Biloxi downtown district attracts tourists and locals

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -  "Biloxi Main Street" is busy promoting the downtown business district.

That group helps with beautification projects, special events to spotlight local merchants and brochures directing tourists downtown.

But are those efforts helping the business climate downtown?

One of the downtown's newest restaurants is located right in the heart of the city.

"It was a gas station built in 1934 and owned by the Scarboroughs and then bought out by the Sumeralls," said Fillin' Station owner, Scott Adams.

These days the "Fillin' Station" at the corner of Main and Howard is not a place to top off your tank.

"Just a relaxing place to come hear live music and eat good food," said the owner.

Cancelled checks from the old gas station are laminated on the bar and signed dollar bills cover the back bar.  Both give this new oyster bar and restaurant some true Biloxi character.

"We have such an array of customers from businesses to 21 year olds to families and everything else. It's just a total mix of people," said Adams.

"We're having a lot of tourists in town now, so business is good.  It could be better, but it's not bad," said Biloxi Main Street director, Kay Miller.

The director of Biloxi Main Street would like to see some new shops replace these vacancy signs in the Vieux Marche.

One way of recruiting new merchants is also good for attracting customers: attention to detail, like landscaping.

"Beautification is definitely an important factor. To make sure that we're inviting for all these tourists that are here," said Miller.

Visitors are discovering a new art gallery downtown... inside a very old Spanish house.

"And it's so beautifully renovated. And it shows art so spectacular. And we're trying to make this into an art district in Biloxi," said artist Jeri Hardy

Events like art exhibits that attract visitors downtown are good for downtown merchants.

"Several people have started renting some of the older houses and turning them into pottery studios, art studios, photography. We want people to be able to walk around at leisure and see the arts in Biloxi.  Restaurants, art, what more do you want?" said Hardy.

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