Courtesy of Ricky D. Evans

Ricky D’s Rib Shack, which opened in 2016, has become a popular destination for New Haveners searching for wings, ribs and soul food. Ricky Evans, the restaurant’s founder, hopes to capitalize on his restaurant’s popularity through the app. 

Evans originally started the business from a bus before moving it to a physical location in 2016.

He associates the “non-traditional” route he took when he first began Ricky D’s with his new mobile app venture. 

Jorge Banuelos GRD ’27, a Ph.D. student in history who is a regular, declared it the best restaurant in the city.

“I think it’s definitely the best one I’ve spotted in New Haven. Probably the best I’ve had in Connecticut as a whole,” Banuelos said. “I’m originally from Kansas. So I have very high standards when it comes to smoked meat, and it exceeds the mark every time.”

Banuelos also highlighted the restaurant’s atmosphere and described it as service with a smile, which reminds him of the southern hospitality of his childhood.

The restaurant has also become a destination for undergraduate students, given its proximity to Pauli Murray College and Science Hill.

Ludovico Mazzocchi ’27 thanks the restaurant for exposing him to American dishes and culture.

“As an international student, I have always wanted to try new restaurants in New Haven,” Mazzocchi said. “In the UK, wings and ribs aren’t a very popular dish, so getting to try that here has been super fun.”

Despite Ricky D’s in-person success, the restaurant implemented their new mobile app last fall to increase their engagement and reward loyal patrons.

Evans began working on this venture last year and expects it to play a crucial role in growing Ricky D’s. Through the app, he hopes to reach more customers and spread his brand’s name domestically and internationally.

According to Evans, the game is a restaurant management simulator in which users can prepare and sell dishes digitally and collect in-game currency. In the future, patrons will be able to use the in-game “shack points” in store, creating a new form of rewards points for loyal customers. 

“[The app] is something new and innovative that I’ve been really focused on to help grow the business not just physically but also gauging digitally as well as the rib shack cooking game is available in 176 countries in the Apple App Store in the Android app store,” Evans said. “It’s essentially a replica of the restaurant. Users can serve customers in the game, earn shack points, get on the leadership board, upgrade their menu and upgrade their equipment.” 

Evans began working in conjunction with developers, and he hopes the app can help other local businesses grow as well.

Other small businesses will be able to use Ricky D’s template of the app to personalize it for their own businesses.

Ricky D’s is located at 302 Winchester Ave.

Nati Tesfaye is a sophomore in Branford College from East Haven, Connecticut. He covers business, workers and unions in the city of New Haven. Last year, he covered housing and homelessness for the News.
Tyson Odermann is a first-year in Pauli Murray College from Parshall, North Dakota. He covers business, unions, and the economy in the city of New Haven.