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May 22, 2012

Tale Tuesday: Ruth before Chris

Before Chris was Ruth's it was just Chris'.

On Ruth's birthday in 1927 Chris Matulich opened his namesake steak house. But the two wouldn't meet until after Ruth had skipped several grades in elementary school, started college at 15, married, had kids, divorced, became the first female horse trainer in Louisiana, and mortgaged her house for the down payment on a restaurant with the "for sale" ad in a local paper. This horse-training, single-parent math teacher was looking to support her sons with an entrepreneurial spirit and lots of courage. Ruth bought Chris' steak house and never looked back.

Through all the challenges of running her own place, Ruth kept Chris Steak House not just open but thriving. After a devastating fire destroyed her kitchen, Ruth moved the restaurant a few blocks away. Since the original contract with Chris meant that the name had to stay with the old location, she kept the name recognition but made the new place her own by putting up the new sign: Ruth's Chris Steaks.

Years past before Ruth felt confident taking up one of the many offers to franchise her landmark steak house. After more than 45 years--and Ruth's passing after a long battle with cancer--there is now a Ruth's Chris in just about every corner of the States and the world, from her native Louisiana to Aruba and Taiwan.

But the local Ruth's Chris right here in downtown Indianapolis has a new bar menu snack that keeps it simple and delicious, just like Ruth liked it. It's a meat monument of Smoking Goose's Applewood Smoked Bacon, piled high next to mustard dipping sauce. That salty sweetness goes down easy next to their seasonal and handcrafted drink menu.

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