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Blue Bamboo owner and chef Dennis Chan
Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 11, 201905:20 AM EST

Blue Bamboo II to open in the summer in Mandarin

The kitchen area will include a baker’s table from Worman’s.
Blue Bamboo owner and chef Dennis Chan

Blue Bamboo owner and chef Dennis Chan has a name and a season – and a few special twists - for opening his second Jacksonville restaurant.

Chan said Friday he bought property at 10110 San Jose Blvd. for Blue Bamboo II, which he intends to open in late summer.

The twist is the display preparation kitchen will feature collectibles, some of them familiar to Jacksonville.

“One of our findings is a baker’s table from the former Worman’s Bakery Downtown, which will be refurbished and put to use right in that kitchen,” Chan said.

Chan opened the original Blue Bamboo, tag-lined a “Hip Asian Kitchen,” 14 years ago at 3820 Southside Blvd., carrying on a family tradition as a restaurateur.

Chan said during the approval process for the second restaurant that he wanted to open a casual Asian eatery serving Blue Bamboo favorites focusing on Cantonese Chinese fare.

He said Friday that Blue Bamboo II will serve favorites from the original Blue Bamboo menu, along with some classic Cantonese dishes from his family’s restaurants.

An artists's rendering of the Blue Bamboo II. Chef Dennis Chan says guests at the bar will have a clear view of the action in the kitchen through a long picture window.

He said the menu will include Red Curry Shrimp and Grits, Shortrib Tacos, “and we will bring on classic Cantonese dishes like Lobster in Black Bean Sauce and Ginger-Garlic Jade Tree Beef.”

Chan, through Blue Bamboo Land LLC, is buying a 4,300-square-foot vacant lawyers office building built in 1978 on 1.05 acres at northwest San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road.

He will add a kitchen and bar to create a 7,000-square-foot project.

 “In this new location, we will be able to put in many of the ‘wish-list’ features that we have longed for at our Southside location,” Chan said.

Guests at the bar will have a clear view of the action in the kitchen through a long picture window, and the dining room will offer seating options for private parties of 12 to 150 guests. 

Chan said Blue Bamboo II will have a separate takeout area, with curbside pickup spaces “so guests can handle business in their own cars while waiting to pick up dinner.”

Guests waiting for a table or for takeout inside the restaurant can watch the chefs at work in the display preparation kitchen, he said.

Chan said he has been working with the Small Business Development Center “to make sure the project will be successful.”

Chan said Meek Development Group Inc., which is managing the project, brought in a team that includes Doherty Sommers Architects Engineers and EnVision Design + Engineering. 

The Angelo Group Inc. is the contractor and Tom Ranney is designing the interior.

Blue Bamboo II is planned for the 4,300-square-foot vacant office building on 1.05 acres at northwest San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road. A kitchen and will be added to the building.

Chan said he also is working with Community First Credit Union.

The city is reviewing construction and site-clearing permits that total almost $2.25 million.

The Worman’s table brings back memories to longtime Jacksonville diners.

The Downtown Worman’s Bakery and Deli was demolished in 2012, three years after it closed in August 2009 after more than 85 years in business.

The Downtown location at 204 Broad St. served generations of customers Downtown since at least 1923.

Chan said the Worman's table was bought at auction and the current owner has used it as a workshop bench.

“When I heard what it was, and realized it was a part of Jacksonville restaurant history, I knew it had to be a part of our restaurant,” he said.

A friend who is a contractor bought the table when Worman’s closed.

“When I saw it being used as a workshop bench, I asked about it, and he told me the story of where he got it,” he said. “He saw my reaction to that story and offered it up.”

Chan said it will need a major renovation, but he thinks it should be a showpiece.

Chan said his family had a restaurant in the 1950s at Ashley and Davis streets, where Community First Credit Union stands.

“Worman's was four blocks away, and I know how often my grandfather used to enjoy their prune bear claws and apple Danishes. I can only imagine how often my grandfather must have visited his restaurant neighbors back in the day, enjoying items made on this baker's table.”

In addition, a friend gave him a gift.

“One of our friends gifted us a giant bamboo scroll that has a famous Chinese poem from Li Bai that talks about food and wine. It will serve as the backdrop in the display kitchen,” he said.

Chan has some decades-old cooking utensils, molds and wares from his family’s restaurants, including some that were never used. 

“I can't believe the thickness and quality of the stainless steel that these items are made from,” he said.

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