Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday


You’d think they could get the nachos right, at the very least.

I took our younger daughter out to dinner last night, just the two of us, for a little of the father/daughter time that I enjoy more than anything else in this world...but which probably causes her to think of the old Jack Nicholson line: “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”

But go we did, bypassing the local Chile’s where we went last summer for our bonding dinner because, as she reminded me, “it was pretty bad,” and heading for the Ruby Tuesday a few miles further down Route One.

I am moderately familiar with Ruby Tuesday, which goes by the ticker "RI" and has had a rough year or two after a spectacular turnaround. I went in with no expectations, positive or negative...just hungry.

I came out still hungry and looking for something to get the bad taste out of my mouth. The food could have been worse, I suppose. But not much worse.

The salad bar for which Ruby Tuesday is widely known contained leafy substances and sticky dressings in dishes on ice beneath those glass shields that are meant to keep germs out. Given the fact that I follow the health care industry pretty closely and understand that human beings shed skin like dogs shed fur, I am not a salad-bar kind of guy.

And, sure enough, I decided that by the look of it these particular glass shields actually kept the germs in. I decided the parking lot was more sanitary than the salad bar. So we did not order the salad bar, but we did ask for nachos.

The nachos contained more salt than I have eaten in the last seven years, and the so-called melted cheese did not appear to be cheese at all, but, rather, a cheese-like substance with the consistency of Ranch salad dressing, dripping over hot pepper-like spices that force immediate beverage consumption.

All of which quickly generates second rounds of soft drinks, of course, which is the point of all that salt and all those spices.

When the actual dinner food arrived, it was only modestly less disappointing than the nachos. My daughter’s chicken tenders were about as generic as they come. My own grilled chicken salad contained chicken that tasted about as firm and tasty as a rotten peach.

We didn’t stick around for dessert, which, I imagine, would have been some thawed out piece of heavy chocolate cake-like material, and coffee made out of whatever grounds they saved from the morning shift.

The wonder is that all these “casual dining” concepts—Ruby Tuesday and Chile’s et al, do as much business as they do.

I went to a P.F. Chang’s a year ago, and while the place was packed and the bar was doing land office business, the food was worse than our local Panda Pavilion. And the normal “morning after” reaction to all that MSG and oil and days-old cold-noodle-with-sesame, if you get my drift, occurred almost as soon as I paid the check.

Next summer, if Claire still wants to be seen in public with her old man, I’m taking her to The Cheesecake Factory.



Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up


The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations.

40 comments:

kevinmr said...

The Ruby's in Glen Cove, NY is pretty bad also.

rip said...

investors must be glad you don't waste time ed:t:ng your posts.

anyhow, internationally, at least chili's is fine.

i prefer cracker barrel when taking the rig out for a ride on 80.

Michael Comeau said...

If you happen to be in NY the next time your daughter wants chicken fingers, take her to Acme Bar & Grill in the Village. Best comfort food on Earth.

DaleW said...

This calls into question the real spread between Outback's prices and other casual restaurants. If the low price comes about through serving customers manufactured foods that don't taste or look good, I think I'd stick with the spread if I were OSI. I for one appreciate that they haven't lowered their menu standards.

nukeydog said...

Wow, we get restaurant reviews too!

nukeydog said...

Cheesecake has higher quality and huge portions but its pricey and people are more "portion control" focused. my other concern w/this chain is they are growing faster than my waistline, which is not easy. speaking of easy, how bout fill that football stadium every night with almost NO Marketing. Remember how proud TGI Friday's CEO used to be "to not HAVE TO spend a dime on advertising." How are they doing these days?

mountain of finches said...

if dining out with your daughter is your favorite thing in the world, how come it happens only once a year?

tahoe kid said...

What people REALLY want to know is how does Jeff feel about Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts.

poletown said...

Ruby Tuesday's is horrible. The food is very mediocre, and the staff is rude. My wife recently twisted my arm to go into one of these "restaurants" at our local mall. The staff was very rude, and even informed us that the restaurant "really isn't meant for kids" - because we had our baby with us. If I never visit another "Tuesdays", I'll be a happy, happy man. Chile's is just about as bad, but at least the people are friendly there. Then there's always TGI Fridays, the only place you can get a burnt, yet raw, burger with a nice warm beer. Casual dining indeed. Really scary that Olive Garden was voted one of "America's Favorite Restaurants". It makes me shiver.

Its_strange said...

Try Ihop . its great and you can not get into one on the weekends...just great

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its_strange's_pal said...

just had dinner with its_strange at Ihop. Total cost was $20.68 plus tip. The service was great and so were the omelettes.

RichL said...

Chain food is almost never good.

Try Penang Grill instead of Panda if you're in Fairfield County.

Dato - LOU said...

Funny, I just went to Ruby's yesterday for the first time in my life yesterday, literally 5 steps outside the Hampton Inn I'm staying at in Bumf--k, PA. I agree, horrible and don't know why it was pretty busy with the residents who live around there.

If you are in Fairfield Cty then you have to go to City Lights Diner off exit 6 in 95 - you can't go wrong.

Jeff Matthews said...

Well I never expected this much reaction, but I guess there are no fans of Ruby's here...and Chile's seems to have been voted off the island as well (Chile's service is indeed friendlier).

I am told that Olive Garden is getting its act together: any informed opinion on that notion?

As for Cheesecake Factory, the fact the restaurants are so big is not a problem...the food is great, the bar is hopping, and they use very good technology to keep those seats full.

Penang Grill and the Acme Bar & Grill go into my own personal Zagat's for future reference. iHop is an institution...but more of a Sunday morning thing than a middle-of-the-week dinner place.

Cracker Barrel, which I did not mention, is actually my favorite...and some day I'll recount my post-9/11 experience with the Cracker Barrel outside Youngstown, Ohio.

Its_strange said...

Jeff, Ihop is working on changing that view.

HoosierBuff said...

I think you were a little hard on PF Chang's. I really like Chang's. . . its a good meal in a nice surrounding.

Jeff Matthews said...

Interesting, "hoosierbuff"...it may have been just the one location (Boston), but I was not impressed--and I went in there hungry and eager to check it out.

Have you been to the other PF Chang concept, Pei Wei? Any thoughts?

ray g said...

jeff-is that rt. 1 in Princeton, NJ? I work in Princeton and do not like Ruby's either.

Jeff Matthews said...

It's Route 1 in Connecticut, on the Rhode Island border. However, the one in Trumbull CT is no better.

I have not gotten a single email saying anything good about the food at Ruby Tuesday.

Dave Cook said...

I wait tables at Ruby Tuesday and generally agree with your covictions regarding it. It is a prime example of what happens when a company grows to the point that guest satisfaction is no longer priority #1.

That having been said, I finally got out of there and stumbled across your blog looking to find out who origonally penned "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday."

Let me give you a few peices of inside info, while I'm here.

-The queso on your nachos was indeed cheese. The chili was fake though. Actually, the nachos are probobally the worst dish there. The only fake things there, as of now, are the chili and the crab cakes (due to the high likelyhood of fatal shellfish allergies)

-I garuntee the salad bar germ screen is cleaned more often than your hands are.

-The servers aren't nice to you because they expect you to be thier typical guest: a low income jerk. They also aren't treated well by the company and have way too many tables at the time to take good care of you. If you want to make someone's day, go in there and be pleasant to your server. I've worked for a few reasturants and no one gets treated as bad at RT servers.

-If you want a good dish there, get the Tips Stacker or the Smoky Mountain stacker. The Ribs are great too, if you want to spend some actual money.

-If you are ever in Knoxville or Nasheville, eat at the RT there. When close to home and well quality controled, you will find Ruby Tuesday to be a knockout in terms of quality. The farther you get from home, the worse they will be.

Other than that, don't eat there. I finally realized I could do better and moved on to wait tables at Morton's of Chicago, where I make about three times the money and deal with guests that actually like their food.

Jeff Matthews said...

Dave: This is terrific feedback! Goodbye Ruby's, Hello Morton's!

Thanks.

Hooleo said...

Well, regarding Ruby's, my guy and I have had pretty good experiences at the 2 Fairfax locations. We usually stick to one or two items on the menu that we really like and we've had some super friendly servers at both locations. Sorry everyone else has had such a bad experience.

ate-rotten-potato said...

Hello,


First of all, I want to get this out and may take this public as well as lawsuit. I was served a steak meal at Ruby Tuesdays in Raleigh, NC on Dec. 26, 2005. With the meal included a rotten potato in which I did not know it was rotten. It was full of sour cream and butter and I could not see it was rotten. I usually eat a whole plate and this was the first thing I had eaten that day. My stomach began hurting before I could finish my meal. I had taken one last bite of the potato in which I could tell something wasn't right at that point. I began to move the sour cream and butter and found there was a black core through half of the potato and I had eaten more than half of it. My stomach was hurting and I already felt nausea. There were witnesses to the incident and the management was informed. The waiter came and promptly removed the meal and stated we would not be charged for the meal. The management did not come to the table to check on me and instead stated all they needed was information. On the way out, I promptly informed the manager that he was unprofessional and noted his lack of checking on the customer. His name is Josh Bruce. I went to the emergency room and was seen by a physician. I was given some anti-bacteria medicine and prescriptions for pain medicine. I was unable to get the prescription filled due to financial reasons. I called Ruby Tuesdays for their assistance in my medical treatment and was told their potato did not get me sick. THEY ARE CRAZY!!!!!! I would encourage the management staff at Ruby Tuesdays to order up a rotten potato and eat it and see how they feel afterwards. I've had stomach pain all week as one anti-bacteria pill did not kill all the germs. I called Ruby Tuesdays to ask some specifications on how the potato was cooked. I was asked in a rude manner if this was a joke and they could not give me any information. Later they did tell me it was cooked at 375 degrees in oven and not wrapped in foil. They went on to say that I would not get anything from this and they would not pay any medical bills. I'm still working on this issue but I wanted to let people know just how Ruby Tuesdays handles their customers. I know I will never dine there again. I'm also considering painting a vehicle with slogan "do not eat at Ruby Tuesdays, they serve rotten food." They don't realize I am a consumer who will not stop until they admit their mistake. The cook should have caught that the potato was rotten when they cut it. Anyone reading this, if you know of a good attorney please let me know. Again, don't take your business to Ruby Tuesdays. Also wanted to add there were witnesses to the incident.

jerome said...

Ruby Tuesdays is a chain resturant.
It will have good ones and bad ones.Those depend on the management.If you looked on your menu you would have found the name and phone number of the district manager.And if you would have called right then, he would have taken care of any problem you would have had.It is very inmature to denounse a whole resturant chain for one bad experiance. lord knows i've had one at every resturant i've ever been to.looks to me you need to stay home
and eat if you go out thinking how many germs your going to get.trust me you got more germs on the way there. than you did in the actual resturant.you are what we say in the resturant biz as (a guy out for a free meal).

Gunny Hill said...

The first time I went to a Ruby Tuesday's was 1990 in northern Virginia, and it was one of the best experiences I can remember at a resturant. Good food, good drink, good atmosphere! I had the blackened ribeye, and my date had the fajitas. July 4, 1990. Since then I have worked at a Ruby Tuesday's (Richmond 1990-91, and frequented many from Maryland to North Carolina. The last visit being in 2002. At that time I vowed never to enter another. Every Ruby Tuesday's has continuely gotten worse over the last 15 years. I concur with all of Jeff's coments, however the last Chili's I visited, I found to be quite enjoyable although the margaritas are alitte pricey, but the family had a great time and the food was wonderful. GO SOUTHWESTERN EGG ROLLS!!!

Southerngirl said...

If you could not afford to fill a prescription, then why were you going out to eat? You sound kind of wacked to me. Do you honestly think that if the cook had seen the "brown spot" in the potato that he would of served it. I really believe no matter how hungry you were had you ate something rotten, no matter how much butter and sour cream is on it, you would immediatly spit it out just because of taste alone. Good luck on your lawsuit.

Peggy Fair said...

I have had no problems whatsoever with Ruby Tuesday. I really only order two things off the menu, the baby back ribs or the burgers. Ruby Tuesday has some of the best bbq sauce I have ever tasted. I asked the manager what brand it was and he brought it out to me and it was some type of salsa style restaurant made by Ken's Steakhouse exclusively for Ruby Tuesday. I get the ribs and the burgers with the fries, and the fries are the best out of all the chain restaurants. I don't expect home cooked meals when I go to Ruby Tuesday, if I want that I would eat at home or go to a mom n pop joint. I am not that hard to please. Just as long as my food is hot and served within a reasonable amount of time, I'm happy.

Briannabigkid said...

I am also a current employee with rubys, I understand concern, but it is a chain resturaunt and is very difficult to live up to the standards we meet.
first of a ll, do you realize that most resturaunts don't have salad bars any more? we have to clean, stock, and keep the salad bar at a certain temp. it is checked about every half hour to an hour! I would also like to see any of these people who posted, attempt to work at a ruby tuesdays, try gettting degrated daily, making minimum money, and dealing with "guests" that ARE there to get a free meal!! its harder than you think! can I just state; We are SERVERS NOT SERVANTS!! we are people too, who also have bad days. so before you start snapping your fingers (literatlly) at us, try putting yourself in our shoes, and show a little respect to a fellow human being!! Servers aren't there to make your night worse, your hungrey, we bring you food, if it isn't cooked properly say something, we are happy to help, all we want to do is feed you and have you avoid; preping, cooking, setting the table, cleaning, and doing the dishes, saves you a hell of alot more work than you assume!
P.S. if you want good service, come to my resturaunt and I will be happy to serve you! Briannabigkid@hotmail.com

LGsGirl04 said...

i agree with the last post. i am a frequent guest of the ruby tuesdays in north haven, ct. i have to say that the staff is one of the nicest bunch of people ive ever experienced, not only to me but to other guests as well. i love the atmosphere which is created by the smiling staff all the time. the servers are there to make your life easier. i know that at the my rubys, the management does everything they can to make the guest happy. if there is something wrong, i can assure you that they are at your table almost immediately, checking on you and seeing what they can do for you. i am a witness of this, as i have never had a problem with the food. the hostesses up front are called "SPG's", standing for "Smiling People Greeters." they are there to make you feel welcome and bring you to a seat that you are comfortable with. the servers try everything they can to make ure dining experience the best it can be, while saving you the trouble of prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after your meal. they do all the dirty work while you sit back and enjoy yourself. and to think that they make less than minimum wage. they dont even get to keep all their tips. tip-outs go to other areas of work, such as the SPG's. so what i dont understand is how you can say that they were rude, knowing that what they make in tips will probably amount to more that they bring home in a paycheck. their income is pretty much based on their tips, which comes from you, the guest, therefore i highly doubt that they are being rude. all i can say is that everytime i go there, i feel at home. staff is always smiling, not because they have to, but because they love what they do and are having a good time. if you're ever in the area, i highly recommend the rubys in north haven. THEY'RE THE BEST!!

Alice said...

I do not agree with anyone about Ruby Tuesdays i go to the Ruby Tuesday's in Marlboro Ma and i love the food, they have the best Onion rings i ever tasted and i love the Salad Bar. Ruby Tuesday's is my Husbands favorite restuarant. As for the servers we always seem to get seated at a table down at the bar area and the server who usually serves us is very friendly and nice never had any problems at any Ruby Tuesday's sorry so many of you have.

weaver@tremont said...

I just sent a letter of complaint about one of our local RT's (in Montgomery, Al) the issue being the oft-mentioned saltiness. I like salt on my food, but the two meals I ordered (one for right away, one for the fridge since I have had two busy and exhausting days in a row, live about 50 miles away from the RT in question and was looking for the simplest solution to having something on hand when I came home half-dead.)
Anyway, the two meals were both so salty I couldn't eat them, they were, in fact, nauseatingly salty, I don't know if they will give two cents or not. In any case, I am not eating at any of their restaurants again.

Renee said...

I've worked at a ruby's for 3 years now. It's corporate. What do you expect? If you want to frequent only corporate restaurant's and expect them to be five star, you're not to smart of a guy. And obvoustly you've never worked in an environment like this. Maybe for the one "special" dinner you share with your daughter a year, think about spending a little more money and taking her to a nicer restaurant where everything isn't cookie cutter like it is in the corporate world. Or maybe you can make her dinner yourself. Do you bread and fry your chicken tenders from scratch? What would be your suggestions for making things better. Good answer. You should take all of these ideas and try to open up your own restaurant and let us know how that works out for you!

zoe said...

I'm currently an employee at Ruby Tuesday and i'm doing some serious job hunting to find another job.
I understand what you mean about the salad bar. I've worked a couple of salad bar shifts myself and it's hard to keep up with it and definately not worth the pay. Other than that the food at the Ruby Tuesday (Sebring,FL) i work at is decent. We dont get many commplaints on our food. Unless the people just arent telling us. Which i'm sure there have been a couple that havent.
But,the Pay is horrible, not just talking server pay i'm talking all posisitons. Corperate just came up with this position call QSS what it basically is is that the QSS has to run food, make sure that the servers have ice and tea..they basically do everything that the servers use to do for side work and only get paid server pay and get tiped out. and now they grade the servers on what they do.."GHI" that would be if you get alot of up sells and you hope like hell your customers pay with a credit card so your tip percentage will go up. But you can be a really good server (5 star) and have some really crappy tipers and be graded as a horrible server (3 star). and once you're a 3 star you're pretty much screwed cause you get like 2 or 3 serving shifts a week. Corporate doesnt care about their employee's which really isnt a surprise but they should start.

tatia1211 said...

I just so happen to work as a server at a Ruby Tuesday in Huber Heights, OH. I've worked there for nearly two years now and I absolutely love our restaurant. Ours is rather pleasant. I think you may want to rethink your theory. Just because one of our stores is terrible doesn't mean they all are. All a restaurant needs to succeed is a dedicated staff with dedicated managers. We have that. Come visit us sometime, we'll make it worth your while.

DGRazorback said...

Amen Jerome! You people sound like whiney little female dogs. If you dont like a restaurant, don't eat at it. It is naive to think that every restaurant is the same just because it carries the name. Have you never travelled?

missmam said...

Jeff has obviously never been in the restaurant business and knows nothing about it. I think the next time you have your father/daughter outing, you should just cook at home. I am sure if you had told the management at Ruby's that you were displeased with your meal, they would have been happy to pay for it. They would have probably even given you a gift certificate to come back and try it again. There is something on the menu that you and your daughter would have found very enjoyable. Chain restaurants are often talked about like this after one bad experience. I can see if you go once a week and have a bad experience every time then do not go back. Although, if you let someone know that your experience was bad, then they will make sure you do not have another one. I do think that you should just stay at home instead of going out to eat if you are going to write negative comments about your experiences before you have even spoken with anyone who could have made it better.

Swati said...

hey jeff,

i am from mumbai, india and just had a horrible experience at ruby tuesday for lunch this afternoon. the lobster ravioli was the worst i have ever had. It was slathered in a tasteless white sauce and to top it all, i found a piece of plastic inside one of the raviolis- it said "cut here", so it obviously came from some kind of packaged food material. I am guessing te lobsters themselves! And it was not just the food that was the cause of my trauma, the manager- a sort of strange character, who didn't really get the point that it was unacceptable to find pieces of plastic in your food even insisted on charging me for it!!!
It is only after i put my foot down that he gave me a sort of "discount". I am appalled and infuriated. Glad i could share the same with someone who had a bad experience with Ruby tuesdays as well.

Sandy said...

I don't know why so many people had bad experiences at Ruby Tuesdays. But, it's a lot better now. My husband & I both absolutely love their salad bar. Their ranch dressing is the best I have ever had. I've been to many other restaurants & I've bought many ranch dressings at Wal-mart,etc none compare to RT. Additionally, the service has ALWAYS been AMAZING. The people are so very nice & helpful.

I love Ruby Tuesdays. I'm sorry you all have had a bad time there. It's 2010 maybe you should give it another try. Don't base your experience off 1 experience. Every restaurants has their ups & downs. Plus, management has surely changed by now... it's 5 years later.

Good luck. If your in Diberille, MS, Ruby Tuesday's awesome. The staff is too & they don't mind kids at all!! =)

Anonymous said...

I have worked at Rubys for ten years. There are good ones and bad ones. Just like with any chain. Seems to me that people are looking to complain and should make there own food!!!!