Cat Island Cookies and Coast brewery known for its Biloxi Blonde have closed

Two beloved Coast businesses, Biloxi Brewing Co. and Cat Island Cookies, have gone out of business.

“Although unfortunate, the rumors you have most likely heard are true — as of Aug. 1, Biloxi Brewing Company LLC has closed our doors,” Biloxi Brewing posted to Facebook Thursday.

F.E.B. Distributing Co. still has a supply of the Biloxi Brewing Co. beer in stock, the post said, so fans will still be able to buy the beer for awhile.

“Thank you all for your support during our short 5 years lifespan, we enjoyed talking to every one of you that visited out taproom,” the post said.

Biloxi Brewing Co. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Aug. 1, with liabilities listed at $1.23 million. Chapter 7 provides for liquidation rather than reorganization. The company operated at 186 Bohn St. in Biloxi and the company officers, directors and owners are Carlon Broome and Mark Cowley of Biloxi, Mark Murray of Bay St. Louis and Paul Herrin of Prairieville, Louisiana, according to the bankruptcy documents.

The company brewed Biloxi Pale Ale, Black Gold and Salty Dog, but was best known for its Biloxi Blonde craft beer.

“That was one of our best sellers,” said Bruce Lacey, owner of Sal & Mookie’s restaurant in Biloxi. His was the first business to carry the Biloxi Beach Blonde in April 2015.

“Right now we still have some on draft,” Lacey said. He buys from local breweries in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, he said, and has 24 varieties on draft.

“There’s a lot of competition. There are a lot of breweries,” he said.

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Sal and Mookie’s restaurant in Biloxi was the first to carry Biloxi Blonde craft beer from the Biloxi Brewing Co. The craft brewery filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 1. JOHN FTIZHUGH SUN HERALD FILE

Cat Island Cookies

Opened by sisters Leslie Bullock and Shelly McNair in 2014, Cat Island Cookies faces sale of its property on Aug. 20, according to a legal advertisement in the Sun Herald. Although the company is still in good standing on the Secretary of State’s website, the phone at the company isn’t in service and its website and Facebook page were taken down.

The company was known for using natural ingredients in the lemon butter, toffee chocolate chip cookies, crackers and chocolate peppermint cookies. Their products were sold at Rouses Markets and local gift stores, online and at retail locations across the Southeast.

In October 2018, the company announced in a press release that was expanding into the Northeast, selling at BJ’s Wholesale Club and other locations.

Leslie Bullock, founder and president of the company, was a pastry chef for many years in New York City before returning to her Mississippi hometown in 2010.

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Baked cookies wait to be bagged on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 at The Cat Island Cookie & Cracker Company in Pass Christian. The company recently closed. John Fitzhugh Sun Herald file

Small business challenges

Amid all the openings of new restaurants and other businesses in South Mississippi, these closings show challenges for entrepreneurs.

According to the Small Business Administration, 79% of new businesses survive the first year, but that number drops to 50% surviving for 5 years.

Connie Whitt, director of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center in Biloxi, said her center tries to prepare people to have a business plan and to do their research before they open a business. It’s just as important to plan and keep up with trends in their industry every year, she said, and 68% of her clients already are in business and ask for help with research, social media, financing and other concerns.

Businesses like Sears and other retailers and restaurants are struggling, Whitt said.

“It’s because customers have so many choices,” she said.

“Be prepared to change,” she said is her advice to business owners.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.