A Washington state restaurant chain with nearly 20 Pacific Northwest locations is expanding to Colorado Springs.
Hop Jacks, based in suburban Seattle, is taking over the former Ruby Tuesday at Powers and Stetson Hills boulevard. The chain aims for a mid-August opening, said Jaime Fox, Hop Jacks' training director.
The Springs would be Hop Jacks' first Colorado location, but not its last. The chain is finalizing leases in Castle Rock and Parker, Fox said.
As it looks to new markets, Hop Jacks allows employees moving up the management ladder to choose candidates for expansion. A suburban Seattle manager who will run the Springs location suggested Colorado, Fox said; Hop Jacks researched the state and liked its population growth, surging economy and quality of life.
"We think the demographics are perfect for us," Fox said. "We're beer people and we understand Colorado is as well. And we see a lot of natural similarities between Colorado and Pacific Northwest folks. We thought that our brand would do well in that area."
Hop Jacks markets itself as "a neighborhood gathering place." As such, it focuses on suburban areas, not large cities, Fox said. The chain doesn't have restaurants in Seattle, Tacoma or Portland and isn't looking to be in Denver, she said.
"It's very important to us that there's a number of households. ... It's not just high traffic or volume areas," Fox said. "We want to be right next to where people live. We want this to be the place where you run into your kids' soccer coach or you see your neighbor that you haven't seen for a couple weeks, sitting across the bar. That's really the market that we look for, more so than, say, a Denver."
Hop Jacks' menu includes more than a dozen burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, macaroni and cheese, fish tacos, appetizers and beer and alcohol, among other items.
The casual dining restaurant thinks of itself as an adult version of Red Robin, Fox said; the gourmet hamburger chain also has a variety of burgers and sandwich and serves beer and alcohol. Hop Jacks founder and owner Mark Eggen, who launched his chain in 2009, formerly worked at Red Robin, Fox said.
In keeping with its neighborhood theme, Hop Jacks offers breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays so that nearby residents have a place to go on weekends, she said. Hop Jacks also has a childhood hunger campaign; it will partner with a still-to-be-chosen educational organization and donate 50 cents to the group from the sale of each kids' meal to fight childhood hunger, Fox said.
Hop Jacks has 15 restaurants in Washington and two in Oregon, its website shows. In the Springs, the restaurant will employ about 70 full- and part-time people.
The nearly 5,400-square-foot Ruby Tuesday building has been vacant since that restaurant chain closed its last Colorado Springs location in fall 2016. The building is part of the King Soopers-anchored Ridgeview Marketplace shopping center on the Springs' northeast side.
The Hop Jacks name isn't just known in the Pacific Northwest, however. And that's led to controversy.
Florida-based Hopjacks Inc., a casual restaurant that says it was founded in 2007, filed suit in U.S. District Court in December. The Florida business accuses the suburban Seattle Hop Jacks of trademark infringement, among other complaints.
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