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This Beloved Restaurant Chain Secretly Shuttered 150 Locations

This classic American chain closed around 30 percent of its total locations—and many of them permanently.
ruby tuesdays ribs

A daunting statistic: nearly one in five restaurants will close due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a UBS note published in April. Only three weeks into the shutdown, the National Restaurant Association reported that 3 million jobs had already been lost and 15% of restaurants permanently closed. Although small mom and pop restaurants have been hit the hardest, not even massive nationwide restaurant chains have been spared.

Dozens of beloved restaurant chains have collectively closed more than 600 locations, with many of them having to declare bankruptcy. The truth of the matter is that coronavirus was a nail in the coffin for many of these restaurant chains, which had been shrinking for years. One of the most prominent and beloved of these is Ruby Tuesday. According to Restaurant Business, the casual dining chain has closed 150 locations during the pandemic—and many will not reopen.

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Ruby Tuesday was founded in 1972 as an American food restaurant concept, serving classics like ribs, steaks, pasta, and burgers. Perhaps one of it's most iconic menu items is their salad bar, which, unsurprisingly, has closed indefinitely due to COVID-19. The chain has locations sprinkled across the country aside from the west coast.

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In its heyday, Ruby Tuesday operated or franchised 840 locations, but that number slowly dwindled to 470 restaurants at the onset of 2020. Over the past decade, Ruby Tuesday has been struggling due to  "weakness in the casual dining market and failed efforts to upscale the chain in the past," according to Restaurant Business.

Brought on by coronavirus, Aziz Hashim, the founder and managing partner of Ruby Tuesday owner NRD Capital, told Restaurant Business that the number of restaurants the chain currently operates is between 270 and 300. While some restaurants will slowly begin to reopen, as many as 180 locations are temporarily shuttered. (Speaking of, if you intend to dine at a newly reopened restaurant, you need to read up on these 7 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make at a Reopened Restaurant.)

Hashim said that the chain will be going through a culling process—closing the weaker units—but the final tally as to the permanent number of closures has yet to be determined.

Whatever the number ends up being, one thing is for certain: Ruby Tuesday will be a smaller chain than it's been in decades at the end of this pandemic. It's not just restaurants that are disappearing from COVID-19. Here are 6 Things You're Used to Seeing in Chain Restaurants That May Go Away.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more