Thursday, August 15, 2013
Richard Rawlings, star of Discovery’s Fast ‘N Loud, crosses into the restaurant business
The Fort Worth native plans to open Gas Monkey Bar & Grill near I-35E and Northwest Highway.
DALLAS You’d think that running a business and being the star of a reality television show would be enough to keep a person busy. Not Richard Rawlings.
The Fort Worth native and owner of Dallas’ Gas Monkey Garage — subject of the Discovery Channel show Fast N’ Loud — is looking to expand his Gas Monkey brand into the themed restaurant business. He plans to open Gas Monkey Bar & Grill in northwest Dallas, just down the road from the shop where his team restores classic cars.
“It’s a natural progression for our shop to have a bar to hang out in,” said Rawlings, whose garage’s motto is “blood, sweat and beers.”
“Hopefully I don’t drink up all the profits,” he joked. (Rawlings has been known to drink a few Miller Lites on the show.)
Gas Monkey Bar & Grill will offer burgers and beers from a Tex-Mex and roadhouse-style menu along with two stages for live music, ample TVs for sports, a private room for rent, and indoor and outdoor seating.
The 8,500-square-foot restaurant, on Technology Boulevard at the intersection of Interstate 35E and Northwest Highway, is set for a soft opening in late August, with grand opening hoopla in September.
It’s not a bad time for Rawlings to try to capitalize on his growing brand. Since Fast N’ Loud first aired last summer, viewership has nearly doubled to reach 2.24 million viewers per episode. Rawlings scavenges car graveyards in old or abandoned lots, fields, and garages to find forgotten and derelict classic cars, negotiates prices, then brings a winner to his shop and crew to polish the rust into gold and hopefully turn a profit.
Car enthusiasts from across the world have been streaming into the shop to meet the tattooed and rowdy Rawlings, his bearded master mechanic, Aaron Kaufman of Crowley, and the rest of their crew featured on the show.
The continuation of Season 2 premieres September 2, and the cameras will catch drama in the bar and grill as well as the garage.
Rawlings admits opening a restaurant is “chancy,” but in some ways so was opening Gas Monkey Garage 11 years ago. Rawlings prodded Discovery for 10 years before it agreed to film Fast N’ Loud. If the restaurant does well, he’d like to open more locations around the country and create a reality show for the restaurant in addition to Fast N’ Loud.
“It takes risk to get the reward,” Rawlings said. “I think we’ve got a good opportunity to have a lot of fun."
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