Financing

Ruth’s Chris to close its Times Square location

The steak chain's longtime Manhattan outpost has been hurt by the slow return of office workers.
Ruth's Chris has more than 150 locations worldwide. / Photograph: Shutterstock
Ruth's Chris has more than 150 locations worldwide. / Photograph: Shutterstock

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is closing its location near Times Square in Manhattan after 30 years, marking the end of a high-profile outpost for the 150-unit steak chain.

Ruth’s lease at 148 W. 51st St. is expiring and the company has decided not to renew it, a spokesperson said. “We are actively exploring other opportunities in Manhattan, and we’ll announce more details when they become available,” the person said. 

The location has struggled from the slow return of office workers to downtown, Ruth’s CEO Cheryl Henry said during an earnings call in November.

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,” Henry said, according to a transcript from financial services site Sentieo.

Though Manhattan office occupancy rates have risen, they are still well below pre-pandemic levels. About 54% of Manhattan office workers expected to be coming to the office by the start of this year, according to a survey published in September by the Partnership for New York City.

Ruth’s has generally done well coming out of the pandemic, as have most steak concepts. In the third quarter, same-store sales rose 2.9% year over year and 11.2% compared to 2019, which Henry said was the chain’s best third quarter ever besides Q3 2021.

Closing restaurants appears to be the exception rather than the rule for the Winter Park, Fla.-based chain. It opened three new locations in the third quarter and plans to add at least five more this year.

And it’s not the only brand to leave a longtime home on Times Square recently. In October, a judge ordered Applebee’s to vacate its location there after 20 years. Franchisee Apple Metro owed $7 million in rent and said sales were down 75% since March 2020.

Meanwhile, quick-service brands such as Krispy Kreme, Popeyes and Raising Cane’s have flocked to open Times Square flagships. 

Ruth’s last day of operation on 51st Street will be April 22. Employees have been offered jobs at other locations in the area.

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