From Soulful To Mouthful: Ruben Wants To Open Restaurant

'Idol' winner says his hometown needs a late-night eatery.

Ruben Studdard's greatest loves are music and food.

With his debut album, Soulful (see "Ruben Studdard Misses Football But Wouldn't Change A Thing"), topping the sales chart, it's safe to say he's doing a lot with the first. Now he's moving on to the second.

Studdard plans to open a restaurant in his hometown.

"I'm in the process of brainstorming with my marketing team and all that stuff, trying to come up with a concept for a late-night restaurant for people in Birmingham," the Alabama crooner said recently.

No, ruben sandwiches will not be the specialty. Instead, Ruben wants to cater to club-goers.

"It's gonna be open until probably like 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning," he said. "We have one or two [similar restaurants], but nothing in the heart of the city, in downtown ... 'cause all of our clubs are downtown. And when the clubs are through popping, there's nothing where you can just shoot straight to the restaurant."

A post-party grub stop yes, but this will not be an imitation Denny's. "It's gonna be classy, it's not gonna be just a thrown-together restaurant," Studdard said.

For the menu, the "American Idol 2" winner is thinking a smorgasbord of "down home" cooking. "We're gonna have the Southern favorites, but our presentation of it is gonna be better," he said.

The eatery has yet to be named, but with Studdard's "Velvet Teddy Bear" nickname and signature 205 jerseys (Birmingham's area code), he has some fun possibilities.

"It was gonna be Fat Boys," Ruben said. "But I was driving around in Florida and I saw a restaurant called Fat Boys and I was like, 'Dang it.' "

Studdard hopes to have plans finalized by early next year, before he hits the road to promote Soulful. The album sold 416,000 copies in its first week (see "Ruben Debuts At #1 But Can't Match Clay's First-Week Sales").