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Ruby Tuesday closes more restaurants

The closings are necessary to deliver on the casual brand’s long-term turnaround plan, management says.
Photograph courtesy of Ruby Tuesday

At least nine Ruby Tuesday restaurants have closed in the past week, indicating the chain is still pruning weak stores from the system.

Most of the shuttered stores are located along the East Coast, from Massachusetts down to Delaware. Five are in New York. 

The casual chain has closed more than 120 domestic locations since 2016, about 76 of them in the past 20 months, according to Technomic research and local media reports. The chain’s official count stands at 460 units. A decade ago, it extended to nearly 950 branches.

In a statement provided to Restaurant Business, Ruby Tuesday commented, “While it is never an easy decision to close restaurants, the closures are a necessary step as we focus on executing our long-term growth strategy and building a stronger business for the future. We appreciate the communities that have supported us.”

Founded in 1972, Ruby is one of the oldest brands in casual dining. An effort about eight years ago to reposition the concept as a more upscale option proved disastrous, driving away core customers while failing to replace them with newer, younger consumers. It cycled through several CEOs and was sold for about $146 million in late 2017 to NRD Capital, a private-equity firm run by former restaurant franchisees. 

It has also felt the same downdrafts afflicting much of casual dining, including a building binge, increased price sensitivity on the part of customers, and mounting competition from the fast-casual market. 

The brand has been striving to recapture its past glory by refocusing on traditional strengths, including an extensive salad bar and its burgers. It recently extended the sandwich line with two limited-time options, the Cheesy Crunch Burger and the Honey Crunch Chicken Sandwich.

But the chain has struggled to find traction. Systemwide sales, including global operations, fell 13.9% last year, according to Techomic, which projects the decrease for 2019 at 10%.

The units known to have closed are located in Traverse City, Mich.; Attleboro, Mass.; Rehoboth, Del.; Bloomfield, Conn.; and Latham, Lakewood, Greece and Mount Vernon, N.Y. 

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