Response to Dr. Glueck’s Column of Sept. 12

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Dear Dr. Glueck:

As you might imagine, I have received my share of guest comments over the years. Mostly positive, but of course, some negative. I try and take the negative ones to heart and use the information constructively to create a better guest experience.

I normally would have not responded to a letter like yours about your experience at Ruby’s Dinette on 17th St. in Costa Mesa, but your negative rant in the Newport Beach Independent on September 12, 2014, casting aspersions on how we “squeeze” our guests and employees has forced me to respond.

You state in your column: “The current trend, as told to me by local businessmen and women, is to squeeze the last penny from customers and workers to maximize owner profit.”

That doesn’t sound like feedback from any knowledgeable or real business people I know, and I know a few. That sentiment comes from someone who has no clue as to what is going on in the restaurant industry. And as for your comment about us wanting to squeeze more out of our guests, you forgot to notice or mention that the prices at the Dinette are lower than at our full service Ruby’s restaurants.

The most significant trend that has developed in the restaurant business over the last decade is called “Fast Casual.” You can see it in concepts like Panera Bread, Pei Wei, Bruxie, Tender Greens, Green Leaf, etc. It is the fastest growing segment in the industry. These brands have tried to create models that appeal to the desires of the upcoming millennial generation, which is the demographic that dines out the most. Of course, these companies are trying to make money. The anti-business environment and oppression of the free enterprise system in California has caused many businesses to simply move out of the state, or morph their models to keep one step ahead of the government. The free enterprise system is what this country was built on and continues to run on. Do you believe that the brands that feature Fast Casual did it to “squeeze” more out of their guests and employees? It’s called survival. Wake up and smell the business climate in California.

In your article, contrary to saying you didn’t want to harm any business or name any specific entity, you did exactly the opposite. You referred to us by our trade name (Diner and Dinette) and stated that we mistreat our guests by gauging them and mistreat our employees by underpaying them. You have NO knowledge of either of these points so therefore your comments are both unfounded with no basis in fact.

I have been in this business for almost 35 years, starting with my first location on the Balboa Pier. We have served over 100 million people, and have employed over 100,000 people in that time. I have dozens of employees who have worked for me for over a quarter century. I am extremely proud of my team and my relationship with them. Despite your allegations, Ruby’s is a desirable workplace that contributes immeasurably to the local Newport-Mesa economy.

Doug Cavanaugh

CEO and Founder

Ruby Restaurant Group, Inc.

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  1. I took my youngest to the new Ruby’s on 17th St. a week or so ago. The employees at that location are the nicest bunch you could possibly hope for. They certainly don’t act like they are underpaid or unhappy with their jobs. Congrats to whomever chose the staff at that location.

  2. Odd, since another food critic had this to say about the dinette, I’m wondering if Mr. Cavanaugh is aware of what is being said around town?:

    “Though the décor has a ’60s vibe, which I loved, the fast-food concept of standing in line to order at a counter made it difficult with the dog, who I couldn’t bring inside.


    Gone are the waiters and waitresses who were part of the original Ruby’s experience.

    While I stayed with the dog, my husband went inside to read the menu. Next it was my turn, so I ventured inside to place our order while he stayed with the dog.

    I was disappointed to see the dinette menu was far more limited than the original Ruby’s.

    “And though there were only a few people ahead of me in line, it felt like forever before I got to the front.

    And when I did, the restaurant was out of several selections I wanted, not to mention that the gal behind the counter wasn’t very helpful.

    At that point I gave up and left after spending the better part of a half an hour trying to order lunch.”