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Ruby Tuesday Takes a Tumble

Ruby TuesdayRuby Tuesday, Inc. (NYSE:RT) announced on Thursday that its same-restaurant sales declined by 4.1 percent in its second quarter of its fiscal 2017, which ended November 29, 2016. The chain of casual dining restaurants lost 109 company-owned restaurants. It now has 613 restaurants, in which 546 are company-owned locations and the rest are franchised.

Cardwell was appointed as Ruby Tuesday's interim CEO when the casual dining chain's former CEO James Buettgen stepped down in September of 2016.

Life in the sagging casual dining segment has been unkind to the chain. Year-over-year guest counts in Ruby Tuesday restaurants were down 2.8 percent in the quarter. With the company leaning on discounts and other promotional activities emphasizing value, the average check from its visitors declined by 1.3 percent.

Cardwell acknowledged that the company's marketing efforts resulted in poor management of its controllable costs. However, he pointed not to yesterday's dark night but to a brighter future – healthy and fresh. That is what the brand wants to hang its name on. It introduced a new menu in November, which will be followed up by the launching of a revamped garden bar this month.

"We view the national launch of our reinvented garden bar as our greatest brand differentiator by appealing to customers' desire for fresh, healthy options," said the interim CEO. Cardwell stressed that market survey data of the new garden bar scored high with potential customers. "Most importantly, the entire team is focused on providing an enhanced guest experience through new product offerings as well as service improvements. We believe these efforts should change the trajectory of our business and drive shareholder value."

Ruby Tuesday's earnings dropped to a net loss of $38 million in its fiscal second quarter.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email