GULFPORT -- Longtime waitresses from the Blow Fly Inn, closed without notice on Memorial Day night, left a meeting Wednesday hopeful that they still have jobs.
The owner of the building and the famous Blow Fly name, Victor Bazzone, met with the staff Wednesday morning, saying he wants to clean the place up, give it a facelift and reopen by July 4. He wants to return the Blow Fly to its roots as a family restaurant that serves up steak, ribs, catfish and an assortment of decadent desserts.
The women who wait tables were happy to hear it, especially those who have worked for decades at the Blow Fly. When they say it's family, they're not joking.
Waitress and manager Connie Sullivan said seven of the women, herself included, have daughters who worked at the Blow Fly. The restaurant has been in business since 1955. The most recent proprietor, Scott Weinberg, leased the building and the name for 18 years.
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But Bazzone is ready to step in with a restaurant management team and see what he can do with the place. He said he let Weinberg know a year ago the lease would not be renewed.
Weinberg tried to work out a deal, but informed the staff Monday night he would be closing and taking his recipes with him. Weinberg served up lots of seafood, including crawfish ettouffe and stuffed flounder.
Sullivan said Bazzone, a Gulfport neurosurgeon, took the names and numbers of the staff, and said he'd be in touch. "I'd like to stay with the crew I've been with," she said. "We all know each other's bad days and good days. My daughter works there, my sister works there. I'd like to stay with the original crew if I can make that happen."
Bazzone used to eat at the Blow Fly when the original owners, Al and Roberta "Bert" Malone ran it. He fell in love with the place and bought it from Bert Malone in 1997. He told the Sun Herald on Tuesday that he planned to offer jobs to the employees, including the kitchen staff. He also will hire a chef.
Helen Bailey also wants to return to the Blow Fly, where she has worked for 23 years. Her daughter works there, too.
"I really love the Blow Fly," Bailey said after the meeting. "I feel lost not getting up for my daily routine. What do you do with yourself?
" ... I'm going to give it a go and go back if I get that call."