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Ruth's names O'Donnell president, CEO

HEATHROW Fla. Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. on Tuesday named Michael P. O’Donnell president and chief executive, effective Aug. 7. He also was named to the company’s board of directors.

O’Donnell will step into the role most recently held by Craig Miller, who was ousted in April in the midst of slowed sales at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and after the $92 million purchase of 22 Mitchell’s Fish Market and Cameron’s Steakhouse restaurants.

O’Donnell most recently served as chief executive, president and chairman at the former casual-dining operator and franchisor Champps Entertainment Inc., which was sold to Fox & Hound Restaurant Group last year. Prior to leading Champps, he served as president, chief executive and director at Sbarro Inc., the quick-service Italian and pizza chain. He also has worked with Outback Steakhouse’s developing brands including Roy’s, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Rob Selati, chairman of Ruth's Hospitality, said in a statement that O’Donnell’s experience highlighted his ability to operate through “numerous economic cycles” and deliver “strong results.”

O’Donnell said in a statement that both the Ruth’s and the Mitchell’s brands have “terrific return on capital characteristics and significant expansion potential.”

Also on Tuesday, Ruth’s Hospitality reported a 48-percent drop in second quarter profit. For the quarter ended June 29, net income totaled $2.8 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with year-ago earnings of $5.4 million, or 23 cents per share. The latest quarter results included a $1.4 million charge related to former CEO Miller’s departure, as well as a $1.2 million non-cash benefit from an interest rate swap. Excluding those items, per-share earnings would have totaled 12 cents in the latest quarter.

Revenue increased 37.9 percent to $108.1 million, including $23.1 million from the Mitchell’s acquisition that closed Feb. 19. Same-store sales at corporate Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants fell 7.1 percent.

The company operates or franchises 144 restaurants.

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