BLACKFOOT – For 35 years, Rupe’s Burgers at 32 Northeast Main in Blackfoot has been serving customers an all-American menu of burgers, sandwiches, french fries, tater tots, chicken strips, finger steaks, ice cream and more.
EastIdahoNews.com recently paid a visit to the restaurant, where we tried the All-American burger, the turkey bacon cheddar sandwich and the chicken strips. Watch it in the video above.
Owner Kevin Rupe started working at the eatery as a kid back when it was an A&W. He’s gotten to know many customers over the years and that’s his favorite part of running the restaurant.
“If you’re gonna run a restaurant, you’ve gotta be a people person. Over the years, I’ve gained literally hundreds of friends. When customers come in, I like to visit with them at the table,” Rupe tells EastIdahoNews.com.
He also owns Tommy Vaughn’s Grill at 850 Jensen Grove Drive with his son, Tyler. He’s proud of the family heritage and both restaurants’ reputations.
Kevin’s father acquired the old A&W space on Main Street in 1962. He ran it until 1978 before selling it to someone else. They turned it into an R&B Drive-in after six years.
“After two years of running R&B, they just went belly-up. So dad acquired the property back. He contacted me and asked if I wanted to run it and I said, ‘I’ll give it a shot,'” Kevin recalls.
It opened as Rupe’s in 1987 in the original cinder-block building with a 10-person countertop and a carhop service for 16 vehicles.
After 13 years, Kevin says they outgrew the space. The current building, which sits east of the original restaurant, was completed in 2000. The original building has since been torn down.
After a lifetime of serving customers, Kevin says he is planning to retire in the next year or two so he can go on some extended vacations “longer than a weekend” with his wife. But he says he’ll never step away entirely.
He’s happy with how things are and has no plans to expand in other markets, but he hints at other possibilities he may be interested in.
“I’ve always been curious why no one comes in and franchises this restaurant. It’s got a proven track record and has done very well up and down the valley,” he says. “We’ve never really pushed it, but we think it would make an excellent franchise.”
Regardless of what the future holds, Rupe says “the community has been good to us” over the years, and he’s grateful for the friends he’s gained and to be in the business of serving customers.
“I can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve done for us, and we try to give back to the community as much as we can,” says Rupe. “It’s a very good town. I’m so happy to live here. I’ve got all my kids here, and it’s just a great place to raise a family.”
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