(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 8 | View All Season 8 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: April 23, 2023
The Bar's Original Name Was: Corner Pocket II
The Gateway Pub & Grill Address: 534 U.S. Hwy 70 SW, Hickory, NC 28602
Corner Pocket II, later renamed to The Gateway Pub & Grill, was a Hickory, North Carolina bar that was featured on the third set of Season 8 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Gateway Bar Rescue episode aired in April 2023, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place around the end of August 2022.
It was Season 8 Episode 31 and the episode name was “3rd Pocket’s a Charm”.
In this episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer heads back to North Carolina for his fifth visit to the state.
This time, he’s going to Corner Pocket II in Hickory, NC.
If you need some help with your North Carolina geography, Hickory NC is located to the northwest of Charlotte, not too far away from Rio Ultra Lounge / 360 Lounge Reloaded, which Jon Taffer rescued a little earlier in Season 8.
The city of Hickory NC itself is fairly small – around 44,000 people, though the metropolitan area has 365,000 people.
Side note – this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a bar named “Corner Pocket” on Bar Rescue. Jon Taffer also renamed Lucky Leprechaun to Lucky’s Corner Pocket back in Season 5.
The Corner Pocket II bar is owned by Carlos Walker, a former college football player.
However, Carlos is busy with his family, so he mostly acts as an absentee owner and only visits the bar 2-3 days per week.
When Carlos does visit the bar, he basically just signs checks and does paperwork and then leaves.
Given what you know about bars from watching Bar Rescue, you can probably guess that this does not lead to high standards from the employees.
To help manage the bar while he was gone, Carlos brought in Candy as the general manager.
Candy is a former school teacher, so it doesn’t seem like she has much experience in running a bar like Corner Pocket II, though she does have some general management experience.
Carlos also didn’t really put in the time to train Candy, which further compounds the problem.
The same is true of the rest of the staff at the Corner Pocket II bar, as most of them are also lacking in training for their jobs.
Beyond staff problems, the bar is just generally not doing well.
It seems like it’s falling apart and a lot of the equipment is broken, including the dishwasher, the flat-top grill, and a malfunctioning beer draft system.
Beyond that, there are also financial issues at Corner Pocket II.
The Corner Pocket II Hickory NC location is supposedly losing $5,000 per month.
Carlos is also in $50,000 of debt at the time of the Corner Pocket II Bar Rescue visit.
That’s actually not as bad as many other bars, as it’s fairly common to see owners having hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
With money issues, broken equipment, and an untrained staff, Jon Taffer definitely has his work cut out for him at Corner Pocket II.
To help rescue the bar, Jon Taffer enlists the help of Vic Vegas as part of his expert team.
When it comes time to get to the kitchen, it’s a disaster.
It’s super dirty and there’s even a cockroach infestation.
It’s so bad that the cockroaches are literally in the food ingredients.
This leads to a pretty funny scene where Vic Vegas runs in dragging one of the containers with the cockroaches:
They also haven’t dated the food, so people have no idea how old it was.
I’m not sure how Corner Pocket II was ever able to pass its health inspections.
As you’d expect, Jon Taffer lays into the staff, especially the general manager, including a choice quote:
Why don’t you care enough to serve somebody something that won’t kill them?
It wouldn’t be a Bar Rescue episode without Jon Taffer talking about killing somebody with food, right?
Overall, it seems like Jon Taffer and his crew have their work cut out for them with the Corner Pocket II Bar Rescue visit.
As part of the renovation, Jon Taffer changed the bar’s name from Corner Pocket II to The Gateway Pub and Grill.
The exterior got a brand new sign along with some other changes, such as a new coat of blue paint.
The inside also got a major facelift, along with tons of new equipment.
However, as will become relevant later on, Bar Rescue did not renovate the bathrooms at the Corner Pocket II bar.
So was the Corner Pocket II Bar Rescue visit a long-term success?
Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Hickory, NC bar is still open in 2023.
The Gateway Pub & Grill Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Gateway Pub Bar Rescue visit, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Hickory, NC.
But before I get to The Gateway Pub now, I want to share some backstory on what happened before the episode aired.
In the run-up to the episode airing, The Gateway Pub published a lot of posts on Facebook.
This isn’t too uncommon for bars that appear on the show.
But what I did find to be unique is that these posts generated a lot of engagement – like 50+ comments (whereas normally these posts from other bars don’t get any comments).
Given that, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of those comments first before I move on.
Around a week before the episode aired, The Gateway Pub shared a clip from the episode detailing how dirty the bar and kitchen was at Corner Pocket II (including cockroaches in the kitchen).
Obviously, it’s…not a good look, which is what a lot of the 40+ comments pointed out.
However, The Gateway Pub was quick to point out that the bar’s recent health ratings were in the 90s and the bugs are gone.
I think that’s kind of fair.
The best thing would be for the bar to have never had those issues in the first place.
But given that the issues happened, the next best thing is to own those problems and show people that you’ve changed.
Here’s the first comment from the bar:
The health ratings are in the high 90s.
And the remodeling is nice and inviting!
Bugs are gone.
Food is great!
The show is airing and the excitement about is is amazing.
Come by and check it out!
Make your own conclusions.
Don’t be a keyboard warrior without even checking it out in person
This is true – the recent health inspection score from October 2022 (a couple of months after Jon Taffer’s visit) was a 95.50 out of 100, which got them an “A”.
However, what’s interesting is that the Corner Pocket II bar also scored an “A” in six other health inspections going back to 2019.
In fact, the June 2022 score (a couple of months before Taffer’s visit) was also a 95.5.
In that June 2022 inspection, the inspector did note that the bar needed to “Remove dead insects on floor in storage area”.
The bar also scored in the middle for “Insects & Rodents not present, no unauthorized animals” – a score of “2” would be the best and “0” the worst. The bar scored a “1”.
However, it never got below an “A” in any listed inspection.
I’m not sure what the health inspectors were doing, but the kitchen from the Gateway Pub Bar Rescue episode certainly did not look like an “A” rating.
Maybe it’s just reality TV? Who knows…
Here’s a screenshot of the bar’s Facebook post…
And then here are some of the many comments from other people, including both good and bad.
While a lot of people thought it was a bad idea to share, other people are positive and point out that it shows how the bar is trying to do better.
The bar also had a Facebook post from earlier in March, which generated similar types of comments.
Like the previous post, there were 50+ comments, including both negative people saying the episode was embarrassing to the bar as well as people defending the bar for trying to improve.
Some people who seem to have performed live music at the bar also took to the post to share complaints about the live music setup:
This isn’t even the full list of Facebook posts – I found even more posts from earlier on!
I will say, The Gateway Pub has some of the most Facebook engagement that I’ve ever seen on a bar from the show, so they’re doing something right on Facebook, at least.
I’ve never seen a bar have this many comments before.
Now, let’s get to the most important question on your mind about the Gateway Pub Bar Rescue episode…
Is The Gateway Pub still open in 2023?
As of 2023, The Gateway Pub & Grill is still open and serving customers in Hickory, North Carolina.
The bar has kept Jon Taffer’s name and concept and is still doing business as The Gateway Pub & Grill.
As I mentioned above, they seem to have really leaned into the Bar Rescue experience and are promoting it a lot on their social media pages.
The bar also seems to regularly host live music acts.
Here’s an example of a promotion post from the bar’s Facebook page:
They also have a karaoke night every Friday night.
Other regular events include free pool on every Tuesday and $1 wings and $2 beer cans on Wednesdays.
The bar also offers $2 Heinekens every day, which is pretty dang cheap!
Here’s what the Gateway Pub Hickory NC location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view…
Unfortunately, the most recent update is from June 2022, which happened right before the bar was rescued (so it still shows the Corner Pocket II Hickory NC location for now).
I’ve still embedded it so that you can explore the area around the bar…
The Gateway Pub reviews after Bar Rescue
Next, let’s take a look at some The Gateway Pub reviews from after the visit from Jon Taffer.
So far, the bar only has one review on its new The Gateway Pub Yelp page – a two star review from a few months after the Bar Rescue visit.
That Yelp review was positive in terms of the renovations and drinks, but very, very negative when it comes to the food.
On Google, The Gateway Pub has a 4.3 star rating on over 270 reviews, which includes reviews from both before and after the Gateway Pub Jon Taffer visit.
Overall, I would say that the reviews are mixed.
Most people seem to praise the quality of the service, though some people also complain.
This could be an example of regulars vs newbies in terms of getting service from the bartenders.
The reviews for drinks are generally positive, though the food isn’t as positive.
A lot of people also complain about the bathrooms (which Bar Rescue did not renovate).
Here are a few examples of reviews that were written after the bar was rescued…
2 star Yelp review from November 2022:
We came in here after hearing Bar Rescue was revitalizing the bar to see the new setup.
The new renovations look decent, but are mostly focused on the dining area (so bathrooms exactly the same).
The cocktails we ordered were also both delicious, so things were mixed correctly there.
That’s unfortunately where my compliments end.
The chicken and waffles were horrendous.
The thigh I was given had about 3 bites of rough meat on it, the rest was bone, which is an odd combination on top of a waffle (see how Dame’s does it).
The waffles were Eggo waffles I’m pretty sure and that cost me $13.
The sliders were slightly better, but nothing I’d recommend.
The hashbrowns were good, and the meal mostly consisted of me eating off my wife’s hashbrowns since I was still starving after finishing my $13 meal.
Service was also not great.
We had taken a booth, but waitress only came for orders and food.
I had to go up to the bar to get silverware for my chicken and waffles and it took 5 minutes to get acknowledged.
This place is fine if you’re stopping in for a drink at your local watering hole, but the food needs a complete overhaul again since I think that chicken/waffles was the worst meal I’ve had this year.
5 star Google review from November 2022:
This place is now called The Gateway Bar and Grill.
The food wasn’t bad, but bf said the Hamburger steak was absolutely made from a frozen patty.
I tried ordering one of their specialty drinks, but they didn’t have the ingredients.
Would I return?
But I’m glad I tried it
4 star Google review from December 2022:
Great atmosphere plenty of tables and great staff and food.
Beer and ciders all the time only complaint is the bathrooms not very up to date other than that I’d return if back in the area.
Now given it was very crowded on a Sunday.
4 star Google review from February 2023:
The best tender is very good and friendly.
My fries come out crispy as requested and a good burger!!
They have Modelo beer on tap and I can play pool for free on Tuesdays.
Perfect for me
5 star Google review from April 2023:
Great place to play pool, the bands are good, ( most of the time), people are friendly.
This place is starting to catch on and I enjoy going there several times a month, and it getting better with every visit
1 star Google review from October 2022:
It may be an ok place to shoot pool but it’s definitely not a good place to eat lunch.
They originally told us their fryer was broken so we ordered cheeseburgers.
They sent them out wrong 3 times!!
The third time I just removed the lettuce and ate it.
It wasn’t a hard order just ketchup, mustard, and pickles.
Also they do not carry lemons for water or tea.
Final thoughts on The Gateway Pub & Grill
Overall, the Gateway Pub Bar Rescue visit seems to have been a success so far.
The bar has kept the new name and concept from Jon Taffer and the owners seem to have generally been happy with the Bar Rescue experience.
Most people seem complimentary of the drinks and service.
However, it does seem like the food might still need some work.
It also seems like they could benefit from renovating the bathrooms to match the rest of the Corner Pocket II Bar Rescue renovation.
I think it’s cool that the bar is owning its past in terms of cleanliness and stuff.
While it would’ve been better to be clean from the start, at least they aren’t in denial like some other bar owners.
It does seem like they’re trying to do better, as well.
I wish them success and I hope they’re able to keep the momentum that Jon Taffer gave them.
If you find yourself in the Hickory NC area, give it a try and let me know how it went in the comments section.
If you want to see some other North Carolina Bar Rescue episodes, you can also check out my updates for Rio Ultra Lounge / 360 Lounge Reloaded in Charlotte, 22 Klicks / Cliques in Hope Mills (Fayetteville), MoonRunners Saloon / Characters Quarters in Garner, Latitudes Island Bar in Denver NC, and Cashmere / Dual Ultra Nightclub in Raleigh.
If you want to see an update for a similarly named bar, you can also read my post about Lucky’s Corner Pocket in Davenport, FL.
And if you want to share your thoughts on the episode, you can use the comments section below.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-06-10 08:43