The parking lot of Supreme Fish Delight was empty save for a 32-ounce QuikTrip styrofoam cup.

The restaurant, closed to interior dining since last March, wasn’t scheduled to open for another half-hour on this quiet Sunday morning but that didn’t stop a young woman from driving up and inquiring about when they were going to open.

“We open at noon,” said Quincy Johnson, as he picked up a fallen sign, clipboard in hand. Turning to the Atlanta Voice reporter there to interview him and the staff.

Johnson, 40, the manager at this location the past seven years added, “Sometimes we have to open earlier, people usually come after church and don’t mind waiting though.”

He smiled, “That’s part of the service.”

Service at Supreme Fish Delight includes fried fish sandwiches like the Fish Supreme, a combination of tilapia, coleslaw, relish, pickles, mustard, and cheese.

There’s also fried fish and shrimp plates, fish nuggets, family packs (six, eight, 10, 15 or 18 pieces dinners of whiting, trout or tilapia) or orders of wings in flavors like Garlic hot, honey garlic, teriyaki spicy glaze, sweet chili, and supreme battered.

Then there are familiar favorites like lemon pepper and hot.

Located at the corners of Highway 85 and Springdale Drive, across the street from Hotlanta Wings and the Heart Pharmacy, for the past 40 years, Supreme Fish Delight, its yellow and blue sign as locally-recognized throughout Atlanta and south of the city like McDonald’s golden arches might be somewhere else.

It’s a local institution that on any typical night can have dozens of customers at the order window and as many more waiting in the parking lot for their food.

Supreme Fish Delight isn’t fast food, said Johnson, who on this day wore a red Atlanta Falcons t-shirt, black mask, and black pants and boots to work.

“If I knew you were going to take pictures I would have worn my blue Supreme Fish shirt,” he said.

A father of seven, including four-year-old twin boys that he’s quick to show on his phone. Dressed in matching outfits, the boys are close, he revealed. “They are close but also so different,” said Johnson.

Family is a big part of what has taken place at Supreme Fish over the four decades of serving the Riverdale and surrounding Clayton County communities within its reach.

From the kitchen where Gospel music is being played through someone’s cell phone, Craig Worthy could be seen prepping for that day’s work.

All food at Supreme Fish is made to order but the fish and fryers need to be ready to go by noon on Sundays and he’s on it.

Worthy has been working at this location for 10 years and understands that his preparation is important to have a good day at the office.

“I think that this place is important because there’s no other seafood spot like it out here,” said Worthy, 33, an Atlanta native. “There ain’t that many more left at all and our food and customer service is good and that’s why I feel like we stand out.”

His teammate for that afternoon shift was Marie Pierre-Louis, who was scheduled to man the phones and the order window.

Guests can’t come inside of the small dining area and order anymore to better accommodate for COVID-19 protocol so the small window has become the staging area for the business.

“It’s all love here,” said Pierre-Louis, 20, who has been working here since August 2020. “I always meet customers that tell me they have been coming here since the ’80s and ’90s. Personally, I think it’s because of the relationships we make, people look for us.”

Small with a warm smile and light complexion, Pierre-Louis excused herself to answer the phone to take a customer’s pickup order. It was 12:05 p.m., five minutes after Supreme Fish Delight opened for the day.

Black-owned and local, there are Supreme Fish Delight locations throughout Atlanta and metro Atlanta on Cascade Road, Wesley Chapel Road, and in East Point on Marketplace Boulevard, but the Highway 85 location is the chain’s crown jewel.

Despite the current pandemic that has in many cases resulted in small business owners, more specifically Black small business owners, having to close their shops and restaurants, business at this Supreme Fish location has improved according to Johnson.

“Sales have been up in the last march,” said Johnson, who has been with the company for 15 years. About the improvement on what were already good sale numbers, Johnson said, “I was shocked that it happened.”

The thinking is that without having the sitting area available for customer use, which might seat 15-16 people at maximum capacity, the to-go orders have improved but the numbers show Supreme Fish customers weren’t going to stop dropping by on Friday night’s and Saturday afternoons, pandemic be damned.

“We know what people are ordering when we see their cars pull up,” Johnson said with a laugh. “People give us gifts at holiday time, invite us to their family gatherings, man this is a family atmosphere.”

And apparently a successful business. There are future plans to expand the location to better accommodate the solid customer base. Johnson made sure to make clear that the expansion doesn’t mean they are moving.

“We’re definitely not moving this location, we’re going to be right here,” he said. “I’m convinced that we sell the best fish around.”

They also are the only business you can get freshly fried fish and shrimp for miles.

The competition in larger markets like Atlanta and Savannah would make for greater competition but for 40 years and counting Supreme Fish Delight has been doing it right here in Riverdale.

When I mentioned that amount of time for the fifth time during our interview Johnson sat back in his seat, a look of satisfaction creeps across his face.

“To me, that speaks volumes,” he said. “We haven’t been open for 40 years for nothing. That’s the consistency, basically, we’re getting better and better every year.”

“We just try to do the best we can.”

The interview over and a customer parked outside preparing to leave her car and make her way to the order window, Johnson offers a COVID-friendly fist bump. It’s time to get started with their day.

Another day of many during the four decades of serving the community from which Supreme Fish Delight stands.

Supreme Fish Delight has served customers in Clayton County just south of Atlanta for more than 40 years. (Donnell Suggs / The Atlanta Voice)

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