JEFF RUBY’S – WHERE YOU CELEBRATE LIFE
Written by Doug Geyer • Photography by Tracy Doyle
Enjoying the hospitality of a sincere and seasoned host leaves us fed and fulfilled. Their warm welcome, the flowers in the vase, the lighting just so. As the aromas waft over the gathering of friends, they mix with the music and conversation. Everything testifies to all their hard work and preparation, creativity and care. When the meal is served, relished, we understand we are participating in something very special.
For a host to deliver this daily is no small feat. When you consider that Jeff Ruby and his growing family of restaurants have created this rarified experience for decades, it’s clear his team must be quite special as well.
Consistently surpassing expectations requires not only brilliant chefs and doting servers, it demands talented professionals at the corporate and organizational level who are committed to and capable of replicating the “Jeff Ruby Experience” with every guest at every meal. To ensure the success of each restaurant means constantly innovating and evolving while remembering the recipe that has brought them this far.
Britney Ruby Miller, president of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, confirmed how key players built on the foundation her father started when he opened The Precinct in 1981. Men like Charlie Bledsoe, Neal Collinsworth and Russell Menkes.
“My dad cast a vision to his general managers and they ran with it. They have been responsible for carrying out his vision year in and year out. ”
One essential ingredient of this trio’s dynamic is the sharing of their wealth of knowledge and experience. Bledsoe, the general manager at Carlos & Johnny, has been with the organization for more than 25 years. He imparts nuggets of wisdom at monthly roundtable coffee talks with younger managers.
Recently promoted to director of operations after managing a restaurant for 20 years, Collinsworth trains staff in business acumen. His daily oversight of the five restaurants allows Ruby Miller to focus on the critical details of their ongoing expansion efforts.
She praised Menkes for his gifted mentoring and mastery of metrics. After starting with Ruby at the Waterfront in 1986, Menkes managed high-end hotels around the world. He returned to Jeff Ruby’s for three years prior to his retirement, and played a pivotal role in developing Ruby Miller as well as the entire corporate team of directors for his current role as director of quality assurance.
Ruby’s two sons, like their sister, started at the bottom and learned every aspect of the business that gave them the confidence and experience for their current roles. Brandon was recently promoted to director of training and Dillon is the general manager of Jeff Ruby’s in Nashville.
Ruby is known for his generosity not only with guests and the community but with his staff as well.
“He makes emotional connections with each and every employee,” Ruby Miller says. “It doesn’t matter if it is a dishwasher, a sous-chef, a server, a barback – he loves on his team. And they love him too. They are happy and hard-working as a result.”
Ruby’s ability to please palates while turning a profit also flows from a corporate culture that empowers every team member to lead and dream.
“As general managers and chefs have moved up to our corporate level, it opens up great opportunities for our younger talent to step into some pretty big roles,” Ruby Miller says. “There’s no glass ceiling. Our general manager for our Columbus restaurant was a server six years ago and only got into managing two years ago as an assistant. Right now, at all of our locations, our current chefs all started as sous-chefs.”
Policies and procedures, metrics and managers are still just means to the essential Ruby end.
Ruby Miller quotes one of her dad’s many Ruby-isms: “People don’t go to restaurants because they are hungry. They go to their refrigerators for that. Our guests come to us to celebrate life. It has to be the best, most hospitable experience they have ever had.”