Jacksonville chef Dennis Chan has earned national recognition for his business acumen and leadership of his iconic restaurant – Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro — as well as its contributions to the community and the economy.
The US Small Business Administration named Chan the 2022 Small Business of the Year for Florida. Chan, who grew up in the restaurant business and carries on a family legacy, is nominated for the national award.
The SBA Award recognizes the achievements of outstanding small business owners and entrepreneurs nationwide. It also honors the contribution their business has made to their communities and the national economy,
Chan and the other state winners will be honored May 5 at a virtual summit celebrating SBA’s National Small Business Week (May 2-5) when the national winner is announced.
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“It’s really a community award because for Jacksonville to have a statewide Small Business Administration award is really saying something,” Chan told The Times-Union, adding that he was “very excited.” by the price.
Chan literally grew up in the restaurant business. From the age of 5, Chan would stand on a stool watching his beloved grandfather cook meals at the family restaurant in Jacksonville. His parents continued this tradition. Their family owned a total of 13 restaurants specializing in authentic Cantonese cuisine since the 1940s.
Working in his family’s restaurant, Chan pursued his childhood dream of having his own restaurant. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, then interned with highly respected chef Ming Tsai at his Blue Ginger restaurant in Boston.
Back home in Jacksonville, he opened Blue Bamboo in 2005 at its original Southside location. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it moved and expanded – opening Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro in late December 2020 at its current location, 10110 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin. Chan’s dream restaurant, it was built from the ground up according to his visions and specifications.
“I wanted to continue this [family] legacy and do it at a level where people could be proud to have it in our community,” Chan said.
The toughest challenge he has faced is “moving and building a brand new building in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Chan said he was at a loss for words when, just before construction began, his bank called and “asked what our plan B was” because of the pandemic.
The answer was simple.
“We continued to do what we do best, take care of our customers and we reached out to them and made sure they enjoyed all of their experiences with us and so we stayed in business,” he said. he declares.
Chan praises the restaurant staff who he says are dedicated to giving their customers the best possible experience.
The SBA award is the latest for Chan and Blue Bamboo.
In 2018 he won the General Mills Neighborhood to Nation recipe contest for his tangerine cake. He is also the author of the bestselling cookbook “Hip Asian Comfort Food”. Chan is also active in community events such as Caring Chefs, an annual fundraiser to benefit the non-profit Children’s Home Society.