Ruth’s Chris Steak House has long enjoyed the reputation of fine dining.
But what about bringing fine dining into your home?
That was the question Anita Owens-DeCuir kept asking. As sales manager for the Palm Desert restaurant the past 11 years, she saw opportunity knocking.
“In the desert, we try to think outside the box because we’re not a big city,” Owens-DeCuir says. “We’re actually the smallest community with a Ruth’s Chris."
Five years ago, and for the past four years, the Palm Desert location has won the chain’s top catering sales award.
And yet it remains one of the valley’s best-kept secrets.
“It’s funny because people still don’t know that we do offer full-service catering,” Owens-DeCuir says. “It’s really just about getting the word out. So every time I’m at the restaurant, I try to touch a lot of tables and talk about it. Like, ‘Oh, not only could you have your holiday party here, but we could do it at your office, or your home’.”
Visibility has been one way to spread the word. For the past few years, Owens-DeCuir has set up a table at Coachella Music Festival serving steak sandwiches.
“When we went to the company and said we were going to do Coachella, they weren't sure it would be a profitable venture because of the younger audience there,” Owens-DeCuir recalls. "We ended up doing very well there over two weekends.”
Community events like the Taste of Sunnylands (pictured above) also put Ruth’s Chris in front of prospective catering customers.
“We can provide catering anywhere,” Owens-DeCuir says. “We do buffets, carving stations. Some think of us and say it’s got to be way out of their budget, but I ask customers to tell me what their budget is and I’ll try to meet it.”
Owens-DeCuir can’t necessarily promise an exact food match to what is served at the restaurant.
“That’s the challenge because we’re known for our sizzling plates,” she says. “It’s not exactly like the restaurant, but we try to keep it as close to that as possible with all of our special recipes.”
However, the catering menu does include items tailored especially for special events and parties.
“I have many house appetizers and some things you wouldn’t see if you were a regular diner, so I try to showcase those,” she says.
And size of party doesn’t matter. Owens-DeCuir says she has catered parties or receptions at Big Horn Golf Club, The Trilogy, Rancho La Quinta, and The Quarry ranging from 20 to 250 people.
“I do more of a one-on-one with catering,” she says. “We visit a prospective site and determine what they are looking for, what we can bring to you, do you have favorite dishes we offer. We try to make it individually designed for the customer.”