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BBQ restaurant chain debuts fast-casual brand in region

The first Rib City Express is in Lehigh Acres.

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  • | 7:53 a.m. May 28, 2020
Courtesy. The first Rib City Express opened May 28 in Lehigh Acres.
Courtesy. The first Rib City Express opened May 28 in Lehigh Acres.
  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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FORT MYERS — Rib City is getting in on the fast-casual brand extension trend.

The Fort Myers-based company, with 14 Rib City locations statewide and 12 Rib City franchises nationally, is opening a Rib City Express on Thursday, May 28. At 1480 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres, a quarter mile east of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, the Rib City Express is a fast-casual restaurant concept offering counter service and self-seating rather than Rib City’s traditional full-service locations, according to a statement.

“We are always seeking opportunities to continue our growth and expand the Rib City brand,” says Paul Peden, managing partner of Rib City, in a statement. “We have been looking to launch a fast-casual version of Rib City for a while and with COVID-19 changing the way we operate all our stores, it was the perfect time to launch Rib City Express.”

Rib City Express offers the same barbecue favorites as a full-service Rib City, including cheese fries, fried okra, buffalo chicken tenders, Skyscraper BBQ sandwiches, Smokehouse favorites like Baby Back and St. Louis style ribs, smoked chicken and beef brisket. “We are excited to be able to adapt to the changing geographic of the restaurant industry and we look forward to offering guests the best barbecue in a fast-casual dining experience,” Peden says in the release.

Rib City was founded in 1989 and now operates 14 corporate restaurants in Florida with 11 locations in Southwest Florida, and 12 franchise restaurants across the country, including locations in Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri and Virginia. 

The move follows Hooters, which recently opened Hoots, a fast-casual restaurant chain affiliated with the Hooters brand.




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