The statement, posted on the Ruth’s Hospitality Group website, announced “a definitive merger agreement” in which Darden would acquire all outstanding company shares for $21.50 per share. The total value of the deal is approximately $715 million. Already considered the largest restaurant company in the U.S., Darden’s current portfolio includes Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s.
Founded in New Orleans in 1965, Ruth’s Chris served USDA Prime steaks on 500-degree plates. The restaurant has 154 worldwide locations with 2022 fiscal year revenues totaling more than $500 million. The company’s Winter Park Village location re-opened last year in a 7,840-square-foot space where the former Pier 1 Imports resided.
“We are excited about the opportunity to join the Darden family,” said Ruth’s Hospitality President, CEO and Chairperson Cheryl Henry in the press release. “Our strategy and operating philosophy aligns well with Darden, and we have a strong cultural fit that should ensure a smooth transition.”
Henry will continue as Ruth’s Chris president, reporting to Darden President and CEO Rick Cardenas, who stated in the release that Ruth’s Chris “fits the criteria we have for adding a brand to our portfolio and supports our winning strategy.” Cardenas added that Darden will welcome the 5,000 team members currently employed by Ruth’s Chris.
The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to be completed in June.