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Meet Ruth Fertel, a lady whose name speaks volumes in the world of steak and fine dining. Ruth Fertel was the founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, one of the most famous steakhouses in the United States. She was a single mom with limited capital when she bought a local restaurant in New Orleans, with a dream to build a steakhouse empire. With grit, determination, and relentless hard work, Ruth Fertel not only built one restaurant but eventually grew her enterprise to over 100 locations worldwide. Her story is inspiring and motivational, demonstrating that with hard work and dedication, anything can be achieved.

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Section 1: The Early Days

Ruth Fertel was born and raised in New Orleans in 1927. Her family’s means were modest, and she learned early the value of hard work and perseverance. She attended college but quit before completing her degree to become a lab technician, then moved to Florida, where she met her future husband, Mathew Fertel. They had two sons and later divorced. Ruth moved back to New Orleans as a single mother in 1965, where she saw an ad in the paper for a restaurant for sale. She had never owned a restaurant before, but with the help of a banker, she bought Chris Steak House located in a prime New Orleans location.

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Section 2: Ruth’s Hard Work Ethic

Running a restaurant required long hours, hard work, and perseverance. Ruth Fertel worked from early mornings to late nights, often cooking and serving meals herself. She was so committed to providing the best dining experience for her customers that she would even go to the market herself to handpick the best steaks. A testament to her tenacity, Ruth never gave up in the face of adversity. Once, when a hurricane caused a power outage, Ruth managed to keep the restaurant serving customers throughout the blackout by using candles and a generator.

Section 3: Expansion and Growth

In 1976, Ruth expanded and opened her second steakhouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Despite initial challenges, long hours, and financial struggles, Ruth persevered and eventually grew her restaurant empire, eventually rebranding as “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.” Over time, the restaurants expanded throughout the United States and internationally, eventually reaching over 100 locations worldwide.

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Section 4: Ruth’s Innovative Ideas

Ruth was not just about running a steakhouse. She was an innovator in the field, creating new menus, refining cooking techniques, and coming up with creative promotional events. Ruth’s Chris Steak House became known for its unique menu items such as sweet potato casserole, creamed spinach, and signature sizzling plate presentations.

Section 5: Ruth’s Family Values

Ruth’s family always came first, and she imparted this value on her employees as well. She provided her staff with paid time off to take care of their families, and often went out of her way to help employees who were struggling with personal issues. She treated her employees with kindness and respect, and as a result, many of them stayed with her for years.

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Section 6: Ruth’s Legacy

Ruth Fertel was more than just a businesswoman; she was an inspiration to many. Her success as a single mom entrepreneur and restauranteur has inspired countless individuals to pursue their passions. She was a remarkable woman and her legacy continues to live on. Today, Ruth’s Chris Steak House stands as a testament to her perseverance, dedication, and hard work.

Section 7: Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What was Ruth Fertel’s net worth?

A1: Ruth Fertel’s net worth was estimated to be around $60 million at the time of her death in 2002.

Q2: When did Ruth Fertel open her first restaurant?

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A2: Ruth Fertel opened her first restaurant, Chris Steak House, in 1965.

Q3: How did Ruth Fertel come up with the name, “Ruth’s Chris Steak House?”

A3: The name was a combination of two names – Ruth Fertel and the original restaurant’s name, Chris Steak House.

Q4: How many locations does Ruth’s Chris Steak House have today?

A4: Ruth’s Chris Steak House has over 100 locations worldwide.

Q5: Did Ruth Fertel have any other businesses?

A5: Ruth Fertel also owned a hotel named The Quail Tree Inn located in Baton Rouge.

Q6: What was Ruth Fertel’s educational background?

A6: Ruth Fertel attended Louisiana State University but never completed her degree.

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Q7: How did Ruth Fertel treat her customers?

A7: Ruth Fertel treated all her customers with respect and provided them with the highest quality dining experience.


Ruth Fertel’s story is an inspiring one. A single mom who took a chance on a restaurant in New Orleans, Ruth worked hard and persevered to create one of the most successful fine dining restaurants in the world. Ruth’s Chris Steak House stands as a testament to her perseverance, dedication, and hard work. Ruth Fertel’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to excellence will continue to inspire and motivate individuals for generations to come.


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