October 18, 2021

Wagit Mart

Reach Out And Touch Business

Gulf Shores Restaurant & Grill keeping dedicated to the local community

August is Black Business enterprise Month in Illinois, as the Illinois Section of Commerce and Financial Prospect (DCEO) declared a series of events and initiatives on Monday in the course of the month. That incorporates “Shop Black-owned Businesses Saturdays.” Illinois at present has about 132,000 black-owned businesses comprising 11% of all Illinois enterprises.

“Supporting Black business enterprise proprietors and entrepreneurs is crucial for the health of our communities and for restoring the Illinois economic system subsequent the COVID-19 pandemic,” mentioned Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “Due to the fact day a person of my administration, we have fully commited to creating an inclusive small business ecosystem, centered close to equitable entry to options and sources.

“This guiding basic principle has been incredibly critical offered the profound impact the pandemic has experienced on minority and economically depressed communities and enterprises,” Pritzker continued. “Through Black Enterprise Month, and during the year, I encourage all Illinoisans to join me in supporting Black-owned company and celebrating the immeasurable contributions and the essential position they perform in our economic system.”

With the emphasis placed on black-owned firms this thirty day period, it is really essential to note the Metro East community is home to many black-owned companies as effectively. That contains Gulf Shores Restaurant & Grill on Harvard Avenue in Edwardsville.


Gulf Shores, which has two areas in Creve Couer, Missouri, and Edwardsville, was began by Harry and Erica Parker in 2005 just after Parker reported he felt “constrained” in presenting a dining knowledge that represented the Southern and “N’Awlins” hospitality, the web-site claims.

“I started out Gulf Shores due to the fact I needed to convey my loved ones recipes to the public,” said Harry Parker, owner of Gulf Shores. “I have been in St. Louis for 19 yrs, started out the very first restaurant in Creve Coeur 17 many years back, and that went superior than anticipated so I made the decision to increase. We are making an attempt to carry the true flavors of New Orleans — the gumbos, the blend of spices, debunking the myth that Cajun foods is incredibly hot, that down residence cooking — to the Midwest.”

Parker said that Gulf Shores will make every thing in the cafe, from salad dressings to sauces to desserts, in dwelling. Which is in an work to replicate the “complete New Orleans” eating expertise, which also incorporates beignets, reside new music and “almost everything New Orleans” in a person location. That also consists of reside aquariums, as the Creve Coeur locale features a 200-gallon tank and the Edwardsville site features a 400-gallon tank.

“I required to do anything for the little ones,” Parker mentioned. “When we commenced out, I wanted to be a child pleasant cafe. I wanted some thing particular for the little ones, and the aquariums have the children dropping their minds. The seniors also enjoy it much much more than I was anticipating. Other than it turning into a speaking stage at the meal table, the aquarium relaxes individuals and reminds them of Gulf Shores in Alabama.”

The menu and emphasis on the New Orleans sense to the cafe is one thing Parker needed, as owning roots in the metropolis, Parker preferred to bring that environment to the Midwest. 

“The menu will come from my mother and dad,” Parker mentioned. “It really is all my menu, the flavors of New Orleans, it is what I grew up on. I also bought enter from my wife, my family, men and women like my aunts in the progress of the menu.”

The menu characteristics legitimate New Orleans foods staples with sides like red beans and rice as perfectly as factors like pink snapper etouffee that Parker stated you are unable to obtain other sites. Chandler Eason, the assistant normal supervisor of the Edwardsville Gulf Shores place, mentioned the cafe is the closest detail to the authentic practical experience.

“We deliver that New Orleans working experience away from residence, currently being that we are so far away from New Orleans, we’re the closest restaurant in the area to give that practical experience out,” Eason said. “It is all carried out through the food items. The moment a 7 days there is certainly a special from Friday to Friday, with Cajun, New Orleans-fashion food. Ninety-5 p.c of it is Harry’s have family recipe from down in the Gulf region.”

The pandemic was a challenging time for equally the Parkers and Gulf Shores as a restaurant, and the two experienced to adapt to defeat the introduced worries.

“We went straight to to-go orders only, with us becoming a shorter staffed restaurant previously, it was a transition,” Eason mentioned. “It was a little little bit slower in the beginning but via time we picked items up, we noticed the assistance through the neighborhood stick with us and noticed a lot more small business as the limit capacities ongoing to expand.”

Eason said the cafe is continuing to look at alternatives as the uptick in the area continues to arrive into participate in. Things like cleaning menus right after use, producing positive all tables are sanitized and having a while to seat larger sized functions to make certain secure disinfection are becoming adopted, as are appropriate cleansing methods.

Gulf Shores may perhaps have been able to see that aid from the community as the Parkers and the cafe location a major emphasis on people today since that’s what would make a cafe profitable, Parker claimed.

“You have to have a enthusiasm for individuals, clearly show individuals that they are appreciated,” Parker explained. “I think at restaurants, both of those workforce and customers have the largest affect and folks can make the cafe encounter what they want it to be. The goal is excellence in terms of the individuals included, the individuals component is the most important component that will make a cafe thriving.” 

That belief in placing people today very first has produced Parker want to commit in the local community, equally in conditions of actual time, as the Parkers have been cooking and operating on the restaurant’s food items truck in St. Louis all through the pandemic, as he is knowledgeable a really hard time obtaining individuals used thanks in element to the labor shortage, but also in conditions of supplying again to the neighborhood.

“We’ve fed the law enforcement and the firemen, substantial school teachers, at Edwardsville High School there is certainly a staff of about 225, we fed them to display our appreciation,” Parker explained. “We gave pcs to Woodland Elementary Faculty … We help churches. We want to be a section of this local community as we are living in Edwardsville. In return, they’re reciprocating and helping us to come to be quite prosperous.”

That achievements has lately intended diversified earnings, as the pandemic has taught Parker to grow to be “smarter.”

“A person factor I discovered by means of the pandemic, possessing a single source is not a superior area to be,” Parker claimed. “We expanded on that and accompanied that lesson with our food items truck, we have that and a catering business enterprise, a seafood enterprise, retail product sales. I would like to imagine a person factor COVID did was make us a lot smarter.”

Parker credits the meals truck for enabling the cafe to survive the pandemic. He stated Gulf Shores took benefit of chances like at Amazon, which shut down inside cafeterias but still experienced large staffs in have to have of meals. That was an opportunity Gulf Shores’ food stuff truck was equipped to take edge of. Gulf Shores is also now opening a new location in November in St. Peters, Missouri.

That diversification of revenue is a single lesson Gulf Shores took out of the pandemic, but Parker said the target is also to stay committed to the local community.

“We’re gonna expand, we’re gonna develop,” Parker claimed. “We will diversify our revenue stream, open up a brunch place, a seafood current market, and people will be proving grounds as the business grows, possibly expanding into places like a brunch cafe, seafood markets, a quick buy restaurant without the need of an expanded menu. The intent is to develop, the other intent is to continue to be dedicated to the neighborhood.”