TUSTIN, Calif. – Ruby Cavanaugh, the woman whose love for 1940s music and culture inspired her son to create a chain of diners in her name, has died. She was 93.
A spokeswoman for the Ruby’s Diner restaurant chain said Cavanaugh died Sunday in Tustin from natural causes.
“Ruby was known for her quick smile, warm personality and inner strength,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “Her friends could count on her for warm support during their own trials and tribulations, and more than anything she put family first.”
Cavanaugh was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, and moved with her family to California in 1936. She later met her husband, Doug Cavanaugh Sr., a U.S. Navy veteran who shared her love for swing music and dancing. The couple had two children, Doug Jr. and Jane.
Doug Cavanaugh Jr. returned to Southern California in 1980 after successfully restoring a restaurant in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He was out jogging when he noticed a dilapidated building and got the idea to turn it into a 1940s-themed diner.
The first Ruby’s Diner opened in 1982 serving hot dogs, hamburgers and malts on Balboa Island. The restaurant had a red and white interior, 1940s memorabilia and photos of Ruby Cavanaugh. The chain now has 35 locations in five states.
Ruby Cavanaugh enjoyed greeting customers at the restaurants. On her 93rd birthday in July, she visited the chain’s Corona del Mar location, where she was welcomed with cheers from fans.
She is survived by her two children, a sister and three grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange on Jan. 9.