Anna Maria Oyster Bar is founded on the Anna Maria City Pier. The City Pier will always be home to us, because that’s where we established regulars and made a name for ourselves with our fresh seafood & fun atmosphere. However, we started off real slow here in the fun category. despite one favorite memory I have of the City Pier, and there are MANY, One night we were incredibly busy… and we had been getting close to breaking records on our busiest day ever. I made the statement if we did over $10,000 in sales in one day that I’d jump right off the dock into the bay… it was March I remember… so all the servers kept pushing appetizers and desserts and anything that would get more sales and get me into the water.
Sure enough, we hit our goal, and as soon as all the food was out of the kitchen… I headed for the bay… as I said I remember it was March and the water was COLD!!! But what I didn’t remember was… there was no ladder to climb back up on the dock from the water… oops! That as a nice 741-foot-long swim to shore! It was worth it for sure. We miss the City Pier in Anna Maria but are happy to be back on the island at a different Pier on Bridge Street.
Thanks to the support of those regulars, we decided to make ourselves more accessible to “Mainlanders” and move inland. We opened Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside on US 41 just north of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. We named this corporation Opus Management Group, Inc. because we liked Opus Wine…we were sure we’d get a cease and desist order from the winery someday so we came up with an acronym of Oysters Pay US in case we had to “argue” with an “unknown” winery somewhere in California playing dumb. Little did we know that we would indeed get a “cease and desist” letter from an attorney…but not representing Opus Winery (they’re too classy to worry about corporate names found only in the Secretary of State’s registry in Tallahassee), but from OPUS Construction Company (or Opus Realtors…I can’t remember) in our own hometown…said something about “tortious interference of business” or something to that effect.
I asked my Uncle Clint (our corporate lawyer… we were his token ‘pro bono’ client) to send them a letter telling them we couldn’t possibly be interfering with their business as the name Opus was nowhere in our books other than on official documents…not in phone books (I think those were still around then).The letter went on and on about probably not even our employees had ever heard of Opus Management Group, Inc as it wasn’t even on their paychecks…Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside was all they knew…well, I guess their lawyers were ready to spend more than we were…and Clint didn’t want unnecessary pro bono work, trust me…I can remember him asking me how much I wanted to spend fighting it…or spend $200 and change the name of the corporation…so I caved and changed the name…I put a “P” on the front of the name and renamed it pOpus Management Group, Inc. It’s still pronounced Opus: \ˈŌ-pəs\ but the “P” is silent. Problem solved.
The original Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Anna Maria City Pier closed its doors one last time. This was the hardest decision we have made so far, but it was our regulars who made it easier by continually visiting our inland location regularly. And at the time, I was also involved in the process of opening a different concept, The Lazy Lobster on Lockwood Ridge and Tallevast Roads…being huge fans of Mel Brooks and the movie Blazing Saddles, instead of Lockwood Ridge…we called that corporation Rock Ridge Restaurant, Inc. after the famous town they built a railroad through in the movie.
Business in town was booming and it was time for Anna Maria Oyster Bar to grow once more. We opened the doors in September of 2002 to Anna Maria Oyster Bar Cortez on Cortez Road West about 5 miles from the beaches of Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. While doing our due diligence in scouting the new location, it seemed the answer to every question was “Right, right, right, right, right” I don’t know why but it just seemed to be that way…so we named the company there, R to the Fifth, Inc. for Right to the Fifth Power just didn’t sound right.
Stan Rutstein, our real estate agent extraordinaire came to us with a “property we couldn’t pass on.” Well, he was right and what do you know?! We opened the doors to Anna Maria Oyster Bar Ellenton at US 301 and I-75. This property has proven to be a “property we couldn’t pass on” as it battles with Landside to be our busiest location to this date. We purchased this property, so the task of naming was more daunting this time around…we had to come up with a name for an LLC to purchase the building and another one for the operating company…you know how attorneys like levels of insulation against lawsuits, don’t you. I’m beginning to realize it’s so they can fight for two entities and double dip the billing on you…but that’s for another day.
Once again, I called Uncle Clint and told him I needed an LLC for the purchase. He asked me what name I’d like and I told him, “The Lobotomy Wore Off, LLC”…he told me I couldn’t use that and I responded that I’d checked on State’s website and there wasn’t one already (I’d learned my lesson on pOpus.) He said it needs to be something calmer like Horne Property, LLC or John Horne Ellenton Restaurant, LLC or something like that…I turned into a 12-year old and asked, “Why?” he tried to convince me that he was right but my endless “Why’s? wore him down and he formed The Lobotomy Wore Off, LLC. A week later, a half-page business section story was in the Bradenton Herald with the headline, “Oyster Bar owner must be crazy” describing corporate name as that’s what got the writer’s attention…I sent Uncle Clint a copy to show him the value of a fun name. I have a framed copy on the wall in my office to remind me to ask “Why?”
When we looked at naming the operating company, I asked Laura our Office Manager if she had any good ideas for the newest company. Laura was frustrated with the filing differentiating between R to the Fifth, Rock Ridge and said, I don’t care what you call the next one, but it better not have an R in the title…you guessed it, No R’s in Ellenton, Inc. It was either that or No G’s in Ellenton as so many pronounce it Ellington…we like the No R’s better. Of course, with us, there’s usually a double meaning and in this case, we’re subtly referring to the “Old Wive’s Tale” dating back to times before modern refrigeration tactics when oysters were not recommended to eat during months with “No R’s” in the name.
After many attempts to buy the building on 41 where pOpus operates we were finally at a point of agreement with the landlords to purchase…we’d been here before…many times actually…only to be jilted at the altar by a runaway seller…I’d formed an LLC 10 years earlier thinking we were gonna get to the closing table…its name is “BOTWASM, LLC” from the movie Bull Durham…another acronym for the words Kevin Costner’s “Crash Davis” said to Tim Robbins’ “Nuke LaLoosh” “Bring On That Weak A$$ed S%$# Meat” but too many years had lapsed, so we used this name for an unrelated transaction so we didn’t lose a classic. Inevitably when it came to the time of the sale we needed another name… so after being left at the altar so many times and this sale finally happening, we started “Finally A Bride, LLC.”
Fast forward to the most recent location. We were awarded the bid for the Bradenton Beach Bridge Street Pier restaurant location. We decided to change it up a little and roll out a new concept due to the size of the restaurant. We opened our doors late December of 2015 to AMOB On The Pier, an abbreviated version of the Anna Maria Oyster Bars. The first concept was what is referred to as, Fast Casual, you order at the counter and receive a famous person’s name, get your condiments and drinks, find a table, read a fun fact on your famous person while you wait for your food to be delivered to your table either inside the restaurant or while outside watching dolphins play and fishermen on the Pier. In 2017, we decided that the view was too beautiful to be “fast and casual,” so we restructured our service style to tableside. Now, you can enjoy Pier time as long as you want!
So after being away from Anna Maria Island for 16 years, we almost made the full circle and returned to the island. So is there a more fitting name for the company other than, We’re Back, Inc.? Maybe we should have added a few more a’s to sound better…we’re baaaaaack!
- Small Business of the Year (Manatee, Sarasota, and Longboat Key Chambers of Commerce)
- Spirit of Manatee Volunteer of the Year
- Corporate Spirit Award
- 70+ People’s Choice Favorites from Local Newspaper Publication Readers
- USF 2014-2015 Hospitality Leadership Award
- Tourism Ambassador Award
- Anna Maria Island Rotary Club’s Small Businessperson of the Year Award
- 2018 National Restaurant Association Education Foundation Annual Restaurant Neighbor Award
- 2019 Leadership Florida Impact Award for Dive Into Reading
- Bradenton Kiwanis Bert South Award
- 2020 Florida Department of Education Commissioners Business Award
- 2020 Bartow High School Hall of Fame
- 2020 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Seal of Commitment (1st in FL)
- U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week
- Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best: Top 10% of Restaurants
- Tampa Bay Business Journal One Tampa Bar Corporate Philanthropy Honoree
- Florida Department of Education Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award
- Longboat Key Chamber Ed and Marge Moran Memorial Award for Community Service
- 2019 Leadership Florida Impact Award for Dive Into Reading
- 2019 Bradenton Kiwanis Foundation Bert South Philanthropic Award for Dive Into Reading
- 2019 PACE Spirit for Leadership Award presented to Amanda Horne
- 2018 Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Person of the Year on behalf of Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Pier.
- 2018 National Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s “Restaurant Neighbor Award” presented in Washington, DC for AMOB’s long history of supporting our community.
- 2018 FRLA named Landside’s Cherise Sherwin “Restaurant Employee of the Year”
- 2018 Herald Tribune Manatee Readers’ Choice – First Place: Early Bird Dinner, Seafood Restaurant and Finalist: Margarita, Outdoor Dining, Happy Hour
- 2017 Spirit of Manatee Community Spirit Award
- 2017 Bradenton Herald People’s Choice Favorite – Best All-Around Restaurant, Best Early Bird Special, Best Happy Hour, Best Raw Bar, Best Margarita, AND Best Seafood Restaurant
- 2016 Visit Bradenton Gulf Islands Tourism Ambassador of the Year Award and 2014 Champion of Tourism Award
- 2016 Anna Maria Island Sun #1 New Restaurant
- 2015 Greater Sarasota Chamber Small Business of the Year
- 2015 America’s Blood Center Corporation of the Year