(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 8 | View All Season 8 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: May 22, 2022
The Bar's Original Name Was: AJ's on the River
Jerry's Dockside Bar and Grill Address: 9808 Vaughn St, Gibsonton, FL 33534
AJ’s on the River, later renamed to Jerry’s Dockside Bar and Grill, was a Tampa / Gibsonton, Florida bar that was featured on Season 8 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Jerry’s Dockside Bar Rescue episode aired in May 2022, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place a few months before that in February/March 2022.
It was Season 8 Episode 21 and the episode name was “Rescue on the River”.
In this episode, Jon Taffer and his crew visit AJ’s on the River, which is owned by Jerry Clark.
Jerry purchased the bar in 2016, which means he’s had it for around six years at the time of the AJ’s on the River Bar Rescue episode.
As the name suggests, the bar is located right on the Alafia river.
However, it doesn’t just have “river views” – it’s literally located on the river.
In fact, people in boats can come dock at AJ’s on the River and grab a beer or some food, which is pretty cool.
The bar is located in Gibsonton, FL, which is right to the south of Tampa.
The river that it’s on empties into Tampa Bay not too much past AJ’s on the River.
Overall, it’s a beautiful location with great sunset views every day, so it should be successful.
However, it’s obviously have some issues, which is why the AJ’s on the River Bar Rescue episode exists.
Jerry purchased the bar after a 30 year career as a policeman.
His son had experience in the bar industry and Jerry was also a Bar Rescue fan, so he figured he could make it work.
To purchase the bar, Jerry cashed in his police pension and invested around $100,000 of his own money from his retirement savings.
To make it work, Jerry hired his son Patrick to manage the bar.
Patrick has over 23 years of experience working in restaurants, so you’d hope he had the skills to make AJ’s on the River successful.
Despite that, the bar has never made a profit in the 6+ years that it’s existed.
This has obviously caused tension between Jerry and his son.
To make matters worse, the bar is in over $120,000 of debt.
So not only is it not making a profit, they also have the debt to deal with.
And to complicate matters even further, the bar doesn’t have a liquor license. It has to rely on beer and wine sales.
Spoiler – it seems like Jon Taffer and his crew weren’t able to obtain a liquor license during the rescue, so the bar still is able to only serve wine and beer.
A lot of the staff at the bar are friends and family, not necessarily people who have lots of experience.
For example, Alex, the cook, was a cable technician and auto mechanic before becoming a cook at AJ’s on the River.
At the time of the AJ’s on the River Bar Rescue episode, the bar is just months away from closing, which is why Jerry asked for help from Jon Taffer and his crew.
As part of the rescue, Jon Taffer renamed the bar from AJ’s on the River to Jerry’s Dockside Bar and Grill.
Obviously, the name is based on Jerry’s name.
The new bar has some really beautiful outdoor seating areas on the river, along with a nice nautical-themed sign (which you can see above).
So was the AJ’s on the River Bar Rescue episode a success? Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and how it’s doing in 2024…
Jerry's Dockside Bar and Grill Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Jerry’s Dockside Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Tampa / Gibsonton, FL.
I’ll start by talking about how the bar is doing now and then I’ll share a sampling of real customer reviews that were written after Jon Taffer’s changes and renovations happened.
Overall, Jerry seemed happy with the Bar Rescue experience. On the day that the episode aired on TV, they posted the following message on the official Facebook page:
In our eyes, these are the two stars of the show!
One, everyone knows and he needs no introduction, the other is Jon Taffer.
He rescued our bar and for that we are extremely grateful.
It’s a picture of one staff member with Jon Taffer.
Is Jerry’s Dockside from Bar Rescue still open?
As of 2023, Jerry’s Dockside is still open and serving customers on the river in Gibsonton, FL.
The bar is also still keeping the concept from Jon Taffer.
Overall, reviews seem good and this one looks to be a very successful rescue.
The bar also posted a hiring ad on the day of the episode, so it seems like business is good if they need more staff:
We are looking for positive motivated individuals, who can work as a part of a team and love being around people.
Its fast paced and we work outdoors, if all that sounds like something you would like to be a part of please apply.
For a few months after Jon Taffer’s visit, the bar had still been using the AJ’s on the River name on its Facebook page (despite using Jerry’s Dockside in real life).
However, on the day that the Jerry’s Dockside Bar Rescue episode aired on TV, the owners updated the page to use the new name.
Jerry’s Dockside Bar is pretty active on its Facebook page and seems to have pretty regular events, including live music.
They’re also active in the community, hosting river clean up events and stuff.
The bar also seems to have a lot of loyal local fans.
For example, if you check out the Facebook post where Jerry updated the page to the new name, you can see a lot of positive comments.
E.g. this comment:
AJ’s is a huge part of our life.
And I’m glad they didn’t dramatically change it.
Just dressed it up a bit.
And that grouper sandwich, oh my God
This Facebook post also has a lot of other comments where you can see how well-liked the bar is. Here’s another example:
food is there still but reworked menu and I ate there last night and I have to say the food was amazing 👏 compared to before the remodel
Overall, the pictures of the new bar look great and I would totally check it out if I lived in the Gibsonton, FL area.
Jerry’s Dockside Bar reviews after Bar Rescue
So far, reviews for the newly named Jerry’s Dockside Bar seem quite good.
Some people dinged a few points because the Jerry’s Dockside menu is limited vs what it was during AJ’s on the River.
For example, here’s a Facebook comment about the menu (though it’s not a review):
AJ’s used to be our favorite bar!
But since they got “rescued” by Bar Rescue it just hasn’t been the same.
They’ve only got like, 5 things on the menu now
Those seem to be the only real complaints, though, as most reviews are very good.
It also seems like Jerry is planning to expand the menu, including adding back some of the old favorites.
Here’s a sampling of reviews that were written after the Jerry’s Dockside Bar Rescue visit…
4 star Yelp review from March 2022:
Atmosphere – Very nice. Formerly AJ’s (same owner, just changed the name), the restaurant has gone through a revision that was prompted by the restaurant’s participation in the TV show, Bar Rescue.
There are significant improvements to the bar area, as well as upgraded tables and umbrellas in the seating area on the lower level and along the water.
This is a very comfortable, fun atmosphere.
The owner took time to stop at our table to ask if we were satisfied with the service and food. He is a very nice and genuine person and I wish him and his staff success.
Food – Very Good. The new menu is only a few weeks old and is very limited. I had the Italian Combo sandwich and it was absolutely excellent!
The sandwich is big and the bread was fresh (a huge factor for me in evaluating a sandwich) and the flavor great!
Having dined here many times in the past, I was sad to learn that the pulled pork sandwich was not on the menu as it was my favorite item on the menu.
However, Jerry did say that they are planning to expand the menu and will likely add the pulled pork sandwich.
…(long review continues – pictured below)
4 star Google review from April 2022:
Jerry’s is definitely a great upgrade aestheticly after the rescue.
The change is obviously for the betterment.
I do feel the quality of the hamburger has changed for the worse.
It was always one my favorite. All the other food options optional are great always!
We love this place. Great water side outside eatery.
5 star Yelp review from May 2022:
Awesome atmosphere, fantastic food, great live music and friendly staff.
A little confused on parking but we made it work. Will be coming back!
I had the Blackened Grouper Sandwich and my husband had the Alfania burger. Both delish!
5 star Yelp review from March 2022:
I was always a fan of AJ’s and still am now that they’re Jerry’s Dockside Bar & Grill.
The renovations are charming, food is delicious, and the service is friendly and quick.
Jerry’s is the perfect place to spend an afternoon on the water and has been one of our favorite spots for the past 6 years.
You can tell the owners really care about their patrons because they are always committed to giving us a relaxing and happy experience.
4 star Yelp review from April 2022:
I love the atmosphere! The wait staff has always been good.
My only discontent is the reduced menu really missed the steak phili.
They still have phili at Ricks on the River .., but I Much prefer AJ’s or what used to be Aj’s. Please increased the menu
3 star Yelp review from April 2022:
Ambience and local live music is always nice at this Bar Rescue dockside restaurant.
Servers are very nice and work very hard. Not much turnover in staff, which is a good sign that Jerry takes good care of wait staff.
Limited menu is decent with only a couple new items added to the menu. I’m not sure that enhanced the offerings much. I’m still missing French fries, which I think would be a game changer!
Jerry’s Dockside during Hurricane Ian (September 2022)
Jerry’s Dockside is located on the water right near the path of Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida in September 2022.
As such, I was worried what would happen to the bar, as it seemed in a very precarious spot.
Thankfully, Jerry’s Dockside managed to avoid any major problems and Hurricane Ian did not affect the business like it did so many other people in Florida.
To announce this, Jerry’s Dockside posted on its Facebook page that it avoided a direct hit:
After closing during the active hurricane, Jerry’s Dockside Bar and Grill was able to continue operating as usual.
Final thoughts on Jerry’s Dockside
Overall, things seem to be looking good for Jerry’s Dockside Bar and Grill and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one turns into a long-term Bar Rescue success story.
The bar seems to have kept most of Jon Taffer’s changes and business seems to be doing very well.
Congrats to everyone involved!
Jon Taffer visited a number of Tampa area bars in the second half of Season 8.
If you want to see those other Tampa Bar Rescue episodes, check out these updates:
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-01-28 05:14