Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin the Place for New Oyster Bar

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin the Place for New Oyster Bar

Article excerpt

Byline: Gregory Richards, Times-Union business writer

Talk to people behind Coyotes of Mandarin, and it doesn't take long to realize what they have planned is no ordinary oyster bar.

"We're basically bringing the beach to Mandarin," said Cyndi Bigley, whose husband, Robert, is developing the new restaurant, along with partner, Howard Shafer.

The establishment's signature piece will be a 100-foot oyster bar, one that's 7 to 8 feet wide to allow for a walkway in the middle for servers and bar stools on both sides. "When people talk about our place, they're going to talk about the place with the 100-foot oyster bar," she said.

The owners expected to receive final approval from the city last week. Bigley estimated the project's cost at $500,000, including furniture and kitchen equipment.

She pegged early September as the opening time frame for the eatery, at 11700 San Jose Blvd., about a mile south of Interstate 295. It will employ about 35.

Coyotes is a reunion of sorts for Robert Bigley and Shafer, who met while working several years ago at Calico Jack's, a former oyster bar in Orange Park. Shafer, 31, promised Robert Bigley, 42, that if he ever made it big, they would open their own oyster bar together, Cindy Bigley said. Shafer recently sold his business, First Coast Rain Guard, and gave the Bigleys a call. It was finally time to open the restaurant.

On the menu will be fresh boiled crawfish, steaks, kangaroo chops, and of course, the oysters. A preliminary menu lists a half-bucket for $10.95 and a full-bucket for $18.95

Cyndi Bigley said there are plans for Coyotes to have a oyster shucking team, comprised of employees, and possibly customers. They may even sponsor a competition.

Regardless, she has no doubt they'll have the fastest shuckers around. They already have plans for a trophy case.

"Come on down if you know how to shuck," Cyndi said.

For more information, call (904) 465-6430. …

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