O'Neal's serves up local flavor, despite the price increase - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

O'Neal's serves up local flavor, despite the price increase


By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - O'Neal's restaurant has been making shrimp po-boys for more than 20 years. But, the oil spill is beginning to affect prices. Now the owner is concerned the oil crisis could be devastating for his business.

Pounds of fresh gulf shrimp are hand battered, fried to a crisp and placed on french bread, making what Danny O'Neal calls the "best shrimp po-boy."

Danny O'Neal is the owner of this po-boy shop that sits off Highway 49 in Gulfport. Although he believes the taste may be the best, the price is a little less attractive these days because of the oil spill.

Deborah Alverson has been stopping in for lunch for the past 18 years. She said it's important to her that this local owned business purchase seafood straight from the Gulf.

"It tastes better than coming from somewhere else," Alverson said. "The shrimp probably wouldn't be as good either being frozen and not fresh."

O'Neal buys more than 2,000 pounds of shrimp per week. He used to pay $2.75 per pound, but since the oil spill occurred, that's turned into more than $4 per pound.

"Our main concern here is having to pass this on to the consumer. And we're scared this could price us out of business," O'Neal said.

Po-boy prices have already gone up within the month. And O'Neal said it's likely a $2 increase will happen once again. Or something even worse: One popular item will likely be removed from his menu.

"We've been told with in the next week or so that they're going to shut the oyster reefs down, which means we won't be getting oysters."

O'Neal said if the oyster reefs do close, it could hurt his business, just as shrimp prices continue to increase.

O'Neal said since prices have increased, he has not seen a change in business and he's been able to keep all of his employees.

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