Sam Rulli is pulling up carpet and tile to make way for his new Elkhart restaurant.
The Middlebury restaurant operator said Tuesday, Feb. 19, that he hopes to open a location at 54595 C.R. 17, Elkhart. “We’re going to put one here, I guess,” he said, noting that it could open in late April or early May.
The restaurant, which he may call Rulli’s on 17, will have about 80 seats and serve the Rulli’s pizza, broasted chicken and a family dining menu. “I’m spaghetti and subs and pizza and chicken,” he said. He’s unlikely to have a buffet as he does at the Middlebury location that’s been open 27 years at 851 U.S. 20. He said he has “working man’s prices” and will fill a niche in the area since Calabria has left and Lucchese’s focuses on a higher price point.
Rulli bought the small strip mall his original location from John Lapierre years ago. Lapierre owns the plaza along C.R. 17 near S.R. 120. After 17 Cuisine went out, Rulli agreed to rent a space from Lapierre. He looked at spots in Goshen and considered them, but opted for Elkhart. “There’s a lot of opportunity right now,” he said.
Rulli said his family will help run the location, but Kim Barth, who is assistant manager at the Middlebury location and has worked there 14 years, will oversee the Elkhart one. Stacy Dancer will continue as manager in Middlebury. Rulli said he has good employees and has been able to retain them.
He’s hiring for positions in Middlebury and Elkhart at the Middlebury restaurant.
He has a liquor license. The Elkhart location will have a small bar, but likely won’t have late-night bands like Middlebury does, he said. The focus will be on family dining and carry-out. Like the Middlebury location, it’ll be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
He’s excited to be working with his family and he’s expecting to do well. “I would hope I would sell as much pizza here as I do in Middlebury,” he said.
Rulli has been in the restaurant business a long time. He learned it from his father, Pasquale. He knows what he’s doing and I expect he’ll do well in Elkhart.