Home Sea food How Rudy’s Seafood on the South Side is Preparing for the Lenten Crush

How Rudy’s Seafood on the South Side is Preparing for the Lenten Crush

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It’s Lent now, and every Friday between now and Easter, customers will line up outside the door and around the block at Rudy’s Seafood on the South Side, eager to sample the trinity of deep-fried seafood, bread and fries.

Rudy’s Seafood has been a San Antonio South Side institution since 1964 and has occupied its current location for 34 years. And while he does steady business year-round for his baskets of freshly fried crabs, oysters, fish fillets and shrimp, that business spikes during Lent.

Owners Roland Ramirez and his wife Karina prepare for this assault with the precision and planning of generals who engage in friendly battle. Roland Ramirez said that on a typical day, Rudy’s nine employees can serve 300 customers. But during Lent, it more than doubles to 700 or more.

Hungry customers start lining up long before they open, and those who come later can expect a wait of an hour or more.

Customers fill Rudy’s Seafood on a Friday during Lent in 2014.

Photo from personnel file

As for seafood, Rudy’s has an inventory of 500 pounds of seafood for a normal day. During Lent, this increases by at least 100 pounds a day. On some Fridays alone, Ramirez said he could sell more than 1,000 books.

“It’s getting crazy, that’s all I can say – but in a good way,” said Roland Ramirez. “We are just blessed to have the support of the community around us. You treat the customer well and they will come back.

Ramirez said business is steady at his restaurant, but typically results in a 25-30% increase in bottom line.

Rudy’s was first opened by the late Yndalecio Rudy Ramirez, Roland’s father. Rudy worked on a shrimp boat in Corpus Christi and aspired to bring a taste of the Gulf Coast to San Antonio. A mural of him sits above the restaurant in signage. Inside is another mural of Roland’s brother, Jerry Ramirez, who died in 2020 due to complications from COVID.

An assortment of fried seafood at Rudy's Seafood, in business since 1964.

An assortment of fried seafood at Rudy’s Seafood, in business since 1964.

Chuck Blount / Stick

The interior of the restaurant is laid out like an airport security line, with rows of poles to contain the crowds and a row of chairs to sit on while waiting for your food. Rudy’s isn’t a particularly large restaurant, with just enough room for about a dozen tables, so much of the business is via takeout.

Roland said “the daily special, which includes two fish fillets and three giant prawns for $14.75 is a fan favorite, but the giant fish burger for $9.49 and family meal deals that sway around $30 are also top sellers.

“I would say going to Rudy’s for Lent is kind of a pilgrimage that everyone should make,” said San Antonian Jamie Gonzalez, a longtime Rudy’s customer who grew up on the South Side eating at Rudy’s and who now works for a product distributor. . “He played such a big role in the community, and it was more than a ‘fishing spot’. They are a phenomenal family who have always made you feel welcome.”

At Rudy’s, Fish Friday is not a sacrifice; it’s a real taste of San Antonio history.

Rudy’s Seafood, 4122 S. Flores St., 210-532-1315. Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday. In line: rudysseafoodsa.com

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