Ruth’s Chris will sell the sizzle in Alpharetta

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Ruths Chris logo smallRuth’s Chris Steakhouse announced yesterday the relocation of their Sandy Springs restaurant to Alpharetta. And they’re entering town in a bold way. They won’t be leasing their new digs but rather have purchased the land and building at 11655 Haynes Bridge Road. Readers will know this as the former Rainwater restaurant.

Behind the effort are franchisees Jim Brooks, Phil Brooks, Mark Oswald and Nancy Oswald. They are the largest owners within the Ruth’s Chris chain with locations across the Southeast.

Blogger Caleb Spivak at WhatNowAtlanta.com had rumored of their Sandy Springs closure going back as far as 2010. The lease was coming to an end and the DOT has plans to widen Roswell Road at 285. Ruth’s Chris called this area home for over 20 years.

The former Rainwater spot is the perfect location. Measuring in at a staggering 18,000 square feet, the building includes a banquet hall and climate-controlled wine storage for 9,000 bottles. It was built in 2001 to be the home of Rainwater, an award-winning restaurant at the time. It closed and the space remained vacant for years. The short-lived Chill Restaurant and Lounge opened here in June of last year and abruptly closed three months later.

Given the current trend of restaurant openings, no one seemed to want a space this large. By comparison, Alpharetta’s Sedgwick Restaurant Group is chopping up a much smaller building on Roswell Street, reducing the restaurant space down to the size of a small apartment.

But the Rainwater space will fit Ruth’s Chris like a glove. And its proximity to the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce should give it a steady flow of business for years to come.

Expect an opening in the Fall of this year. The timing should make things interesting. Competition for expense account restaurants is heating up. Ruth’s Chris’ biggest new competitor will likely be Avalon’s Oak Steakhouse. The restaurant out of Charleston should make a big slash when they hit Alpharetta. And of course Ruth’s Chris will face ongoing competition from places like Cabernet on Windward. They were the first to bring prime steaks to Alpharetta a generation ago and are still at it.

Ruth’s Chris will put a lot of pressure on other higher-end joints nearby. Village Tavern is just on the other side of the parking lot and also comes to rely on the Chamber for business. And a block down the road is Sage Woodfire Tavern.

Is Alpharetta’s Rainwater a good fit for Ruth’s Chris? How will their arrival change the market for fine dining? Let me know with a comment.

15 Responses to “Ruth’s Chris will sell the sizzle in Alpharetta”

  1. Cool Papa Bell June 6, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Not to mention competing with Viande Rouge and Little Alley, possibly the two best prime steak joints in the area.

  2. Greg June 6, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Ruth’s Chris will still be the only high-end steakhouse in the area with any national name recognition. I’m not saying that makes them better or worse than their local competition, but it’s certainly a factor with the expense account crowd. It makes sense to me that they’d move to the Rainwater building over their current Sandy Spring location.

  3. Tom Miller June 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    This is another big win for Alpharetta. Welcome!

  4. Jeff June 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    I think it in an interesting choice of location. With Avalon around the corner, but far enough away and not on the same main access road….That area has been the kiss of death for restaurants. Hopefully the name will be enough of a pull to get the business. With the rainwater building being empty for so long they may have gotten a deal they could not refuse….If they are around in the winter of 2016 they might just break the bad luck streak……

  5. Elijah Snow June 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    I have no real idea if this will be successful from a business standpoint or not, but from my point of view it’s one of the most boring possible outcomes for this space. Ruth’s Chris is a national chain (generally boring), it’s a very pricey restaurant (meaning I’m unlikely to go there on a regular basis), it specializes in steak (which is incredibly boring), and it’s not known for being innovative in its own category. Yes, Ruth’s Chris has name recognition, but kind of in the same way that Benihana has name recognition — which is to say that people know it as an old brand. This area does not suffer from a dearth of high-end steak places. It suffers from a dearth of interesting mid-range and upper-mid-range restaurants.

  6. Scott D June 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Excited for Ruth’s Chris, but more excited for Oak Steakhouse @ Avalon. We have been to Oak in Charleston, and it blows away Little Alley, Rays(Killer Creek), Cabernet, and the other suburb steakhouses we have.

  7. AlphaMom June 8, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    If you’ve ever tried to go to dinner on a Friday night in Alpharetta and had to get on a 30 min. waiting list, you’ll appreciate all the new restaurants popping up providing another option. This family is excited!

  8. Virginia Fossier June 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    This is a wonderful addition for the Alpharetta area. Such a large space can provide us with a new venuexforcparties, weddings ,receptions as well as a fine place to eat. This is very exciting

  9. Bob Strader June 9, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    I agree with Elijah. Steak restaurants generally offer little to impress, despite the name recognition of Ruth’s Chris. I think Little Alley elevates the experience a bit with a smaller venue, active bar and other menu options. Steak places usually end up being “special occasion” destinations and not a draw for a food experience. I hope they do well but to me it’s a ho-hum announcement.

  10. Cool Papa Bell June 9, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    If prime steaks are boring, then bore me to death. I’m anti-chain, but RC is a worthy exception to a rule that does have a couple.

    RC does have those ovens cook it at a mega high level, which makes perfecting Black and Blue (the BEST way to make a prime steak) a bit easier.

    But at the end of the day, my wallet won’t allow me to do a regular tour of the ever growing options in the area.

  11. Cason June 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    “It’s not known for being innovative in its own category”
    Coming from someone who grew with Ruths in Louisiana were it all started I find that extremely funny.
    Ruths Chris started the entire prime steakhouse scene.
    They do it simple and they do it very well.
    I am so excited they will be in Alpharetta!

  12. Scsa31274 June 11, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    My wife and I got married there when it was Rainwater. It closed shortly afterwards. Not our fault. Ruth Chris is ok and I’m glad to see something going there. I think it will do well. To be honest, I’ve been off steak houses with the exception of Fogo De Chou. You can’t replicate that at home. I get my steaks from Woodys Meat and Sausage in south forsyth and grill them on my Mangrate at home. Done right, they are better (and cheaper) than anything I’ve spent 35 bucks on in a steak house.

  13. Fred June 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    The food snobbery here never ceases to amaze me. Everything can’t be locally-owned and in your neighborhood. Restaurants FAIL at a ridiculous pace. There is something to be said for those that find success and branch out.

    Some people like Applebee’s. Why does that bother some people?
    Ruth Chris is hardly Applebee’s but it is a chain. I get it. I may only ever eat there 5x in my life, but I am excited that building is finally getting a tenant that can occupy it for more than a month.

    Whenever I drove past RC in Sandy Springs, I wondered who really went there? Seems like a spot more suited for day labor than $50/person dinners.

  14. Elijah Snow June 17, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Food snobbery on a site devoted to news and commentary on local restaurants? [clutches pearls]

    I salute each and every one of you who like and will patronize Ruth’s Chris, truly. I would like to see someone, somehow be successful in that space. True, I’d rather see a restaurant that I would benefit from come and be successful there, but if RC shows up and stays in business for 20 years, I won’t hate. I’m still mystified as to how Benihana manages to turn a profit down on Mansell, but to each their own.

    I will only say one thing in response to one argument that was made: while I have no doubt that RC was innovative for its time, I do not believe you can refer to them as innovative any more. That’s not a slight, it’s just a fact. You’re talking about a chain that started in 1927, 1965, or 1976, depending on how you slice the pie. I remember when the first TGI Friday’s showed up in Knoxville, where I grew up. I am not kidding when I say all our minds were blown. Potato skins? Chicken fingers? Salads that you ordered instead of an entree? What in the name of all that was holy was going on? It changed everything for us. Seriously. Nothing was more innovative as far as restaurant openings in my youth. But now? No. That’s what I was saying about RC. No disrespect to the history. They’re just not a current force for change in their category.

  15. Mala June 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    I went to the Sandy springs location a few months ago and the building looked a little worn, but the food was good. My glad they are moving Alpharetta. It’s a good steakhouse.

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