Southern-style BBQ coming to mall

Published 10:24 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Ole Barn BBQ is Oak Park Mall’s newest business and could open as soon as Dec. 1 in the old Ruby’s Place location. Construction is slated to start Monday. -- Adam Harringa/

When a local group drove an antique 1937 Model B John Deere tractor across Oak Park Mall on Tuesday, it piqued many mall-goers curiosity. Now that group is announcing that tractor is a part of a southern-style barbecue restaurant that could open as soon as Dec. 1.

Bob Nelson, owner of Restaurant Warehouse and Home Kitchen Warehouse, said Ole Barn BBQ will open in the former site of Ruby’s Place restaurant — which closed Sept. 10 after opening in March — but only after major renovations. He said construction will start Monday on the outside of the restaurant.

Nelson, speaking on behalf of the owners, wouldn’t confirm the name of the owner but said another announcement would be coming soon. He said they’re planning to “go all out” with an authentic southern barbecue and a true “old barn” look as a salute to the American farmer.

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“We really want to come out in style,” Nelson said. “They’re investing a significant amount of money in this.”

An antique tractor sits outside the indoor entrance to the Ole Barn BBQ which will be opening in the future where Ruby’s Place sat in the Oak Park Mall.

Nelson said Ole Barn Restaurant will be similar to Famous Dave’s, but with more of a southern flare, with ribs, honey-battered and southern chicken, smoked briskets, bourbon beans, black eyed peas, Georgia sweet tea, homemade root beer, lemonade and anything else you would find at a southern barbecue.

The look, Nelson said, will be all about the American farmer. He said it will have the feel of an old barn from the inside out, with picnic-style benches, farming equipment, and cowboy hats for the waitresses and waiters.

While the owners are pouring a lot into the restaurant, Nelson said, the customers won’t have to. He said it will be family oriented, with an emphasis on affordable prices and large portions.

“It’s focused on the family having a good meal,” he said.

Nelson said the restaurant has been in the works for awhile, but they wanted to wait until all the pieces were in place before making an announcement. Now, he said, everything is a go and they’re moving forward.

“This is going to give Austin something to look forward to,” he said. “We want to bring the mall back to life.”

Shan Kehrit, Oak Park Mall marketing director and owner of Ruby’s Place, said it’s great to get a restaurant in the mall again. Kehrit said she is now focused on getting more business in the mall.

“I’m very passionate about getting this mall filled up,” she said. “We’re determined to get the mall back to full capacity.”

Kehrit said now is a great time for a small business to open in the mall, because rent is so affordable.

“It’s a really good time to get started,” she said.

Nelson said if Ole Barn BBQ catches on in Austin, they hope to expand to other markets, such as Mankato.

“If it works here, we think it will work somewhere else,” he said.