Yard House is getting ready to celebrate a milestone birthday — the brand known for its great food, wide selection of brews and classic rock soundtrack turns 21 next week.
Rudy Buruca, director of restaurant excellence at Yard House, has been with the brand the whole time. Hired as a sauté cook one month before the first Yard House restaurant opened in 1996 in Long Beach, CA, he is one of the brand’s longest-tenured employees.
“I’m proud that I’ve been there since the beginning to help the company grow and change,” Rudy said. “I’ve spent half my life at Yard House!” He spent the first half in El Salvador before immigrating to the United States by himself at 18 to chase the American Dream.
“I’m a person who never stops,” said Rudy, who already worked at two restaurants when he began his Yard House career. “I fell in love with cooking and followed my passion.” Three years later, his Yard House managers persuaded him to devote himself to the brand and quit his two other jobs. Soon after, Rudy helped open the second Yard House restaurant, in Costa Mesa, CA. As the company grew, he grew, with promotions to kitchen manager, executive kitchen manager and regional kitchen manager.
From the start, Yard House distinguished itself. That first restaurant featured a 250-tap draft beer system, lofty design, warm wood accents and an industrial vibe thanks to steel and chrome.
Twenty-one years and 69 restaurants later, the brand has evolved into an award-winning destination famous for its crafted cocktails and endless tap handles featuring the best American craft and import beers. The exhibition kitchen creates more than 100 items prepared with inspiration from around the globe.
Yard House will celebrate its birthday Dec. 7 with the introduction of a new beer — a limited-edition, cognac barrel-aged Anniversary Amber Tripel. Velvety smooth, it has flavors of malt and caramel and, while supplies last, will be served in a commemorative goblet that guests can take home.
“As we reflect on our journey, the most rewarding thing has been the growth of our people at Yard House,” said Executive Vice President of Operations Craig Carlyle, who’s been with the brand 20 years. “Rudy, who rose from team member to lead our culinary operations, is a great example of this. He has taught, developed and influenced many people in his career, and it has been a blessing to participate in and witness his growth as well as that of our other team members and our brand.”
In his current position, Rudy visits restaurants and works alongside directors to improve kitchen operations. He’s an inspirational figure to the team members, who often seek his advice. “Every time I visit a restaurant, I make an impact on every individual as well as on the business. That’s what I care about,” Rudy said. He also helps open new restaurants, with 33 under his belt so far.
Rudy said he’s proud that Yard House has succeeded in maintaining the high quality of its extensive menu as it expanded. “We’ve learned to work smarter and more efficiently. Our growth has provided many jobs and career development opportunities in our communities.”
He’s grateful to Yard House for helping him provide for his wife and three children, whom he called his greatest accomplishment. “I achieved my American Dream. In fact, I am the American Dream. I want to make sure others have the opportunities for career development that Yard House gave me, and I want to help it remain the restaurant of choice for guests and team members.
“It’s not just a job, it’s my life. Yard House means everything to me.”
And to us. Lift your glass to Yard House, Rudy and the other 9,000 team members, and let’s toast to the next 21 years.