I have always found Ruth’s Chris Steak House to be a tongue twister.  I don’t know why they just didn’t call it Ruth’s Steakhouse or Chris’ Steakhouse.  My best theory is that there was a bunch of people in the family or neighborhood named Chris.  There was Christopher, Cristine, Christian, and of course Christopher Junior and all that stuff.  Because there were so many, everyone wanted you to know that it was Ruth’s Chris that owns it.  Just like my Grandma who has two sons-in-law with the same name and my late Uncle was forever known as “Betty’s Tom.” Maybe Chris was Ruth’s son, daughter or husband.  It wasn’t that other Chris who was Ruth’s brother’s daughter or Ruth’s cousin’s husband.

ruthfertel.jpgRecently, I was corrected.  Who knows why I never bothered to read the company history on the website, but there was actually a Chris that had nothing to do with Ruth. Chris Steak House was in a down and out section of New Orleans when Ruth Fertel decided to buy it in the 1960s.  Instead of changing the name, she called it “Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.”  It sure probably saved a ton of money on signage because she would just have to put a sticky note or tap in a little plywood board to ad the Ruth part.  Pretty ingenius.

Now, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is a national chain.  What if someone else bought it.  Maybe a guy name Horatio would buy it and it would be Harold’s Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  Then, later on a lady would come along and it would be Ellen’s Harold’s Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  At that point, they would probably call it EHRCS (pronounced Eric’s).  But then Harold’s wife and Ellen’s husband worked there as equally as they did, even though Ellen and Harold owned it before their respective marriages.  Then, what would happen after that is they would ad little hash marks or little slanted lines under the names, so it would go like this:

That is what would be on the menu, but they would probably come up with some logo with all the names around it, similar to the design of one of those Grandma sweatshirts that has all the kids names on them with hand prints.  Expensive, you say?  Expensive to keep changing the corporate name?  They wouldn’t have to keep changing the name with the U.S. Government.  They would just tack up little boards or signs every time someone new came around or got married.  All the locations would do it and it would be sort of one of those unspoken things.  People in the communities would probably have to come up with their own name for each location based on geography and proximity to the nearest Radio Shack.  Sort of like “Mickey D’s” or “that restaurant by the movie theater.”  Hey, it could work.  You would just have to show up, though, because directory assistance would have no earthly clue what you were talking about.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 12:33 am and is filed under foggy history, restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Ruth’s Chris’ Somethingorother”

Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap Says:

I drive past a Ruth’s Chris every day and always marvel at how awkward both the name and their sign is- have you ever seen their sign? It’s like the most random shape of neon surrounding the letters. I guess the food must be good if people can overlook things like that-! Thanks for getting to the bottom of this, for those of us who also can’t be bothered to read the company histories!

TheSnackHound Says:

Well, as far as the sign, I think the Ellen/Mike/Harold/Penelope format makes just as much sense as the varying font sizes and neon of reality. Ruth clearly did not hire a marketing consultant and just “went with it” back in the day, so I would say the sign follows in that tradition. She must have been a cool gal to have known. She threw spaghetti against the wall..but it stuck.

Linda Says:

I’m glad to know a little of the history. I had wondered at the odd name. We have a gift card, and hope to go soon. Thanks.

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