R.J. Gator's of Bradenton has an updated exterior as it gets ready to launch for its re-opening on Nov. 18 Photo by Charles Schelle/Bradenton Herald
R.J. Gator's Florida Sea Grill & Bar, one of the most anticipated restaurant revivals in Bradenton in a long time, will be ready to open on Nov. 18.
The return of the restaurant is certainly creating buzz in the community, owner Mike Parry said Tuesday while inside the restaurant. The restaurant, 6100 Cortez Road, is now hiring and already has more than 300 applicants for 75 open jobs, he said. (No job interviews will be done this Friday or on Sundays.)
Parry, along with his wife Darla, and kids, are making a go of the restaurant. I detailed their journey in July. Parry is the original proprietor of the restaurant and acquired the rights to open up R.J. Gator's once again. The only other surviving R.J. Gator's are in The Villages and Hurst, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth.
Here is some background on Parry and Gator's from my July post:
"I always dreamed of having it back," says Mike Parry, the original proprietor of the Bradenton location. "I was never able to live it down. I honestly haven't gone two days without running into someone who was a guest, someone who worked here that said 'I miss R. J. Gator's.' I'm thinking it could possibly be a bigger hit than what it was before with this second coming."
The Jupiter-based chain started in 1986 with locations primarily on Florida's Treasure Coast. Through expansion, locations included several along the Gulf Coast, as well as in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana with a total of about 30 restaurants. But the company went into bankruptcy and closed all corporate-owned restaurants in 2008.
During a visit to the restaurant Tuesday, a lot of work had been done to the restaurant, most notably to the exterior. At the same time, the Parrys have a lot more work to do to get the dining room ready for opening day.
The exterior now has a nice Everglade-type green replacing the faded coral blue. Workers were preparing two large postcard placards for the front of the building with one saying "Bradenton" and the other "Everglades."
Inside is still mainly dark, but progress can be seen on the bar, which had to be rebuilt after vandals broke through the ceiling above while the restaurant was vacant. The seating, lighting and accessories are still being worked on, and Parry is in the midst of getting his 21 HDTVs in order to hang.
The restaurant will keep its fans updated now that Gator's has a Facebook fan page. The page was just launched Sunday night and has more than 400 fans as of Wednesday afternoon. Visit R.J. Gator's of Bradenton on Facebook here.
What are you most looking forward to about R.J. Gator's re-opening? Leave your comments below.