After six years in Cherry Creek, Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood is coming out of its shell.
Owner Sean Huggard signed a lease last month for a second restaurant in 4,500 square feet within Lone Tree’s RidgeGate development. He plans to open the new Blue Island at 10008 Commons St.
“I’ve always wanted to open more than one Blue Island, but life kind of got in the way,” Huggard said.
Huggard created the seafood restaurant at 2625 E. 2nd Ave. in Cherry Creek as a way to bring his Boston roots to Denver in 2015. He said the business set a sales record last week.
Prior to the pandemic, Huggard and his partner Chris Quartuccio, who owns an oyster farm in New York, were getting ready to sign a lease for a location in Miami, where they have a wholesale oyster office.
“The pandemic really made us rethink our growth plans,” Huggard said. “I might feel comfortable opening a location out of state today, but six months ago refocused our attention closer to home.”
“That had never been in my thought process,” he added. “I had always wanted to open one Blue Island per major metropolitan area. It’s farmer-owned and a special brand, so I wondered if Denver could handle more than one. I didn’t want to take away from Cherry Creek sales by opening up somewhere else.”
Huggard strongly considered opening a new restaurant in LoHi but ultimately decided that the suburbs would be the best fit.
“The clientele in Lone Tree mimics the same clientele we see in Cherry Creek to a tee,” Huggard said. “Fresh seafood is not inexpensive, and our typical customer has more disposable income. Douglas County is one of the wealthiest in America, and it’s missing a lot of locally bred restaurants. So, we wanted to extend the quality of our food and environment to them.”
Huggard said another operator had intended to open a restaurant in Blue Island’s new location and had built out 75 percent of the space before backing out.
“It gave us a leg up to go in and customize it as a Blue Island,” he said.
The 3,500-acre RidgeGate, which is being developed by Coventry Development Corp. on both sides of Interstate 25, will include more than 12 million square feet of office, retail and health care space and up to 10,000 new homes.
Kiewit construction has added a regional headquarters on the development’s west side, and Charles Schwab added a 467,000-square-foot campus with a mixed-use building not far from the Blue Island spot.
The Lone Tree development is anchored by a Target and other local concepts such as Sushi-Rama and Snooze have joined the mixed-use community.
Now that he’s opening a second Blue Island, Huggard said he is looking for a brick-and-mortar space for his takeout concept, Blue Tide Tacos, which he debuted during the pandemic out of Blue Island’s kitchen. Blue Tide Tacos serves selections of fish tacos and burritos, such as blackened cod, and surf and turf.