Joshua Andino and his wife, Shalia, wanted breakfast. They searched the Midlands for a perfect brunch spot but didn’t find one that could satisfy their needs.
“There’s chains here, you know. I mean, breakfast is breakfast,” Andino said. “But we wanted to pay homage to Sunday brunch.”
Because of a desire for brunch all week long, the idea of Breakfast at Ruiz was born. The mom-and-son-owned restaurant offers traditional, Southern breakfast favorites like shrimp and grits, french toast and breakfast cocktails.
Andino believes his restaurant is different from others in Columbia because of his kitchen’s emphasis on local, fresh ingredients.
“I think a staple in the South is shrimp and grits,” Andino said. “We buy our grits from a local place here in Columbia.”
While most of Breakfast at Ruiz’s menu is inspired by Southern staples, parts of the menu honor the owners’ Puerto Rican culture. One of the dishes is made with fried pork chops, a common dish in Puerto Rico.
The restaurant launched a soft opening on June 29. On July 2, Andino and his mom, Iris Perez, were greeted with a full house. The sound of silverware clinking and soft conversation made up the most rewarding moment for the owners since greeting the public.
“It’s like, ’You’re here for us!’” Perez said, “They’re here to have what we bring to the table.”
Located at 116 State St. in West Columbia’s bustling river district, Breakfast at Ruiz fills a spot that was formerly home to Palate restaurant and, before that, 116 Espresso and Wine bar, which was known for, in fact, its brunches.
Breakfast at Ruiz is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Andino plans to expand the hours and services of the brunch spot to offer a dessert bar and tapas on Friday and Saturday evenings. In addition, Andino intends to open up the upstairs of the building to provide a private event venue for the weekends.
“(Locals) are excited about having something new. When its a mom-and-pop shop, the locals are the ones that keep you alive. So we appreciate them,” Perez said.
This story was originally published July 14, 2022 10:34 AM.