The idea for Ruby’s Diner came in 1981 after Doug Cavanaugh returned from a long run on the beach. Cavanaugh had just moved back to his native Southern California after successfully restoring and running a restaurant on Nantucket Island. One evening, he was brainstorming new business opportunities with his father when he remembered that he had seen a dilapidated old building at the end of Balboa Pier—a sight that he frequently passed while jogging along the beach. With his father’s encouragement, Cavanaugh decided to take advantage of an opportunity that was sitting right in front of him—it was time to restore that run-down building into a vibrant and bustling restaurant.
To enlist help for the project, Cavanaugh reached out to his friend, Ralph Kosmides. After they obtained a long-term lease on the old building that had once been a bait shop, the two decided to move forward with a 1940s American diner theme to encapsulate the fun and nostalgia of the era. To make the diner feel authentic, Cavanaugh and Kosmides searched throughout Southern California for 1940s antiques. By December of 1982, renovations were complete and the doors officially opened to their new restaurant—Ruby’s Diner, which was named after Cavanaugh’s mother, Ruby.
With three employees and a simple menu of hamburgers, hot dogs and malt shakes, the restaurant brought in $63 on its first day. Both Cavanaugh and Kosmides felt encouraged—when they saw people walk around the pier, they were all drawn to Ruby’s charm.
“People walked by our diner with a smile on their faces. It was as if they were remembering a simpler, happier time. That’s exactly what we strived for from the very beginning,” Cavanaugh said. “At that moment we realized that we had tapped into something truly special—something that had the potential to appeal to people of all ages.”
Nearly 35 years later, Ruby’s Diner can be found throughout the country, with more than 30 restaurants across California, Nevada and Texas, including mall, casino and airport locations. Now, backed by a commitment to provide only the very best for its guests, Ruby’s is continuing its strategic growth in the Southern California market and beyond through an unparalleled franchising opportunity. Most recently, Ruby’s opened a new restaurant at the Outlets of San Clemente, which will mark the 33rd location in the brand’s growing portfolio. Franchise veteran Craig Guest, Director of Operations at Eureka Food Enterprises, will be opening the diner. The San Clemente location will mark Guest’s fifth Ruby’s franchise following his success with locations at the Citadel Outlets, in Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Outlets at Anthem in Phoenix, Arizona slated to open early 2017. Guest is just one franchise among many who share a deeply-rooted legacy with the brand.
“I have found that the versatility of the Ruby’s Diner concept combined with strong support and leadership from the Franchise Systems team has time and time again been a perfect fit not only for our development team but also for our customers,” said Guest. “Ruby’s has an incredible brand awareness—the kind you can only build by serving top-notch food for decades. People appreciate our over-the-top hospitality and our food. I’m more excited now than ever to see where the brand is going and how I can contribute to that growth.”
According to Mark Lyso, Ruby’s Diner Chief Operations Officer, what makes the investment unique for prospective franchisees is the brand’s palpable Southern California energy—but it’s not the only thing. Ruby’s also boasts three profitable day parts—breakfast lunch and dinner. And because of its scalability, a Ruby’s location can morph into many different footprints to fit an area’s unique needs.
“Ruby’s Diner is all about flexibility. Franchisees can build out a standalone restaurant, or they can choose from airports, casinos, enclosed malls or outlet malls—Ruby’s truly has the ability to thrive in anywhere. This gives franchisees the chance to look at the brand and decide for themselves how they can best make it fit in their community of choice,” Lyso said.
With an investment range of $737,500 and $1,922,000, Ruby’s is now on a mission to continue expanding throughout the country with the help of the right franchisees. And according to Cavanaugh, they’re targeting multi-unit investors to help lead the charge.
“When you become a Ruby’s restaurant franchisee, you’re partnering with an iconic Southern California brand that’s been in business for more than 35 years. Our legacy has been one of great service, great food and great restaurants. Now we want to take it to the next level and bring Ruby’s across the country,” Cavanaugh said. “Between Rubys’ experienced corporate support, strong brand following and a dining experience unlike anything else out there, we’re confident that the best is yet to come for Ruby’s.”