5 Questions with Lisa Kean: Cooking up customer loyalty at Ruth Ann's

July 28, 2013 

What's the best thing about your job at Ruth Ann's Restaurant in Columbus?

The best thing about my job is being creative and coming up with new recipes, then seeing customers smile and hearing how much they enjoyed their food. We first used my Red Velvet Pancake recipe for a Valentine's Day special in 2009. Everyone loved is so much that they kept requesting it. Now we have them on the menu all the time. One of my recent creations, "American Apple Pie Pancakes," was a big hit this summer. Maybe they will make it on the new menu permanently!

The restaurant world is often risky, but Ruth Ann's has been in business for 17 years. What's the key to its success?

I think the key to the restaurant's longevity is that it's a family-owned business. My mother, Ruth Ann, grew up in the restaurant business. When she sold the restaurant to my sister, Mary, she passed on a legacy of customer service. My mother taught us to stay true to who we are and trust our instincts as we move the business forward in a rapidly changing commercialized world.

We have a good reputation with the community and the military. Many generations of families and soldiers have visited the restaurant and it holds a certain nostalgia for them. We try to keep things simple and create an atmosphere and food that is familiar and comforting to most people. Our family is especially proud of the fact we have preserved a lot of Southern recipes, like tomato gravy and cornbread dressing, that many restaurants don't make from scratch anymore. Deep-fried "fat back" isn't for

everyone, but for locals and tourists who want to taste "real" Southern food, we have it and much more.

What's the strangest entree request you've received?

I once had a soldier order 20 over-medium eggs. The soldiers don't necessarily order unusual entrees, but the quantity of entrees they order is amazing! It's hard to settle on just one thing when there are so many good things to try. For a lot of these young guys who are working out all the time, having Capt. Crunch French Toast and a corned beef hash omelet with all the trimmings isn't a far stretch.

Outside of your day job, you're also a singer. How long have you been performing?

I've been singing since I was in my crib -- I mean my baby crib, not my current house. The first time I performed in public was in church when I was around 12. I sang in the choir when I was in high school and continued to sing at social gatherings throughout my adult life.

I have recently started writing my own songs and I hope some day to perform my own music. Now I enjoy singing the national anthem at the Columbus Lions games and performing in local singing competitions. I'm still waiting to be "discovered." In the meantime, anyone can come hear me sing in Ruth Ann's kitchen. The cooks and I are always singing! Our favorite song is "Party Up (Up in Here)" by DMX.

Aside from your business, what's the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

It's not much of a secret anymore, but I really like to hang out in Uptown Columbus. The area has changed so much. The Uptown Concert Series brings a lot of people out! My favorite little hangout now is Freeze Frame Yogurt Shoppe.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service