By Avra Sullivan
It is safe to say most Kent Islanders and many people from surrounding areas have enjoyed the food, entertainment and ambiance at the Jetty Dock Bar. June 17th marked the Jetty’s 10th anniversary under owner Ron Kirstien. Together with manager Justin Kiernan and a phenomenal staff, the Jetty has become a classic go-to spot on the island for fun, entertainment, great food and fantastic atmosphere.
Ron recalls one night ten years ago when he found himself at the Jetty and fell in love with the place. Not long after he found out it was for sale and decided to purchase the restaurant. With his extensive experience in the restaurant industry, Ron began to turn a prime location into a premier food and entertainment destination. Through the years as Ron learned more about his customers likes, he made changes such as adding to the menu, varying the scenery (they bring in over 50 tons of white sand every year) and searching for the perfect entertainment.
Ron credits his success to a few key elements. Number one on that list is the customer. Ron is a constant presence in the restaurant, talking to guests and getting their feedback. “They continue to motivate and inspire us to do better every year. We work hard to make sure each customer receives a service-first experience.“ This includes everything from a well-trained staff that clearly enjoy their work to the glasses used at the bar. Wine is served in a wine glass, and martinis in a martini glass; no plastic cups at the Jetty. “The whole experience is what the Jetty is all about,” according to Ron, who credits great food as one reason for the Jetty’s popularity. “Produce good food and you’ll have good business,” he says. The numbers support Ron’s statement with food sales dramatically increasing from 5% to 40% over the last decade.
While Ron says you have to experiment and try different things, you also have to appeal to your customers. For example, Ron books bands that are popular and fun, but also carefully watches which bands strike a chord with his customers so he can think about future bookings. He also is a firm believer in keeping the atmosphere family friendly, inviting and laid back. Easily accessible by boat or car, the Jetty has become a well-known gathering place for locals and for visitors from around the area. What better way to spend a summer evening than with your sand in the toes, a fresh drink in your hand and the sun setting over the Chesapeake Bay?
Ron says the best thing about being the owner “is when I see people enjoying the food and dancing on the dance floor and seeing the staff smiling and enjoying their work… that’s what it’s all about.” The Jetty consistently offers great activities from crab feasts to the popular annual Bull Roast coming this October. There is even a customer appreciation day towards the end of the year. Ron says there are new bands coming in for the fall and winter, and plans are in the works for a celebration for their “Big 10.”
Information on all of the upcoming events and music schedule at the Jetty can be found on their website at www.jettydockbar.com or by calling 410-827-4959. You also can text the word “jetty” to 410-205-6929 to have food and drink specials sent directly to your phone.