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Remembering Ruth's Chris founder Ruth Fertel

Restaurant Rewind: She could barely afford to open her first restaurant. Now the empire she founded through smarts and a refusal to be stopped is selling for $715 million. Here’s her story.

This episode of Restaurant Rewind is brought to you by Tock.

Ever wonder how a high-end restaurant chain could end up with a clunky name like Ruth’s Chris Steak House? If you’re familiar with the Ruth in that moniker, the mystery is about as vexing as picking an even number between one and three. There was no way that a force like Ruth Fertel would not leave her mark on the business, literally and figuratively.

Here’s just a few bulleted items from her life story: She didn’t enter the industry until age 38, looking for a way to pay for her two boys’ college education. Never mind that her education was in chemistry and physics. She’d earned college degrees in each by age 19.

That was before she broke the gender barrier to become a professional racehorse trainer.

Convinced that single moms brought a special touch to service, she built an all-female waitstaff for her restaurant venture. And she literally lived at her workplace, at least until it burned down.

Want more? Join me on this week’s Restaurant Rewind podcast for a look at the extraordinary life and career of Ruth Ann Udsted Fertel.

Download the episode from wherever you get your podcasts.

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