Restaurant industry short staffed ahead of Cruisin the Coast

A look inside how organizers and local businesses gear up for the big event. Coast Registration Director says, "People are very hyped up about it."
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Cruisin’ the Coast is less than two weeks away, and boxes full of supplies are stacking up.

“This is where the rubber meets the road,” registration director Craig Grisoli said. “People are very hyped up about it. Word of mouth has been spreading for a couple years now about our 25th anniversary.”

For the silver milestone, Grisoli said they’re giving away a silver 1957 Chevrolet convertible. Coastwide, about 1,500 volunteers are set to keep it moving.

“We’re known for our car show, but we’re really known for our hospitality. And those volunteers really put forth the effort to be friendly and to be helpful, and so forth,” Grisoli said. “So we ask people to be patient. You know, Highway 90′s gonna be busy.”

About 9,000 vehicles are expected for a record turnout. Drivers are coming from 45 states and Canada.

“We shouldn’t have any problems making Cruisin’ the Coast a very memorable experience for everyone,” Executive Director Woody Bailey said.

Ahead of the events spanning the Coast, Bailey is coordinating with 11 surrounding cities and three counties.

“I’m finishing up some of those meetings and getting our final I’s dotted and T’s crossed,” he said. “All that’s working out well. I feel real good about it.”

The Cruisin’ crowd is good for local businesses, but it’s rolling in during a time when the restaurant industry faces an ongoing labor shortage.

“Help is gonna be a big issue this year. It’s been a big issue for the last year, almost 2 years now,” White Cap Seafood owner Buck Lizana said. “It’s gonna be a challenge for sure.”

Lizana said he will be operating with less than half his staff during the event.

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