Musician and recording artist, Eric Stone, spent 15 years touring the United States during the early 2000’s, being sure to play at Dockside any time he traveled through the Keys. In December 2013, Eric was scheduled for another gig at his favorite Keys venue. “They called me up when I was coming into work to play another shift and they told me they weren’t going to open back up,” said Eric. He shared his surprise and sadness about the soon-to-be-condemned restaurant and bar with his wife Kim Hess-Stone. It was then the couple decided they weren’t going to let Dockside sink any further into the ocean (literally).
And so, the transformation began. The bar was gutted, improper pilings from many years back were rectified, a back bar system was installed to keep 12 craft beers on tap and ice cold, and the menu was revamped with a Caribbean flair. This weekend marks more than just a celebration of the Dockside’s rebirth; it is also a testament to perseverance, lots of invested capital, and a labor of love.
“This has been a tough road for us. The place was on its last leg, we’re extremely proud of what we’ve done and excited to have the opportunity to celebrate many, many more anniversaries to come,” said Eric.
While the party is already underway, the weekend culminates a three-day music fest. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be back-to-back performances everyday from 3 to 10 p.m. The lineup includes: Shawn Brown, Jean Dowdle, Sultans of Twang, the Carnival Steel Drum Band duo and of course, the Eric Stone Band headlining Friday and Saturday night.
Fingers crossed and depending on its arrival, the debut of Dockside’s newest draft may also be thrown in the mix. The amber beer was brewed specifically for Dockside and inspired by Shiner Bock, a beer brewed in Eric’s hometown of Belmont, Texas. “It’s called Dockside Acoustic Amberdock and the tap handle was specifically designed like a six string guitar handle, it’s pretty neat” said Eric proudly.
Adding to the fun is the Boot Key Harbor Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 13. The judges’ table is traditionally located at Dockside for the boats’ final stop. Last year, close to 1,000 people lined the dock for the holiday event. Satellite beer coolers will be widely available for dockside beer purchase. “We’ll have every bartender and their sister working that night, manning the beer coolers and holding down the bar,” laughed Eric.
A celebration and reunion, long-time friends Steve and his wife Dawn Hendrickson of the Carnival Steel Drum Band are honored to be gracing the stage again this year. “Being retired boat captains, we’ve been in a million waterfront bars and a lot of them don’t last their first year, so while it was a blast to play at the grand opening, it’s even more rewarding to play for Dockside’s first year anniversary,” said Steve. The dynamic duo plans on attending every anniversary so they can “party like they use to with all the rest of the pirates.”
Eric and Kim dream of making Dockside the best music venue in the state of Florida. Eric is constantly drawing a great mix of local, regional and national entertainment to Dockside’s stage. “We try to keep it fresh, it’s never going to get stale here,” said Eric. One thing is for sure, if the first year is any indication of Dockside’s future creativity and prosperity, there’s a high probability of many more anniversary parties to come. Join Dockside this weekend to toast to another 365 days of the year.