21 February 2006

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):


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 . . .

New Orleans is literally fighting for its very existence and continued relevance and attempting to fend off extinction at every level--physically, culturally, socially, and economically. Does that sound extreme to anyone reading this beyond 50 miles of New Orleans (or the Mississippi Gulf Coast)? Seeing pictures on television of devastated neighborhoods does not quite accurately communicate the scope and magnitude of the issues we are facing here. So sorry fellow countrymen for the dubbed "Katrina fatigue." How about the "our lives" fatigue we will be facing in New Orleans indefinitely? Or maybe we should all just all pack it all up and put "this whole New Orleans thing behind us" and follow the lead of Ruth's Chris Sellout CEO Craig Miller.

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.



Still awaiting a response, Mr Miller . . .


At February 22, 2006 7:34 AM, Blogger Commish said...

Go to the Ruth's Chris website. There is some jazz music playing in the background of the welcome page.

For those of you who are not completely familiar with jazz music, I would like to point out two things about the music playing in the background.

1. It is not Dixieland or New Orleans jazz. It is Miles Davis.

2. The name of the song is "Freddie Freeloader." How ironic, don't you think?

Maybe they can change the music to Kenny G in the future.

At February 22, 2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live less than ten minutes from tne new Pasadena Ruth's Chris, which is in a very popular entertainment area of town between Old Town and the Playhouse District. We looked through the window the other day.

The restaurant is huge, beautiful, well-appointed, has a great looking bar and will undoubtedly be very appealing once it's open.

And I shall never set foot inside.

At February 22, 2006 2:50 PM, Blogger Mark Folse said...

I have a friend who's spouse is in the biz and is back working for RCSH (after several years outside food service).

So I'm circumspect at what I say in public. What I've said in a few webform comments to RCSH I won't sully the blog, lest you get banished to the new domain dot XXX.

At February 22, 2006 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it bothers me to read profanity on websites.

No. Wait...that's somebody else.

I feel your pain, and yet I can't get some people to even notice, or care. That's probably why I "go blue", just to get their attention, and to lower my blood pressure.

And Orlando is a hole.

At November 16, 2006 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

go to hell

At November 05, 2007 10:09 AM, Blogger Tish said...

I'm Craig Miller's Daughter and I find this site a little insensitive and miss informed, there are a lot of people that had to be evacuated from new orleans and haven't returned. I don't see you giving them the F*** U. Moving the company wasn't an easy decision for my Dad or the Board of directors.

At January 05, 2008 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Mr. Miller's daughter, who was not present in the weeks following Katrina, and knowing several people who worked in the RC corp office, the move was very hard for all who worked for RCSH, but very easy for Mr. Miller. The headline of the story is right on target!

At January 19, 2008 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry my comment has nothing to do with your headline but i was just scanning for RCSH and stumbled upon your blog ....My daughter (21yrs old) currently working at RCSH, is having a problem at one of the stores; it could be nothing or could be something that can amount to an harassment charge with local management ... she has been afraid to tell me everything. I would really like to speak to someone in HR at the home office .. Can anyone give me a name at the Home Office who I can speak with ?? Preferably a senior officer.

At January 21, 2008 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katrina was an excuse to relocate back to Mr. Miller's hometown. Keep in mind Mr. Miller, that Ruth's company was successful long before you came into play. Please don't ever compare yourself or what you do to what she accomplished, for they are far different.

When you turn your back on the things that make you different from everyone else, you just become everyone else. By the way, how much is the stock worth now? You reap what you sow.

At April 25, 2008 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems like Miller's had his come around...first he bailed on N.O., then nice job on the mitchell's fish purchase (all cash???), and making the special experience at Chris' not so special by opening WAY too many locations

At April 25, 2008 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HR comment from 1/19...Sarah Jackson is SVP of HR..she is a wonderful person

At July 11, 2008 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


the stock is down to $4.24/share
How does a company that has earnings of 60 cents a share drop like that
i HATE RCSH but i'm gonna buy to make some money

At January 07, 2009 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't waste your money. Miller did exactly what he set out to do. Run it in the ground after making his money. $2.14 a share?????

At January 21, 2009 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...







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