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Ruth's Chris Steak House

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Ruth's Chris Steak House
FormerlyChris' Steak House (1927–1976)
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1927; 97 years ago (1927) in Broad Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
FounderRuth Fertel, Chris Matulich
HeadquartersWinter Park, Florida
Number of locations
100+ steakhouses
Area served
United States (including Puerto Rico)
Hong Kong
Key people
Cheryl Henry (CEO)
ProductsFood service
RevenueUS$468 million (FY 2019)[1]
Number of employees
5000+ (2020)[2][3]
ParentDarden Restaurants
Ruth's Chris Steak House in Charlotte, North Carolina

Ruth's Chris Steak House is a chain of over 100 steakhouses across the United States, Canada and Mexico. On May 22, 2008, the company underwent rebranding and became part of Ruth's Hospitality Group after its acquisition of Mitchell's Fish Market.[4] The group's headquarters are in Winter Park, Florida.


The original Chris' Steak House (1927–1965)[edit]

Chris' Steak House was founded on February 27, 1927 by New Orleans entrepreneur Chris Matulich.[5] It was located at 1100 North Broad Street near the Fair Grounds Race Course, seated 60 people, and had no parking lot. During Matulich's 38-year management, the business was sold six times. Each time it was sold the business failed and Matulich bought the restaurant back cheaply from the purchasers.[6][7] The building has recently been the focus of a historic preservation dispute under its new owner, who demolished the iconic wraparound terracotta-tile awning in April 2022 without the proper permits.[8][9]

Ownership by Ruth Fertel, 1965–1999[edit]

Acquisition, 1965[edit]

Ruth Fertel was a divorced single mother who needed money to send her teenage sons to college. Ignoring the advice of her banker, lawyer, and friends, Ruth purchased the restaurant in 1965.[10] She used her brother's restaurant, Sig's Antique Restaurant in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, along with family recipes to lay the foundation for her restaurant.[11] She initially planned to raise just $18,000 to cover the purchase price, until it was pointed out to her that she would need an additional $4,000 to cover the cost of renovations and food.[12] On her first day, May 24, 1965, she sold 35 steaks at $5 each.[13]

Fertel personally took a hand in every part of the business. For many years, Chris Steak House was the only upscale restaurant in New Orleans with an all-female wait staff.[13]

Name change to Ruth's Chris Steak House, 1976[edit]

In early 1976, shortly after Fertel signed a new ten-year lease on the restaurant, a fire destroyed the building. Fertel had recently acquired a second property nearby to rent out as a party space. Within seven days, she had relocated the restaurant to its new location a few blocks away at 711 North Broad Street and re-opened it, expanding to 160 seats in the process.[13] The sales agreement with Matulich prevented her from using the original name at any other address, so she named the new restaurant Ruth's Chris Steak House in order to keep some continuity with the previous location.[14] She admitted later to Fortune Magazine that "I've always hated the name, but we've always managed to work around it."[15]

Expansion and franchising, 1976–1999[edit]

The first franchised restaurant was opened in 1977 by a loyal customer, Thomas J. "T. J." Moran (c. 1931–2015), in Baton Rouge, who went on to open several more franchised Ruth's Chris locations, TJ Ribs, and Ruffino's restaurants[16] through his company T.J. Moran Associates. Fertel noted, "All our franchisees were people who had eaten at one time or another in one of our restaurants. We never looked for franchisees. They came to us".[13] The chain expanded rapidly over the next two decades, with 66 locations in the U.S. and overseas by mid-1998,[17][18] and achieving over $200 million in annual revenues.[19]

Acquisition by Madison Dearborn 1999–2005[edit]

In 1999, Fertel, then 72, developed lung cancer. She sold a 79.3 percent interest in the chain in August 1999 to investment company Madison Dearborn Partners of Chicago, remaining as a shareholder until her death in 2002.[19]

In that period, the chain expanded to 86 restaurants, including 10 overseas locations. Revenues fell to $167.8 million in 2003, before rising again to $192.2 million in 2004.[20]

Public company, 2005 onward[edit]

On August 9, 2005, under President & CEO Craig Miller, Ruth's Chris Steak House became a public company following a successful IPO valuing the company at $235 million and an increase of 15 percent in first-day trading.[21]

Relocation to Florida, 2005[edit]

In late August 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated Greater New Orleans (see: Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans), and the chain moved its corporate headquarters to Heathrow, Florida. Like most businesses in the city, two of the chain's locations in the New Orleans area were forced to close because of the storm.[22] The Metairie location has since reopened.[23] Members of the Fertel family, particularly Ruth's son Randy, were bitterly opposed to the move. Amid much criticism by local officials and media, and on the heels of the announcement by Morton's that it would reopen its own New Orleans branch,[24] the corporate offices announced that, due to extensive damage, the old flagship location on Broad Street would be permanently closed and donated to charity.[25] Tulane University was the recipient of the gift, remodeling and reopening the site in 2012 as the Ruth U. Fertel/Tulane Community Health Center.[26] In May 2008, Ruth's Chris reopened in New Orleans and is centrally located downtown in Harrah's Hotel at 525 Fulton Street.

In 2011, the corporate headquarters was relocated to its current location in Winter Park, Florida.[27]


In February 2008, the company purchased the Mitchell's Fish Restaurant and Columbus Fish Market brands from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants for $92 million.[28] As the recession began to bite, the acquisition was not initially successful. The stock price fell from $22 in 2006 to under $5 and company debts rose to $185 million. CFO Tom Pennison resigned, and CEO Craig Miller was ousted by the board to be replaced by Mike O'Donnell.[29][30] O'Donnell restructured and rebranded the company, creating Ruth's Hospitality Group (RHGI) as the parent entity in May 2008, allowing each of the individual restaurant brands to have their own identity within the group. The current President and COO is Kevin Toomy, formerly owner and president of the award-winning Goldcoast Seafood Grill in South Florida.

In February 2013, RHGI reported that fourth quarter sales at Ruth's Chris restaurants were up by 7.0 percent on the previous year, representing the 11th consecutive quarterly increase in sales.[31]

Ruth's Chris continues to add new restaurants, most recently in Harrah's casino in Las Vegas in January 2013, after the previous Las Vegas location on Flamingo closed in 2009.[32][33][34] a new restaurant in Denver, Colorado, and four or five new franchised locations.[31] In 2015, it was announced that the restaurant was expanding into Albuquerque, New Mexico.[35] In 2016, Ruth's Chris opened its restaurant in Odenton, Maryland. In 2018, Ruth's Chris opened its newest restaurant at the Silver Legacy in Reno, Nevada which replaced Sterling's Seafood Steakhouse that had been in business from 1995 to 2018.

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

During the coronavirus pandemic, Ruth's Hospitality Group received $20 million in forgivable loans intended for small businesses from the Paycheck Protection Program, leading to widespread backlash.[2] The funds were distributed as part of the government's $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which set limits of $10 million per entity. On April 17, 2020, two of the company's subsidiaries each received $10 million.[36][2] These loans were meant for companies with 500 or fewer employees while Ruth's Chris employs more than 5,700.[2] On April 24, 2020, it was reported that the loans would be repaid to the Treasury Department following the public controversy.[37]

Acquisition by Darden Restaurants (2023 – )[edit]

On May 3, 2023, Darden Restaurants announced it was acquiring Ruth's Hospitality Group Inc. for $21.50 per share in an all-cash transaction with an equity value of approximately $715 million.[38][39]

Lawsuits and discrimination[edit]

On multiple occasions and in several jurisdictions, Ruth's Chris has been the target of legal action for its treatment of staff, employees, and customers. In 2011, class action status was granted to female employees in a complaint that charged the company with pay discrimination, fewer promotions, and maintaining a "sexually-charged" environment.[40]

In 2017, the company was accused of denying service to black customers, as part of a class action lawsuit. The charges stemmed from a Houston customer who was seated in a different dining area.[41]


  1. ^ Darby, Luke (April 20, 2020). "Ruth's Chris Made $468 Million in Revenue but Gobbled Up $20 Million in Small Business Relief". GQ.
  2. ^ a b c d Scott, Charity L. "Ruth's Chris Steak House Gets $20 Million From Coronavirus Aid Program". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  3. ^ "Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. | Company profile from Hoover's". Hoovers.com. October 21, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  4. ^ Ruth's Chris vying to change name, First of Columbus, March 27, 2008
  5. ^ Anne Faircloth (July 6, 1998). "So Just What Does 'Ruth's Chris' Mean?". Fortune. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  6. ^ Fortune Magazine, October 2003
  7. ^ "Ruth's Chris' Steak House History". Funding Universe. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  8. ^ Schackai, III, John L. (July 18, 2022). "Viewpoint: Plundering Of Original Ruth's Chris Steak House Reveals Problems With Partial-Control Historic Districts". Mid-City Messenger. New Orleans, La. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  9. ^ Sledge, Matt (August 6, 2022). "Unpermitted demolition at original Ruth's Chris Steak House sparks preservation debate". The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  10. ^ "Ruth Fertel: A Pioneer in the Restaurant Industryauthor= Katie Bloor & Linda J Shea". HTM 591S – Foundations in Hospitality and Tourism Management. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  11. ^ Randy Fertel (February 9, 2011). "The BP Oil Spill and the Bounty of Plaquemines Parish". Gastronomica The Journal of Critical Food Studies. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  12. ^ "Steamroller – Ruth Fertel". Capitalist Chicks. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d "Her Life Is The Stuff Of Legend" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 24, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  14. ^ McDowell, Bill, "Ruth's Chris Steak House," Restaurants & Institutions, August 1, 1994, 54.
  15. ^ "Ruth Fertel of Steakhouse Fame Is Dead at 75". NY Times. April 18, 2002. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  16. ^ Bill Lodge. "Philanthropist, founder of TJ Ribs, Ruffino's restaurants T.J. Moran dies at age 84, family friend says: Restaurateur funded medical outreach". Baton Rouge Advocate. Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "So Just What Does 'Ruth's Chris' Mean?". CNN Money. July 6, 1998. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  18. ^ "Never Give Up: Ruth's Chris Steak House," Entrepreneur Magazine, September 1997, 81.
  19. ^ a b "Madison Dearborn Finds Ruth's Chris To Be Tasty Morsel". Chicago Tribune. July 20, 1999. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  20. ^ "Ruth's Chris IPO to raise $235M". Tampa Bay Business Journal. April 25, 2005. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  21. ^ "Ruth's Chris Steak IPO sizzles". Wall Street Journal. August 9, 2005. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  22. ^ Dash, Craig (September 5, 2005). "Ruth Built the Steakhouse. Katrina Intervened". New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  23. ^ "Best Steak House in Metairie, LA | Ruth's Chris". www.ruthschris.com. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  24. ^ Fitzmorris, Tim (February 27, 2006). "Morton's beefs up city's diminished steak offerings". New Orleans City Business. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  25. ^ Press Release Archived December 31, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Inc., November 18, 2005.
  26. ^ Rickard, Mary (April 25, 2012). "Fertel Tulane health clinic moves to new home in Mid-City". Times-Picayune. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  27. ^ "Ruth's Hospitality Group moving to Winter Park". Orlando Sentinel, July 20, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  28. ^ "Ruth's Chris Completes Acquisition of Mitchell's". Seafood Source, 20 February 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  29. ^ "GOP Senate hopeful defends moving Ruth's Chris HQ here after Katrina". Orlando Sentinel, 7 Sept, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  30. ^ "Former Ruth's Chris CEO Craig Miller joins Republican field for U.S. Senate". Tampa Bay Times. July 12, 2011. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  31. ^ a b "Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. Reports Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2012 Financial Results". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  32. ^ "Ruth's Chris Rumbles Back into Las Vegas". January 28, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  33. ^ "Ruth's Chris on Flamingo closing". Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8 August 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  34. ^ "Ruth's Chris Steak House Expands Global Presence to China". Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  35. ^ Jessica Dyer (May 6, 2015). "Ruth's Chris Steak House coming to Albuquerque". Albuquerque Journal.
  36. ^ Genovese, Daniella (April 15, 2020). "Ruth's Chris Steak House receives $20M in coronavirus relief". Fox Business. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  37. ^ "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse owner to return $20M in small business loans". FOX Business. April 24, 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  38. ^ Lucas, Amelia (May 3, 2023). "Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants buys Ruth's Chris Steak House for $715 million". CNBC. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  39. ^ "Darden Restaurants to Acquire Ruth's Hospitality Group in $715 Million Transaction". investor.darden.com (Press release). Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  40. ^ Casserly, Meghan (October 19, 2011). "Ruth's Chris Hit With Class Action Discrimination Suit". Forbes. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  41. ^ Banks, Gabrielle (February 15, 2017). "Burger war: Ruth's Chris accused of denying service to African-American in federal lawsuit". Houston Chronicle. Houston. Retrieved February 15, 2019.

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