BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The success of The Blind Tiger Restaurant in Bay St. Louis appears to be an eye opener for developers. The restaurant is the first business to open on the water side of Beach Boulevard since Hurricane Katrina. The restaurant is growing and the mayor expects more businesses to follow.
Six months ago, The Blind Tiger opened its doors. In that short time, the restaurant and lounge has become a popular hang out in the Bay.
"We've had a lot of fun, we've seen a lot of people and it has completely blown us away," said Blind Tiger Owner Thomas Genin.
Genin said he embarked on his first expansion, just 30 days after opening.
"We opened a courtyard with an additional bar. We do live entertainment on the weekends, private parties, and stuff like that."
Now he's doubling the seating capacity of the restaurant from 40 people to 80 by adding a three story addition to the building.
"We will open an oyster bar and a micro brewery. We will have a dedicated space for shucking oysters, grilling oysters, and producing four craft beers in its own area, climate controlled," said Genin.
Right now, the business employs nearly 40 people. The owner said his expansion project will open the door to hiring 15 more.
"In Bay St. Louis, and really all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we are a tourist based community," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said. "We know when you provide those venue where people come and hang out and spend their money and enjoy themselves and be entertained, you're creating jobs."
Fillingame credits the restaurant with helping the city realize its vision for redeveloping the water side of Beach Boulevard. There are plans in the works for a real estate office next door. The mayor said the harbor marina now going up is another draw for beachside business.
"I think the anticipation from the investment community, the business investment community in and around all of downtown Bay St. Louis, is largely based on the anticipation of the harbor," explained Fillingame.
Genin said right now only the first floor of his three story addition will be utilized. He will make a decision on what will go on the second and third floors in the future. Construction is expected to start in December. The project is expected to be ready to open in mid-March.