Da Beach House opened in 2001 as an eclectic combined eatery, beach rental and eco-tour site at 604 South Beach Blvd. in Bay St. Louis.
"The complete beach experience" is how owners Colleen and Todd Read described it.
The couple, in their 40s, are from the Coast. They once lived in Hawaii where he was involved in music and she centered on healthy eating with the American Heart Association, then went to work for Wyland, an international environmental and wildlife artist.
"We ended up doing these great projects," Colleen said. "When we got back to Bay St. Louis, because our son wanted to go to school here, we took all our experiences and put them into one facility."
At Da Beach, people of all ages and backgrounds hung out, got fresh fruit smoothies, ate bagels, rented kayaks to go in the nearby bay or sound and bikes to cycle on the beach. People from all over the world came.
"It was really neat," Colleen said, "a world inside of another world."
Katrina took the building and much of their belongings, although they salvaged 10 kayaks and two sailboats. The land was not theirs and is now for sale at a price they can't afford.
"For now, we're going to take Da Beach House virtually," said Colleen. "We saved the original artwork and it will be on dabeachhouse.com. We're going to fine-tune our merchandise and environmental programs. We won't be able to offer the food service but we'll offer eco-tours with reservations for out front or our rivers or islands.
"In a strange twist, this will give Todd more diversity because he can take people around our waterways more instead of being in the shop. We'll be adding hiking and eco-tours to other countries, including Hawaii."
The Reads hope to have the virtual aspect in place by autumn.
"I think Da Beach House will return one day, too," she said, "but where on the Coast we don't know yet."
- KAT BERGERON