05 February 2006

Ruth Fertel's Legacy/CEO Craig S. Miller's Sellout

I happened upon this article on WWL's site and also saw a blurb about the donation in New Orleans CityBusiness:

Steakhouse founder's legacy pays off for schools
04:03 PM CST on Saturday, February 4, 2006
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS: More than $1.2 million from a foundation established in the will of Ruth's Chris Steak House founder Ruth U. Fertel is going to public, private and parochial schools and educational programs in the New Orleans area.

The grant announcement Friday was timed to commemorate what would have been Fertel's 79th birthday on Feb. 5.

A New Orleans native, Fertel was devoted to the city and to education, said her son Randy Fertel, president of the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation. His mother, who died in April 2002, held a degree in chemistry and physics from LSU, he said.

Ruth Fertel always claimed that her strength in chemistry lay behind her wizardry in the kitchen, he said. Anyone who ever sat across the gin table from her knows how strong she was in math, he added. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse originated in New Orleans and became one of the largest dining enterprises in the world, as well as a clubhouse for political power brokers, Randy Fertel said.

He recalled what his mother did after Hurricane Betsy struck soon after she acquired the original Chris Steak House in 1965. "Faced with no electricity and no refrigeration, mom broiled all those prime steaks and I brought them down to Plaquemines (where she grew up) for evacuees," he said.

The foundation will enable Fertel to help New Orleans recover from the ravages of Katrina by helping its educational institutions recover, he said.

Educational institutions receiving grants this year are: New Orleans Outreach, New Orleans Charter Middle School, Newman School, Summerbridge, YaYa, KIDsmArt, the New Orleans Center for Science and Math, the Audubon Institute, the New Orleans Public Library, Ben Franklin High School, Holy Cross School, St. Bernard Unified School, Junior Achievement, St. Martin's Episcopal School, the University of New Orleans, St. Mary's Dominican High School, Jesuit High School and Good Shepherd School.

So even after Ruth Fertel is dead she once again provides her assistance to New Orleans after a devastating hurricane through her family foundation. In 1965 she cooked and cooked and personally helped those who needed help in the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy. Following Hurricane Katrina (KTMB)--four years after Ruth Fertel's death--Ruth's Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig S. Miller figured "cutting and running" sounded like a better alternative than sticking around in New Orleans. I would not have expected Mr. Miller to personally cook steaks and go down to shelters to deliver them to the evacuated. No. What I expected from him was to commit to New Orleans by keeping the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse corporate headquarters here and not contribute to the hemorrhaging of white collar jobs New Orleans is experiencing. He could have been a hero. He could have gotten excellent PR and announced to the world New Orleans was here to stay and that his corporation was doing their part to ensure the city's economic and commercial relevance. But no--straight to Orlando--under the cover of distraction as the water still drowned New Orleans and that "etched into memory thanks to CNN/FOX/MSNBC" guy stealing the plasma television practically still standing on Canal Street.

And Mr. Miller can cite more favorable tax laws in Florida than in Louisiana, or he can cite Orlando having what he interprets to be a better labor pool to chose from, or he can say the move was in the best interest of the stock holders, or whatever other crap he can come up with. But when its all over he sold New Orleans out--and I have no doubt in my mind that if Ruth Fertel was alive (even if she no longer owned the company) this move would have never happened.


Still waiting for a form letter, Mr. Miller:


At February 06, 2006 6:45 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

You and I are on the same page, Mr. Fair. I emailed this letter to the ed at the T-P two days ago:

To the Editor:

Re: "Steakhouse founder's legacy pays off for schools," Metro, Feb. 4.

Thank you for documenting the ongoing generosity and community spirit of the
Fertel family during these challenging times. The gift of $1.2 million from
Randy Fertel and his fellow foundation board members is a wonderful display of
faith in the future of our city.

I would add one crucial point to the otherwise excellent article. It is
important to note that this generosity should be associated with the Fertel
family only, and not with the current regime that operates Ruth's Chris Steak

Remember: when bodies were still floating in the streets of our city, the
current chief executive of Ruth's Chris moved the business's headquarters to
his home state of Florida, where the offices will stay and take advantage of
tax incentives. He has also abandoned the flagship store on Broad.

We should always cherish the post-Betsy bravery and post-Katrina generosity of
Mrs. Ruth Fertel and her son, Randy. We should never forget the timidity and
avarice of the current gang running the chain that unfortunately still bears
Mrs. Ruth's name.

Mr. Clio

At December 18, 2007 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That figures CEO Craig S. Miller shows his true loyality. Leaving the city of New Orleans behind. "Oh but I did it for the stock holders." Bite my ass Mr. Miller. You ask the stock holders about that "pullout" now and you know New Orleans is the place to be. Orlando? Nothing but a swamp, full of "love bugs." Worst weather ever inhabited my humans.
C-me Mr. Miller, Pat Aguilera.

At January 21, 2009 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...







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