Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Goodbye, Ruby's founder. Who could hang a name on you?

Sandy Beall, one of the last of the chain restaurant industry’s founder-CEOs, has agreed to step down as the leader of Ruby Tuesday as soon as a successor is found.

Beall founded the casual-dining brand some 40 years ago, taking the name from a Rolling Stone song (and hopefully catching some buzz from the full-service sector’s hottest concept at the time, T.G.I. Friday’s).

Beall has governed his brainchild with a strong hand, even when it was part of a larger publicly held company, Morrison Inc. Among his moves was launching a slew of other casual dining and cafeteria-style brands. He also pursued the purchase of Pizzeria Uno, then backed off in the 11th hour.

More recently, he’s led another diversification of Ruby, this time into alternative concepts outside its casual-dining niche. The company recently acquired Lime Fresh, a fast-casual Mexican chain, and has development deals for Truffles, a fine-dining restaurant, and Jim ‘n Nick’s, a barbecue joint. It also has an Asian concept, Wok Hay, that began in the fast-casual market but has since morphed into more of a traditional dinnerhouse brand.

Curiously, only Lime Fresh and a seafood start-up, Marlin & Ray's, were mentioned in the announcement of Beall's imminent retirement.

Ruby has had some pronounced ups and downs with its namesake brand in recent years.

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