It may not be much of a stretch for business prognosticators to speculate that a Luby’s cafeteria restaurant will be coming to Ulster County. They may even have a specific location in mind. That’s because Luby’s is the only one of the Texas-based chain’s restaurant brands it hasn’t tried in New York State.
The Fuddruckers restaurant it opened at 340 Route 211 East in the Town of Walkill got the final nail in its coffin on Wednesday when workers removed the signage at the site, ending a brief 21-month run. Before Fuddruckers, Cheesburgers In Paradise operated at the same location for about nine years. Both brands are part of the Luby’s corporate holdings.
Competition for consumer acceptance had increased in a small segment of Route 211 in recent months when a Hardee’s and a Sonic Drive-In joined Fuddruckers and a Friendly’s.
Wallkill Supervisor Dan Depew, an an interview with the Middletown Tines Herald-Record, suggested the Fuddruckers location might be a good spot to open a more upscale restaurant and tap a somewhat different market, which would be a departure from Luby’s cafetera-style restaurants. “I’m sad to see ’em (Fuddruckers) go,” he said, “but that building’s got a great layout for a fine-dining establishment. It should be an easy move-in for another business.”
Luby’s has 91 locations in Texas, and one each in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Its new Jackson, MS, site is a dual concept location that is home to both a Luby’s and a Fuddruckers. It is the first dual concept venue for the company outside Texas. Luby’s describes its main brand as a cafeteria putting a modern twist on its 1940s origins. Rather than the sterile atmosphere the word “cafeteria” may evoke, it describes its venues this way: “The new Luby’s Cafeteria offers a more contemporary look and feel with classic features that include granite surfaces, exposed wood ceilings, terrazzo floors and cherry wood walls. A vaulted entrance guides customers though the center of the dining room to the serving line. An open-viewed kitchen provides enhanced visibility and ambiance, while oversized windows surrounding the dining room provide an abundance of natural light.”
The Luby’s concept was created in 1947 when Bob Luby, who had grown up in a cafeteria-owning family, returned to Texas from California where he was stationed as a World War II U.S. Army intelligence officer. He teamed up with a cousin, Charles R. Johnston, to open the first Luby’s Cafeteria, in San Antonio.