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Darden buys Ruth’s Chris Steak House for about $715 million

The Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain is being acquired by Darden Restaurants for about $715 million.

The original Chris Steak House was opened on New Orlean’s Broad Street in 1927, and it was acquired by Ruth Fertel in 1965. The company has 154 locations worldwide, including 80 company-owned or -operated restaurants and 74 franchised restaurants.

The company, now based in Winter Park, Florida, suffered as most restaurants did during the pandemic, closing 23 restaurants in early 2020, furloughing workers and announcing that executives were taking less pay.

Shares of Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc., which owns the restaurants, recovered within a year of the outbreak. Shares were halted before the market opened and jumped more than 30% at the opening bell.

Darden, also based in Florida, is acquiring all outstanding shares of Ruth’s for $21.50 per share, a 34% premium.

“Ruth’s Chris is a strong and distinctive brand in the fine dining segment with an impressive history of delivering elevated dining experiences to their loyal guests,” said Darden CEO Rick Cardenas said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Darden Restaurants Inc. owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s.

Darden shares were flat Wednesday.

The deal, which was unanimously approved by both companies’ boards, is expected to close next month.