Farewell, Incahoots

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

After more than a decade as the owners of Helena’s most popular restaurant, husband-and-wife team Harold and Claudia Deason are selling Incahoots and retiring from the restaurant business.

The couple will sell the property and equipment at public auction Jan. 27, said Harold Deason. He is not certain the location will continue as a restaurant.

Incahoots closed New Year’s Eve to the dismay of longtime customers who gave the restaurant a proper send-off.

“A lot of our old customers came by and wished us well,” Claudia Deason said. “We opened a bottle of champagne, and that was it.”

Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale is among those who were saddened to hear the news. As a member of Kiwanis, Penhale attended breakfast meetings at Incahoots every Tuesday. To him, the restaurant was a community landmark.

“It’s been a meeting place for a lot of different things over the years, and it’s a great place to get good food,” Penhale said.

Incahoots’ closing ends a 24-year dining experience. The Deasons opened Incahoots in 1984 in Hoover. The restaurant moved to Helena in 1998. Besides its steak and seafood entrees, Incahoots is perhaps best known for its picturesque location overlooking Buck Creek waterfall.

Harold Deason began his career in the restaurant industry at an early age. After marrying Claudia in 1969, he trained under his father-in-law, Denny Kakoliris, a restaurant manager. Harold went on to own six Sneaky Petes Hot Dog franchises before opening Incahoots.

The Deasons worked 75 hours a week at Incahoots. At age 63, Harold, who’s also the restaurant’s chef, made the decision to retire.

“I’ll probably work to some degree,” he said of his post-retirement plans. “A person like me can never not work.”

“We’ll do some relaxing things,” Claudia said. “My husband loves to hunt and fish, and we’d like to do a little traveling and volunteer work.”

Though they’re looking forward to much-deserved rest, the Deasons said they will miss their customers who made Incahoots a household name in Alabama dining.

“Our customers were very good to us,” Harold said. “We were in Helena for 10 years, and it was a great experience. I’ll miss them a lot.”