Ruby’s BBQ near the University of Texas is closing after almost 30 years

Ruby’s BBQ, an Austin dining institution, will close near the end of February, according to an employee there. The restaurant, once a regular haunt for musicians like Albert Collins and Maceo Parker who played at neighboring Antone’s, celebrated its 29th birthday in November.

Ruby’s BBQ owner Pat Mares in 2013. (Julia Robinson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Pat Mares and her late husband, Luke Zimmerman, opened the restaurant at 512 W. 29th St. in 1988. The employee says the restaurant will close sometime in late February. Mares tels the Austin Chronicle that the Ruby’s space will become a new restaurant under new owners

“I just can’t say enough nice things about Pat Mares and Ruby’s. They moved into the neighborhood and had all this great food and would stay open into the evening,” Susan Antone told the Statesman in 2013. “We had some really great times … I can’t think of too many places where I’ve had such good food and so much fun at the same time.”

Ruby’s was known for its brick pits and quality brisket, and native Nebraskan Mares took great pride in her product. Soon after opening the restaurant, she formed a relationship with deli manager Quincy Adams Erickson at Wheatsville Co-Op. Ruby’s originally purchased their all-natural, grain-fed, steroid-free Texas beef from the nearby grocer and have continued to serve the same quality beef from different providers over the past 29 years.

“Serving all-natural brisket is a commitment, not a trend,” Mares said in 2013.

The restaurant takes its name from a barbecue joint in Sidney Lumet’s 1960 movie “The Fugitive Kind,” starring Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward. But that never kept customers new and old from referring to affable redhead Mares as Ruby.

“Some people even say, ‘I know it’s not your name, but I’m gonna call you Ruby,’” Mares said. “I laugh because I said I didn’t want to call it Pat’s, and now I’ve become Ruby.”

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