What had long been the Ruby Tuesday along Benvenue Road is soon going to be a Dodge City Steakhouse.
Melissa Hand is the general manager of the future location and she told the Telegram the plan is to start serving customers at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Hand said this is going to be the fourth Dodge City Steakhouse and said nearly 50 employees have been hired. The other locations are in Sanford, Elkin and Wilkesboro and the home office is in Asheboro.
“It’s a fast-growing concept,” Hand said of the company. “The first three have done so well that we’re just anxious to keep going.”
Hand said the Dodge City Steakhouse plays on “Gunsmoke,” which was the popular CBS television show that ran from 1955-1975 and starred James Arness as the fictional U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon in a late 1800s Dodge City, Kan.
John Wayne also did a brief introduction of the show for that first season and Burt Reynolds was part of the cast from 1962-1965.
Hand said she believes the future Dodge City Steakhouse is in a great location, particularly given the presence of the Golden East Crossing and Cobb Corners shopping centers and being in proximity to U.S. 64 and Interstate 95.
And Hand said a factor in the company choosing to enter the Rocky Mount market includes the Twin Counties being the scene of the new Corning distribution facility, the future CSX intermodal facility and the future relocated headquarters of the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
Hand said the future Dodge City Steakhouse is going to have redone light fixtures and flooring, as well as all-new chairs, tables and equipment.
Asked what is going to be on the menu at the future Dodge City Steakhouse, Hand said in addition to hand-cut steaks, one is going to be able to order ribs, seafood or pasta dishes.
And Hand said the food at a Dodge City Steakhouse is homemade and cooked in-house.
“Some restaurants use a lot of frozen products. We do not,” Hand said.
According to an article in June in the Triad Business Journal, the face of Dodge City Steakhouse is William Hodge, 49, who is a native of Thomasville.
Hodge is the owner of the Coach’s Neighborhood Grill sports bar and restaurant chain and he also has a new fast-food concept called Shortstop’s Burgers and Shakes.
The Triad Business Journal reported that Hodge has made a niche by taking existing structures in small, overlooked towns and cities and turning them into successful restaurants in three different restaurant segments.
And the Triangle Business Journal said staffing is a major part of Hodge’s expansion equation, with employees including family, friends and many people he met and worked with in the past.
The future Rocky Mount Dodge City Steakhouse is in the 1400 block of Benvenue and is going to be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Hand, who is originally from Roanoke Rapids, said that she has been with Dodge City Steakhouse for approximately five months and prior to that she had been with another concept for approximately 20 years.
The Ruby Tuesday opened along Benvenue in 2004.
The Telegram in early April reported that the location appeared to be closed for good and that no explanation as to why was offered by representatives of the Tennessee-based casual bar and grill chain.
Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris told the Telegram that the Ruby Tuesday chain experienced financial difficulties.
And Farris said when the Benvenue location closed, he thought the building would remain vacant a long time, given the spread of the coronavirus.
Farris said when Chamber Economic Development Director Alan Matthews told him what was getting ready to happen with the coming of a Dodge City Steakhouse, “I thought, man, that is great.”
And Farris said he believes this is a solid reflection of the growth in economic development locally and noted that this location is going to employ a lot of people and generate a lot of sales tax revenue.
Mayor Sandy Roberson told the Telegram that in a post-COVID-19 world, those in the fast-casual dining business have taken it on the chin financially and that he knew the Ruby Tuesday along Benvenue had been in trouble.
“So it’s good to see it reoccupied,” Roberson said.
And Roberson is a steak lover and was a fan of “Gunsmoke,” including Arness, Amanda Blake as “Miss Kitty” the saloon keeper and Dennis Weaver as “Chester” the deputy.
“I haven’t thought about that in years,” Roberson said of the show.