Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 5 9 RUBY'S DINER MOVING FORWARD Recognizing demographic realities, this retro diner chain is moving beyond its 1940s design to the broader appeal of the late '50s and early '60s. PROJECT PROFILE By Toby Weber T he basics for a 1940s-style diner aren't complicated: white floors and walls, red booths, big band and swing on the sound system, and burgers on the menu. That's exactly what Doug Cavanaugh put in place when he opened the first Ruby's Diner 36 years ago on the Balboa pier in Newport Beach, Calif. Cavanaugh didn't stop there, though. He decorated Ruby's Diner with pieces from the period, ones that he found at antique and memorabilia shops over the course of several months. As a lover of vintage and retro, Cavanaugh especially enjoyed this part of the project. He wasn't just indulging in a hobby, though. This approach made business sense first and foremost, he says. "No matter how young you are or how advanced you are, every once in a while, you want to escape to a simpler time. Ruby's has always been about recreating that essence very accurately." Cavanaugh has been faithful to his vision for Ruby's in the years since the first store opened. The chain now has 35 locations in five states. Almost all of these are decorated with unique pieces from the 1940s, most of which he sourced himself. Cavanaugh's desire to customize has done more than just create a more authentic experience. It's also given almost every restaurant its own identity within the 1940s diner genre with design elements and touches that often connect the restaurant to its community very specifically. The Ruby's in Carlsbad, Calif., near a train station, features a working model train set suspended from the ceiling. Ruby's on the Lake in Irvine, Calif. has a collection of vintage model boats. Other Ruby's restaurants fea- ture bumper cars inside or classic cars parked out front. Finding the Sweet Spot While this customized 1940s approach has helped Ruby's succeed, a few years ago, Cavanaugh realized it was time for a change. When the chain was founded, people who grew up in the 1940s were in their prime. Now, he says, they're "going on to their reward," making an update to the nostalgic tone necessary. Snapshot Headquarters: Newport Beach, Calif. Concept owner: The Ruby Restaurant Group Concept: Retro American diner serving breakfast and classic American fare including burgers, fries, shakes and salads Segment: Casual dining Location: San Clemente, Calif. Units: 34 Opened: March 2017 Size: 4,880-square-foot interior and 1,715-square-foot patio Seats: 113 inside, 96 outside Real estate: Endcap in a high-end outlet mall Design highlights: 1960s California surf-themed restaurant with a groin-vaulted ceiling and a rotating surfboard chandelier. Other highlights include a tiki room for private dining and a sectioned Airstream trailer framing the kitchen entry and pass- thru window. Build-out time: Six months

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