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On top of her to-do list is preparing for Chefs of The Coast, the association’s main event.

The annual fundraiser, held in the fall, is in its 32nd year and has spawned all sorts of copy-cat tasting events.

“It’s a great event and the board members have done an outstanding job,” she said. “The board members are participating much more now, they’re more hands on. It’s unusual for any association to have a board like that. They’re very passionate about what they do.”

After Chefs of the Coast, Martin will turn her attention to growing the association’s membership.

“Every day it seems there’s a new restaurant opening up so there’s plenty of opportunity to sign up new members,” she said.

Membership stands around 240 statewide and includes restaurants, bars and vendors.

“Anybody that supplies services or products to restaurants and bars,” she said. “That’s everything from ice to legal services.”

Twenty-five years ago, Martin said, the coast restaurant association was the leader among the hospitality industry and it’s credited with bringing legalized gambling to Hancock and Harrison counties.

Social media, which didn’t exist back then, is now helping restaurateurs in a variety of ways including getting more customers by having their menus available to smartphone users.

“It’s helping grow their customer base at no cost to the restaurants,” she said. “Blogging, Tweeting, these are the type of things that the new guard can bring.”


Information from: Mississippi Business Journal,