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Trader’s gut feeling leads to two pizza restaurants

Andy Rubmusic beer lover who opened pizzrestaurant  AustTX pose his Chicago home Sunday March 18 2012. | John H.

Andy Rubin, a music and beer lover who opened a pizza restaurant in Austin, TX, pose in his Chicago home Sunday, March 18, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: April 21, 2012 8:04AM

Music and good beer.

They’ve been drawing Andy Rubin to Austin, Texas, for three decades, and are the reason the North Sider racked his brain for years to come up with an excuse to spend more time there.

His eureka moment was provided by his appetite during a spring pilgrimage to the South by Southwest festival — which turns Austin into a musical mecca.

“I thought, ‘There’s no decent pizza in this town,’ I’ll open a pizza shop.”

A short time later Rubin, a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, walked into his boss’ office at Bear Brokerage with a proposition. “ ‘Hey bossman, I’m gonna open a pizza place in Austin, you in?’ He said, ‘Yea, put me down for $50 thousand,’ ” recalled Rubin.

With the boss on board, the next nine out of 10 people Rubin asked to invest said yes. “It took me probably several hours to raise a quarter of a million dollars,” he said.

Despite Rubin’s pizza experience residing mostly in his stomach, his reputation with traders was strong.

“I was upfront with them. I said, ‘look, man, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have a clue how to run a restaurant, but I’ll hire people who do . . . and they trusted me,” said Rubin, who lives in Wicker Park.

A few months later, amid talk of opening a second pizza place even though the first one had yet to make any money, a friend motioned to Andy from across the trading floor.

“The guy gives me the hand signal for $50,000. He put his open fist to his forehead and pushed his hand away, just like that. . . . Sometimes the world tells you what you should be doing,” said Rubin, 56.

Rubin’s two restaurants, South Side Flying Pizza and Lakeside Pizza, produce regular checks for investors. “You can’t explain it to somebody, you have to go there, and then all the sudden the light switch comes on. It’s all about the music,” said Rubin.

Pizza was just his vehicle.

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