Opening a business on South Mississippi's beachfront is proving to be a challenge for many business owners. With the increase in insurance policies and new regulations by FEMA, many businesses have relocated or have not re-opened at all. But the owners of one Pass Christian restaurant are taking what some would call a big risk.
The vision of Shaggy's Harbor Bar and Grill came months before Hurricane Katrina damaged South Mississippi. It wasn't until after the storm that these two friends turned business partners were able to make that vision a reality.
"After the hurricane, everybody wanted to run north and we just felt that the water was the biggest asset on the coast, the boats, the fishing, the Gulf Coast and just the waterfront lifestyle," says Thomas Genin, co-owner of Shaggy's.
When Genin and his partner Ron Ladner found what they thought would be the perfect location, they knew they had to move quickly to seal the deal.
"We just jumped all over it. We didn't even hesitate," Genin said.
That's when the business owners ran into a problem. The bank wouldn't finance the restaurant because they couldn't get flood insurance.
"We do not qualify for federal flood insurance because all four corners of the building are over water," says Ladner.
So they financed the building themselves. The business owners hired a marine contractor to insert the pilings, then they built the rest of the building with the help of contractors. They also kept the décor simple and what they call hurricane ready.
"We designed this building and engineered it to withstand 150 miles an hour wind because we have no walls we hope that it will stand up hopefully to something like a Katrina," Ladner said.
If it doesn't, the only insurance they have is wind and hail. So if a hurricane damages this building, they will have to pay out of pocket.
It's something they hope won't happen, but it's a risk they're willing to take.