The BP Effect series is brought to you by attorneys Reich & Binstock and Seeger Weiss LLP, which are helping businesses in Panama City Beach recover losses sustained directly and indirectly from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. They can help your business too,
Fresh Apalachicola oysters, on the half shell or baked, shrimp po-boys, grilled or blackened fresh fish baskets, crawfish etouffee bowl – is your mouth watering yet? These are just a few of the mouth-watering menu items to be found at a local favorite, Bayou On The Beach, located on Middle Beach Road in Panama City Beach. Having been in business since 1999, the Buxtons are not new to the restaurant business here on the beach. They’ve had good years and they’ve had bad years, this year was supposed to be better than them all, but the BP oil spill changed everything.
Like his son, David Buxton’s business was experiencing a record-breaking spring break. His season was pacing to have the best summer ever. With this being his first full season in his new location, he was excited to see what all his hard work and effort would bring him. Having a strong reputation, he was making plans for expansion with the profits from a great summer.
“About the second week in May, we started seeing business drop off,” Buxton said. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20, 2010. Buxton’s May numbers weren’t a complete disaster, but his June and July numbers were around 40% down from 2009.
Buxton goes on to explain, it wasn’t just his foot traffic numbers that were down, his costs were up, food was more expensive – oysters went from $19 to $34 a sac. And despite this near double in cost for oysters, he found great resistance from his customers to pass along that cost, nearly eliminating his profit on oysters completely. To top it off, customers were questioning the safety of the seafood being served. Perception influenced customers to believe the whole Gulf was tainted.
With the expected spring and summer profits, Bayou On The Beach planned a thorough expansion of the kitchen to accommodate growth and increased traffic, but profits were nearly nonexistent over the summer. They’ve received a little relief from BP but not nearly enough to cover losses or the expenditure of the expansion. What is normally an annual profit-sharing or bonus program they have had standing with employees at the end of the summer tourism season, is nonexistent this year. And regularly scheduled raises didn’t happen, employees hours had to be cut, leaving them to look to BP for relief as well. The effect is widespread and ever-present – employers, employees, families, employees’ kids – everyone has been effected.
Bayou On The Beach is a local favorite, and if it weren’t for their loyal following, they might not have made it through the summer. They are alive, they are well, but they’ll never get the summer of 2010 back. That summer is gone forever.
For more information about Bayou On The Beach, you can visit their website at BayouOnTheBeach.com.