AUGUST 9, 2016 6:00 AM
Prepare to feast: Restaurant Month launches on the Coast in September
Kaytlin McCormick of Ocean Springs brings plates to a table at Half Shell Oyster House restaurant in Biloxi on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. John Fitzhugh firstname.lastname@example.org
BY MARY PEREZ
Miami, New Orleans and other cities around the country celebrate food with a culinary week or month and South Mississippi will join them in September with its first course of Restaurant Month.
Casinos and independently-owned restaurants in South Mississippi will take part in the new promotion that will feature price fixed menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner — or all three.
Among restaurants that confirmed they will participate are Doe’s Eat Place at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi, all three Half Shell Oyster House restaurants in Biloxi and Gulfport, Murky Waters in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, Palace Casino restaurants and BR Prime, Stalla and Jia at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
Restaurant owners have until August 22 to join the promotion and get their menus to the organizers to be posted on the Visit Gulf Coast website.
Kevin Fish, one of the owners of Half Shell Oyster House, hasn’t finalized the menu, but said, “It’s highly likely it will be seafood.”
Just as Cruisin’ The Coast extended the tourist season into October when casino executives started it 20 years ago, organizers hope Restaurant Month will liven up what is an otherwise slow time of year for restaurants as kids return to school.
“That’s exactly what the point of this is,” Fish said. “This is the one month a year we really could use a hand down here.”
Fork options let couples, families and groups choose the price level and types of restaurants they want to try. One fork means the meal is under $20 while four forks indicate dinners over $40.
At BR Prime at the Beau Rivage, for example, the price fixed menu will be offered Tuesday through Saturday in September from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The three-course dinner includes soup or salad, a choice of roasted steak, herb roasted free range chicken or BBQ Gulf shrimp, and banana butter cake or chocolate torte for dessert. It is priced at $45 and comes with the atmosphere and service for which BR Prime is known.
Family restaurants also will participate. Brandon Atwell, owner of Murky Waters, says he may feature a craft beer, a sandwich and a couple of appetizers on the month-long special menu.
Atwell is a board member of the local Mississippi Hotel and Restaurant Association and is one the members of the committee that started considering Restaurant Month just a few months ago.
“We have some of the best culinary on the Coast,” he said. He also is in charge of organizing Chefs of the Coast Sept. 8 at the Coast Convention Center. The popular event that showcases local chefs and restaurants will be part of Restaurant Month.
Renee Areng, executive director of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, said Baton Rouge has a similar culinary event twice a year. “It’s a good incentive to go out to eat,” she said, and it likely will attract tourists since “67 percent of travelers plan their trip around food.”
Eateries participating in Restaurant Month will donate $1 for every meal they serve on their special menu. Proceeds will be split between two local charities — Cafe Climb, which trains underprivileged youth to work in restaurants, and Extra Table, which raises money to buy food in bulk and then fills the shelves of local food banks.
John Boyle, president of the local Chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, said other cities started their promotions slow with 20 or 30 restaurants the first year and Kansas City now has more than 200 participating.