Darden buys Ruth's Chris
Orlando based Darden announced last week that it would acquire Winter Park based Ruth’s Hospitality Group, owner of the upscale Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain. The purchase price is $715 million, or about what it would cost for steaks for a party of 10 at Ruth’s.
The acquisition of another premium steak brand is an interesting choice for Darden, which already has the Capital Grille in its portfolio. Ruth’s Chris has 154 locations worldwide, 80 of which are company owned or operated.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House was founded in 1965 in New Orleans by Ruth Fertel, who bought an existing restaurant called Chris Steak House (which explains the odd name). Fertel had no restaurant experience; she was a a single mom with two sons and working as a lab technician at Tulane Medical School when she saw the restaurant listed for sale in the newspaper. Not long after Fertel bought the business, a hurricane hit the city and knocked out the power. Faced with losing her inventory of steaks, Fertel had her chefs cook them up and serve them to emergency workers, earning her a loyal base of new customers.