Why Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Has Such A Confusing Name

Despite having a tongue twister for a name, Ruth's Chris Steak House is a well-known pioneer in the fine dining world. Per its website, the New Orleans-based restaurant was small at first, only able to house 60 guests at a time. While its beginnings were humble, hard work boosted the eatery to more than 150 locations today. According to Reference for Business, it was 1965 when its first store opened its doors, and it wasn't until 1987 that the company expanded to 17 locations.

Part of what makes the restaurant iconic is its consistent cooking method. Its Midwestern beef steaks, which account for 90% of its sales, are broiler-cooked at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. No matter which location you visit, whether it be in North America or its Dominican Republic store, you're going to have the same experience. You may wonder, though, why would a company make its name so hard to pronounce and remember? Well, as it turns out, the story is a pretty inspiring one.

Ruth Fertel couldn't breach the agreement

Ruth's Chris Steak House was founded in 1965, just one year after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was enacted, per US News. According to the memoir of Ruth Fertel's son, Randy Fertel, it was unheard of for a woman to be a restaurant owner at that time. But Ruth Fertel didn't seem to mind the norms, as she purchased what was then Chris Steak House for $18,000. In order to come up with the money, Fertel took out a mortgage on her home. Though there was one problem Fertel couldn't get behind. The restaurant was named after founder Chris Matulich with who she made an agreement that his name would remain.

Per Ruth's Chris Steak House website, Chris Steak House continued with the name until a kitchen fire in 1976 when she was forced to reopen the business elsewhere. In order to not break the purchasing terms, she changed the name to Ruth's Chris Steak House, a bold way to honor her accomplishments as a woman business owner with an all female staff. Fertel isn't unaware of the whispers behind the name, though, as she often jokes about herself. "I've always hated the name, but we've always managed to work around it," Fertel said to Fortune's reporter (via The New York Times). She eventually settled down to enjoy her success after selling the restaurant to a private firm in 1999.