It all started when a single mom, Ruth Fertel, came across a local restaurant on the market. “Even though she had no prior restaurant experience, Ruth took a gamble and purchased the restaurant,” says Lee Drapp, general manager of locally owned Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Middleton, Wisconsin. “The restaurant has such an interesting history,” he says. Ruth mortgaged her home and bought Chris’ Steak House. After about two years of success, a fire destroyed the restaurant, and Ruth needed to find a new location. However, her contract wouldn’t let Ruth keep the original restaurant’s name, “so she opted to put her name in front of it, for a bit of a tongue twister: Ruth’s Chris Steak House. That’s why we have such a unique restaurant name,” says Drapp.
Ruth was a special kind of person. “When she died, she knew she was going to pass, and so she had a huge party at the gravesite and over 500 people showed up, with dancing and drinking throughout — that’s just the kind of woman she was,” says Drapp. Although nationally acclaimed, the restaurant is locally owned and continues to support charities in our community. “It all started with local ownership donating the land and rallying others to assist in the development of Gilda’s Club. Inside their red doors, Gilda’s Club Madison is a welcoming community, a place to go for support for anyone living with cancer. It’s also a vital resource for their families, friends and caregivers,” says Drapp. “No one should face cancer alone.”