New restaurant creates jobs when people need them most

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The economy is struggling. Jobs are disappearing. And with the holidays right around the corner, that is a bad combination.

Based on Mississippi Employment Security Commission information, there are nearly 2,000 more people out of work now than at the same time a year ago. That's why a new restaurant opening in Biloxi was such welcome news to Herman Moody. When Moody recently had his hours cut at a daycare job, he nearly threw in the towel.

"I was about ready to leave Biloxi," he admitted.

But a kitchen position became available at the rebuilt Biloxi Hooters. And on Thursday, he was in the kitchen training for next week's opening.

"I said I'm going to try it one more time. And if it don't work out, then I'm going to pack up and leave Mississippi," Moody said, before adding, "It's working out good for me."

Just about every one of the 30 cooks hired by Hooters found this job in the nick of time. For instance, Joseph Harrison and his wife both had their hours cut back at a casino. Without this second job, Harrison said the kids' Christmas would have gone down the drain.

"We live paycheck to paycheck," Harrison said. "And just making ends meet, daycare, and taking care of the kids and having a great Christmas, it's extremely important."

Most of the kitchen staff is men. Oddia Sims is the rare exception. She needed a job, and the Hooters kitchen provided her a great opportunity.

"This particular time of year, getting close to Christmas time, family time, need extra money on the table. So it was a good thing," she said.

A jobs report released two weeks ago said 5,100 Harrison County residents were looking for work. Four thousand needed jobs in Jackson County. Twelve hundred in Hancock County.

"It's hard. It's very hard, especially trying to make ends meet," said Brandon Lang.

He's another one of the kitchen workers who has two jobs.

"It's a survival game, trying to survive," he said.

When the beachfront Hooters reopens next week, 105 people will be on the payroll. With unemployment up, and the economy down, they all said working sure beat the alternative.

"Each day is getting better. So you've just gotta pick yourself up and just make the best out of what you've got," said Moody.

So what's the holiday job market like for people looking to pick up some part time work? According to managers at both Edgewater Mall and Prime Outlets, many of their stores are hiring holiday help.