Oil spill kills town’s only cafe

A wire-service article in the Lafourche Daily Comet chronicles the close of Gheens, LA’s sole restaurant, Debbie’s Cafe.  Cafe proprietor Debbie Guillot cites the uptick in seafood prices as the reason for her 6-month-old restaurant’s untimely demise.

Pardon me for being a hard-hearted Hannah, but I don’t think the uptick in shrimp prices killed this little cafe.  Couldn’t she tweak her menu a bit, taking seafood poboys off the table until prices stabilize?  Why not strive to make a killer cheeseburger poboy, or a pressed Cuban?  Or go barbecue?  (Remember, it’s the only restaurant in town; ANY niche can belong to her.)  By some estimates, 90% of all new restaurants fail within their first three years.  (See comments, where Frolic & Bear point out that restaurants don’t fail at a rate any higher than the average small business.  As it turns out, stats are very slippery on small-business closure rates.)

Once again, an out of town wire service reporter finds exactly the angle he seeks, regardless of the angle’s veracity.  Real reporters call wholesalers and verify the increase in shrimp prices, providing numbers to support their stories.  Real reporters dig beyond the superficial into the complex.

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8 thoughts on “Oil spill kills town’s only cafe

  1. I agree. Dubious.

    As a side note, 90% of new restaurants don’t fail. In fact, restaurants are slightly less risky than your average small business. The Cornell hotel school did a study. Can’t remember the exact number, but a little over half of all restaurants failed in the first three years.

  2. Almost exactly my thoughts when I read the article in my local. As for restaurant failures in the over ten years of reporting on restaurants ( i do the number every once in awhile) the failure rate for the first year is about 33%. After three years is 66%. That is here in Lake Charles based on restaurants that I have reviewed.

    • Thanks to both of you for the clarification….I updated the post. I’m still annoyed by reporters seeking pat examples of their pre-determined conclusions.

  3. Catch on Magazine St claimed the same thing, I hear. I find it irritating and distasteful. There are plenty of people for whom the oil spill has caused great loss. A couple of substandard restaurants are not among the number. Give me a break.

    • I do wonder about people setting themselves up to make a claim on BP…..the motivation to change the menu evaporates if you can claim higher prices drove you out of business and get a loss-of-business check from a giant corporation.

  4. It is easy to point fingers at this point with the Deepwater Horizon but rest assured BP has hired the best and brightest to fight all claims. Unfortunately my boss’s son was one of those that perished on the rig. It will be a bloody battle for many years and the rank and file who think they have a claim will have a tough time. The only ones who will prevail are the big law firms. I work for 2 plaintiff lawyers and can assure the big defense firms will make short work of most claims or they will throw a few crumbs out and hope that people are desperate enough to take them.

  5. Bravo Celeste. I work for New Orleans Fish House right here in town. Things are hard enough without blaming products and prices for the demise os such a place. I was quite upset that Cath on Magazine used the Oil Spill as the demise of such a great venture. New Orleans Fish House is working hard to protect our clients as well as the consumers to insure everyone is getting godd prices and the highest quality products around. I am quite sure all seafood wholesalers would reply the same.

    Thanks for the Support!

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