Hancock Co., Miss. Nov. 5, 2020 – The Hancock Chamber of Commerce is honored to announce the 2020 Business of the Year Nominees. Chamber members will vote for one winner from each area of Hancock County over the course of the next week, and the winners will be announced on Shop Small Saturday, which is Nov. 28th. Those elected Business of the Year will ride in the Bay St. Louis Christmas Parade and will be honored at a small reception to follow. Tickets and sponsorship packages for the parade viewing and reception at 200 North Beach are available online athttp://hancockchamber.org.
Bay St. Louis
Dan B. Murphy’s Restaurant
This family-owned business on Beach Boulevard in the heart of downtown has been serving customers since 1981 and remains a favorite local spot for good food, cold beverages and live entertainment provided by local musicians. The Murphy family, fully committed to their business and the revitalization of Hancock County, rebuilt an expanded space after Hurricane Katrina, and their new location offers residents and visitors a place to enjoy beautiful views, the best in local entertainment and the family’s unique signature recipes, like the roast beef poboy and the fish reuben. Chef/Owner Daniel Murphy and the entire Murphy family, who are lifelong residents of Bay St. Louis, are dedicated to their team at the restaurant and maintaining an establishment that welcomes everyone as though they are a part of the family.
Opening a business in the Covid era is no small task, let alone two! And that’s exactly what Fleurty Girl has done in Old Town Bay St. Louis. Founder and Owner Lauren Leblanc Haydel has already brought a fun new flair to Main Street and demonstrated her commitment to the Bay by opening a temporary weekend pop-up shop while transforming 216 Main Street in a new retail space and She Shed, which will serve as a studio/workshop space and venue for classes and activities. Tenacity is Haydel’s middle name. She got Fleurty Girl up and running online in 2009 as a single mom with $2,000 from her tax refund check, which she put into designing and printing t-shirts that celebrated New Orleans. That humble business has expanded into a string of storefronts that are well known for their New Orleans-inspired line of clothing, gifts, home goods and jewelry. The ties to Mardi Gras, the Saints, seafood and other iconic New Orleans connections feel right at home in our community. This is Fleurty Girl’s eighth location and the first outside Louisiana.
Garcia & Sons Development
Garcia and Sons Development is a Hancock County-based residential construction company that has been developing properties for more than two decades. Brothers Garrett and Jason Garcia are dedicated to providing thorough service for their clients, assuring that a Garcia & Sons build will be a seamless process that they will enjoy for years to come. They specialize in ground-up construction of custom homes with an emphasis on quality. They always go the extra mile for their customers, often assisting in property selection and choosing the amenities and details. The company then manages all stages of a project, from pre-design through construction and delivery. This holistic approach to the construction process sets them apart, as it ensures a smooth build and guarantees that each project feels like a home from the moment they break ground. Garcia & Sons has completed more than 200 custom homes, built to their high standards.
The Shoofly Magazine
With every weekly issue, the Shoofly Magazine enhances enjoyment of life for residents, introduces people from elsewhere to the unique Bay-Waveland community, helps area expatriates remain connected, showcases and supports local businesses and increases community pride and awareness. With 10,000 + Facebook/Instagram followers and 4,000 subscribers, the Shoofly garners thousands of readers with positive stories. As a digital publication, it reaches a national audience – more than 50% of its readers live outside the area. The community calendar is the most comprehensive on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, keeping readers and visitors updated on all local events and happenings. The Shoofly Magazine also plays a great role in reaching homeowners and businesses seeking to relocate. Working with local non-profits, it offers pro-bono help to raise awareness about programs and promotes events and fundraisers. Ellis Anderson is publisher/editor of The Shoofly Magazine, which has served its community for nearly a decade. Beginning as a volunteer neighborhood newsletter in 2011, The Shoofly it grew in size and popularity, becoming a full-scale magazine in 2014. The magazine’s professional team of writers and photographers takes great pride in their work – and in serving their community.
The Wedding Collection
The Wedding Collection is a full-service Bridal Experience, providing customers with all of the services they will need to make their wedding the day they’ve always dreamed of. The Wedding Collection handles everything from the dress to the planning. It’s all done with love and on the premise of building everlasting friendships. The Wedding Collection looks forward to working with every #CollectionCouple to bring their wedding vision to life perfectly. Owner Kerri Pellegrin wanted to build a brand vs a business. She wanted it surrounded with service as the most important element and a hands-on approach to the planning. It has been their branding point as she continues to create additional platforms within The Wedding Collection brand. Having a project management background for over 25 years, Kerri took the skills learned in the corporate world and her passion and love of all things wedding and turned it into a unique “one stop wedding shop.”
Diaz Brothers Printing
Brothers Eric and Adam Diaz have operated their small business for 10 years, first in Bay St. Louis before moving to Diamondhead. The brothers create a wide variety of products in their full service print shop, from business cards and menus to large banners and wraps for vehicles. Working closely with their clients, they craft fresh visuals that help make their customers stand out among their competitors. Diaz Brothers is more than just a print shop. Eric and Adam are also marketing communications experts, and assist businesses in developing branding and visual communications plans that get noticed and lead to growth. Customers appreciate the friendly, professional service offered by this growing business and consider Diaz Brothers’ products and services an asset for the local community.
Lazy Gator Sports Bar & Steamer
As a new business, Lazy Gator has already become the “hot spot” for live entertainment in Diamondhead. It is the Bunners’ newest addition to their international restaurant group, which includes restaurants in Belize and the Bahamas! Their investment is bringing new life to Paradise Bayou and new activity to the Diamondhead Marina and Kayak Launch, which are adjacent to the restaurant grounds. The bustle around the restaurant is bringing locals and visitors to its downstairs open patio, the perfect venue for enjoying live bands and watching sports, and to the upstairs dining room for delicious coastal cuisine served inside or on the waterfront deck. Their robust menu includes many local seafood options, plus a few ingredients from the Caribbean, such as conch and coconut! The owner and staff are committed to customer satisfaction, providing a high-quality dining experience and hosting numerous charity and community events.
Rouses Market of Diamondhead
Rouses is the largest retail business in Diamondhead with more than 100 employees. The store is part of the Rouse family chain, the Gulf Coast’s largest independent grocer. Rouses took over the Diamondhead supermarket in 2008 and opened in its new building in 2011. Under the leadership of General Manager Chuck Clark, the store has been involved in Diamondhead and the surrounding communities through support to schools, churches, nonprofits and by sponsoring events. Last year, the store adopted the Memorial Woodland Village and enlisted the community to help bring Christmas presents and Valentine’s Day gifts to residents. Other organizations supported by Rouses include the Boys & Girls Club, CASA and Cruisin’ the Coast. Rouses remains committed during the pandemic to being the best “essential” and its employees challenge themselves daily to living up to that responsibility.
Benfatti Construction, founded in 1994, specializes in building custom homes and major renovation projects. Benfatti, which means “well done” in Italian, focuses on delivering high quality homes and outstanding customer service with a mission of building each customer’s dream home and exceeding expectations. The owners, Donna and Mark Benfatti, are also former restaurant owners, and apply the same approach to customer satisfaction they learned in the restaurant to the construction process, guaranteeing that everyone who comes to them to build a home enjoys both the process and the end result. Benfatti Construction is dynamic and enthusiastic about its projects, selective about those undertaken, creative in finding solutions and committed to providing the personnel, service and technology needed to ensure success.
Planet Fitness Waveland
Planet Fitness Waveland is among the newest of more than 2,000 locations. Waveland’s club offers a clean and safe welcoming environment were its 3,000 members have access to high quality equipment to work out at their own pace or take advantage of free fitness training. Nationally, Planet Fitness ranks #1 in customer service. Although a franchise, Planet Fitness Waveland is managed by Coast native Zack Hagin, who has worked at clubs all over Mississippi prior to becoming Club Manager in Waveland. He is delighted to be back on the Coast and to see the impact the club has had on the community since it opened in December 2019. Through its philanthropic initiative, Judgment Free Generation, Planet Fitness is combating bullying by creating a culture of kindness and encouragement. The Waveland club also supports the Boys & Girls Club and offers a Teen Summer Challenge program for high school students to work out for free.
Susan’s Sassy Sweets
Susan Allen is the owner of Susan’s Sassy Sweets, and has had a love for baking since childhood. She learned at the hand of her mother, who was a whiz in the kitchen. Susan started out making custom cakes for friends and family from her home – a business that she has been able to take with her through multiple military assignments. After moving to Mississippi and earning a reputation as a home-based baker, Susan completed Boots to Business and opened her first-ever storefront in Waveland in May 2020. She has seen incredible growth in the few months it has been open, and credits much of her success to her crew – her daughters Nicole and Hailey, and to the support of her husband Mitchell. Susan, Nicole and Hailey make gourmet cupcakes in 12 to 16 flavors a week plus cake pops, macaroons, scones and cinnamon rolls, among other treats. Everything is made from scratch and made to order.
Crosby’s Furniture is family-owned and operated in the Kiln by the Crosby family, who believe in providing outstanding customer service and top quality furniture. They established their first store in Picayune over 50 years ago, and opened a second location in the Kiln because they saw the opportunity and value of the Hancock County market. They are a small retailer and under the leadership of Darienne Crosby, provide a level of service, support and commitment to their customers that would rival even the largest, most well-established chain. To make shopping simple and convenient, the owners have created a process to understand the shopper’s needs, narrow down the options and discover furniture matching the customer’s taste and budget. What sets them apart is their approach, which is unique, innovative, personable and empowers customers to create the home of their dreams. Crosby’s offers over 9,000 products, ensuring their customers will find what they’re looking for.
Hancock County Farm Bureau Insurance
The Hancock County Farm Bureau Insurance office in Kiln has been serving its members since the 1960s. The local agents offer life, auto, flood and homeowners insurance as well as general liability and farm policies to its 2,250 members. In addition to advocating for the various agricultural commodities its co-op members represent, the nine-member board of directors are actively involved in the community, especially in Hancock County’s schools. The Farm Bureau team, led by Marcus Ladner, can often be found supporting local events with their mobile kitchen serving up his delicious jambalaya. They also offer scholarships to local students, support the youth safety program, sponsor the Sea Coast Echo Player of the Week, and work to educate area students about career opportunities in agriculture.
Jourdan River Steamer
A well-established bastion of culinary excellence for Hancock County, the Jourdan River Steamer has been in business since 2003. They provide an exceptional dining experience, and have made great strides to better serve their patrons this year. Owners Hank and Lori Plauche have opened up the downstairs area, which is now available to comfortably accommodate more than 40 guests for al fresco dining. Diners also can choose to enjoy the famous fresh seafood specialties and steaks upstairs in the dining room, the lounge and on the deck which all offer dreamy river views. For the first time, customers can make reservations, so they can be seated immediately upon arrival at the always bustling eatery, which was named best seafood restaurant in 2019 by the Coast Observer among a multitude of additional accolades.