That's So Cincinnati: Britney Ruby Miller on leading her dad's steakhouse empire; COVID-19's impact on restaurant industry; her new book; and the move to Fountain Square

Season 2, Episode 98,   Aug 18, 2021, 09:00 PM

Britney Ruby Miller wasn't just handed the keys to her father's steakhouse empire in spring 2020.

She earned it – and her experience of having worked her way up from server to CEO of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment immediately paid off as Ruby Miller tackled head on the challenges of the pandemic had on the restaurant industry. 

Ruby Miller was not only a leader for her company. She was a leading voice for Ohio's locally owned restaurants, having worked closely with Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted on decisions effecting the industry statewide. Building relationships with elected officials is just one of the many lessons Ruby Miller has learned from her father.

As this week's guest on The Enquirer's "That's So Cincinnati" podcast, Ruby Miller reflected on her journey to taking over the family business. 

"I served for a very long time at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse (in Downtown), which I did not want to do at first," said Ruby Miller, the oldest of Jeff Ruby's three children. "I thought when I graduated from UC (in 2005) that I was ready to go to corporate and (her father) said, 'No, you're not putting on a power suit. You're putting on a server uniform.' He was 1,000% right. That's where I learned the business mostly." 

Ruby Miller is still working hard to keep Jeff Ruby's seven locations across three states open amid another spike in COVID-19 cases. But she's also leading the effort to relocate Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse in Downtown Cincinnati to Fountain Square. It was announced recently that Jeff Ruby's would move into the first floor of the redeveloped former old Macy's store, a building that's now being called The Foundry. 

Ruby Miller offered a glimpse into what the 11,000-squre foot dining space will look like. Initial plans call for a large horseshow-shaped bar, a tribute to Jeff Ruby's old Waterfront restaurant in Covington. The Waterfront, which sat atop a barge on the banks of the Ohio River, permanently closed in 2011 after it became partially unmoored from its dock. 

It's location on the river overlooking the Downtown Cincinnati skyline made it a hotspot restaurant and night club for a who's who of Greater Cincinnatians. The Waterfront's popularity helped Jeff Ruby ascend as a restauranteur, and it's always held a special place in his heart as his company prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary next month.

Ruby Miller said of The Foundry location: "I hope that people walk in and feel that throwback nostalgia of The Waterfront, but also can see the evolution of design and see that it's a little bit more refined. The finishes are going to be gorgeous."

Jeff Ruby has taken a step back in the company. He's not fully retired and is actively involved in the design of the new location, expected to open in September 2022. 

Said Ruby Miller:

"A lot of times family businesses, the founder has a hard time not micromanaging and controlling – and he's the opposite. He has enough confidence in my brothers and I and our executive leadership team. He knows that we're not going to get away from everything that we know and got us to where we are right now which is the Jeff Ruby experience and taking care of our guests and taking care of our employees. 

"He's not involved in the day-to-day. But I know how he would make decisions, and I operate the same way that he does. By all means, he was highly involved in (the decision to move to Fountain Square). He's super busy with what he does best – designing. We walked that site at The Foundry. He fell in love with it and he's like, 'We need to make this happen.' Our whole family, major business decisions, we work together on those."

Ruby Miller also talked about the release of her upcoming book, "5-Star Life: The Faithful Fight to Overcome Obstacles and Pursue Excellence." The book is due out Sept. 21 and is available for pre-sale on Former TODAY Show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford wrote the forward. 

Here's a synopsis of the book, according to Amazon: "Having faced family tragedy, peer rejection, infidelity, infertility, and a pandemic that threatened not only to close her family’s business but also to decimate the restaurant industry, Britney battled back with the winning combination of faith and fight that has led to her five-star life."

Learn more about Britney Ruby Miller by listening to "That's So Cincinnati" for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Media and other listening platforms.