AJ’s lands at No. 40 in national nightclub ranking

Special to The Log
“My staff is wonderful and a major part of our success,” says AJ’S owner Alan Laird. “And I will speak for them when I say we look forward to another eight years of being the ‘Top’ place to be for seafood, fun on the water and nighttime entertainment.”

Not that they need a reason to party, but the gang at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar has 40 more reasons to celebrate.

Once again, AJ’s has found its place in the Nightclub & Bar’s Top 100 for 2013.

Ranked at No. 40, AJ’s Club Bimini has been a key part of this national list of major players in late night entertainment since the Top 100’s inception in 2005, making it eight consecutive years that Destin nightlife has matched the quality of such major markets as Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles. AJ’s is one of only 15 Florida establishments on the list, and the only other nightspot from Northwest Florida was Pensacola’s Seville Square, which came in at No. 84.

The Top 100 was developed by Nightclub & Bar in partnership with Chicago-based hospitality market research firm Technomic, Inc. and is called the most reliable and only revenue-based ranking of nightlife venues. The roster is developed through a rigorous program involving primary research and analysis of secondary sources. The primary research included a survey conducted from Oct. 9 until Dec. 7, 2013, which generated more than 1,400 responses.

“I continue to be amazed by the ability of our small fishing community to go head to head with Vegas and New York in the entertainment business,” said Alan Laird, owner of  the restaurant and Club Bimini. “The beaches, great seafood, fishing and our one-of-a-kind outdoor venue for live music, fun times and cool libations all combine to make what I consider the vacation experience of a lifetime.”

According to David Henkes, Vice President and On-premise Practice Leader at Technomic, Inc., the competition was steep.

"The bar and nightclub segment grew 3.9 percent in 2012, and these venues achieved strong results during a year of slow economic recovery. This demonstrates not only the relevance of the concepts but also the strength of their operations and promotional programs," he said. "They're connecting with consumers and engaging them with entertainment and service elements that are driving success."

Tracy McCraw, marketing director for AJ’s, said it hasn’t always been easy staying at the forefront of fun.

“What makes the past three years even more astonishing is the fact that we have faced so many formidable obstacles along the way,” he said. “The pressure of maintaining the previous year’s success is a challenge in itself and then add to that the BP oil spill plus a slow economy. It is a testament to our community that, through all of this, those who love Destin keep coming back… and more vacationers and friends are joining them.” 

A member of the Destin community since 1984, AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar and Club Bimini have grown from a waterfront vision into a destination for those looking for adventure and entertainment.

“I am so proud of every one who makes it possible for us to provide this oasis of fun-in-the-sun we call AJ’s,” Laird said. “There are so many additions we have made to Club Bimini, and are making, to make sure we remain the place to be on the Emerald Coast. Our new kitchen, bands, and even the new menus are all changes that we have made to better take care of our guests.”