Oil spill could affect seafood availability at Mid-South restaurants

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As the leading edge of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reaches into the Mississippi River, local restaurant owners are worried how the oil might affect the seafood they serve.

Darrell Smith, executive chef at The Half Shell, is keeping an eye on the situation.

"With a name like The Half Shell, you can't help but keep an eye on it," Smith said.

Most of the oysters served at The Half Shell come from the Gulf Coast.

"Well, I'm a little bit nervous," Smith said.

At Off the Dock Fresh Seafood Wholesalers, delivery crews still made their regular rounds at 95 Memphis restaurants.

"Right now it hasn't affected us at all," said Tony Lentrent, account manager of Off the Dock Fresh Seafood.  "I don't think it'll affect us next week."

Lentrent said he expects the supply of available Gulf crabmeat, shrimp and oysters will soon dwindle as the oil spill expands.

"For some people, it's probably going to be tough," Lentrent said.

Smith said he is bracing for the stress ahead.

"You've got to kind of go into it worst case scenario," Smith said.  "We might not be able to get them for six months, so if it happens, it happens."

Smith said the seafood will have to come from another source.

"We're going to find some really nice oysters, you know, somewhere," Smith said.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.