Biloxi Produce Vendor Grows With Casino Industry - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/10/04

Biloxi Produce Vendor Grows With Casino Industry

Mike Alise looks at the Hard Rock hotel and casino project with visions of fruits and vegetables.

He's the owner of Gulf Coast Produce, a Biloxi company that's seen tremendous success thanks in large part to the coast casinos.

Alise is counting on his lettuce and tomatoes being used in the salads served at Hard Rock restaurants. And it's likely to happen. His successful produce company already includes all 12 coast casinos on its list of clients.

Gulf Coast Produce is an around-the-clock operation. The owner just moved the business into a new million dollar warehouse. The casino industry gets much of the credit for helping it happen.

"A tremendous impact. When we started nine years ago, we had four employees. And I was one of the four. Now we have 55 employees. Annual sales of over 13 million. We're putting about 20 trucks a day on the road," said Alise.

Hundreds of sacks of potatoes rolled in on this Tuesday afternoon. Some will end up as baked potatoes on the tables of area restaurants.

"That's a lot of potatoes," said five year employee Ernie Giles, as he hand wrapped select potatoes for McElroy's Harbor House. The Biloxi restaurant orders some 70 cases a week.

"We keep about three tractor trailer loads of onions, potatoes of all sizes. Colorado. Idaho. Red potatoes. So, we call this our potato and onion room," said Alise, as he walked a visitor through the facility.

Gulf Coast Produce handles large volumes. But the owner says the key to earning the casino business came down to a pair of simple business principles.

"Quality and service. And they demand a lot of service and attention. And whenever they want something, you make sure to give it to them in a timely manner and at a fair price," he said.

It's a formula as sweet as the fresh apples Gulf Coast Produce delivers.

The Biloxi produce man is happy to welcome Hard Rock.

"It's great for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And we hope to bring lots of fruits and vegetables through there," he said.

Mike Alise has already talked with Hard Rock executives about supplying its produce. He's confident his successful track record with the other casinos will help him land that business as well.

by  Steve Phillips

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