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Ruby Tuesday(R) Introduces Smart Eating(SM) Menu

11/11/2003

Canola Oil, Salad Bar and 30 New Low-Carb Menu Options Mean More Choices for Health-Conscious Diners

MARYVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ruby Tuesday, Inc. (NYSE: RI), one of the nation's largest casual-dining chains, today announced major changes to its menu and food preparation processes to help meet the needs of customers who are watching their carbohydrate, fat and caloric intake. Called the "Smart Eating(SM)" initiative, Ruby Tuesday(R) will be the first national casual-dining restaurant in the country to implement many of the changes, including the switch to cooking with trans-fat free canola oil and the creation of more than 30 new menu items for carb-conscious diners.

"This is a long term commitment to help our guests eat smarter and healthier," says Sandy Beall, Chairman and CEO. "Our menu will maintain the favorites Ruby Tuesday has always been known for and we will continually add Smart Eating options -- the options other places just don't offer."

Healthier food options are a key concern for Americans today. A recent survey found that 50 million Americans aged 25-55 are currently on a diet or trying to eat smart as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Yet, one in five Americans believes that restaurant menus do not have enough "healthy" options for people on diets, making the challenge of sticking to a diet even harder.

Smart Eating and Canola Oil

As part of the "Smart Eating initiative," all Ruby Tuesday restaurants will switch on November 11 from frying in soybean oil to frying exclusively in canola oil. Most restaurants today cook with hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats, which elevate LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and lower HDL (the "good" cholesterol) -- often cited as risk factors for development of heart disease.

"There's a reason that trans fat has been named 'the deadliest fat in the American diet' -- they are lethal for your heart," says Ann Kulze, MD, a national health and wellness expert who counsels patients and companies across the country about healthier lifestyle and dietary habits. "Canola oil is considered heart healthy. It contains omega-3 fatty acids -- another health benefit. So, it is really an important step forward that Ruby Tuesday has taken."

Smart Eating Options: Healthier Carbs and Salad Bar

Approximately 32-million adults have tried some form of moderating carbohydrate intake as a way to lose weight or eat healthier. Some research indicates that refined carbs, such as sugar and white flour, can actually contribute to weight gain. However, health experts say foods that are high in fiber, low in starch and that have lower carbs may have the opposite effect.

For Ruby Tuesday's Smart Eating menu, many of the 30-plus new items focus on providing healthier carb alternatives, including whole-grain fajitas and quesadillas, burgers in whole-grain wraps, special entre salads, steamed vegetables, a creamy cauliflower alternative to mashed potatoes, and a low-carb cheesecake. A full menu can be viewed at www.rubytuesday.com.

"When dining out, it can be difficult to find food items that meet low-carb or healthy criteria and are still interesting and good tasting," says Julie Reid, Ruby Tuesday's Director of Culinary Development, who has been developing menus and recipes for 20 years. "Our new menu takes the latest nutrition research and healthy eating trends into consideration -- and makes sure the results offer a wide variety of delicious options."

Finally, 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 salad bar option allows customers to choose from an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and salads to create a meal that is tailored to their nutritional needs.

Smart Eating and Education

In addition to flagging low-carb items on the menu for easy identification, Ruby Tuesday has also produced educational materials to help customers make better eating decisions. First is a "Smart Eating Guide," which will be on every table in Ruby Tuesday restaurants. The Guide gives guests a short course on why trans fats are unhealthy, how different types of carbohydrates are processed in the body, and the role fruits and vegetables play as part of a healthy diet. Every low-carb menu option is detailed in the guide, including net carb counts for those who are monitoring their carb intake.

Additionally there is a "Smart Eating Dining Out Survival Guide," which provides information about how to eat healthfully when eating out -- at any restaurant. Tips include guidelines for making healthful selections, questions to ask the server about how meals are prepared, and suggested substitutions to help people stick with diets. The "Survival Guide" can be downloaded free of charge at www.rubytuesday.com.

Finally, the company has also engaged wellness training for each of its 33,000 employees, including wait staff, to help them understand the importance of starting healthy eating habits. The company has also challenged its managers who choose to participate at headquarters and at all its locations across the country to collectively lose 30,000 pounds by next year. The company will donate five dollars to the American Heart Association for every pound lost.

About Ruby Tuesday

The Ruby Tuesday concept was born more than 30 years ago, when current Chairman and CEO Sandy Beall was attending the University of Tennessee. Since then, the company has grown to more than 650 company-owned and franchised restaurants in 39 states and the District of Columbia, 33,000 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.

SOURCE Ruby Tuesday, Inc.