORT RICHEY - Catches Waterfront Grill, the prominent seafood restaurant on the banks of the Cotee River, unexpectedly closed its doors this week.

"CLOSED" signs have been put at the entrances to the restaurant off U.S. 19. A man who answered the restaurant's phone Wednesday and would identify himself only as the manager said the restaurant closed Tuesday for "financial issues." He would not elaborate.

The Catches property is owned by East Lake LLC, managed by Michael L. Lowe, according to county and state records. Lowe did not return phone messages Wednesday.

Other businesses owned by Lowe's companies include the Port Hudson Marina and Increte Systems in Odessa, which manufactures decorative concrete.

Catches, an 11-year-old restaurant known as much for its view as its seafood, had earned a reputation as a place to meet.

Several community groups, including the Port Richey Rotary Club, met at the restaurant. The annual Chasco boat parade starts near Catches, where the New Port Richey Rotary holds its breakfast beforehand.

The closing caught some by surprise.

"Don't say that. I love Catches," said Phyllis Grae, a Rotary member and a former Port Richey council member. "This makes me feel really bad. They've been so accommodating."

Catches isn't the first popular seafood restaurant sitting on prime waterfront property to go. Johnny Leverock's Seafood House, further south on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, has been closed and vacant since 2003. There has been interest in redeveloping that property, but nothing has materialized.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at 727 869-6247 or jtillman@sptimes.com.