Rangers ex Ivan Rodriguez to open 'Pudge's Pizza' at Texas Live!
Rodriguez, regarded as one of the best catchers of all time, said he plans to spend time at the restaurant, greeting fans and smiling for photos.
"The whole concept is to please all the customers and enjoy (the restaurant) with your family," said the 46-year-old who has five grandchildren. "I think the atmosphere is going to be great... Everybody loves pizza."
Rodriguez, who favors pepperoni and sausage pizza with a thin crust, has an ownership stake in the venue but officials declined to give the breakdown.
He said "the plan," eventually is to open additional locations, adding "we're going step by step, one by one."
Rodriguez's restaurant will be ready in time for the center's grand opening celebration Aug. 9-12 in the Arlington Entertainment District, across from Globe Life Park.
Taylor Gray, vice president of development for The Cordish Companies, said the presence of the two local sports greats will help Texas Live! draw fans from up to 100 miles away.
"A lot of what we do is about (creating) a social connection," Gray said, as the crowd assembled at a midday news conference and snacked on samples of Pudge's "pick off" pizza featuring pepperoni and mushrooms. "So the idea behind whether it's a Troy Aikman or Pudge Rodriguez is to allow a father to tell a son who their all-time greats were and to create this nostalgic sense of place, so it becomes special."
The decor will include memorabilia that will "give you that perspective on the greatness of Pudge's career," he said of the Puerto Rican-born All-Star.
Pudge's pizza will also be on the menu at some of the other restaurants in the complex, Gray said.
Gray said that Texas Live! is "100 percent leased," add that up to five additional restaurants, some backed by well-known names, will be announced in the coming weeks.
One of the players to be named, later, though, is another sports hero.
Food service has long been a draw for sports celebrities planning their next act.
The Vince Young Steakhouse in Austin gets high marks on social media from diners who were impressed with the food, ambiance and service.
But, prowess on the court or the field does not always mean success in the kitchen.
In 2009, Dallas Stars' standouts Mike Modano and Brett Hull opened the Hully and Mo Restaurant & Tap Room in Uptown. It closed after a few years.
At least three restaurants opened locally under the brand Randy White's Hall of Fame Barbecue, named for the former Dallas Cowboy defensive lineman and Super Bowl XII co-MVP they called "The Manster".
The restaurants' phone numbers are the brand URL were not functioning this week, and several travel websites listed the locations as closed.
Officials with that brand could not be reached.
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