Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Is Closing One Of Its Most High-Profile Locations
It's going to be that much harder to find a decent steak in Times Square this spring as one of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse's landmark locations is set to shut down after three decades.
In 1965, single mother Ruth Fertel mortgaged her own home to purchase a small steakhouse in New Orleans. Back then, few would have predicted her ambitions would prove successful at all, let alone spawn one of the most recognizable steakhouse brands currently out there: Ruth's Chris Steak House.
Fast forward to today and Ruth's Chris is synonymous with a classy night out, and absolutely delicious steaks and sides. The 150-unit strong streak brand routinely brings in hundreds of millions in revenue, and even emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in a fairly strong financial position.
It isn't all good news for the steak chain, though. The Ruth's Chris Steak House near Times Square in Manhattan at 148 W. 51st St. won't be renewing its lease this year. The restaurant's last day of operations is set for April 22, and employees have been offered company jobs at other chain locations.
"We are actively exploring other opportunities in Manhattan, and we'll announce more details when they become available," a Ruth's Chris spokesperson told Restaurant Business.
While that statement is short on details, we can uncover a bit more of the story on the closure by looking back at the steak brand's Q3 earnings call last November. At the time, CEO Cheryl Henry mentioned that the Times Square location had been hurt by workers' slow return back to NYC offices post-pandemic.
"Our Manhattan restaurant continues to be challenged, albeit it has some green shoots, but it continues to be challenged over the long haul from a sales perspective," she said.
Prior to the pandemic, New York City would see over one million commuters enter and exit the city each weekday. The coronavirus, of course, changed all of that within a matter of days in the spring of 2020—and the city that never sleeps has yet to fully recover in terms of employee foot traffic. For instance, the latest data projected 54% of NYC workers would be back in the office by January 2023.
While the closing of the Times Square location is far from a positive, there's a lot to like about Ruth's Chris' financials right now. For the 3rd quarter of 2022, the chain reported a 2.9% year-over-year increase in same-store sales and an 11.2% increase in comparison to 2019. Moreover, the steak chain is opening more locations than it's closing. Three new restaurants opened during Q3 2022 and at least five more new additions are planned for 2023.
Ruth's Chris certainly isn't the only brand to run into financial trouble in Times Square in recent years. Applebee's franchisee Apple Metro was forced to close its Times Square restaurant after 20 years in business last October after reporting a 75% decline in sales since March 2020. At the same time, however, there's no shortage of casual eating brands eager to enter the iconic neighborhood. Popeyes and Krispy Kreme have both opened locations in Times Square since the pandemic, for example