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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 2, 202005:20 AM EST

Chan will close first Blue Bamboo when his ‘dream restaurant’ opens in Mandarin

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The owner says he plans a December launch with takeout only.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

At the start, Blue Bamboo owner Dennis Chan didn’t think transforming a law office into an Asian restaurant would be too difficult. 

After initially hoping to open this summer, Chan estimates his second Blue Bamboo will launch by December, nearly a year and nine months after he began planning to build the restaurant at 10110 San Jose Blvd. 

Chan bought the Mandarin property for $899,000 in November.

“Well, had I known that it was going to be as difficult as it was, I would have had them draw me a building from the ground up,” he said. 

The initial build-out cost estimate was about $2.2 million. Chan said that number now is estimated at $2.3 million after making a few adjustments to “treat our guests to.”

Chan said it will cost an estimated at $2.3 million to convert the former law office into a restaurant. Chan bought the property for $899,000.

Chan said to build what he calls his “dream restaurant” in Mandarin, he needed to make some sacrifices. 

That means closing the original Blue Bamboo location at 3820 Southside Blvd. and consolidating operations in the new space. His 20 staffers will transfer to the Mandarin location and he will hire 20 more. 

“With COVID and everything that has happened and this growing to the dream restaurant that we have, we said OK, it’s time to make the decision,” he said. “It’s too important to us to make sure everything goes right.”

Colliers International is listing the original 7,398-square-foot restaurant for $1.5 million. Chan said his 90-year-old uncle owns the building and does not want to worry about managing it anymore. Blue Bamboo has operated there for 15 years.

Chan said he will be closer to many loyal customers when he opens the new restaurant. That’s part of the reason he chose a location in Mandarin, he said. 

“We think the neighborhood can support our dream restaurant,” Chan said. 

The original Blue Bamboo at 3820 Southside Blvd. is listed for sale at $1.5 million.

About three months from completion, Chan said the restaurant still needs a ceiling, flooring and paint, among other work. 

When it opens in December, for several weeks it will be for takeout only before offering dine-in, Chan said. 

The restaurant will have a full bar, takeout counter and three private rooms that seat 20, 30 or 60 people. It will total about 7,000 square feet. 

The original building was about 4,300 square feet. The addition houses the kitchen, bar and restrooms in the back of the building. 

There have been some unexpected obstacles and changes to the plan as it has progressed, Chan said. During demolition, builders found that the side walls of the building weren’t up to code and had to be reinforced.

Because of the pandemic, Chan made some changes to the bathroom design to add touchless sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers. He also added decorative partitions between tables to help keep people separated. 

“That kind of stuff, it starts to chip away at your budget after a while,” he said. “But in the end, we’ll get this wonderful, usable space that really is our dream restaurant.”

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