Author: -Ron Ladner, President and Co-Founder
Pass Christian is a small waterfront town
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “The Pass,”
as it’s called by 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 our boat at the bait
shop in Pass Harbor when the shop’s owner
approached me. “So you’re Ron Ladner,” he
said. “I hear you’re investing in Pass Christian.
We’re selling the bait shop—you should buy it.”
While trying to hide my excitement, I immediately thought about how cool it would be to
add a kitchen and serve fresh seafood, burgers
and cocktails—Key West style. Having been
raised in nearby Long Beach, we never had a
casual waterfront restaurant, so the harbor opportunity was growing on me. I never wanted
to be in the restaurant business, but was suddenly very interested in the project as a real
My wife and I had moved to the Coast permanently the previous year after spending six
years splitting time between Pass Christian
and Atlanta. I was wrapping up a career in the
software business, and we had had enough of
Atlanta, so we returned to my roots and made
Pass Christian “home.” Our favorite hangout in the Pass was Tigre’s, a cool restaurant
and wine bar in the small downtown area. It
was co-owned by Thomas Genin, an Emeril
Lagasse protégé. Since we were there three to
four nights a week, Thomas and his wife had no
choice but to befriend us.
I had the vision for the bait shop, but needed
an operator and partner—Thomas was the
only person I would consider, but he was pursuing the expansion of Tigre’s and didn’t have
the time. Alas, the idea just drifted around in
However, two months later, everything
changed. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane
Katrina slammed Pass Christian. The bait
shop was gone, Tigre’s was gone, we lost our
homes, we lost our town, and for a while, we
lost our spirit.
Several months later, I ran into the bait shop
owners again and learned that they wanted
to sell their harbor lease. I went straight to
Thomas, who was now very interested in the
venture, and we immediately negotiated a deal
for the former bait shop spot. Thomas designed the building and we started construction
in April 2007. After painting the restaurant
bright red, we opened our doors three months
later. Shaggy’s was open for business.
We look back now and feel that our little red
place in the harbor breathed life back into our
town in a time of great need. We’re often told
that Shaggy’s helped many through the healing
process—a place for all of us to get together,
laugh, cry, eat great food and enjoy a cold one.
Many customers say they feel like they’re on vacation, although they haven’t left town.
Though Shaggy’s has now grown to include
four restaurants across the Gulf Coast, enjoyed by visitors from all over the country, we’re proud that our customers continue to tell us that the Shaggy’s environment is still that of a comfortable gathering place where
you always feel like you’re among friends.