The Untold Truth Of Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday's story begins in Knoxville, Tennessee. The restaurant was the brainchild of college student Sandy Beall and three of his fraternity brothers in 1972 (via Funding Universe). The original location, named for a Rolling Stones song, boasted the vintage flea market decor with Tiffany lamps and various antiques that the chain came to be known for throughout the next few decades. Cheap burgers served on English muffins and combined with one of the city's few liquor licenses made it a fast favorite with university students, meanwhile Beall was so busy with restaurant ownership that he ended up forgoing his degree in order to expand the Ruby Tuesday empire.

Before selling the restaurant concept to cafeteria company, Morrison in 1982, Beall was already in on another wildly successful venture. In 1976, he purchased Blackberry Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains. The farm and inn would go on to be one of the country's premier culinary vacation destinations.

The salad bar has been a longtime draw to Ruby Tuesday

The salad bar has been a longtime draw to Ruby Tuesday, and in 2017 the company decided to use the serve yourself first course as a way to draw back diners with the premise of a healthier option. The Washington Post reported that Ruby Tuesday called the newly minted concept a "garden bar," upping the number of offerings by more than 20, and introducing of-the-moment ingredients. In an interview with The Washington Post, the company's chief marketing officer described the revamped salad bar as such, "We're essentially a hot new salad concept with a full menu on the side."

But focusing on the new garden bars wasn't enough to keep Ruby Tuesday in the black, and the chain took a big dive beginning in March of 2020. Restaurant Business reported that the casual dining chain had declared bankruptcy, and 185 outposts were forced to close their doors. The reasoning behind this tough decision was mainly because 90% of the chain's business came from dine-in revenue, and take out wasn't making up for the loss of business.

Ruby Tuesday took a big dive in March 2020

This fast and furious round of closures left countless Ruby Tuesday employees jobless, many with no prior notice. Sadly, Business Insider reported that this is a standard practice, with managers only finding out the fate of their branch the night before the secretly scheduled closure.

Even before the pandemic took a toll on the chain, Ruby Tuesday was starting to decline. Typically found in and around shopping malls, a shift to online consumerism saw less people looking to grab a couple of cocktails and an appetizer after making their rounds at their local indoor shopping mecca. Other factors included misses when in came to introducing menu items, poor taste advertising campaigns, and a general dip in the nation's going out to eat budget.

Ruby Tuesday decided that a pivot was in order

A change was needed and Ruby Tuesday began to pivot. Focusing on pick up and delivery of Ruby's favorites, like Tater Totchos, Hickory Bourbon Bacon Burgers, and Parmesan Chicken Mac 'n' Cheese was a given, but the higher ups at Ruby Tuesday were thinking much bigger than that. Restaurants rolled out Ruby's Pantry, where guests could stock up on raw ingredients like cases of baby back ribs, turkey burgers, boxes of pasta, and gallons of barbecue sauce.

In an unprecedented move for a national chain, Ruby Tuesday incorporated the concept of ghost kitchens into their business model as of late. The chain's parent company, NRD Capital came up with Franklin Junction, a concept that founder Aziz Hashim likens to something in-between Match.com and Airbnb in an interview with Nation's Restaurant News. Branches that have extra room in the kitchen looking for a boost in sales can play host to delivery and takeout concepts that are connected with Ruby Tuesday in name alone. So far Nathan's Hot Dogs have set up shop in several kitchens, as well as a Canadian seafood called The Captain's Boil (via Restaurant News Online).