Local restaurants form new partnerships

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) South Mississippi restaurant owners are among the growing list of those getting hit by the tough economy.

With people try to spend less and save more, it is hurting local eateries.

Lunchtime in many popular eateries aren't the same. There are empty booths and empty tables, not to mention workers anxious for steady business.

"We're down double digits against last year. I think everybody is," said Bob Taylor, owner of High Cotton Grill.

"There's a lot of local restaurants that could really use the help," said Taylor.

"It's one of the first things people look to cut out when they look to cut expenses. They look to cut eating out," said Blow Fly Inn owner Scott Weinberg.

Like many of his neighbors, Weinberg was also forced to make some changes at the Blow Fly Inn.

"We had to do a six month price increase due to the price of goods. Even though the gas is back down, they are still charging the fuel surcharges and prices are still up and I don't don't if it's going to go back down," said Weinberg.

It's just one reason business owners banded together to form Coastal Flavors, an organization that will try to increase community support for local businesses.

"I think it's a good thing for us because we all have our own specialties," said JoAnne O'Keefe, owner of Nezaty's on Courthouse Road.

Like her neighbors, she says business is slow.

However, the band of restaurateurs hope the new partnership will not only increase business but teach people the importance of spending their money at home.