Ruth’s Chris ends Michael O’Donnell’s reign with positive Q2

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The parent of Ruth’s Chris Steak House provided more evidence Friday of an uptick in casual dining during the second quarter , posting a 1.3% rise in same-store sales for company-operated stores in the period ended July 1.

Yet the gain came from higher checks, not traffic. Ruth’s Hospitality Group said it sold 0.1% fewer entrees at its 77 company units during the quarter, while taking in 1.4% more per tab on average.

Margins were helped by a 10% decline in the cost of beef, which helped in lowering food costs to 28.1%, the company said.

Net income was $9.6 million, a 22.6% increase, on revenues of $109.6 million, an increase of 9.6%.

The company had seven more corporate-run restaurants in operation at the end of Q2 than it did at the end of the year-ago period, or 77 in total. Six fewer franchised units, or 75, were open on July 1.

The three-month period was Michael O’Donnell’s last quarter as CEO. His position changes today to executive chairman, with former President and COO Cheryl Henry succeeding him as CEO. O’Donnell had led the company for a decade.

He attributed Ruth’s success to initiatives that had been brainstormed and implemented by Henry in her prior roles.

A number of competing casual chains have posted gains in same-store sales for recent months, including Texas Roadhouse (5.7%) and LongHorn Steakhouse (2.4%, for the period ended May 27).

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