Blue Bamboo | SBDC UNF

Success Story

Chef Dennis Chan cutting the ribbon at his new location

Blue Bamboo

It has been a pleasure growing our business with Cathy as our guiding light.  I can’t imagine growing our business to this level without tapping into the resources that the SBDC has shared with us.  I look forward to many more years of business success with the SBDC and Cathy as our partner. – Owner, Dennis Chan

Thinking back to 2005, when Chef Dennis Chan started his Blue Bamboo restaurant, he was happy to have the opportunity to start his own restaurant by renting a location from his uncle.  But Dennis always dreamed of owning his own building where he could create the ideal place for his menu and perfect ambiance of “Hip Asian Comfort Food”.  The Florida SBDC at UNF (FSBDC at UNF) was able to help him make it a reality.

Dennis first met FSBDC at UNF business consultant Cathy Hagan in 2014 when he hosted an event at his original Blue Bamboo for members of the Florida Restaurant Association to learn how to develop a business continuity and disaster plan.  This was the start of a great relationship with the FSBDC at UNF.  In 2016, he participated in the FSBDC at UNF’s Scale Up program where he learned from expert speakers on growing his business and worked with Cathy all through the program to develop a strong plan focused on creating his dream location.  It finally happened in 2019.

The perfect location was in the middle of many neighborhoods and had great visibility from a major road.  The building was not previously a restaurant, so it was definitely worth the major renovations.  Dennis worked closely with the FSBDC at UNF to develop a business plan and financial projections.   Once it was complete, Cathy helped him identify potential banks for financing and explained the details of the SBA 7a and 504 loan programs.  The purchase of the building made the SBA 504 loan program the best choice.  Ultimately, Dennis was approved for the 504 loan with Community First Credit Union which also happened to be the sponsor for the Scale Up program he attended years ago.

While the loan to purchase the building was approved in December of 2019, it took a year to turn it into the new Blue Bamboo.  Dennis continued to call on Cathy and the FSBDC at UNF as things progressed.  Finally, in December 2020, the restaurant opened for lunch and dinner.  And despite the impact of COVID on many restaurants, the opening was a success.  Much of the menu came from the previous location, but it also included new items.  The bar was easily twice the size and the layout includes private rooms to host parties.  The FSBDC at UNF hosted the ribbon cutting for the new Blue Bamboo in April 2021.

Dennis makes referrals to the FSBDC at UNF often – including Suzy who started her confectionery and chocolate business which is housed at Blue Bamboo.  Dennis was also invited – and accepted – to be part of the FSBDC at UNF’s advisory council.

Blue BambooDennis Chan

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