NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earnings season has been filled with disappointments in the restaurant industry, most recently from the likes of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Starbucks (SBUX). But there's one steady performer that seems to go unnoticed on Wall Street.
I suspect this is all about to change. If you have never heard of Ruth's Hospitality Group (RUTH), I feel sorry for you because you are probably still searching for that perfect steak. You have also probably missed one of the best stock performances of the year; RUTH is currently up 35% with no meaningful signs of slowing down.
The company that operates popular Ruth's Chris Steakhouses across the nation, among other restaurants, is not only the talk of many towns when people recommend a great dining experience. This weekend it also became the talk of my household because the experience likely saved my marriage.
Chris To The Rescue
How did it happen? Without going into too much detail, anyone who knows me knows that I'm prone to putting my foot in my mouth from time to time. This goes together with my never being at a loss for words. Except, the words sometimes come too fast and too furious and, if I'm not careful, are also tactless.Last week, I said the wrong thing to my better half -- and this time it had the kind of impact that flowers and candy couldn't cure. I was in the doghouse, and I wanted out. I made reservations at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in downtown Charlotte for seven o'clock on Saturday night -- well, at least I thought I did. My wife and I pulled up to the restaurant, I handed my keys to the valet, and we strolled in 15 minutes fashionably late. We walked up to the host and said: "Saintvilus, party of two for 7 o'clock." The host scanned her schedule and then re-scanned it. When she looked up and asked, "How do you spell that?" I realized that I was in trouble and began to sweat. You have to realize, I spent the entire day pampering my wife to no avail. Nothing worked, and I was running out of options. She was standing behind me and, as I was about to turn around to tell her that I might have called the wrong location, I was interrupted. The restaurant manager, Christopher Troutman, who had overheard the discussion, walked over and said the most beautiful words I've ever heard: "I'm sorry for your inconvenience, let me see what I can do to assist." He left, and, when he came back three minutes later, he said there were no tables available. As my heart pounded faster, he said, "We do however have two seats open at the bar and, because of your troubles, your first round of drinks are on us as well as your appetizer." My wife was looking exquisite and smiling for the first time that evening. I was not sure if it was the free drinks or the appetizer, but I didn't bother to ask. I was just glad she was smiling.
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