03 November 2005

Ruth's Chris Sellout

The news section of Ruth's Chris Sellout's website currently features no press release about their corporate office escape from New Orleans (Metairie) to Orlando (Heathrow) announced less than three weeks post-KTMB. Yep, the image of that guy on Canal Street walking off with the plasma television was still freshly branded into the minds of America--what would the shareholder's think to stay based in such a place. So instead they relocate to a place immune to the destruction and horror of hurricanes: a magical place called Orlando.

Sellout's CEO Craig S. Miller isn't going to get much of a fight about selling out New Orleans from the company's iconic founder Ruth Fertel because she's been resting quietly in Metairie Cemetery since 2002. I get all teary eyed when I read that among the first things retrieved upon fleeing New Orleans were the pictures of Mr. Miller and Ruth together before her death. Awwww, so touching.

This is inexcusable. I don't want to hear that GODFATHER "it's just business--not personal" crap. R'sC Sellout was an invaluable corporate entity in this city and instead of embracing and being a leader to help this community, Mr. Miller chose to run far away and as one of his Orlando buddy-buddys stated, "go hit a grand slam" for another place. And here in New Orleans we get the called third strike in the bottom of ninth with bases loaded and down by three runs. Sorry, too bad.


From a Times-Picayune article written in September that I think says it all:

Ruth's Chris is a national presence with 88 restaurants. But its New Orleans influence is seen in all of its restaurants, and the company has used its ties to the Big Easy in its marketing. Miller said executives considered this identity issue and questioned the impact of not being anchored in New Orleans.

"It is not merely an office building in Metairie, Louisiana, that dictates who and what Ruth's Chris Steak House is," Miller said.

Miller said central Florida is a vibrant economic area with several major restaurant chains and an available work force. The company received tax breaks from Seminole County, where it is renovating a 21,000-square foot building to house its headquarters.

This is not the first time Ruth's has faced such a setback. In 1965, three months after founder Ruth Fertel opened her first restaurant, Hurricane Betsy devastated New Orleans. Fertel was able to reopen her restaurant and cook several thousand pounds of steak over a gas stove. She served the steaks to victims and relief workers.

And now they just leave town.

Oh, and they also can milk their "New Orleans influence" in their cuisine and service at their restauraunts, but Jesus H. Christ, whatever you don't actually be in New Orleans . . . . .

Comments, Mr. Miller? Talk to me: seymourdfair@gmail.com


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