Chowan graduate opens new business

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

MURFREESBORO – It’s been a long time coming, but the dream is finally a reality.

Steve Ruddy always knew he wanted to operate his own business, but if someone would have told him he’d be doing it with one of his closest friends in the small town of Murfreesboro, he never would have believed it.

A Taste of Ruddy’s officially opened its doors on March 18. It is located at 127 West Main Street and serves a variety of deli-style meals, salads and beverages. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with take-out service available.

&uot;Even when I was little, I knew I’d be running my own business,&uot; Ruddy said.

Having grown up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ruddy discovered the potential of the area when he visited Chowan College his last year of high school.

&uot;When Steve first visited the area, he just loved it,&uot; said father John Ruddy, who has been an instrumental partner in his son’s business pursuit.

&uot;My father told me he would help me start my own business, but he made the deal contingent on finishing my college education in four years,&uot; said the 23-year old Studio art Chowan graduate who took summer classes between regular semesters to fulfill the requirement.

Now, instead of deciding which classes he needs to take to get his degree, Ruddy can spend his time serving customers and plotting out locations for high-speed internet connections and a new 42&uot; plasma screen television.

&uot;He’s definitely a visionary and full of energy and ideas,&uot; said his father, standing with drink in hand in the common area of the restaurant. &uot;He loves working with people.&uot;

One of the best choices Ruddy felt he has made so far in planning his business was hiring long-time friend Joe Puhak. Shuffling orders of roast beef dip, pulled barbecue pork and chicken Caesar salad, it’s no surprise this former sous chef is the man for the job.

&uot;In the beginning, it didn’t occur to me to ask Joe to come on board as a manager because I was under the impression he was happy doing what he was doing in Philly,&uot; Ruddy said.

&uot;But, we got to talking when I went up there for vacation and I told him of my plans to open my own restaurant and found out he was looking for a change, so I asked him if he would consider working with me and he said he would,&uot; he said.

Shortly after that, Puhak was making plans to relocate. Having graduated from the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, the Ivy League of culinary schools, Puhak is well versed in a variety of high-end cuisines and even spent time in a cultural immersion program his senior year in France.

&uot;It was a lot of fun,&uot; he said.

Yet despite the travel abroad and years of experience working in a fast-paced restaurant in Philly, Puhak said he never felt so at home as he has in Murfreesboro.

&uot;It’s like living on a set of an old-time movie, I love it,&uot; he said, happy to have left the stress of high crime in the metropolitan city.

&uot;I’m following a dream with one of my closest friends and I wouldn’t have it any other way,&uot; he said.

Ironically, according to John Ruddy, son Steven had no idea that his local ancestry dated back three generations before the Revolutionary War.

&uot;My mother and my sister were both from Eure and died while Steven was still an infant, so when I showed him their gravesites at Cool Springs Baptist Church Cemetery, it was like a light bulb went on where it all made sense,&uot; John Ruddy said. &uot;He couldn’t understand why he felt so drawn to the area, but now I guess he knows. It was like a homecoming for him.&uot;

When asked how he felt about being able to help his son in his business endeavor, John Ruddy stated, &uot;I’m willing to invest in my son’s happiness. If he can pay his bills and bring something positive to the community, that’s all that matters.&uot;

For more information call 252-396-0111 or visit them online at for a sample of the menu and other events.