A Nashville native that came to know Cookeville during his college years while visiting friends at Tennessee Tech will open the 93rd McAlister’s Deli Franchise location in the former Ruby Tuesday building in Cookeville June 15.
David Blackburn, CEO of Southern Rock Restaurants, based in Franklin, said it was the hospitality of the community that led to his initial desire to bring the brand to Cookeville.
“I look first of all at communities that can sustain multiple restaurants,” Blackburn said, “And the more dynamic the community, the more excited I am about entering that community, and Cookeville is extremely dynamic.”
Blackburn said the former Ruby Tuesday building on Interstate Drive was the perfect location for the chain. “That just hit all the market points,” Blackburn said. “You’ve got a fantastic community that’s supporting, successfully, other restaurants, and then we all believe our brand competes very well with other restaurants.”
Blackburn said guests won’t recognize the previous inhabitant of the building. “We’ve put about $1.1 Million into making that restaurant as close to a flagship-looking McAlister’s short of a pickup window.”
The McAlister’s brand began 32 years ago in Oxford, Mississippi. How has the chain been so successful? Blackburn said quality and variety have been key.
“We’re not your normal sandwich restaurant. A lot of sandwich restaurants and they have six, eight or ten sandwiches, typically on one product line, usually on one bread even,” Blackburn said, “We have six or seven different breads, we have 55 menu items, we have four product lines, hot and cold sandwich line, our salad line, baked potatoes, appetizers, dessert.”
The 13-layer club sandwich continues to be the bestselling sandwich on the menu, Blackburn said, along with their freshly-steeped sweet tea. The chain will offer more than dine-in, pickup and delivery options.
“Catering of all kinds,” Blackburn said, “Breakfast catering, lunch/dinner catering. We’ll do catering in the middle of the night to the third shift at hospitals and factories. We’re 24/7 taking care of the communities that take care of us.”
Blackburn said opening at full seating capacity is set for June 15.