By Ron Ladner, Shaggy’s Founder
Pass Christian is a small waterfront town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. ‘The Pass,’ as it’s called by the locals, is home to one of the most beautiful harbors in the Gulf of Mexico, filled with one of the Gulf’s largest shrimp boat fleets. The Pass is my home, and it’s also home to the first Shaggy’s. Here is the story of how Shaggy’s Harbor Bar & Grill was born…
In June 2005, I was fueling my boat at the Bait Shop in Pass Harbor when the shop’s owner approached me and said, “So you’re Ron Ladner…I hear you’re developing real estate in Pass Christian. We’re selling the Bait Shop…you should buy it.”
I immediately thought about how cool it would be to expand the place…add a kitchen and serve fresh seafood, burgers, cocktails, and cold beer—Key West style.
My wife and I had just moved to the Coast full time after spending six years splitting time between Pass Christian and Atlanta. I was wrapping up a career in the software business, had logged a million miles with Delta Airlines, was tired of ‘city living’, and sorely missed the ‘Coast life.’ So I returned to my roots, and we made Pass Christian ‘home.’
I was really interested in launching a new career developing small real estate projects, but definitely wasn’t interested in getting into the restaurant business…No Way! But the whole idea of redeveloping a building in the harbor seemed pretty cool…so I decided to pursue the ‘Bait Shop’ project.
But two months later everything changed. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed Pass Christian. The Bait Shop was completely gone…Nothing! We lost our homes, we lost our town, we lost friends, and we lost our spirit. All our dreams were on hold.
But several months after the storm, the sun began to shine again. We purchased the former Bait Shop spot…we designed a simple building…with a cool menu…started construction in April 2007…painted the restaurant bright red…and opened our doors three months later. I was now in the restaurant business!
I got the idea for the Shaggy’s name from a popular place that thrived in 1940s downtown Pass Christian—Shaggy’s Tavern. The original Shaggy’s had a colorful story that is part of Pass Christian lore, so I thought it would be fun to bring back the Shaggy’s name in another ‘colorful’ establishment.
We look back and feel that our little red place in the harbor helped breath life back into our town, in a time of great need. We’re often told that Shaggy’s helped many folks through the healing process—a place for all of us to get together, laugh, cry, eat great food, and enjoy a cold one. I love that so many of our customers say they feel like they’re on vacation, even though they haven’t left town.
We now have locations in Biloxi Beach, Pensacola Beach and Gulfport Beach. We’ve developed a unique culture with a strong emphasis on employee care, to produce a positive, fun-loving, festive environment for all of our customers to enjoy…and feel at home.
We also strive to pay great attention to our community needs. Our Shaggy’s Kids Foundation focuses on introducing children to fishing and marine life. We were awarded the Governor’s Cup for our community service; were recognized as the ‘Top Company Giver’ by Beach Boulevard magazine; and most recently won the ‘GIVE’ award for the top company in Mississippi displaying community excellence and volunteer work.
Though Shaggy’s is now enjoyed by visitors from all over the world, we’re proud that our customers tell us that the Shaggy’s environment is still a comfortable gathering place where you always feel like you’re among good friends, good food, good fun…and LOVED by our staff.