Serving Memories on a Sizzling Plate

In an average year, we eat about 950 or more meals.  For me, many of those meals are eaten out from fast food to neighborhood cafes to award-winning restaurants.  To stand out and be memorable is no small feat in itself, but to become synonymous with both good food and good times is amazing.  Yet one brand has done just that:  Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

I still remember that first sizzling Ruth’s Chris steak…Dallas, Texas 1984.  When I close my eyes I can still taste it and my reaction to each first bite of a Ruth’s Chris steak hasn’t changed to this day.

Doesn’t matter which Ruth’s Chris.  I’ve eaten at locations in Phoenix, Seattle, Maui, Portland, Bellevue, Salt Lake City, Pasadena, Washington DC, Hong Kong and most recently, Park City.  Many of these were not one time visits and the experience is consistently memorable.

Ruth’s Chris has become our “special occasion” restaurant.  The day I signed the papers to sell Sleep Country USA I threw a party for a small group of close friends and family in the private dining room of the downtown Seattle restaurant.  Many birthdays have been celebrated at a Ruth’s Chris table.  Ask any of my 3 stepsons to pick a restaurant for their birthday or other special event dinner and it’s always their top pick.

When deciding where to hold the dinner in Washington DC to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday the decision process went like this: “What is everyone most likely to order in any restaurant we go to?  Trevor: steak.  Connor: steak.  John: New York steak.”  and so on with the rest of the party.  “Okay, if we’re all going to order steaks anyway, why take chances?  Let’s just go for the place with great steaks.   That means the dinner will be at Ruth’s Chris.”  The group photo from that night was on our Christmas card.

Even a dinner with friends for “no special reason” becomes special at Ruth’s Chris.  From the fresh from the oven bread to the attentive service of the staff to the wine list with nice selections even in a mid-price range to the signature “sizzling steaks” to the after dinner specialty drinks, the drive for excellence shows.

So how do you become synonymous with your product in a customer’s mind?  It’s really very simple:  Consistently deliver exceptional goods and service.  That’s it.  Of course, I know all too well how difficult it can be to execute that “simple formula” on a day to day basis.  Even more so in a variety of locations.  Yet great companies do so and earn our loyalty to their brands in the process.

There was a quote on a restaurant wall I wrote down years ago that may serve as a good motivating motto for small businesses wanting to become the “Ruth’s Chris” of their product:

“It’s impossible to be 1000% better than every other restaurant (or any other type of business)…so let’s try to be 1% better in 1000 little ways.”


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