Owner, Drago's Seafood
The oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico is hitting not just the fishermen but the restaurants that rely on their catches. At Drago's, seafood dishes like barbecue drumfish and sautéed shrimp make up more than half the menu.
"I would say 80% of everything I serve is seafood, and all of that comes out of [Louisiana waters]," says owner Tommy Cvitanovich.
Because there's always a demand for seafood in New Orleans, prices can be volatile. After Hurricane Katrina, when many fishermen lost their boats and oyster beds were smothered in mud, prices shot up. But after a hurricane, the local ecosystem can heal itself fairly rapidly. No one is sure what will happen when oil washes into the state's fisheries. Cvitanovich feels it's only a matter of time before the price for seafood jumps.
"I'll survive, but I am going to be heavily impacted. If this continues for another month or so, I imagine there's going to be a big problem with availability," he says.
An oyster shortage could be especially troublesome for Cvitanovich, since Drago's is known for its charbroiled oysters. At some point he would have to pass on the price increases to his customers. The only other option would be to turn to imported seafood -- something no restaurateur ever wants to do when they've built their reputation on fresh Louisiana seafood.
"I don't want to be in a position where I have to compromise quality," Cvitanovich says. "That is a decision I don't even want to have to make."
For now, Drago's is carrying on with business as usual, serving the local seafood specialties it has featured for more than 40 years. Like many of his customers, Cvitanovich is watching the daily news reports to track the movement of the spreading oil.