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Ruby Tuesday Launches Smart Eating Menu for Kids; New Menu Has Fresh Vegetables, Healthy Choices and Nutrition Information


WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Jun 3, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Ruby Tuesday, Inc. (NYSE: RI), one of the nation's largest casual-dining chains, is adding healthier options to its children's menu in response to the desires of the chain's guests and their concern about childhood obesity.

Sandy Beall, founder and Chief Executive Officer, announced the launch of Ruby Tuesday's Kids Smart Eating(SM) menu while attending the TIME/ABC News Summit on Obesity taking place this week in Williamsburg, Va. The new menu is part of the company's ongoing Smart Eating initiative that is an overall commitment to offering healthier menu choices at Ruby Tuesday.

Beall is one of six "heroes" being honored at the Summit for his work combating the growing epidemic of obesity in America.

"Ruby Tuesday is proud to extend our commitment to Smart Eating to give parents more options so that their kids can eat healthier when dining out. We are pleased to make our restaurant a place where the whole family can choose to follow a healthier lifestyle," said Beall.

The Kids Smart Eating(SM) program comes at a time when nearly half of children ages 6 to 17 are eating out with their families at least once a week and consuming restaurant meals with 55 percent more calories and more total fat than the average home meal(1). The new children's menu offers eight new choices that are lower in fat and calories and that have healthier, whole-grain carbohydrates. The new menu also provides nutrition information for every menu item so parents can be certain their children are making smart choices.

Many of the new Ruby Tuesday Kids Smart Eating entrees (with side dishes) have fewer than 600 calories, fitting in well with the 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day for children ages 6 to 10 that many nutrition experts recommend. "Because kids are spending more time in restaurants, Ruby Tuesday has designed our program to provide nutrition education that's fun to learn, while offering healthier and more nutritious menu options," Beall said.

Ruby Tuesday enlisted children ages 7 to 10-years-old to help develop items that were healthier but still taste great. The kid-tested and approved items include healthier versions of traditional favorites such as a whole-grain tortilla with turkey and cheese; a cheeseburger on a whole grain wrap; and the only kids' salad bar in a casual-dining chain. The menu also includes pasta marinara and a grilled chicken breast, roasted turkey, or chopped steak dinner with mashed potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli. The new menu items will be available in the more than 700 Ruby Tuesday restaurants nationwide on June 15.

"Our research showed us that there is a lot more dimension to what kids will eat," explained Julie Reid, Ruby Tuesday's Director of Culinary Research and Development. "With this new menu, Ruby Tuesday is doing its part to offer food that is healthier, great-tasting and fun."

The Kids Smart Eating(SM) menu also features tips and games designed to teach children about healthy lifestyles and nutrition choices. And, to help parents and kids continue to learn about Smart Eating at home, Ruby Tuesday will add entertaining, interactive, nutrition-focused activities just for kids to the company website, www.rubytuesday.com.

Eating Trends Offer Clues about Childhood Obesity

According to the American Medical Association, nine million children, or 15 percent of those between the ages of six and 19, are considered seriously overweight - an amount that has tripled since 1980.

"Ruby Tuesday has taken a very balanced and kid-appropriate approach to nutrition. They are also providing healthy eating education in a fun and engaging way," said Ann Kulze, an M.D. who specializes in nutrition and wellness. "Since a child who is overweight at age 13 has a 70 percent chance of being overweight the rest of his or her life, it is important that children adopt healthy eating habits early on.

About Smart Eating

Launched in November 2003, the Ruby Tuesday Smart Eating program is a company-wide effort to provide consumers menu items with the tools and information to make healthier and more informed choices when dining at Ruby Tuesday. Changes implemented since the launch include the switch to cooking with canola oil that has no trans fats, the addition of more than 40 Smart Eating choices that are lower-calorie, lower-fat or low-carb, and an emphasis on its signature salad bar as a meal or side-salad option. Ruby Tuesday is currently the only casual dining chain that has a salad bar, and the only restaurant chain that offers a salad bar on the children's menu. This past April, Ruby Tuesday became the first national restaurant chain to place nutrition information on the menu. The nutrition data, along with other wellness information, is available on the company website, www.rubytuesday.com.

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 41 states and the District of Columbia, over 30,000 team members, and operations in locations around the world. Ruby Tuesday, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RI). 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.

(1) KRC Research

SOURCE: Ruby Tuesday, Inc.

Ruby Tuesday, Inc.
Rick Johnson, 865-379-5791
MS&L Public Relations
Mary Coyle, 212-468-3496
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