Since the oil spill in the Gulf, for those who make their living selling fish and other sea creatures out of family-owned restaurants in the oil spill area, just getting the food in the door is challenging and expensive.
Business has long since been strangled in Houma.
People who based their incomes off the water don’t have spending money — BP condolence checks don’t run that far.
And for those who make their living selling fish and other sea creatures out of family-owned restaurants, just getting the food in the door is challenging and expensive.
Now, local seafood restaurants are confronting another obstacle — people leery of transferring crude oil fish from the ocean to their bellies.
Olden Rodrique, owner of Classy Cajun, has a strategy.
“The only thing that could make it better is if more people close before we do,” he said.
For now, Rodrique’s goal is to keep overhead down, and provide the best seafood he can find.
Things will get harder, and customers will be harder to come by. But this is the Gulf, and folks want their seafood. Rodrique just needs to stay open long enough to ride out the competition.
That’s not easy.
“It’s harder to run, to figure out how to get people in here,” he said. “It’s a battle every day.”
Known for his fried shrimp and succulent oysters, Rodrique is suffering from a bleak market, where quality seafood is hard to come by.
Crawfish were holding him steady, at least in the beginning, when the oil began seeping into Louisiana’s cracks and crevices.
“The crawfish season is easing off,” he said. “That was holding me up.”
Now is about when Rodrique shifts his focus to crab, but that’s lately become a huge hurdle.
“I’m buying crabs from the guy I’m buying crawfish from, but it’s costing me more,” he said. “And I don’t know where he’s getting them from.”
He’s settling for the females now — skinnier, sub-par crabs.
Although he realizes the problems in the oil industry were widespread when the disaster struck, he places the blame exactly where most of his neighbors heap it — on BP.
“No matter what happens, it’s just going to hurt us. They’ll go somewhere else,” Rodrique said. “We’ve got to salvage what we’ve got.”
Editor Carlene Peterson is reporting about the Gulf oil spill for GateHouse News Service. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.