Ruby

Potential customers leave the premises at Ruby Tuesday Tuesday after finding the Anniston location of the chain restaurant had shut down.

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday.

The restaurant chain with a Rolling Stones song title as its name closed its Anniston location permanently Monday night.

Would-be customers were greeted Tuesday morning with a sign that read “We regret to inform you that this location is closed effective immediately. I apologize for issues this may cause you. It was not a decision we made lightly,” with a recommendation to visit the Attalla or Trussville locations, and signed “Management.”

Attempts to reach Ruby Tuesday’s media relations team were unsuccessful Tuesday. The manager of the Anniston location was at the restaurant Tuesday morning but declined to comment or provide her name. She did say that the location was a corporate restaurant owned by Ruby Tuesday Inc., not a franchisee.

According to reporting by Restaurant Business Magazine, Ruby Tuesday had 945 locations throughout the country in 2007, when the company’s sales began to slip. Ruby Tuesday had 544 remaining locations as of April this year. There had been no announcements about plans to shutter the Anniston location, which placed an advertisement for a server job on Oct. 19 on Facebook, and had new promotional material about holiday gift cards on its Facebook page as recently as Thursday.

A corporate-owned Ruby Tuesday opened in Grand Island, Neb., in 2005 closed back in August under similar circumstances — suddenly, with just a notice to the public on the front door, according to an article in a local newspaper of that region.

A tax assessment report for the 2019 fiscal year from the Calhoun County Revenue Commission put the Anniston property’s value at more than $1.08 million, including the building, the parking lot and the land it sits on, for which the company is also listed as owner.

The restaurant was the last to close of the five businesses to originally open at what used to be Ezell Park, a former Anniston play area for youth sports programs. The City Council worked to have the park sold in 1990s on the recommendation of a parks advisory board, citing its relatively small size and dangerous location alongside Quintard Avenue.

Anniston residents voted in a 1994 referendum to allow the sale, but by a slim margin, 658 to 655, according to news coverage at the time.

“There were some people that had heartstrings connected to the park, and that’s understandable they didn’t want to see the park go away,” David Dethrage, Anniston’s mayor at that time, said by phone Tuesday. “At the same time we had the opportunity to bring in some exceptional businesses, so it seemed like a good thing for the city to do.”

Plans were announced in 1997 that the newly paved park’s 5.7 acres would be occupied by an Office Max, Hollywood Video, Big Apple Bagel and Ruby Tuesday. Circuit City later invested in the site.

The restaurant was projected to cost $2 million and employ about 40 people; when the restaurant opened a year later in February 1998, it received over 900 applications, 300 of those on the first day, and a 100-employee staff was trained in the week before the restaurant opened.

Recent weeks brought misfortune, however. Investigator Kyle Price with the Anniston Police Department confirmed by phone that the Anniston restaurant had several break-ins from October through November this year.

“They mostly stole alcohol,” he said, not cash. There was also damage done to the structure itself, like a broken front window, that was used as an entry point.

Dethrage, a real estate agent in Oxford now, said that he believes the former Ezell Park land is still viable, especially because the businesses that have closed there have been reused by new companies. The Circuit City, which closed a decade ago, is now a Dirt Cheap, and the Hollywood Video is now an Advance Auto Parts.

“I don’t think it was the location. The overall economy was tanking, business models were changing and some (businesses at Ezell) were less competitive than their competition,” he said. “Hopefully the Ruby Tuesday facility will get bought up by somebody.”

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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