BRADENTON -- Bradenton's Dave Shiplett is one busy chef. He is the head chef at Soma in downtown Bradenton and recently took a consulting gig at Ace's Lounge in West Bradenton. This week, he opened Bird Rock Taco Shack in the Village of the Arts, a restaurant born out of one of Shiplett's longtime dreams.
The bright, California-style taco shack hosted its grand opening Monday. The first few weeks of Bird Rock Taco Shack's tenure will be experimental, Shiplett said. Right now he knows the shack will be open noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Though he won't usually be open Sunday, at least in the beginning, Shiplett said he wants to keep the momentum going this weekend.
"It'll probably be 12 to 9 on Sunday and we'll do something special like put a grill outside and do $1 tacos," he said. "Maybe get some acoustic music out there."
Other open days and hours may come, Shiplett said, but he wants to focus on mastering the dinner hour at Bird Rock first. Renee Bennett, owner of Ace's Lounge, said Shiplett's influence on her dinner crowd has gone over well.
"So far we've had a tremendous response to everything, and it's really a good fit," Bennett said.
The inspiration for Bird Rock Taco Shack came from Shiplett's days living in San Diego, Calif., and one of his favorite surf spots.
"The place was called bird rock because there was this rock that looked like a bird that helped bring in the waves," Shiplett said. Often after a day of hitting the barrels, Shiplett would head to a Japanese bar called Fat City. Shiplett renamed the kitchen at Ace's Lounge "Fat City."
After spending years refining his culinary techniques and tastes, Shiplett is happy he's accomplishing all of his professional goals.
"Bird Rock is like a great hobby," he said. "I'm really able to do exactly what I want to do."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.