New R.U.B. BBQ is open for business at State and Packard in Ann Arbor
Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
“So far folks are very excited about us being here, and we’ve been getting great reviews,” said regional manager Omar Mitchell.
“Some of our customers are saying it’s about time we got some real food here in the stadium district. I guess they’re tired of the pizza and sandwiches and they want some good old southern comfort barbecue.”
The restaurant sits on the corner that separates the University of Michigan’s main campus and its main sporting arenas and stadiums.
The Packard Street location is the third for R.U.B., which stands for Real Urban BBQ. The other restaurants are in downtown Detroit and Warren. The restaurants are owned by the Yono family, and Mitchell said their longtime experience in the industry helped shorten the timeline for the Ann Arbor store’s opening.
“We really have it down to a model now,” he said.
“We can come in and open up very quickly. This location was especially easy because it was a pre-existing restaurant so we did more of a cosmetic lift. We put in new lights, splashed some paint on the walls, installed a top-of-the-line surround sound, and put in a bunch of extra beer taps.”
One major addition to the building was the restaurant’s new smoker. Mitchell said that all meats will be smoked on site and that a rear wall had to be partially demolished to make way for the the smoker, which required a forklift to move in.
Barbecue purists will be glad to hear that the pub’s brisket and pulled pork will be smoked for at least 15 hours, while the ribs will be smoked for four hours before serving.
The soft opening, which began Saturday, is designed to both introduce the restaurant to customers and to acquaint servers and cooks with the menu.
“We give away a lot of free samples and let people try different things off of our menu,” Mitchell said.
“At the same time it’s good for our wait staff and chefs to be able to get used to making everything, to break the ice so they can get more familiar before the students come back into town.”
The restaurant has about 30 employees, and Mitchell said he expects to hire another 20 to 25 as business picks up when the students arrive in town after winter break.
“We will be having a student opening next weekend that will run from Thursday (Jan. 10) through Saturday,” he said.
“There will be a bunch of specials, we’ll be giving away free flags and other trinkets, and we’ll have a DJ every night.”
While the pub will be focused on food, Mitchell said he does plan to have evening entertainment that could include DJs, karaoke, or pub trivia.
“Our goal is to be a restaurant first,” he said. “But at night time we want to be bar driven as well so locals and students can come and have great beer and good bar food.”
With the soft opening and winter break set to end next week, R.U.B. is gearing up to meet what it hopes will be a rush of new business.
“We’re waiting for students to get back and be attacked by the mayhem that will come with them,” Mitchell said. “We’re looking forward to having a great rest of the year with these folks.”