A festive crowd attended the 20th anniversary party for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Concord Plaza Sunday.
Owner Lana Duke, who also owns the Ruth’s Chris near downtown on East Commerce Street, was in town for the event, accompanied by her son and restaurant co-owner, David Duke. Customers, employees and friends of the restaurant dined on appetizers, sliced prime beef tenderloin and the restaurant’s famous creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes, along with Stag’s Leap Chardonnay and Cabernet wines and more.
Duke, speaking to the party-goers later in the evening, said that her employees here in San Antonio deserve most of the credit for the two restaurants’ success, four of whom had been with her all 20 years that the Concord Plaza location has been open.
These 20-year employees, among others honored at the event, were server Lydia Platt, broiler master Jessie “Chuey” Ramirez, server Gerry Villaneuva and Mary McNeel, assistant general manager.
The Ruths’ Chris on Commerce opened 12 years ago.
Duke became acquainted with the late Ruth Fertel, the founder of Ruths’ Chris, years ago. Duke’s advertising agency put the “sizzle” into the company’s advertising campaigns and Duke was a good friend as well as business consultant for Fertel for years.
When the time came for Duke to ask Fertel for her own restaurant, Fertel said, “If I gave you one where would you want it to be?” As Duke related the story, she said her answer was “I want to open one in San Antonio.”
“I was first in San Antonio in 1980 and just fell in love with it. I thought the River Walk was so beautiful, so romantic, and the people were amazing.” According to Duke, Fertel told her at the time ‘You do your research and let me know the results.’ Her dream came true. In addition to the two restaurants in San Antonio, Duke owns one in Toronto and one in Mississauga, Ontario. She lives in New Orleans.
Ruth’s Chris in San Antonio will continue celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout this year at both San Antonio locations. They will offer a $20 commemorative glass of Stag’s Leap Wine, as well as bottles and magnums of Stag’s Leap (paired with a limited edition of the Ruth’s Chris 20th anniversary medal). A portion of the proceeds will be presented to the Texas Cavaliers and Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives at the end of this year. Ruth’s’ Chris has supported these two local organizations throughout the years.