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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 15, 202005:20 AM EST

Takeout, online cooking classes boost chef Dennis Chan

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Owner of the Blue Bamboo restaurant is thankful for a surge in to-go orders, says plans are still on for a second location in Mandarin.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

COVID-19’s impact has slowed construction on chef Dennis Chan’s second restaurant, Blue Bamboo II in Mandarin, but he said the project is still on. 

“It’s still a concrete bunker that they’re moving dirt around every day,” Chan said in an April 8 phone interview.

Project contractor The Angelo Group Inc. kept crews working at the 10110 San Jose Blvd. site to convert a former law office into a $2.19 million, 7,401-square-foot “Hip Asian Cuisine” restaurant. 

Chan, through Blue Bamboo Land LLC, paid $899,000 for the property in November. 

Chan has not received a project timeline update from Angelo Group, but he expects to open in early fall. 

The Jacksonville chef and restaurateur has been able to keep his business solvent and visible during the government-ordered coronavirus quarantine with expanded takeout and online cooking courses.

He hopes both services will increase Blue Bamboo’s revenue after Mayor Lenny Curry and Gov. Ron DeSantis lift their state of emergency declarations.

Blue Bamboo added Chan’s repertoire to Jacksonville Restaurant Reviews’ online cooking classes on jaxresturantreviews.com for $10 per course. 

Chef Dennis Chan is converting a 4,300-square-foot vacant office building on 1.05 acres at 10110 San Jose Blvd. into his second restaurant.

Chan led in-person cooking classes throughout Blue Bamboo’s 15 years in business at 3820 Southside Blvd. His third online course through the local restaurant review blog was April 10 and he plans to do more.

“We were looking for a way that we could still stay connected with and do something good for our community,” Chan said.

Although the restaurant has seen an overall drop in revenue, Chan said Blue Bamboo’s to-go business has grown 300% in the past month.

“Our takeout business volume was so low before, because everyone came in for the experience of our restaurant. Now, they’re supporting us by buying takeout,” Chan said. “We’re just doing what we can to give them the best takeout experience we can give.”

Chan said the success of Blue Bamboo’s takeout service and online classes during the pandemic signals a change in customer trends. He said Blue Bamboo II will have a dedicated space for takeout service. 

Chan expects to continue online access to Blue Bamboo’s in-person cooking courses and hopes to capture a wider audience.

“We will definitely make part of our normal cooking classes virtual,” he said. “What we’ve realized is, when we do virtual events, there’s no limit to who we can reach. When we have a cooking class you have to be present for, there’s a limit to who can make it to your space.” 

Blue Bamboo retained its 12 employees during the pandemic economic slowdown, but Chan reduced working hours by 20% without dine-in service.

Blue Bamboo is open for takeout from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and 5-8 p.m. for dinner until social distancing orders are lifted.

“I always knew how much our regular customers loved us and supported us. We’re always very thankful for that,” Chan said. “The fact that they’re still coming out and ordering from us, it makes me feel even better about doing what we love.

“That support really reconfirms that we’re doing the right thing.” 

“I always knew how much our regular customers loved us and supported us. We’re always very thankful for that,” Chan said.

 

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