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Law School vs. Chef and Business Owner

Dennis Chan, Owner of Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro and Bar started his restaurant in 2005 after attending the Culinary Institute of America. Initially, Chan wanted to go to law school after completing his undergraduate degree, but during the entrance exams his thoughts were focused on what food he could sell to his friends in law school. He decided to attend culinary school instead and continue his family legacy of restaurant ownership. Chan was raised in the Jacksonville, Florida area and his family owns several restaurants in the area dating back decades. He was able to start the business on his own with the help of his family, but faced challenges related to planning for disasters and other business growth solutions. He needed to figure out how to operate and continue running his business in an area often impacted by hurricanes. He also faced challenges related to being able to operate for take-out during the pandemic.

Chan started working with the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida, an SBA resource partner to figure out how to plan for the next hurricane early in his business. Chan continued to work with the SBDC, and with Cathy Hagan, Small Business Consultant to grow his fledging business. He participated in the ScaleUp Initiative, funded by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and designed to help businesses grow and scale rapidly. Most recently, Chan has utilized an SBA 504 loan guarantee to build his new restaurant in another area of town, where most of his customers would drive from. During the pandemic, Chan utilized the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to retain his employees; and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the SBA to keep his business operational.

Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro and Bar has become well-known in the Jacksonville area. Chan currently has over 30-employees and has been able to expand his operations into a bigger space, that he owns. Chan credits “a lot of the growth and success, if not all to the impact the SBDC had on the business.” He continues to work with the SBDC to learn more marketing strategies for his business. The new building can hold over 200 people, has separate private dining spaces, and is better situated to allow for take-out orders.


Contact: Dennis Chan, Owner


Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro and Bar

10110 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32257