ELV note: This short obit appeared yesterday on-line at the Las Vegas Weekly website. You can access it in its original form by clicking here.

R.I.P. Ruth’s Chris: 1989-2011

Even when it was enjoying its greatest success throughout the ’90s and early aughts, Ruth’s Chris (and it’s owner Marcel Taylor) never received enough recognition for being the gastronomic game-changer in bringing national attention to Las Vegas’ restaurant scene. Spago always gets credit for shaking the gourmet ground under us when it opened in late 1992—and thereby starting the culinary tsunami that brought so many high-end eateries to our desert shores—but the little-known fact is, the rumblings really started three years earlier, when Taylor, then a dealer at Caesars, convinced Ruth Fertel (founding owner of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and one of his regular big players) to let him have a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse franchise on Paradise Road.

“Her board of directors didn’t want to do it,” Taylor told me several years ago. “They thought no one would want to leave the hotels to get something to eat. But Ruth was a big fan of Vegas and convinced them to do it, and within a year they saw how much business we were doing.”

They weren’t the only ones. Taylor said word spread very quickly among the liquor, produce and meat suppliers, and in short order, Morton’s opened an outlet in the Fashion Show Mall, followed by Palm in the newly opened Forum Shops. Their success signaled there was gold in them thar hills to chefs and restaurateurs across the nation, and by 1994, when MGM brought in Emeril Lagasse and others, the stampede had begun.

Over the years, Ruth’s Chris’ star has gradually dimmed as carnivore’s choices have expanded with a plethora of prime from the likes of Prime, Carnevino, Craftsteak, Delmonico, Cut et al. The lines of limos and taxis that once filled the parking lot across from the Hughes Center got shorter with each passing year, and you knew the conventioneers that once packed the place had found other beef emporiums at which to sate their cravings. As business dropped, litigation ensued, and with its closing today, an iconic piece of Las Vegas’ culinary history will be no more.

Sadly, it will be recalled, if at all, solely as another franchise that folded its tent. But it was so much more, and deserves to be remembered as such.

4 thoughts on “RUTH’S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE 1989-2011

  1. A nice place. even for a chain.

    you didnt need to sit next to a bunch of coked out freaks like at N9NE

    or endure a scalping from Fat Marios minions at carnevino.

    Just a nice clubby place to have a steak with competent service and no BS.

    Easy money 1985-2008 R.I.P.

  2. As a long time Las Vegas resident, my vote still goes to the Golden Steer for steak that is prepared well and at a price that wont require the Federal Reserve to print more money to pay for your tab. The rest of these Strip steak joints while very good and offering great service for the most part are very overpriced and geared toward the expense account junkie or posers trying to impress their latest arm candy or flashing cash to pass as a “big shot”!

  3. Im stunned. I am coming to LV for my 50th birthday this weekend and was intent on eating at RC, one of my favorite steak joints. Now I will have to settle for something else.

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