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Midcentury modern concept rolls out with first Ruby’s dinette at Westfield Plaza Bonita Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 27 2013 01:24 PM

It’s the first of its kind and a bold addition to the Irvine-based Ruby Restaurant Group. The concept is midcentury modern and this definitely isn’t the 1940s-themed sit-down Ruby’s restaurants we’ve been accustomed to dining in since the early 1980s.

The new concept quick-serve dinette made its debut earlier this month at Westfield Plaza Bonita. It sits in a prime location in the food court adjacent to the AMC complex.

The grand opening special that runs through the end of the month features a cheeseburger, shoestring fries and a soft drink for $6.99. According to staff, it’s been extremely popular.

The price goes up $1 on Oct. 1, but that still seems a bargain.

In fact, that appears to be the cornerstone of the new concept — inexpensive food with bold flavors and gourmet ingredients.

The dinette features bar seating, replete with 1960s era purse hooks beneath the tabletop and authentic square back vinyl seats. However, diners are encouraged to order and then eat in the plaza’s nearby food court seating area.

Ruby’s founder Doug Cavanaugh, who named the restaurant chain for his mother, decided to go for the makeover after realizing the customer demographic has changed. While 1940s nostalgia was in vogue 30 years ago, a new generation has since come to the table, so to speak.

Cavanaugh’s own nostalgia harkens from the 1960s, specifically Southern California in the 1960s (hence the lava lamp).

All new Ruby’s restaurants will feature this theme, though older sit-down restaurants will retain their 1940s appeal.

Cavanaugh likes to refer to the upgrade as “next generation Ruby’s,” according to Jaime DeJong, director of marketing and franchise services.

Ruby’s features 38 locations in six states. A deluxe dinette concept store, where servers will bring orders to seated customers, will be opening soon in Parkway Plaza in El Cajon.

“We have put about $130 million into the plaza over the last few years, and to me, these types of business that attract members of our community are always a benefit,” National City councilmember Mona Rios said.

Besides the new-look dinette concept, the menu also has undergone a makeover.

The hot potato chip baskets — particularly the bacon and bleu cheese — have been an instant hit with diners. Other flavors include buffalo sauce and chili cheese. At $4.49 apiece they are almost a meal in themselves.

New signature burgers include the peppadew (sweet/spicy red peppers imported from South Africa), Ensenada (Ortega chili with fried egg) and ranch (bacon with avocado and ranch dressing).

The build-a-burger option ($4.99) is also new. The 16 oz. shakes and malts are $3.99.

Vegetarian items abound, reflecting the beginning of the health-conscious eating that began with the 1960s. The peppadew and portobello melt ($6.49) comes highly recommended.

The apple, pecan and bleu cheese salad ($7.99) is also veggie-friendly.

Gluten-free bread can also be substituted on any burger or melt.

Ruby’s dinette follows Westfield Plaza Bonita’s operating hours: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Call 327-7829 or visit www.Rubys.com for more information.

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