Let’s start at the beginning. The original neighborhood joint was opened in April of 1994 in Snider Plaza, Dallas. It was not a seafood restaurant, but a coffee bar called Michele’s Coffee Bar and Café.
Bill Bayne was a regular breakfast customer at this little coffee shop in Snider Plaza. He thought the place would make a great oyster bar and asked the owner if he would be willing to sell the restaurant. Instead they joined forces and began planning the conversion of Michele’s Coffee Bar into Shell’s Oyster Bar.
Shell’s Oyster Bar and Grill opened on November 1, 1995 with a simple menu of shrimp, catfish and oysters. It was an instant hit! Bill and his partner were soon planning to expand the operation and the menu with a second location in Colleyville and a third in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.
With Shells growing so quickly and successfully they began to get noticed. One company that noticed them was Shells out of Florida. Shells insisted that this little company in Texas was infringing on their name and a lawsuit was promptly filed. Having no money to battle a large company, Texas Shells changed its name to Half Shells and has never looked back.
Behind every cloud is that silver lining. From the lawsuit sprang an idea that if they were to grow larger another name change was in order. Rockfish Seafood Grill became the name to grow with.
Bill was in charge of operations, menu development and product quality. His wife Lovett joined the firm as the Chief People Person. The original partner was in charge of real estate, construction and bookkeeping. Well, after five restaurants the partners decided they wanted the concept to grow in two different directions. One wanted to grow quickly with larger, freestanding stores on highway locations. The other, Bill, felt that we had found a great niche to grow with; being a neighborhood seafood joint. Not just any neighborhoods, upscale and/or unique neighborhoods seemed to be the ideal locations.
Bill and Lovett sold out of Rockfish in spring of 2000 and kept the original “Shell’s” as part of the deal. They formed their own company and named it “Neighborhood Ventures, Inc.” to emphasize their commitment to growing small stores within neighborhoods. They opened a second Half Shells in Plano at Legacy Town Center and then set their sights on expanding the concept. Needing a trademark able name, they chose Fish City Grill. All new restaurants will open under the Fish City Grill brand.