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Ruby Tuesday Adds More Lower-Calorie, Lower-Fat Items and Puts Nutrition Information on Its Menu

04/27/2004

More Than 35 New Healthier Choices And Dozens of Low-Carb Dishes

MARYVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 27, 2004--Just six months after the introduction of Ruby Tuesday®'s Smart Eating(SM) menu with more than 30 low-carb items, the casual-dining restaurant chain is expanding the program to include nutrition information on the menu and an array of new food choices that meet the needs of a variety of healthy eating plans. The new items allow those watching fat, counting calories or limiting carbs to choose from flavorful fish dishes, lean proteins like turkey, fresh vegetable preparations and a low-fat dessert.

Available today at the more than 700 Ruby Tuesday locations nationwide, the new menu provides nutrition information (total calories/total grams of fat/net grams of carbohydrates/total grams of fiber) for all food choices, making Ruby Tuesday the first national restaurant chain in the country to offer this information on its menu. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and the FDA's Obesity Working Group recently called for restaurants to voluntarily post nutrition information on menus.

Sandy Beall, CEO and founder, said that Ruby Tuesday's Smart Eating(SM) initiative is designed to accommodate a wide variety of guests. "More Americans are eating healthier today than ever before, but we know that not everyone is on the same diet. We've designed this menu as part of our long-term commitment to give Ruby Tuesday guests the food choices and the nutrition information they've asked for to make smart eating decisions that are best for them," he said.

Healthier restaurant menus represent a growing interest for many Americans. A recent survey of 1,000 men and women found that 74 percent are currently trying to eat smart as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, and one in five Americans suggest that restaurant menus do not have enough "healthy" options. According to Ann Kulze, M.D., a national health and wellness expert who counsels patients and companies across the country about healthier lifestyle and dietary habits, an abundance of choice is what really matters.

"We are seeing a convergence of diet with an overall healthy lifestyle where smarter eating is part of everyday life. For many people, this has involved a shift in thinking, away from the strict 'rules' and restrictions of traditional diets to the growing number of options available as part of a healthy lifestyle. And, no matter the person or the eating plan, Ruby Tuesday offers an ideal menu for guests to match what they order to an individual healthy lifestyle," said Kulze.

Choices by the Dozen

Ruby Tuesday uses a Smart Eating symbol on its menu to flag its numerous lower-calorie, lower-fat and low-carb choices in every category from Soups & Salads and Appetizers through Desserts. New Smart Eating entrees include Onion Soup, the Low-Carb Peppercorn Chilean Salmon, a Veggie Burger Wrap, Roasted Turkey and Gravy Dinner, and a Low-Carb Pepper Jack Burger Wrap. A low-fat Blueberry D'Lite yogurt parfait is offered for dessert. In all, Ruby Tuesday now offers more than 40 Smart Eating options on its menu.

And, in line with an emphasis on choice, Ruby Tuesday will maintain all of the traditional menu favorites for which the restaurant is known. "People dine at restaurants for different reasons," Dr. Kulze explained. "Some want to stay on their eating plan, while others celebrate a special occasion by ordering something they don't typically eat at home. Splurging can work in the context of a healthy eating plan, as long as the guest balances out the nutrition in subsequent meals," said Dr. Kulze.

Running the Numbers

In addition to adding healthier choices to its menu, Ruby Tuesday has taken a leadership position in the restaurant industry by providing nutrition information about each menu item. In order to help guests make informed decisions, the menu lists four numbers just below each food description representing nutrition values for the total calories/total fat grams/net grams of carbohydrates and total grams of dietary fiber. For instance, the numerical notation for the newest dessert--Blueberry D'Lite, made from yogurt, blueberries and toasted almonds--is 214/5/34/4. "The nutritional numbers show that Blueberry D'Lite is one of those as-good-for-you-as-it-looks desserts and provides a rich source of calcium (yogurt) and antioxidants (blueberries)," pointed out Julie Reid, Ruby Tuesday's Director of Culinary Development, who has been developing menus and recipes for 20 years.

Nourishing Healthier Habits

Ruby Tuesday guests will also find a new edition of the Smart Eating guide on every table, with nutrition facts and tips from Dr. Kulze to make healthier eating easier.

When Ruby Tuesday introduced its Smart Eating program in November 2003, it made changes in preparation methods as well. Since last fall, Ruby Tuesday has used a no-trans-fat, no-cholesterol canola oil -- the lowest in saturated fat - as its fry oil. Additionally, Ruby Tuesday will continue to offer its signature salad bar as a meal or as side-salad option. Ruby Tuesday is currently the only national casual-dining chain that has a salad bar, and the only dining establishment to offer a salad bar on the children's menu. The nutrition data along with other wellness information will be available on the company website, www.rubytuesday.com in May.

About Ruby Tuesday

The Ruby Tuesday concept was born more than 30 years ago, when current Chairman and CEO Sandy Beall opened the first restaurant near the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Since then, the company has grown to more than 700 company-owned and franchised restaurants in 39 states and the District of Columbia, 30,000 team members, and operations in locations around the world. Ruby Tuesday, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RI - News). More information about the company and the "Smart Eating" initiative can be found at www.rubytuesday.com.

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This press release contains various "forward-looking statements" which represent the Company's expectations or beliefs concerning future events, including the following: future financial performance and unit growth (both Company-owned and franchised), future capital expenditures, future borrowings and repayment of debt, and payment of dividends. The Company cautions that a number of important factors could, individually or in the aggregate, cause actual results to differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, the following: consumer spending trends and habits; mall-traffic trends; increased competition in the casual-dining restaurant market; weather conditions in the regions in which Company- owned and franchised restaurants are operated; consumers' acceptance of the Company's development prototypes; laws and regulations affecting labor and employee benefit costs; costs and availability of food and beverage inventory; the Company's ability to attract qualified managers, franchisees and team members; changes in the availability of capital; impact of adoption of new accounting standards; and general economic conditions.

Contact:
Ruby Tuesday
Rick Johnson, 865-379-5791
or
MS&L Public Relations
Mary Coyle
212-468-3496

Source: Ruby Tuesday