LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The aroma of fried shrimp wafts through the kitchen, tempting customers at the "Cajun Crawfish Hut".
"It'd be better on the beach. But we're doing all right. Pay the bills," said the restaurant owner Gus Harris.
The Long Beach restaurant, once located on Highway 90, was reduced to a slab by Hurricane Katrina. Four months later, Harris renovated an old vacant building just north of the railroad tracks and reopened the business.
"We had a lot of traffic on the beach and a nice view of the water. Now we look at the railroad tracks," said Harris. "We all have to make a living. We all have to rebuild and do the best we can."
At least 20 restaurants have returned to the city. Some of them are new.
"They are facing hard times," said Pam Sanders.
Sanders is a board member of the Long Beach Chamber and events committee chairperson. The organization is trying to get the word out that restaurants in Long Beach are open for business.
"Everybody's kind of struggling, trying to keep their doors open," said Sanders. "We want people to know that we're back and we're really trying hard and come and see us in Long Beach."
Gus Harris hopes to return to the beach front someday. Until then, he's relying on his seafood specialties to lure customers to his new location.
"We want to let people outside of Long Beach know who all is here," said Harris. "We have a lot of good restaurants here and we just want to become a destination area again."
The Chamber hosted "A Taste of Long Beach" Tuesday night to showcase restaurants throughout the city. The event featured food from 17 restaurants and several other vendors. Chamber leaders hope more restaurants will return once the reconstruction of Jeff Davis Avenue is complete and Long Beach City Hall returns to the downtown area.