Oil spill in Gulf could hurt seafood restaurants - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill in Gulf could hurt seafood restaurants


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – They are a big hit either sizzling over an open flame or shucked raw.  More than 10,000 oysters are served every week at the Half Shell Oyster House in downtown Gulfport.

"We like to buy locally as much as possible, but there's the possibility that the oyster beds here in Pass Christian and Mississippi will be shutting down," said Rob Heffner, co-owner of the restaurant.

Heffner is worried about the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that's inching toward South Mississippi. He is a partner in the Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, which owns three restaurants and several other food services.  Heffner said if the seafood industry takes a hit from the oil leak, he may have to buy fresh seafood from suppliers in Louisiana, Texas or the east coast.

"If we have to outsource seafood from other states, depending on the availability and the cost, it's definitely going to drive seafood costs up," said Heffner.  "So we're going to have to wait and see what happens with that as far as our menus go."

Another Gulfport restaurant owner is feeling the heat of the oil spill's potential impact. Half the menu items at Port City Cafe are seafood dishes.

"The price of seafood will increase, therefore, we have to raise menu prices, or possibly not even have it on our menu," said Ernest Ulrich.

The restaurant owners said the oil spill just puts more pressure on industries that are still struggling from Katrina and the recession.

"We may have to stock up on supplies, maybe in the next week or so, because it seems like it's definitely getting worse," said Ulrich.

"It's probably going to be a lot of scrambling around trying to source out seafood," said Heffner. "But we're going to do the best we can to make sure that we will have fresh seafood and oysters every day."

The restaurant owners said it's had to stock-up on supplies, because they like to serve their seafood fresh.

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