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Ruby Tuesday plans to open regional headquarters in Orlando

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Posted at 10:54 AM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-27 10:32:46-05

Florida officials have approved a tax incentive package for Ruby Tuesday to open regional headquarter offices in Orlando.

The casual dining restaurant chain said the plan is to open a satellite location, disputing a report that it would relocate its corporate offices from Maryville to Orlando.

The issue surfaced publicly after the Orlando City Council approved this week a tax incentive package for the casual dining restaurant chain.

The incentives include $315,000 from the state of Florida and a 20 percent match from the city, or $63,000 over six years.

In return, Ruby Tuesday would create 45 jobs over the next three years, paying an annual average wage of $85,208 plus benefits. It also would make an estimated capital investment of $250,000 in construction and equipment.

A City Council agenda summary stated that Ruby Tuesday, which includes its namesake brand and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill concept, also is eyeing Knoxville and Atlanta for “a new corporate/regional headquarters.” The council’s vote was reported in the Orlando Business Journal.

“Right now, as we understand it, they are evaluating a number of locations, including Florida. We have no confirmation that they are going to relocate here. All we know is they are seeking tax incentives,” Orlando City Spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser said.

Asked how long Ruby Tuesday has to make a decision before the tax incentives expire, a state spokesperson with the Florida Department of Revenue said that information is confidential.

Ruby Tuesday could not be reached for comment.

In a note to employees obtained by The Daily Times, Ruby Tuesday took issue with the Business Journal’s article, stating it had “no plans to relocate” the Restaurant Support Group to Orlando, but that it will open a satellite office.

Orlando would be an attractive location for the company, whose president, CEO and chairman of the board, JJ Buettgen, maintains a residence that he purchased in 2007 in nearby Winter Park, Fla.

Buettgen came to Ruby Tuesday in November 2012 from Darden Restaurants, which is headquartered in Orlando. He replaced company founder Sandy Beall, who announced his retirement from Ruby Tuesday that same year.

All of Ruby Tuesday’s corporate officers, who were named by Buettgen, are former Darden executives including President and Chief Operations Officer Todd Burrowes, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jill Golder and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer John Connelly.

Ruby Tuesday has been struggling for years to turn around sales. Since taking over, Buettgen has been working to return to the company to its bar and grill roots, including a new value-based menu.

While it reduced its losses in the second quarter of 2015, the company reported in January a net loss from continuing operations of $9.3 million as revenue fell almost 5 percent to $262.7 million.