The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 48 of 148

Quality HELEN MACKEY UPDATES THE BAR PROGRAM AT RUTH'S CHRIS over Cliché by Lana Bortolot / photos by Doug Young T wo weeks into her new position as Senior Director of Menu Strategy at Ruth's Chris Steak House, Helen Mackey may not have a script for the newly created job, but she has a clear read on her immediate future: pushing the American steakhouse into the future, engaging new customers and going where few restaurant mega-brands can go. "We're coming from the perspective of reading the guest, having access to the trends and putting those together," Mackey told THE TASTING PANEL on a recent trip to Manhattan. Based in Winter Park, FL, Mackey, 40, has headed beverage strategy for Ruth's Chris Steak and Mitchell's Fish Market since January 2011. Her recent promotion puts her in uncharted territory, but she is conident the entire food operation will relect the successes achieved at the bar since her tenure. "We have the most skilled team out there," she said, "Our success is not mapped to geography—it's more where the team has gotten behind the brand, understands it and loves it." That love affair comes from a reinvigorated connection with America's largest upscale steak house. Started by Miss Ruth Fertel in 1965 in New Orleans, the brand has grown to 118 domestic restaurants and 18 international (64 of them companyowned and 72 are franchises). Last month the parent company, which includes both Ruth's Chris and Mitchell's Fish Markets, reported nearly $398.6 million in total revenue for 2012—up 7.85% from 2011, according to its year-end report.  When Mackey came on board as Director for Beverage Strategy, the bar was service- 48 / the tasting panel / may 2013 Helen Mackey is Senior Director of Menu Strategy for Ruth's Chris Steak House.

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