Gulfport businesses welcome cruisers

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In downtown Gulfport Sunday businesses reaped the benefits of Cruisin' the Coast's second event called View the Cruise.

With the potential weather threat over the weekend, business officials said they were worried it would drastically reduce the amount of customers they saw Sunday, but that wasn't the case.

Crowds walking the streets of Gulfport was the scene in the downtown area during the first day of Cruisin' the Coast.

It's a pleasant surprise for many business owners and managers who worried about less than stellar crowds because of Karen. At The Quarter, cruisers and locals packed the restaurant and bar, which is always a good sign for business.

"Today's been fabulous, I mean. We've actually had so many more cars come in even though we had the rain a little bit, but it was still," Bo Borchardt said.

Half Shell Oyster house next door to The Quarter saw an increase in customers as well. And while downtown Gulfport businesses are aware of the positive economic impact from Cruisin' the Coast.

Some officials said there were definitely more people this time than last year.

"We've seen a definite increase. But, not as strong as last year of course. Sales are definitely down with the threat of the hurricane. Compared to what we were thinking a couple of days ago great turn out. Great crowd. Business has been good," general manager Jesse Hayes said.

From the cruisers, to the onlookers, car browsing was the focus for people of all ages in Gulfport.

"I think it's a good event for kids because they get to explore the 90s, 80s and 60s cars," Half Shell customer Makayla Smith said.

Once car fanatics finished checking out the vehicles many spent their money grabbing lunch at nearby restaurants. Duane Sink and his friend drove to the coast from Wisconsin.

He said he's a regular for Cruisin' the Coast and a regular at coastal restaurants.

"We're at Half Shell and we try to eat as much seafood as we can. And enjoy every minute of it," Sink said about Coast cuisine.

So as the week of Cruisin' the Coast kicks off, coast businesses are preparing for more customer pitstops at their business.

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