BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With crawfish, it really is feast or famine. Early in the season, prices were down and the supply more than met demand.
Just within the last week, it’s been the opposite. At first glance, it looks like plenty to go around at the Ole Biloxi Fillin’ Station in Biloxi.
“We wait for this all year,” said Danny Williams of Gautier. “Just like waiting on football season.”
Nathaniel Rojemann, a transplant to the Coast from Wisconsin, said he realizes now that crawfish are not just a food staple. They identify a culture.
“I crave it every year,” he said. “It’s really important to everybody on the Coast as well as the people who visit here to be able to experience it, taste it, know what it’s all about.”
This weekend, crawfish were in short supply. Lately, weather has been the main problem, with rain and cold weather forcing crawfish down too far to harvest.
“I think everybody this last week has reached out to everybody to try to get crawfish, and it still didn’t work this weekend,” said Fillin’ Station manager and crawfish chef Yul Grace.
He said his restaurant is doing what it can to keep up with demand.
“We couldn’t do all you can eat today, but we decided to go with our platters and by the pound today to try to keep our customers happy," Grace said.
One of those customers was Mark Creel, who dined on mud bugs three times in one week.
“In the past, we used to have to wait until March or April,” he said. “I think they’re coming out earlier, so we just have to pay the price to get them. So, I didn’t even ask what the price was.”
Wholesale price for crawfish is about $4 a pound, with mark up for restaurants like the Fillin’ Station that add the secret spices and lots of potatoes and corn.
Creel had to make three stops before scoring some tasty treats.
“We’re happy to see them,” he said. “We thought they’d be out when we got here.”
One of those stops was at the restaurant where his daughter Jaclyn works, but she ended up joining him at the Fillin’ Station.
“Yeah,” she said. “Because we ran out.”
She didn’t feel like she’s being disloyal to her restaurant.
“I mean, it’s crawfish,” she added with a laugh. “Gotta do it.”
Grace knows how important this entree is to business in the heart of Biloxi.
“It’s very critical to us right here because that kicks off our year off right,” he said. “We’ve got Mardi Gras, and as soon as Mardi Gras gets here, we try to bring the best of the best. Crawfish is essential, so you’ve got to do a good job.”