Restaurant News & Reviews

Rudino’s owners transform Cary restaurant into Smok’t BBQ & Taps

In 1995, Terry Rudd and his family opened their first Rudino’s in Cary.

The pizza and grinder restaurant has since expanded throughout the state with family members owning some of them and the rest licensed.

On May 11, the family opened a new restaurant in the space – Smok’t BBQ & Taps – in Cornerstone Village Shopping Center. Terry Rudd said his son, Brian Rudd, is the owner and had the vision for opening the restaurant. He had been wanting to own a barbecue restaurant for some time.

With west Cary growing so fast – new housing, grocery stores and retail have sprung up since 1995 – it made sense to open Smok’t there.

“It seemed like a need for a concept like this,” Terry Rudd said. “We looked around for a location. We didn’t find one we liked. We thought it would be fitting if we revamped the Rudino’s in Cary.”

Terry Rudd said the theme of the full-service restaurant is “neighborhood smokehouse.” The menu, under chef Nick Losito, features smoked ribs, chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork and wings that are cooked in a commercial smoker. There’s deep-fried turkey, and for those who prefer a vegetarian option, there’s smoked tofu and portabella mushrooms.

“The mushrooms have been going well,” Rudd said. “We put them in the smoker, and they have a nice flavor.”

The meat can be ordered in platters, with an array of side options, or sandwiches. Cornbread comes with every dish. There also are salads and desserts as well as craft beer.

The rubs set the restaurant apart from other barbecue spots, Terry Rudd said. “It’s the rub recipes that we use for different meats,” he said.

The meat is cooked for hours at low temperatures, he said. The pork shoulder and butts for the pulled pork are cooked for 14 hours. The ribs are cooked for more than 4 hours.

Meat and sides can be bought by the pound, and family packs are available, depending on how many people are being fed. The restaurant will soon add catering operations as well as seasonal meals that can be sold at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since the restaurant opened, diners have responded to the ribs, in particular, as well as the sides, he said. Those include baked beans, collards, smoked gouda macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, green beans and sweet corn.

The meal can be rounded out with desserts like banana pudding, cobbler and ice cream sundaes.

The 160-seat restaurant has an outside deck with extra seating.

Terry Rudd retired from working at IBM in 1992. He moved to North Carolina and came up with the Rudino’s restaurant – and its name – with his family.

“We had to make Rudd sound Italian,” he jokes.

Brian Rudd, 44, helped open the first Cary Rudino’s. His brother owns two Rudino’s and is part owner of a third. Terry Rudd’s nephew has one in Durham and is part owner of another.

Terry Rudd, 72, is no longer part of day-to-day operations but remains a member of the ownership group.

Future Smok’t restaurants are a possibility, he said.

“It was a long time coming from the idea to opening the doors,” he said. “It was very rewarding to do that. We plan to look at additional Triangle sites in the future.”

Info: 1937 High House Road, Cary. Open daily but closed Monday mornings.,

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov