Beachfront developer clarifies project
By Jennifer Lenain
Mar 19, 2013, 17:59
Businessman Thomas Genin is moving along with construction of a new restaurant on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis at the site of the old Dock of the Bay.
Genin will be the first developer to open a restaurant on the east side of Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis since Hurricane Katrina. Though the project is historic, Genin said, it is not without controversy.
For starters, construction has moved along rapidly. Genin, who is listed as the property owner on city building permits, acquired a permit for the building's foundation on Feb. 20.
"I am planning for a late April opening," Genin said, but the building will be done in 14 days."
Electricians will be wiring later this week and windows will be installed Monday, he said.
According to city officials, the business was not required to go through a planning and zoning commission hearing since it was a "by-right" use and less than 5,000 square-feet.
The property is located just outside the city's historical district, so it did not require a hearing before the city's historic preservation committee, either, Mayor Les Fillingame said.
Genin said he has received multiple complaints from community residents regarding the project, but this week he issued a mass email detailing his plans, he said.
The foundation was designed, permitted and built to FEMA Velocity Zone wind requirements and is at the lowest elevation above grade currently allowed, Genin said in the email.
Genin said he wants to create a low-key, old-fashioned establishment, not a spectacle.
The restaurant, "The Blind Tiger," Genin said, "will serve fresh seafood and a few different sandwiches."
The name comes from his father's nickname and from the rumored, illegal bars located in the area during Prohibition, he said.
Architect Kevin Fitzpatrick said the restaurant will be "reminiscent of a late nineteenth-century fisherman's hangout with Gulf Coast charm."
The open air-pavilion floor plan will seat more than 50 guests, Genin said.
Genin is constructing a reclaimed-wood ceiling and accents of cedar throughout, he said. "I'll be using gas lanterns and rusted metal."
"This building will remind people of the buildings that were here before Hurricane Camille," he said.
Genin already has his staff planned for the restaurant and is "super excited about the project," he said.
"The Blind Tiger will be simple, fun and clean,'" he said.
He plans to have live entertainment and to eventually expand.
Despite being hemmed in by the U.S. Corps of Engineers seawall, "I am confident and optimistic that the city will figure out how to get a deck on the back side of the property," he said.