Lakeway, Texas-based Ford Restaurant Group is scheduled to begin construction of a 7,000 square-foot convenience store and barbecue restaurant at the corner of 31st street and Highway 24.
Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q will seat 250 people, with seating available for 60 or more on an outdoor patio, and employ up to 80 workers.
“We have been working on this project for over three years,” said Pete Bassett, vice president and director of operations for Rudy’s. “The property had to be rezoned and we had to get a developmental plan through the city. It was just a long process of dotting all the Is and crossing the Ts, so we’re excited to finally get the paperwork behind us and are ready to start turning some dirt and cooking some barbecue.”
Colorado Springs-based Christofferson Commercial Builders, which has built all but three of the 17 Rudy’s locations, will construct the local restaurant and retail store.
The combination convenience store/restaurant will include gasoline pumps and three oak-fired pit barbecues, capable of cooking 400 pounds of meat each.
Bassett said the company is shooting for a late spring/early summer opening.
“The first stage is pouring the foundation,” he said. “Hopefully, by the first of the year, we’ll have a better idea of what time we’re looking at.”
Rudy’s was founded during 1989 by Phil Romano, the founder of Fudruckers and Macaroni Grill. Ford Restaurant Group, which started as a Rudy’s franchisee during 1994, purchased Rudy’s during 1996 and opened its first company property in New Braunfels, Texas, during 1996.
The brand is popular in Texas, where Ford operates 15 locations.
“Colorado Springs is a beautiful city and has a diverse business climate,” Bassett said. “We have seen a lot of interest from Colorado Springs residents through our Web site and Christofferson was instrumental in pointing out the site to us.”
Rudy’s executives like this location because of its proximity to the Red Rock Open Space and the traffic counts along Highway 24.
Most Rudy’s locations include gas pumps and a country store that sells chips, soda, packaged beer, candies and breakfast tacos during the morning hours. The Colorado Springs also will serve as a staging area for the restaurant, which features counter service and a large family-style dining area.
“We’ll have long banquet tables that seat up to 20 people so it’s real conducive to families and large parties,” Bassett said. “We’ll also have an enclosed patio with garage doors that we can open up during nice weather, and a party room that accommodate up to 60 people for large gatherings or meetings”
Rudy’s has weathered the current recession well. Bassett said most locations recognized sales gains this year compared to 2008, and keeping things simple has been the key to their success.
“We have 10 meat selections, eight side order items and five dessert selections,” he said. “That helps simplify our ordering process and helps us to stay focused on our core products. We sell our meats by the half pound, so you can get a sandwich, chips and a drink for around six bucks.”
Bassett describes Rudy’s as Texas Hill Country barbecue. Its meats are smoked over oak wood with a dry rub. Beef brisket is the company’s best-selling item, followed closely by smoked turkey breast and baby-back ribs.
Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.