Ruth's Chris Steakhouse/Craig S. Miller: No Remorse, No Regret, No Respect
The bait is cast out and--I've got no choice but to take it hook, line, and sinker . . .
Ruth's Chris uses N.O. tactics to woo Pasadena
CityBusiness staff report/February 13, 2006 1:22 PM
PASADENA, Calif.: Ruth's Chris Steak House Inc. opened its 11th restaurant in California today and the 93rd location worldwide. The restaurant is located at 369 East Colorado Blvd. along the Rose Bowl Parade route.
"Each time we open a new location, we host a traditional New Orleans second-line parade," said Ruth's Chris CEO Craig Miller. "This celebration of our New Orleans heritage, led by the Storyville Stompers, a genuine New Orleans brass band, was a big hit with everyone."
The entrance to the restaurant features a courtyard with a glass canopy, gas lanterns, plants and a fountain. The bar area displays wines, leading into one of several dining rooms.
The "Ruth Room," named in honor of Ruth Fertel, the late founder of Ruth's Chris, features historical photographs of Ruth and New Orleans. Ruth's Chris moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla., three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck and Miller said the move is permanent. Ruth's Chris stock traded flat today at $22.20 on Nasdaq.
I have attempted to refrain from profanity as much as possible in my writings on this blog. This has been difficult for me because I am very passionate about, and admit, way too emotionally invested in New Orleans (even before KTMB) and sometimes feel the need for animated language to magnify my point--especially on certain "pushbutton" subjects. One of my "pushbuttons" post-KTMB is CEO Craig Miller's desertion of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse corporate headquarters from New Orleans. The above report and quote from Mr. Miller cited in last Monday's New Orleans CityBusiness daily email really, really pissed me off, therefore (and this is a long time coming):
F&*! YOU CRAIG S. MILLER.
There. I said it. (Conincidently, Chris Rose wrote this on the use of profanity post-KTMB in New Orleans which is not only funny but true.) Now for the halfway-intelligent commentary to justify the potty-mouth . . .
One of the first economic dominoes to fall for New Orleans post-KTMB was the announced relocation of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse corporate offices to Orlando. As stated in earlier posts, the City of New Orleans remained an extension of Lake Pontchartrain when the relocation decision by Mr. Miller was publicly announced. No wait and see. No evaluation. No "let's see if we can make this work." Nothing. There was no desire to even briefly entertain such thoughts. Instead from his perspective Mr. Miller hit the lottery jackpot: the aftermath of KTMB offered the perfect opportunity to escape New Orleans with relatively little fuss and fanfare given the abounding and overwhelming distractions at the time.
I say the above profanity towards Craig Miller for choosing to flee New Orleans. I say it to Craig Miller for selling New Orleans out. I say it to Craig Miller for turning a blind eye towards the forty year history of the company. And I say it to Miller for disrespecting the explicit wishes of the company's late founder Ruth Fertel for the company to forever remain based in it's birthplace of New Orleans.
And now Mr. Miller has the continued audacity to, as described above, "use New Orleans tactics" in the latest Ruth's Chris Sellout grand opening in Old Town Pasadena complete with a Second Line and "a genuine New Orleans brass band." As Mr. Miller gloated about the company's proud New Orleans heritage, did he notify his guests that he single-handedly abandoned the city whose traditions, culture, and general "joie de vivre" are central in his company's long-time success and the centerpiece of it's marketing and branding? Apparently, he has no problem exploiting and capitalizing the being of New Orleans without actually being a part of New Orleans. Hey, I suppose you have to do something to separate yourself from The Cheesecake Factory and Gordon Birsch--neither of those are going to give you brass bands that according to Mr. Miller as part of the "celebration of 'our' New Orleans heritage" was a big hit with everyone in Pasadena. Back in September 2005 Mr. Miller celebrated that New Orleans heritage straight out of town.Mr. Miller, take the historic New Orleans photos off the wall. Take the pictures of Ruth Fertel off the wall. Replace them with 1930's pictures of fruit stands and orange groves in the present-day location of Downtown Orlando. Replace Ruth Fertel's image with Walt Disney's picture in 1966 tramping through the pine scrubs that would become DisneyWorld. Although the company has no historic ties to Orlando, at least those pictures and forced-fed nostalgia would be honest about where the company is now both physically and ideologically . Those New Orleans and Ruth Fertel pictures are now as a valid as all the bullshit Americana crap that you find plastered over the wall at a Chili's or even worse at Cracker Barrel. They are nothing more than props to manufacture nostalgia and identity--and an attempt to associate with something of substance which Mr. Miller chose to disassociate himself with when he moved the company from New Orleans. Actually, maybe the historic and nostalgic photos of New Orleans should be replaced with pictures of that guy walking off with a plasma television on a flooded Canal Street or a picture of "Vera" (the sheet-covered body in a make-shift grave that sat there for a week) at Jackson and Magazine. Not quite the pleasant imagery as turn-of-the-century sepia prints of streetcars and cotton bales at the base of Canal Street, but apparently those unfortunate images represent the only New Orleans Mr. Miller cared to know when he hauled ass out of town.
BOYCOTT RUTH'S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE.
Still awaiting a response, Mr Miller . . .