“Five Star Fun” Comes To North Port

NORTH PORT — It wasn’t the best time for North Port residents to meet Anna Maria Oyster Bar founders John Horne and his wife, Amanda. But these restaurateurs/philanthropists aren’t just fair-weather friends.

A week after they sealed the purchase of Family Table Restaurant, Hurricane Ian roared into town, shredding other businesses along Tamiami Trail but leaving their new restaurant unscathed.

They came down, set up in the parking lot, and served hot gumbo and big smiles to anyone who needed them.

“North Port is a special community that really reminds us of Bradenton,” John Horne stated in an email to The Daily Sun. “We loved meeting so many new neighbors when we hosted a pop-up meal service in the wake of Hurricane Ian. The people we met were so incredibly giving, friendly, and gracious — anyone would be lucky to have them as neighbors or guests in their restaurant.”


It’s the AMOB way — a Flo-grown family philosophy that drives every aspect of Oysters Rock Hospitality group’s culture, including an ambiance that they call “five-star fun.”

John Horne grew up in the Bartow citrus groves, in the kind of nurturing family that he realizes not every child has. As a result, he and Amanda are committed to giving back.

Their own nonprofit foundation, “Shuckin’ Good Cause,” is Oysters Rock Hospitality’s philanthropic arm, ensuring that “everyone at our table knows that they belong, and in the spirit of hospitality, that we care for one another, regardless of situation or circumstance.”

That includes an employee relief fund, local nonprofit partnerships, and their nationally recognized Dive Into Reading, a summer reading program to combat the “summer slide” in rising second and third graders from Title I schools near their locations.

“The rumors are true,” said Executive Vice President Eleni Sokos. “They actually are that authentically wonderful.”

John loves Elvis, Hawaiian shirts, and birthdays, selling margaritas the same price as his age every year. That’d be 63 cents this time around the sun. His maternal grandfather was a prison warden, so he jokes that the first kitchen he worked at was in jail.

He styles himself as “Chief Executive Oyster,” not officer. Amanda is“RoyalConsort,” and everybody’s a “rock star” in this enthusiastic culture of upbeat excellence.

“That’s what I’m most proud of,” said Sokos. “We’re not only the neighborhood restaurant of choice, but also the employer of choice. We want being at work to be the most fun you can have.”


Even before his grandpa’s jail, John’s restaurant career began in 1981 at Fast Eddie’s on Anna Maria Island, where he worked his way up to general manager. That’s also where he became a restaurant co-owner, opening the Anchorage Restaurant there in 1993.

In 1996 he opened his first Anna Maria Oyster Bar on Anna Maria City Pier, later moving to Bridge Street Pier. Three more AMOBs followed: Landside on U.S. 41, Cortez in West Bradenton, and Ellenton near I-75.

After the pandemic, during which they kept all of their employees on payroll, Oysters Rock launched an ambitious expansion effort. Every year since 2022 they added a new location, now reaching as far as south Sarasota County.

Buoyed by strong sales and a solid leadership team, Oysters Rock nearly doubled, from the original four locations to seven, including the 50-year-old Café L’Europe of St. Armands Circle.

The UTC location, running neck and neck with North Port to become the company’s fifth AMOB, opened last year.

North Port will be AMOB’s sixth and southernmost outpost, the first outside its Manatee County home base.

“Rapidly growing towns like North Port can use a family-friendly seafood spot that doesn’t break the bank,” Sokos said. “There aren’t a lot of other options to support the demand that’s there.”

In the future, they’re looking to fill the gap with a Venice location


The 7,500 square feet and 220 seats at 14132 Tamiami Trail lent themselves to a “reskinning,” Sokos said.

The interior layout remains much the same as Family Table’s, but guests will see a dramatic change in the north-side bar/tavern. There, a Seminole-built tiki connects to the wraparound inside bar via sliding glass doors, creating an indoor-outdoor experience.

The bar is crowned with a signature AMOB shucking station, where shuckers and fresh shellfish are on full display. Lining the entire bar top, an ice-filled trough keeps diners’ shellfish chilled right in front of them.

AMOB’s extra-large oysters are sourced from the Gulf as well as up and down the Atlantic coast.

Beyond their specialties that swim, there are steaks, burgers, wings, salads, tacos, hushpuppies, and margaritas, all consistently landing awards for Best All-Around Restaurant, Best Seafood Restaurant, and Best Margarita in the Bradenton area.

Look for the same menu and pricing as at other AMOB locations, with daily deals like Monday’s AUCE fish and chips, Tuesday’s Maine lobster, Wednesday’s salmon dinner duo, Wine Down Wednesdays, and daily happy hour.

Over the summer, North Port plans a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekend brunch.

Regular hours after the mid-May opening will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday

Sue Wade

North Port Sun