Ralph Rudisill knew he was taking a gamble when he opened Zipperâ€™s Restaurant and Lounge. Now, three years and one successful business later, Rudisill is ready to roll the dice again.
On Aug. 5, Rudisill will open the doors on his new venture, Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar.
It all began with one man taking a chance to fulfill a dream. Rudisill, a Lincoln County native, worked at Vermont American for 20 years and was a part-time bartender at the VFW for two years before his friend Farrell Morrell suggested he open up his own place. Rudisill admits he was reluctant.
â€œI had always been scared to do it on my own,â€ said Rudisill. â€œThen Farrell agreed to be a partner and we opened it up.â€
The risk paid off, as Zipperâ€™s has grown into a thriving business. Rudisill credits the establishmentâ€™s success, not only to its reputation for excellent food at reasonable prices, but also to the loyal staff members whose hard work has not gone unnoticed.
â€œI have a core of employees who have been here since we opened,â€ Rudisill said. â€œMy staff has worked very hard with me the past three years to build this restaurant and lounge into a profitable business.â€
Rudisillâ€™s faith in his employees is perhaps best evidenced in his decision to leave the management of Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar in the hands of Laurie Verdoliva, longtime bar manager at Zipperâ€™s Restaurant and Lounge.
According to Rudisill, Verdoliva has been working hard getting the new place ready for its debut.
â€œLaurie has been painting and remodeling inside the building,â€ said Rudisill. â€œIt has a nice bright atmosphere.â€
While many think of the original Zipperâ€™s as a country bar, its brand-new cousin will be a more diverse watering hole. While bike night, a well-established Wednesday night event at Zipperâ€™s, will remain at its current home through the summer, the new private club will host a variety of theme nights.
â€œWe will have a karaoke night, a dance night and live bands on Friday and Saturday,â€ Rudisill said.
Rudisill also plans to host pool tournaments through the Carolina Pool League.
â€œWe are definitely looking for pool shooters,â€ said Rudisill.
In addition to the four pool tables at Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar, customers can look forward to watching football on a 62â€ wide-screen television, as well as numerous televisions behind the bar.
Although no food will be prepared on site, Rudisill plans on catering food from the original Zipperâ€™s to the new place. Considering the proximity of the two (the original is located in front of Wal-Mart; the new place will be housed in the Northgate Shopping Plaza at the former site of The Rock Garden) transporting food to hungry customers will be relatively easy. As of now, sandwiches and appetizers will be available.
Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar will be a members-only club. Members will be allowed to bring non-member guests with the understanding that they are responsible for those guests. In addition, the $10-memberships will be given at the staffâ€™s discretion.
Initially, the club will be open five days a week; however, depending on demand, Rudisill may expand to seven days. The hours will be Wednesday through Saturday from 4p.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday from noon until 2 a.m.
While Rudisill is excited about opening up Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar, he wants people to know that Zipperâ€™s Restaurant and Lounge is here to stay.
â€œThere will be no change to Zipperâ€™s,â€ Rudisill said. â€œA lot of customers have been worried that I wonâ€™t be here. But I am going to be here at the restaurant.â€
Regular customers like Dwayne Spivey, who has known Rudisill since his days at the VFW, will be glad to see the boss has not gone anywhere.
â€œWhen Ralph worked at the VFW, he was the best bartender in town,â€ said Spivey. â€œHe was the only boss I knew who would be able to pay all his help out of his own tip jars.â€
Applications for membership to Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar will be available at Zipperâ€™s Restaurant and Lounge beginning Wednesday, July 26. The grand opening party for Zipperâ€™s Private Club and Sports Bar is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 5. In addition, Zipperâ€™s Restaurant and Lounge will mark its third anniversary with a customer appreciation event in late August.
by Allyson Levine