On the spot: Tim Miller, Treasure Bay
Treasure Bay Resort & Casino survived Hurricane Katrina, but just barely. Situated on the Biloxi, Miss., waterfront, the treasure ship-shaped casino was nearly wiped out after the devastating 2005 hurricane, and the company was forced to renovate its hotel and restaurants.
Five years later, its restaurants have come back strong, selling 42,000 pounds of Gulf of Mexico shrimp annually. The resort's eateries include Infinity buffet; CQ, a fine-dining restaurant; The Den, a 24-hour restaurant and lounge; and the Blu lounge.
Now the Gulf oil spill is presenting Treasure Bay with yet another challenge. On the spot recently talked to Tim Miller, the company's executive chef, about the oil spill and its impact on seafood.
Blank: How has Treasure Bay's business been affected by the oil spill?
Miller: Business is a little off and our hotel bookings our down. Still, our fine dining restaurant has a beautiful view of the Gulf Coast and, from here, everything looks good. We are still a little beat up from Katrina, but we don't have anything, such as tar balls, washing up on the beaches.
What has your seafood supply and pricing been like since the spill?
Our shrimp prices are up a little bit. I assume that is because people are panicking and buying large quantities to put in their freezers. However, our vendors are not spiking prices on us and the availability of seafood is fine. We stock Gulf shrimp, which can come all the way from Texas through Florida, in our restaurants. We use Gold Band and Ameripure oysters. The local fisheries are having to switch oyster beds, but they are not out. They [officials] are only closing the oyster beds as a precautionary measure, not due to the oil.
I haven't heard of any of the local seafood species being in short supply. We are running speckled trout in our fine dining restaurant, and it is from a local source. We are also using lemon fish and softshell crabs and have not had any problems getting them. We are not panicking; we are taking more of a wait-and-see approach.
Which other regional seafood items and vendors to you use?
Quality Poultry and Seafood of Biloxi is our primary supplier, as well as Inland Seafood out of New Orleans. We use flounder, which has not been affected, from Seymour & Sons [Seafoods in Diberville, Miss.].
Which new seafood items have you added to CQ's menu?
We try to freshen our menu up once or twice a year. Our seafood items are well-received, and comprise about 40 percent of the entrées. We are adding a broiled oyster with garlic and parmesan, and we developed a softshell crab slider. In addition to our cold seafood cocktail, we are adding a hot shrimp cocktail. We ran a test, and that went over well. We also have a panko-crusted red snapper fillet, topped with lump blue crab meat and hollandaise. Most of our entrees are in the USD 25 to 28 range. We do a local seafood platter of softshell crab, lump crab, jumbo shrimp and oysters for USD 26 each.
Which seafood items are popular in the Infinity buffet?
Right now, we are featuring boiled crawfish. My food costs always go up during crawfish season. Customers start asking about crawfish when they know it is getting close. We also do fried Mississippi catfish, which is a big thing down here.
By volume and dollars, shrimp is the most popular item. We use around 26,000 pounds a year in the buffet. We do Dungeness crab on the buffet seven nights a week, and it is a pretty popular item. Of the top 30 most popular items in our buffet, 12 our seafood items.