Gerry Kingen, the owner of Salty's and the man who launched a million hamburgers when he bought a tavern called Red Robin back in 1965, has plans for the space that started his career. He has taken over Pecos Pit and is putting the barbecue joint in the old bird's nest off Eastlake:
We struck a deal. When [Pecos owner Ron Wise] is ready to sell everything he has, we buy it. But in the meantime, we have the right to develop their concept and refine it and franchise it around the world, so that's what we're doing.
A big fan of Pecos, Kingen made the deal nearly three years ago.
In the interim, Red Robin vacated the original space and the landlord called and asked if I had any interest in it. I thought it'd be fun to build another national chain out of the same original site we built the first one.
That's right. A NATIONAL CHAIN!
Kingen says the more than 3,000 square-foot space will likely be under construction this fall, after permitting and funding are dealt with. It will also be a commissary for several satellite stores, as well as provide seating for about 80-90 customers.
It's going to be self-service. It'll have the virtues of the [Pecos Pit] on First Ave. S. where you place your order and you get it immediately. And then it'll have beer and whiskey service.
U.S. domination will probably begin a few months after the Pecos on Eastlake opens, Kingen says, when the plan for several satellite stores starts moving forward. As for the food, that won't change much.
They've spent 30 years doing the same thing extremely well, so we don't want to break that. But what we'll do is diversify [the menu] a little bit by adding some salads, smoked sweet potatoes — all stuff to complement the meats.
Kingen's go-tos on the Pecos menu: brisket and shredded pork.
UPDATE: Pecos co-owner Debra Wise wants to assure her customers that the First Ave. S. location is still open for business, she is still there working, and that if she and her husband decide to sell, it will be a mutual decision.
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