Monday, October 02, 2006

A reputation at steak

I am no fan of David Vitter, but I have to give Louisiana’s junior senator credit for putting his principles where his mouth is at least this once.

Sen. Vitter attended a gathering of the Louisiana Restaurant Association last week at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Washington. Nothing remarkable about that, except that, according to The Times-Picayune, Sen. Vitter refused to eat the free food.

As every New Orleanian knows, Ruth’s Chris was founded and franchised all around the world by our own Ruth Fertel. When beloved Ms. Ruth passed a few years ago, the company was taken over by a Board of Directors who were not from New Orleans.

The word on the street is that the company had been chaffing to move its corporate headquarters long before the venerable Ms. Ruth died, but this much is undisputed fact: in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and with Ms. Ruth out of the picture, the corporation quickly moved its world headquarters to Florida.

Common expressions like, “Kicking a man when he’s down,” and, “Pouring salt on a wound,” hardly capture the disappointment we in New Orleans had in watching them pack up and leave.

Be that as it may, New Orleans has managed to survive this corporate insult. We’ve still got more fine restaurants than most people could ever enjoy in a lifetime of eating out.

But the point of this is Sen. Vitter’s principled stand against what has become of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I try to imagine him there, surrounded by plates of sizzling strip steaks, filet mignon, and buttered vegetables--and resisting.


Like I said, on almost any other day the senator gives me indigestion. But on this occasion, Sen. Vitter cut right to the bone and revealed the sweet pink center of life in post-K New Orleans: We stand together, and when we do, nobody can hurt us.

Fellow blogger Mr. Clio called for a boycott late last year in an attempt to persuade the CEOs of Ruth’s Chris to change their minds. I join him and our senator in his boycott of the corporation that holds Ms. Ruth’s name and recipes, but knows nothing about loyalty.

Besides, I’ve always preferred Crescent City Steaks anyway.


ashley said...

Wow. Vitty Cent. Go figure.

And you're right. We can bitch-slap people in our family, but outsiders better STFU.

I never thought I'd say this, but I salute you, Senator Vitter.

Michael said...

I've been boycotting (unknowingly until post-Katrina) Ruth's Chris for 41 years, so there is no need to end that streak now. How long do you think it will take the New Orleans politicos/steak lovers to cite the corporation for the disgusting carcass of a restaurant they have left on Broad? It more resembles a slaughterhouse than a steakhouse these days. Here lies our flagship restaurant. RIP.
By the way, they're asking for comments
"The overwhelming support and feedback we have received from our loyal customers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has meant a great deal to us here at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Because of this influx of communications, we may take longer than usual to respond to your inquiries. Be assured that each and every inquiry is important to us and we will review and respond to them."

oyster said...

You're right, Tim, Vitter deserves praise for this.

Great post title, too.

Anonymous said...

The CEO of Ruths did not like living in the NOLA area pre-K, so the ideal opportunity presented itself to leave.