Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cruisers Classic Diner opening inside mall

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011 12:10 AM CST

Cruisers Classic Diner is hoping to be open Jan. 21 in Towne Square Mall in the space next to Macy's that previously was home to Route 66 Diner.

The eatery will offer burgers and hand-dipped shakes and classic '50's and '60's-style diner food, as well as a variety of other classic dishes such as catfish, steak, fettuccine and more, said owner David Dukes of Madisonville.

"I'll have an Italian beef sandwich that has been a real good seller for me," Dukes said. "I can make that one in my sleep."

Dukes' parents, Tommy and Patricia Dukes, were in the restaurant business for about 40 years, and the kids grew up in it, he said.

This will be Dukes' fourth restaurant. He sold all three businesses and took about a four-year break to work in law enforcement.

Dukes' sister bought his last Cruisers diner and changed the name to Tommy D'z in remembrance of their father, who died in recent years.

"I didn't think I would get back into it," Dukes said. "My sister was in Owensboro looking at the space, and we were talking about it. She decided it was more than she wanted. I told her I was going to go look at it. ... The next thing I know, I've got it. It happened pretty quick."

The new restaurant will have 2,923 square feet of retail space.

Dukes said he's never had a restaurant in a mall setting, so he's on uncharted ground with that.

"I've spent quite a bit on the building, so I'm hoping this will go well," he said.

The restaurateur is waiting on some new signage and other decorative items, so the opening date is somewhat flexible.

A few more recent changes have taken place at the south Frederica Street shopping mall, but so far no tenant has signed on for the space once occupied by Ruby Tuesdays, said Daymon Ward, the mall's general manager .

"We are still in talks with retailers about the Ruby Tuesday's space, but thus far, the right fit hasn't been found," Ward said. "It is a fantastic retail opportunity for someone; they just have to be the right fit for the mall."

Next door to the soon-to-open Cruisers, The Relax Center already is open for business offering acupressure and reflexology massages.

Yummies snacks, serving "take it to go" food, also is open across from FYE music and movies at the mall's front.

Wright Implement opened in expanded space Thursday between Hibbett Sports and Maurice's. The business went from center court space of 1,489 square feet to 2,490 square feet.

Kay Jewelers will be occupying the space Wright had, which will boost their space from 1,066 square feet to 1,489.