NEW ORLEANS - The sign at Radosta's Restaurant says shrimp costs a dollar extra. But owner Don Radosta says that doesn't cover what he pays.
"In the last month or so, they doubled, went from $170 a case to $340-355 a case," Radosta said.
But it was still a busy Friday at the Metairie restaurant, and people were still ordering shrimp po-boys.
"Friday in Lent, it's my special," said customer Curtis Lassere. "No matter how much I have to pay, I'm going to eat a Shrimp Po-Boy."
"They understand, and when the price goes back down, we're going to go back down," said Radosta.
National Marine Fisheries Service statistics say the harvest is smaller, and prices double what they were a year ago. Experts blame disease, in part for a decline in foreign shrimp imports. When coupled with greater demand for shrimp, prices jump.
"Last October, they were going for $4.25 a pound, and they're $7.25 a pound today, " said Don Patrick, speaking about 16-20 count per pound shrimp.
At Captain Sid's Seafood in Bucktown, Don Patrick said there are enough shrimp to satisfy customers during Lent.
"We'll be able to get enough shrimp to supply the demand, but it's just enough," said Patrick.
Traditionally this is the slow season for shrimpers. But things will pick back up next month when the Brown Shrimp season opens. But does that mean prices will drop?
"Hopefully something will happen during the Brown Shrimp season, and prices will start coming down, but until we see what the catch is going to be, it is hard to determine," said Patrick.
"I hope that's going to help the situation," Radosta said hopefully.
"If it gets to ten dollars, then I might have to cut down," said Edmond Artigue, as he bought raw shrimp.
"What are you going to do with them? We're going to make gumbo with these. My wife is the best gumbo maker in the world."
He'll eat well tonight.