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Ruth's Hospitality Group Inc. executive chairman Mike O'Donnell is retiring.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group executive chairman Mike O’Donnell to retire

Former CEO to remain on the board of directors

Michael O’Donnell, who was CEO of Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. from 2008 to 2018, will step down as the company’s executive chairman effective Dec. 9, 2020, the company said Thursday.

He will remain on the board of directors, the company, which operates and franchises the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain, said.

“It’s been a privilege to serve as Executive Chair of Ruth’s Chris for the past two years,” O’Donnell said in a press release announcing his retirement. “The Company has grown and flourished, and despite recent challenges posed by Covid-19, I have total confidence that [CEO] Cheryl Henry and the senior team will execute its recovery plan and continue to build our iconic, resilient brand. Moving forward, I will focus my energy on serving as a Board member and will continue to support and safeguard Ruth’s Chris and it’s 55-year history of serving guests, supporting team members and delivering consistent returns to shareholders.”

Like most restaurants, Ruth’s Chris has struggled during the novel coronavirus pandemic — sales were down by more than 80% at company-owned restaurants year-over-year in April, and had the added difficulties of a public relations challenge due to public outcry that the public company accepted a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which it ultimately returned.

Dining rooms at many locations started opening in May, but the chain said it would continue to offer takeout and delivery.

There are more than 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants worldwide, of which just over 80 are company-owned.

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Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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