People ask me all the time, “how did it all begin……?”
So with that question in mind, and perhaps seeking a little insight into the fun behind-the-scenes…….it all starts with some crazy corporate names, and the stories behind the names of our corporations.
1996 – Anna Maria Oyster Bar is founded on the Anna Maria City Pier. The City Pier will always be home to us, which was where we established regulars and made a name for ourselves with our fresh seafood. We started off real slow here in the fun category…although one favorite memory I have of the pier…and there are MANY…was one night we were incredibly busy…and getting close to breaking records on busiest day ever…I made the statement if we did over 10 grand in sales I’d jump 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.
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…what I didn’t remember was…there was no ladder to climb back up on the pier from the water…ooops…nice 741’ swim to shore! It was worth it for sure. We miss the pier in Anna Maria and are happy to be back on the island at a different Pier.
1997 – 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 Secretary of State’s register 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…aka his basic pro bono client) to send a letter to them 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 name of the corporation…so I caved and changed the name…I put a “P” on front of name and renamed it pOpus Management Group, Inc. It’s still pronounced Opus: \ˈŌ-pəs\ the “P” is silent. Problem solved.
1999 – The Original Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Anna Maria City Pier closed their doors one last time. This was the hardest decision we have made so far but it was our regulars who made it easy by continually visiting our inland location regularly. And we were also in 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 thru in the movie.
2002 – 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 Rd about 5 miles from the beaches of Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island.
While doing our due diligence of 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.
2003 – 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 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 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 headline, “Oyster Bar owner must be crazy” describing corporate name as that’s what got writer’s attention…I sent Uncle Clint a copy to show him 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 newest company…she 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.
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 and we used it for another transaction so we didn’t lose a classic. So we needed another one…and after being left at the altar so many times and the sale happening, we started, Finally A Bride, LLC.
2015 – 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 concept is 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!
So after being off 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!
It’s gotta be fun!!!
We are still so excited to see our loyal regulars who come in to enjoy their favorite dishes at all of our 4 locations. At the same time, we believe in variety and trying to offer new and creative dishes so that even guests who eat with us frequently will find different options during every visit. Our goal is to serve great tasting food in a clean, comfortable, fun atmosphere with friendly, prompt and courteous service. We have made so many friends at the O-Bars throughout the years and are looking forward to making many more. We really appreciate that you have chosen our restaurants to patronize.