According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Ruth’s Chris is permanently relocating its headquarters from New Orleans—the city where it got its start—to Orlando, Florida.
On Aug. 31, not long after the levees burst in New Orleans, the top executives of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse gathered in the lobby of the Orlando Embassy Suites for an hourlong, soul-searching meeting.
“It was probably one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make: to tell my people that we are not going back,” said Craig Miller, the veteran chief executive of Ruth’s Chris.
Hours before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Miller and Geoffrey Stiles, the company’s chief operating officer, flew with their spouses to Orlando, where each also owns a home. Eventually they established a makeshift communications center in Miller’s condominium and contacted their senior management team, asking them to come to Orlando to take on specified tasks.
With temporary office space secured in Orlando, the company hired brokers to scout for a more permanent home. After negotiating tax incentives from Seminole County economic development officials and seeking approval from their board, by Sept. 2 they had the keys to a fully furnished 21,000-square-foot corporate office and training center.
The company also quickly established procedures for manually writing paychecks so their employees could immediately obtain cash.
Miller vigorously defends the company’s decision. He notes that Morton’s Steakhouse, a similar restaurant chain that started in Chicago and has long been identified with that city, now has its headquarters in New York.