Coast restaurants that are no more, and we miss them
The Chicken Florentine lunch special at Rickey’s. The French dressing at Hugo’s. The hot yeast rolls from Ryan’s buffet.
Don’t forget about karaoke night at the Bombay Bicycle Club or the unusual dish served in 1928 at Annie’s in Pass Christian.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast has lost dozens of iconic restaurants and eateries over the decades. Some went out of business. Some were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and never returned.
Or some just “retired” forever, much to their regular customers’ dismay.
South Mississippi residents reached out to the Sun Herald on Instagram and told us about their favorite memories from forgotten or closed restaurants. Here are the top 10.
The locally famous pizza shop that was on the coroner of West Division Street and Forrest Avenue closed for good in 2003, but it reigned supreme in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Hugo J. Rung Sr., a New York native stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, opened the stop in 1951. And it was there that Biloxi High students started putting “liquid cheese,” or French dressing, on their slices of pie.
That started a local trend across the Coast of putting French (or Catalina) on pizza, and it’s now available at most pizza places on the Coast.
“With pizza, it’s a Gulf Coast tradition,” Tony’s Brick Oven Pizza owner Tony Swigris told the Sun Herald in 2015.
Hugo’s New York-style pies and famous stuffed mushrooms are remembered fondly by Biloxians who were sad to see the restaurant go 15 years ago.
Thomas Genin and Victor Pickich had to wait until they were 21 to get a liquor license to open their intimate fine-dining restaurant, pronounced tea-gray, in downtown Pass Christian.
Tigre’s was an instant hit and became known for culinary delights, including bacon-wrapped scallops and roasted filet mignon.
It opened in 2002 but was destroyed by Katrina in 2005. Four months later, the young business owners opened Tigre’s Supper Club in The Oaks, but that’s closed now, too.
In 2006, Pickich told the Sun Herald that he and Genin didn’t know what the future held.
Mary Mahoney’s 24-hour cafe
Hurricane Katrina closed the only local cafe in Biloxi that served breakfast 24/7 (Waffle House not included) before Fillup with Billups opened in January on Caillavet.
Locals could get breakfast, a quick po-boy or a cup of their world-famous gumbo any hour of the day or night and enjoy the beautiful courtyard situated in the middle of the bustling downtown Biloxi.
To many on the Coast, Vrazel’s Fine Dining was the place to enjoy a good meal and even better atmosphere in Gulfport.
“The best escargot on the Coast is at Vrazel’s. It’s served nice and hot, with garlic and butter,” one reader wrote to the Sun Herald in May 2005.
Katrina caused damage, but the restaurant came back. It closed for good in December 2012.
Chef William J. (Bill) Vrazel had planned to make a cookbook with recipes from his namesake restaurant, but he told the Sun Herald in July 2017 that it had to go on the back burner.
Vrazel often shares his recipes with the Sun Herald, including one for his famous Eggplant LaRosa.
Many Sun Herald readers miss having a New York-style bagel and hot sandwich from Java Jean’s, a popular deli that began as a coffee and bakery on Courthouse Road.
When 15th Street opened on the edge of downtown, owner Jean Baas moved her spot to the beachfront and shared the first floor of the building with Irish Coast Pub.
The building was heavily damaged in Katrina, and Salute Italian restaurant is now open where Java Jean’s once was.
In 2005, Baas told the Sun Herald she didn’t know if it was financially feasible to come back after the storm. She did not reopen.
Henderson Point lost one of its only businesses in 2005 when Katrina destroyed Annie’s, as it did most of the Pass Christian community that’s surrounded by water.
The restaurant had opened in 1928 and became popular for its unusual fried chicken and spaghetti dish, the Sun Herald reported in 2005.
The Italian-American fusion restaurant with Southern roots was a favorite among Coastians living in Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian.
Owner Annie Lutz and her family briefly opened a pop-up cafe after Katrina on Kiln-Delisle Road, but they closed it in December 2007. There was talk of the family opening Annie’s again in Henderson Point, but that never came to fruition.
“Henderson Point is home to us. Annie sure wants to get pack to the Point,” Niki Butterworth, Annie’s niece, told the Sun Herald in 2007.
Annie Lutz died in 2010.
Bombay Bicycle Club
The BBC was mainly a bar, but a lot of Sun Herald readers remember the beachfront spot at the coroner of U.S. 90 and Reynoir Street for its elevated bar food and generous portioned appetizers.
The theme was tropical safari, and there was a drink special and appetizer special at the bar every single night from 4 p.m. to close.
There was also happy hour specials and ladies night when drinks were 99 cents.
The Sun Herald covered a “Dance Like Elaine” event at the BBC in 1998. The contest paid homage to Elaine Benes of “Seinfeld.”
In 2001, a Sun Herald food critic said the spinach dip was delicious and the bar had the best Bloody Mary on the Coast. It came with stuffed olives and spicy green beans.
Other BBC favorites were the wings, nachos and quesadillas. Oh, and the karaoke.
The BBC was destroyed by Katrina and was never rebuilt.
Marguerite’s Italian Village
If this family-friendly restaurant was anything, it was consistent.
In 2003, several diners told the Sun Herald that the food and service were always excellent.
“We’ve added maybe three or for things in the last 28 years,” owner/operator Liz O’Cain said in 2003. “One of our greatest compliments is when someone comes in that hasn’t been here for 15 years and says, ‘Oh, it tastes just like it did 15 years ago.’ To me, that’s the highest compliment because we go for consistency in our food.’”
The restaurant’s most popular dish was the Marguerite Special, Gulf shrimp and mushrooms prepared in a seasoned garlic butter over spaghetti, which cost $14.95.
Marguerite’s opened in 1975 and closed after it was heavily damaged in Hurricane Katrina.
Bay City Grill
The alfredo sauce couldn’t be beat.
The atmosphere was coastal meets New Orleans and the menu matched the decor.
Bay City Grill was a favorite in the Depot District near downtown.
While the restaurant never returned after Katrina, locals can still get their popular spinach and artichoke spring rolls at Sea Level in Pass Christian.
First it was Katrina. Then the economy. And the 2010 BP oil spill was the final straw for Alberti’s fine dining.
The Albertis, Moe and Yvonne, began their culinary venture in the 1960s when they opened Moe’s New York Pizza on Pass Road, just outside Keesler Gate 7. It was in instant hit, the Albertis told the Sun Herald in 2010.
They closed the pizza shop and opened Alberti’s Italian on U.S. 90 and were known for the massive gorilla that adorned the beachfront sign.
Oh, and don’t forget about the elevated Italian fare from family recipes, including manicotti and toasted ravioli.
Yvonne Alberti’s rum cake and bread pudding were favorites among locals, the Sun Herald reported.
The Albertis (and their gorilla) moved to Ocean Springs after Katrina leveled the Biloxi location. They closed for good in June 2010.
“I will miss the people, Yvonne Alberti said. “But it’s time to reitre. The economy, Katrina and this oil is a lot to handle right now.”
Several Sun Herald Instagram followers said they missed three chain restaurants that lined U.S. 90 on the Gulfport-Biloxi line: Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Landry’s seafood.