Don and Joann Worner bought a West Pascagoula River landmark in 1999. Huck's Cove, a grill and bar at 3000 Oak St. in Gautier, was originally a bait house and fish camp.|
Its location also made it an ideal jumping-off point for weekend excursions to the barrier islands.
In the early days, the late Huck Smith would leave the doors to his bait shop unlocked at night. Customers gathered up the bait they needed and left the money on the counter. That honesty and good nature never left the place when it was converted into a grill and bar 10 years ago.
The Worners have maintained the friendly and relaxed Key West feel of the place. More than half the restaurant's seating overlooks a small inlet, and the covered patios, porch swings and huge Live oaks nestle locals and tourists alike.
The waterfront location, however, almost proved its undoing when Katrina deposited more than a 12 feet of water inside the bar. Most decking was shaken loose or ripped apart by the river's surge. The water left a high-water mark halfway up the roof.
Huck's Cove, which serves grilled seafood, burgers and salads, has recently reopened. The Worners worked non-stop for six months with no federal assistance to rebuild. Their flood insurance policy was a saving grace, they said, as was the Gautier Public Works Department.
"I can't say enough good things about the city," Don said. "They really got things done in a hurry and were the only agency that came to help when we needed it."
The Worners plan to expand by running the outside decking along the sides of the inlet and expanding the front patio. They never looked back after Katrina, and say they never will. There is a quote scrawled on the front patio wall that says it all:
"Thou, as the truth of love hurts. Live day by day, and not on yesterday's sorrows."
- JUSTIN HOOKS