Tanya Kennedy stood next to a grill in the Diamond Inn's front door. "Help yourself sir," she said to one of her customers. Sizzling on the grill were hot dogs and chicken breasts covered in a special sauce. Kennedy called it, "My secret recipe."
She didn't reveal the secret chicken marinade. But she had no problem talking about the Diamond Inn's secret to success each fall. "Cruisin the Coast. It's a big help for us," she said with a smile.
Once a year, the same group of classic car buffs fills up Kennedy's 40 room inn. Charlie Ellis heads up the Georgia based group.
"It's home," Ellis said, referring to the Diamond Inn and its hospitality. "That's what we tell them when we pull in. We're home."
Once a year, Kennedy's staff barbecues a Cruisin the Coast feast.
"I've done this nine years in a row," the inn owner said, because "all the crew stays with us nine years."
Ellis said he parks at the Diamond Inn for a specific reason.
"They treat us like family. Super good people," he said.
Cruisin the Coast was designed to steer tourists into local hotels in October. From all indications, it seems to be working. Business at most South Mississippi hotels and motels used to drop off in October.
Now, "We're sold out the whole week," said Kennedy.
Cruisin the Coast has made this week, at her inn and many others like it, as tasty as a busy summer holiday.