CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- The oil spill that has shut down oyster beds along the Gulf Coast is affecting businesses in Carolina Beach and forcing customers to choose something else off the menu.
Black and blue Mahi Mahi and Beef Stronganoff, but you won't find oysters as a special or on the menu. Blackhorn Restaurant management has taken oysters off the menu for the summer, and they say the Gulf oil spill is to blame.
"We've been finding they're very hard to get or unavailable," Blackhorn owner Danielle Cousler said. She typically gets wild oysters fresh from Louisiana. Frozen and farm-raised seafood is an option, but not one she wants for her customers. "I feel like the farm-raised oysters don't have as much flavor. They're not as salty, so I've decided just not to carry them."
That's disappointing for customers.
"I think it's really sad," said Robin McCray, on vacation from West Virginia. "I think it's sad what's happening to the wildlife. We drove a long way for vacation to have fresh seafood, and you can't get oysters because of the oil spill, so it's sad."
Cousler says she is looking for other options.
"We're actually looking for alternatives like New England clams with the bellies or steamers from New England as an alternative to an oyster," she said.
Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar manager Keith Purgason already had to look for other options. He was also getting oysters from Louisiana. Now he has to get them from Texas. If the oil keeps flowing, he says he will have to look up north, and that means the price may go up.
"Because so many used to come out of Louisiana, the shipping cost was so much less," Purgason said. "But because other beds aren't as big in other parts of the country, the shipping costs will be more and therefore, the price of the oysters will go up."
It's a price some people are willing to pay for to get the taste that brought them to the coast.
Cousler says she's looking forward to the oyster season starting in North Carolina in the fall so she can hopefully bring oysters back to her business.