Seafood businesses boast consumer confidence in gulf varieties

Neil Nesbitt, owner of Tellis Seafood Market says confidence in seafood is rising again.
Neil Nesbitt, owner of Tellis Seafood Market says confidence in seafood is rising again.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Seven months after the oil rig explosion that caused the gulf oil spill, the seafood industry is trying to stay afloat.

Tourism officials in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach say nearly 10 businesses including restaurants shut their doors because of the oil.

It may seem a little fishy to open a seafood shop right now, especially since many owners are simply trying to keep their heads above water.

But Neil Nesbitt--the owner of the new Tellis Seafood Market on the Southern Boulevard--waited long enough.

"The oil spill came in the spring, and we were actually supposed to be opening that month," says Nesbitt.

After the spill, some of his distributors backed out.  He finally opened in September and says confidence in gulf seafood is coming back.

"Some people say, 'I want certain oysters that are only in the gulf.'"

People like Marquis Calloway never stopped eating it.

"I don't even think about it actually. I just get it and eat it like normal."

Owners say they're kinda caught between a rock and a hard place, despite the fact that business is starting to pick up, so are seafood prices.

"I feel like now the price does affect us because of the economy which doesn't have anything to do with the oil spill," says Bud Skinner, owner of Jubilee Seafood in Cloverdale.

He's thankful he survived the summer, but says the spill affected fishing and his supply--forcing him to raise prices.

"We work on a formula and if it costs this much we have to charge this much, so we held our prices for a long time and then finally had to go up a little bit," says Skinner.

For him, it's a small price to pay if it keeps his business open. And folks like Calloway don't seem to mind, either.

"I can still go to places like this and eat what I want to eat," says Calloway.

Skinner says sales for this October were up from last year. He refused to take a paycheck for four months just to keep his staff employed.

© Copyright 2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.