Yesterday evening President Barack Obama surprised diners relaxing on the deck at Tacky Jack’s , a popular laid back restaurant in Orange Beach, Ala. Obama took a dinner break with Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennan after touring several sections of Alabama’s Gulf Coast to assess damage from the BP oil spill. Just last week, Mayor Kennan lambasted a BP official who called an impromptu press conference in the town, telling the oil company representative that BP had “killed” tourism for the Gulf Coast community.
To date, the beaches are still open in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, but waters are closed to swimmers and the Perdido Pass is closed to boat traffic. Many fishing areas also are closed, and businesses that depend on the tourist trade are frightened of the future.
Beasley Allen has filed a number of class action lawsuits on behalf of Gulf Coast businesses and individuals, representing industry and tradesmen including restaurant and property owners, commercial fishing companies, charter fishing guides and commercial fishing deckhands. In May, Beasley Allen filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cotton Bayou Marina, Inc., which does business as Tacky Jack’s Restaurant.
According to news reports, there were about 100 people visiting Tacky Jack’s when the President stopped by, most of whom seemed pleased to see Obama, posing for pictures and shaking hands. Following the impromptu meet-and-greet, Obama and the other officials sat down for a private “off the record” meeting. The press did manage to report that Obama dined on Tacky Jack’s favorite “Garbage Nachos” and iced tea, and an Associated Press photo shows the President sipping what looks like a whipped cream-topped frozen drink from a straw.
Hopefully, the President enjoyed his visit to Tacky Jack’s enough to appreciate what tourism means to the Gulf Coast region.