Let’s hear from the Boardwalk Bar and Grill in their own words…

John Thompson, owner of Boardwalk Bar and Grill in Big Pine, Key, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about recent news.

The business has been in operation since June of this year.

Thompson said, “I remember our first conversation and how good the community was to us at the beginning, welcoming us and getting started in the slow season. So it’s been an incredible ride so far. We’ve changed mentality in the Keys. That’s what we really have done. We have gone there with a great game plan and that was let’s really make this locals for locals. For us, it was important for us to have a place to really be homely, and have an opportunity to go there and have good food. Sometimes when it comes to late night, there’s nowhere to go. Now we have that and you can feel safe and come home and eat a great meal and speak to fun people and do all this and not spend too much money. Because as we all know, the Keys can be incredibly expensive to live in.”

There was a recent incident at Boardwalk Bar and Grill about a motorcycle gang t-shirt.

Thompson said, “It was an unfortunate incident, I just wanted to say it was super isolated. Really, the reason that I wanted to take this time was because at first the article was very, very abrasive, saying that we were very combative, and not cooperative. There’s things that happen during translations, from people to people to people, by the time you get the end of the story, the story is always never what it seems at the beginning. After the story came out, we felt it was very abrasive and not complete with information. But, sometimes things get lost in translation between hearing it from four or five, six different people before you actually get the report. So at the end of the day, we wanted to kind of express a little bit about that, because we want everyone to know that we absolutely believe Monroe County Sheriffs, they do a great job and they’re here to protect our community and Adam and I have always been a big part of that community. With that said, we always respect our law enforcement and we want our law enforcement to be at the top of our safety because they’re the ones protecting us as well. So when we read the article and it was a little combative against us, it was like oh my God, why? But at the end of the day, I get it. What I will say is absolutely things could have been handled a little differently, probably on both sides, but what I will do is use it as a training, because I want my managers to know that if there is a situation that happens, we should be called immediately, because if we were called immediately this wouldn’t have happened. At the same time, there was a little translation loss. My managers don’t have access to cameras. No one in the building has an access to a camera, but me, and that’s for obvious reasons. God help if something goes wrong in the restaurant, or someone, or maybe it’s one of my employees, that does something wrong, we can’t give them access to camera systems, so that they can go ahead and delete video or not. So I keep that to myself and I was able to provide that to them as soon as I was involved. When I got involved, which was probably 30 minutes after the situation happened, they had the information and passwords to everything they needed, because we have nothing to hide, and we just want to help them in any way shape or form we can. So with that said it, we felt a little harsh that they felt that we weren’t cooperative, but at the same time, again, I do understand. The parking lot was filled with deputies, and my manager tried to get a little bit of room there so that patrons can go through and out, and probably not the best time in an investigation, but I get how it becomes aggravating. So this is a teaching moment for all of us. What I do want to say is that, absolutely, our commitment is to our patrons, the people of Big Pine, which we are a patron of Big Pine as well, so safety comes first for all of us. If you look online, we are pretty much five stars all the way across. You can’t make everyone happy, but if I have food problems, okay, I’ll fix it, I’ll take care of it. That’s the kind of guys we are. But when we have this, we want everyone to know, hold on, we’re not a part of any gang. We’re not affiliated with any gangs, no matter what their name is. We don’t want any gang members in our establishment because we have kids that come from baseball games, and baseball practices. We have service members, we have so many travelers that are loving Boardwalk Bar and Grill. So the last thing we need is to have anyone think that it’s unsafe. It’s not. We are 100% safe. We are 100% behind Monroe County and helping them in any way shape or form from having any issues, definitely in our establishment, which thank God, this was our first and most isolated incident. But at the same time, we want them to know, hey, maybe we could have handled a couple of things differently, but at the same time, we are on your side. I had a conversation myself directly with Sheriff Ramsay and I thought the conversation went fantastic. I think that we both understand that we’re both at the same exact place. We want nothing but the safety of our community and that we are working together in the future of making sure that our community is always going to be safe. That’s been an ultimate goal anyway. So nothing’s changed for us. But I just wanted him to really get an idea of maybe a little bit of the story that he didn’t hear from someone else or anywhere, and that we were 100% behind them and the community.”

The future of Boardwalk Bar and Grill looks bright.

Thompson said, “When we first interviewed I said we have a long term continued lease here, where we want to be here for the next ever. That’s what we want and people have definitely translated into our establishment. They love us at Boardwalk Bar and Grill. Again, every now and then we will have a little issue with food here and there. We’ve been so busy throughout the whole day, but at the end of the day, we’re getting better. We’re always looking to make sure that everyone is safe and eating well and having a good time. We appreciate our community very much for being there for us. I just want to say thank you, thank everyone there at the radio station. I know you guys do a great job. I’m an avid listener and I appreciate you guys and party on and have a beautiful, blessed weekend.”