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Blue Dog Bar & Grill reopens with renovations, and much gratitude

By Staff | Jul 15, 2020

Stone crab claws at the Blue Dog Bar & Grill. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOHN LYNCH AND JESSE TINCHER

For Blue Dog owners John Lynch and Jesse Tincher, the months residents have all spent battling the pandemic, though long, have been well utilized. Although allowed to open in early May, the hot spot was undergoing several renovations, including plumbing and electrical, as well as work in the kitchen.

“It took time to get all that done,” said Lynch, “but it’s remarkable what we were able to accomplish in 3 1/2 months.”

With all but one of the 70 person staff now returned to work, Lynch says they’re in great shape.

“They stuck with us, and they’re absolutely remarkable,” said Lynch of Blue Dog personnel. “After 5 1/2 years you get to be a family. You get to see their ups and downs, their victories and defeats — you get really close to people.”

Tincher said that the excitement for him is in the building itself, explaining that when people come and see for themselves what’s been done, that will tell the story.

Scallops over pasta scampi is a featured dish at the Blue Dog Bar & Grill in Matlacha. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOHN LYNCH AND JESSE TINCHER

“A lot of our regulars who have been coming here for 5 1/2 years are going to walk in and not even recognize the place,” said Tincher. “It’s going to be the wow factor.”

Lynch said the Blue Dog will maintain its appeal with exceptional food and service, as it’s still the same lovable seafood dive it’s always been, with added comfort and niceties. He explained how one unique menu topper, aptly named, “fish of the moment,” came to fruition.

“It’s pretty much based on what’s currently available,” said Lynch. “Sometimes one of our fishermen will come in and have maybe a dozen pompano or sheepshead and we’ll run a special on that dozen and we’ll be out by the end of lunch and we’ll have to switch to whatever else we can get. The nice thing about being really small is that you can change things up so fish of the moment came about because we couldn’t even do fish of the day, since it wouldn’t last throughout the entire day.”

Lynch said an added bonus for him and Tincher is that it’s not just the staff they are excited to welcome back, but also the local purveyors they use. He explained that since they were closed, they obviously weren’t able to buy items such as mullet or blue crab from local fishermen.

“We really are all about community, so we’re excited to be able to use those purveyors again,” said Lynch. “We’re excited to be able to go back to our shrimpers, our mullet fishermen, our stone crabbers, our blue crabbers and our grouper fishermen. It’s important because we’re helping those families, too. It’s not just the servers, but the whole community.”

Lynch and Tincher said people can continue to expect the great local seafood and exceptional service for which the Blue Dog has become so well known. They take a great deal of pride in the compliments they receive from clientele who are impressed by the staff’s ability to connect with them, as well as with one another.

“We are told consistently that the staff is amazing, and how well they work to-gether,” said Lynch, “that they’re upbeat and fun.”

“All we heard for the 3 1/2 months we were closed was people asking when we were going to reopen,” said Tincher. “Now that we’re open again it’s almost like a relief in the community, and I am more excited now, than I was the day we got the keys to this place.”

Lynch and Tincher would like to thank the staff, community,and the people who travel great distances to show their patronage, for their support and patience over the years and in this time of recent uncertainty.

“We’re just grateful to be back open,” said Lynch. “We’re grateful for our guests who come in. These are pretty scary times with a lot of unknowns out there. We’re grateful to be able to put people back to work in the community. Pine Island has supported us from day one, so grateful would be the one word.”

The Blue Dog Bar & Grill is at 4597 Pine Island Road, Matlacha, FL 33993. For more about the restaurant, call 239-558-4970.