Short order at the Malibu Pier

Ruby’s serves up specialty burgers with nostalgia on the side.

By Kim Devore / The Malibu Times

For years it sat dormant, a waterfront Malibu ghost town. Its rickety ramshackle structures and peeling paint were reminders of a once famous pier that had seen better days.

Today the Ma libu Pier has bounced back to life. Families, wave riders and fishermen stroll the wooden planks enjoying the sun and surf. They’ve also become fans of the pier’s two refueling stops, the Beachcomber Cafe and the more casual Ruby’s Shake Shack. For kick back casual, Ruby’s is the perfect pit stop for beach staples like made to order burgers, classic fries and soothing shakes.

New to Malibu, Ruby’s has locations across the country and a history that goes back to 1980. While going for a beach jog in Newport Beach, businessman Doug Cavanaugh came across a dilapidated one-time bait shop at the end of the Balboa Pier. The structure was in bad shape, but through the rubble, Cavanaugh envisioned an authentic 1940s eatery.

“What if I could get the place from the city and turn it into a diner that would bring back the fun and nostalgia of the era?” he wondered.

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Cavanaugh got the city to go along and with a little help from his father, Cavanaugh turned this old time eatery into a reality. Together with high school pal Ralph Kosmides, Cavanaugh started researching American diners and combed vintage and antique stores for just the right artifacts. In 1982, the cozy 45-seat restaurant opened with a simple crowd-pleasing menu. Cavanaugh hit upon the recipe for success and other Ruby’s restaurants followed. The Malibu Pier location has been open for more than a year. Manager James Calo said the crowds kept coming despite the summer gloom. They’d fill up on favorites like the Cobb Kobe Burger, which puts the classic salad on a bun. The hefty all beef patty is topped with melted blue cheese, fresh avocado, crispy bacon, iceberg lettuce and sundried tomato mayo. While there are plenty of salads and sandwiches to choose from, at Ruby’s burgers are king. Their signature is the super burger-double melted Swiss with slices of avocado on Parmesan sourdough. The hickory is another classic with melted cheddar, smoked bacon and zesty barbecue sauce topped by crispy onion rings. To complete the experience, it’s hard to pass up a famous shake. There’s everything from banana cream dream to Butterfinger and black forest. When it comes to pure dining fun, Ruby’s offers a blast to the past and a sweet treat that’s hard to beat.

Ruby’s is open Sunday through Thursday. Call in advance to make sure it is open, as the restaurant closes for the winter. 310.456.3443

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