BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The rebirth of the business district. That is what Hancock County's Chamber of Commerce Director is calling the return of Trapani's Eatery to the Bay St. Louis beachfront. Almost five years to the day Katrina destroyed the locally owned restaurant, the Trapani family was finally able to celebrate a new beginning. The hope is that more commerce will follow suit.
Although Hurricane Katrina had obliterated most of the Mississippi coastline on August 29, 2005, the owners of Trapani's Eatery say they were hopeful as they went to check on their restaurant. After all, the 70 year old building had survived Camille.
"I thought maybe the roof was torn off, maybe a foot of water. [I] never dreamt in a million years, we would literally be looking at pixie sticks," said owner Jolynne Trapani.
Now in August 2010, Jolynne and Tony Trapani finally broke ground on their new restaurant. After years in a temporary location, Trapani's is headed back to Old Towne Bay St. Louis.
"Trapani's has become a great place to eat, a great place for tourists to come and a great place for families to visit," said Jolynne Trapani. "But more than that, it's a social event. It's a place where the whole community comes together."
A crowd of family, friends and well wishers turned out to help the Trapanis break ground on what they say will be the first business to be rebuilt from the ground up on the beachfront.
One of those friends and well wishers is Tish Williams who is director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce.
"We believe that when Trapani's is rebuilt, we will see other private investment that will follow. But it takes the courage of local small business owners who have determination to rebuild come hell or high water to make that happen," Williams said.
"The restaurant, from the beginning, we decided that we were going to rebuild it no matter what," said Trapani. "We feel like we're back home. This is where we belong is on the beachfront in Bay St. Louis. We're hoping that will be a catalyst to rebuild our area cause we had such a great venue before, and we're hoping that's what we'll accomplish and everyone else will come back. "
The Trapanis say much of the long wait to move back to the beach front was because of the time it took to rebuild Beach Boulevard. Then they say the oil spill delayed the project another two months.