Seafood prices rising says restaurant owner

Staff reports
Seafood Connection owner Dawn LeJeune in Plaquemine may have to diversify her menu after the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

Dawn LeJeune operates a restaurant that specializes in seafood in Plaquemine. The "Seafood Connection" owner is weathering the recent Gulf Coast crisis but is beginning to notice an increase in prices and bulk of product coming from saltwater fisheries wholesalers.

"I am considering the possibility of branching out into other foods to serve in the restaurant. We have a very successful Steak Night venture going every Wednesday evening, and I may begin to go to other things, changing the menu a bit, and so forth," she said.

LeJeune says the hardest to purchase in volume are fresh oysters. With the oyster beds in South Louisiana closed because of oil pushing its way into that area, the only ones available are frozen.

"The normal price for a gallon of fresh oysters was $52. Today, a gallon of frozen oysters is $42. Everyone knows there is a difference in quality, fresh to frozen, and it is not $10 a gallon," LeJeune said.

She said shrimp has been second hardest to get wholesale later. "The numbers available have been slim, and I spend a lot of time chasing sizes and brand names. I am being quoted on a different size of shrimp all the time," she said.

LeJeune said the crabs have been "nice" and available, but she had a stretch in time before she could get crab burgers. "It has been kinda crazy the way the crabs have been going," she said.

The Seafood Connection owner said crawfish tails are beginning to rise in price, but fish of any kind, salt or fresh, remains inexpensive.

"Right now I am like everyone else ... wondering what is eventually going to happen. In the meantime, I am expanding my menu with more non-seafood dishes," she said.