Ruth's Chris Steak House loses beer license for three days after serving Michelob to decoys

Ruth's Chris Steak House loses beer license for three days after serving Michelob to decoys

April 20th, 2017 by Tim Omarzu in Business Around the Region

Ruth's Chris Steak House

Photo by Connor Choate /Times Free Press.

Expect to get carded at Ruth's Chris Steak House near Chattanooga's Hamilton Place shopping mall.

That's the new policy at the upscale franchise steak house, after a waitress served one Michelob, each, to two underage decoys during a March 19 sting operation.

Because of the violation, the Chattanooga Beer Board voted 5-2 at its meeting Thursday to suspend beer sales for three days at Ruth's Chris Steak House starting May 4.

The sting took place during a check of restaurants near the mall — and because an informant told law enforcement officials that Ruth's Chris Steak House didn't check IDs, Officer Marty Ray of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office told the beer board.

"We had information that they really don't check IDs; that's why we went there," Ray said. "We only issued one citation, even though they did sell to two [decoys]."

The restaurant's owner apologized, he said the restaurant takes alcohol laws seriously and he said the restaurant fired the waitress who served the youths.

"She knew better, she was just careless," said Markham D. Oswald, whose family runs the Ruth's Chris Steak House in the Embassy Suites hotel near Hamilton Place along with 12 other restaurants in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

"I am devastated by it, quite honestly," Oswald told the beer board.

He said the Ruth's Chris Steak House will now card all customers at its Chattanooga location.

"We're checking 100 percent of IDs. [Servers] don't have discretion anymore," Oswald said.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission will decide next whether to issue a similar suspension of wine and alcohol sales at the restaurant.

Oswald asked the beer board if it was possible to appeal the suspension. Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman, who attends all beer board meetings, told Oswald he could appeal to Hamilton County Chancery Court.

Other establishments also had their beer sales suspended by the beer board.

Rossville Billiards at 4205 Rossville Blvd., got a three-day suspension that starts April 27 for selling beer to a 20-year-old man on March 1, the same night a man died inside the bar.

Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse at 5425 Highway 153 had its beer sales suspended for 30 days starting April 27 for sale to a minor on Jan. 26, which was its third violation.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.

Updated April 20 at 10:42 p.m. with more information.