Gulf crisis raising seafood prices for local shops and restaurants

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The owner of one Henrico seafood shop says it could be another two weeks before customers will have to shell out more as they watch what happens in the Gulf. Both he and a Chesterfield restaurant owner are absorbing the costs for now.

The last time we spoke with Brian O'Donohue at Tuckahoe Seafood one month ago, he was paying $7.00 a pound for gulf shrimp.

"This weekend we paid $8.50 a pound for it," said O'Donohue.

Last month, a thirty pound box of gulf oysters cost him $30, now it's $43.

"The oysters and the shrimp - I'm not sure how much longer we can absorb that price increase," said O'Donohue.

Right now, customers pay $15 a pound for gulf shrimp. But O'Donohue says that may change in another week or two.

"I'm not sure how big the inventory is, but clearly, once that is worked down that's where we're going to see the pressure on us," said O'Donohue.

Pescados owner Todd Manley doesn't buy seafood from the gulf for his restaurant in Midlothian. That's what he tells customers who have health concerns.

"Obviously we're not going to serve anything that would be harmful to people. The answer is, always, you have nothing to worry about," said Manley.

As for pricing, Manley has seen a 15% to 18% increase on wild caught shrimp and oysters he buys elsewhere.

"As availability, and speculation of availability in the gulf, people are buying from the same sources I buy from which escalates prices I pay," said Manley.

He hasn't passed it on to customers, yet. But it's a big concern as he prepares to open a second location in Richmond's Oregon Hill.

"I can open a restaurant and, essentially, not have the profitability it needs with the debt load of opening a new restaurant, and it's all based on what's going to happen in the gulf," said Manley.

O'Donohue hopes people will continue to spend money for fresh seafood like they have in the past month and a half. For him, the gulf coast crisis only impacts about 20 percent of the products he sells.

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