Bar Rescue - AJ’s on the River / Jerry’s Dockside Update - Open or Closed?

AJ’s on the River Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits AJ’s on the River in Gibsonton, Florida.

AJ’s on the River is owned by Jerry Clark.

Jerry is an ex police officer who bought it in 2016 and ran it with his son Patrick.

Patrick has extensive experience in the bar industry.

They are struggling to make a profit and this has strained their relationship.

Jerry used up all of his pension money to buy the bar and they are now in debt.

The bar is months from closing if things do not turn around soon.

Jon meets with expert mixologist Emily Yett and expert chef Vic Vegas to watch the bar from across the river.

The bar is in a great location with free dock space so they should have a lot of business.

Jon introduces the owner and the peculiar situation they are in.

The bar has no liquor licence so they only serve drinks with a low alcohol content.

They see cook Alex and his wife/server Ashley kissing in the kitchen.

The kitchen is not in the building and is located in a trailer parked 30 feet from the bar.

Jon’s spies are John and Mitch who go in and order food and drinks.

They order a Margarita and a Bloody Mary and a sandwich and a Philly Cheesesteak.

They watch Alex season the meat badly and cook without gloves.

The spies order a third meal and Jon goes in as their third guest and tastes it.

Jon gives them the lowdown on how their food was made and he is not impressed with the taste of his own sandwich.

Jerry is given feedback about the bad processes in the kitchen.

He is also told that the newlyweds are displaying excessive PDAs during business hours.

Patrick is also present to receive his share of the blame for allowing all this to happen.

Jon leaves and returns the next day to meet with the staff.

Jon is complementary of the location and talks about the below average income level of the local demographic.

Jerry lets the staff know about how much he has invested in the business and how long they can stay open.

Jon tells the newlyweds that they need to be more professional when they are at work.

Patrick says he clashes with his father on pricing as he wants to raise prices.

Jerry wants to keep the prices as low as possible so everyone can afford to come there.

Jon tells Jerry the cost of the ingredients of the burger they serve.

They are making only 20 cents each time they sell it and are significantly undercharging for it.

The cost of the ingredients should be 30% of the selling price of the burger.

Jon introduces his experts to the staff.

Emily trains the bartenders on making a consistent Bloody Mary.

Vic trains the staff on making a proper pulled pork sandwich.

For the Stress Test, they prep for the service and Jerry opens up for the customers.

The stress test starts off with confusion, the orders come through but the bartenders are running back and forth.

Tables are left waiting for over 30 minutes for service.

Alex has forgotten his training in the kitchen and the bartenders are slow with the drinks.

Their system is unorganised.

Some food is sent out overcooked and that is the last straw.

The Stress Test is shut down soon after as they are too far behind.

The next day, Emily takes the staff through making their own spin of a margarita with a smoker.

Vic introduces some new equipment to the kitchen and takes them through making bacon flatbread.

Jon has a meeting with Patrick and Jerry to get Jerry to hold Patrick accountable for issues at the bar.

Jon’s team have started work on the bar.

At sunset the staff are gathered for the unveiling of the new bar.

The bar has been renamed to Jerry’s Dockside with new branding and improved visibility.

The improved exterior is now more visible from the riverside.

Inside, the colours are consistent, it is fresh and open with modern elements.

They all love what Jons team have achieved in the limited time they had.

They have new equipment including a paging system, three Harbourtouch POS systems, two Skytabs, a Pathspot device and an Orange Door Entertainment system.

On relaunch, Patrick lets the eagerly waiting customers in

They love the new look and are eager to try the new food and drinks.

The kitchen has a better system and are able to perform much better.

They are sending out food fast, able to keep up with orders and the dishes are prepared and cooked properly.

In the bar, the bartenders are working quickly, serving the whole bar and keeping the customers happy.

Everyone is working as a team and the relaunch is a success.


What Happened Next at AJ’s on the River / Jerry’s Dockside?

Six weeks later, it is revealed sales are up 40%.

There are new customers coming to the bar every day.

Patrick has more control over the day-to-day running of the business.

Alex and Ashley no longer show PDA at work and are expecting a baby together.

They have kept the name.

AJ’s on the River / Jerry’s Dockside is open.

Reviews are very positive especially about the food.


Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Cerealholic Cafe & Bar

Next episode - The Forge / Crowne Irish Pub

This post was last updated in November 2022.

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