Ruby Tuesday’s expansion into seafood foodservice with its Marlin and Ray’s concept helps the company diversify and compete with other restaurant giants such as Darden Restaurants and OSI Restaurant Partners.
Ruby Tuesday has quickly grown the Marlin and Ray’s casual seafood brand since its inception in 2010 with 11 locations in a handful of states and another 10 units planned for 2013. Marlin and Ray’s is expected to be profitable for the Tennessee-based company, since the concept latches onto the growing fast casual trend, according to Darren Tristano, executive VP of foodservice consulting firm Technomic.
“Fast casual is where the future lies. Fast casual restaurants are negatively impacting chains that have the lower-price-point, varied menus such as Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s and even Ruby Tuesday,” said Tristano.
Marlin and Ray’s has a higher average check than Joe’s Crab Shack, said Tristano, but is still in the USD 20 to USD 25 range, which is “positioned for middle to upper middle class.” Dinner entrees include Blackened Grouper with Cajun Cream for USD 15.99 and Herb-Crusted Tilapia for USD 11.99. Appetizers range from USD 3.99 to USD 7.99 each, and the chain offers a number of cocktail and happy hour specials.
While Ruby Tuesday has “upscaled” the menus at its Ruby Tuesday restaurants over the last couple of years, Marlin and Ray’s menu and specials cater to more of a “bar and grill” customer, explained Tristano.
The Marlin and Ray’s concept also allows Ruby Tuesday to diversify the type of restaurants it owns (the company also operates the Wok Hay Asian concept and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill), allowing it to compete better against industry giants Darden and OSI. Darden has “built brands that can exist without cannibalizing their other brands,” said Tristano.
Among Darden’s brands are Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille, Season’s 52, Wildfish Restaurants and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. The last two concepts Darden acquired from Texas-based Eddie V’s Restaurants for USD 59 million last October.
OSI has also effectively diversified its portfolio with Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Steakhouse brands.
“Fleming’s has a USD 55 average price point versus Outback’s lower price point, so the steakhouses are not competing with themselves. It is a different demographic,” said Tristano.