The long-awaited steakhouse makes its debut in Lexington.
As you walk through the doors of Lexington’s newest restaurant, you’re instantly transported to a big, glamorous, far-away city—a city that at the same time, feels just like Lexington.
And that’s exactly as Jeff Ruby planned it. Known for the over the top glitz and glamour, Jeff Ruby’s at City Center is like nothing you’ve ever seen or experienced before. With plenty of opportunities to back out of the project at downtown Lexington’s City Center after 7 plus years in the works, Jeff Ruby hung on, determined to bring his 10,000 square foot steakhouse to the people of Lexington. “I have never been as excited or emotionally connected to doing a restaurant in a city as I have in Lexington,” says Ruby.
Growing up in the kitchens of his mother and step-father’s restaurants on the Jersey Shore, Ruby experienced the ins and outs of the restaurant business before opening the first of his stable of high-end steakhouses, The Precinct, in 1981 with the backing of several professional athletes in Cincinnati. Ruby knew even then that the key to having a successful restaurant was to deliver an unparalleled dining experience, one that is known today as The Jeff Ruby Experience. “When people leave our restaurants, I want them leaving with more than a doggie bag. I want them to leave with a memory that they were completely entertained, that they forgot about all of their problems. I want them to feel as if they have escaped and left Lexington for the evening. When they come to our restaurants that’s what we provide” says Ruby.
"I have never been as excited or emotionally connected to doing a restaurant in a city as I have in Lexington."
Ruby spared no detail in the design of this restaurant concept which he describes as his most over-the-top and glamorous restaurant yet. “Each time we do a restaurant we try to improve from the last and this space has been a long time coming,” says Ruby. With features such as the horseshoe bar which surrounds a 30-foot stage, extravagant chandeliers and artwork, and live music from the lacquer UK blue piano, the space will be a showstopper. Live artists including local bands will appear later in the evening six days a week. When there’s not live music there will
be a drop-down screen that will present live concerts from artists like Elton John, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel and the Beach Boys which Ruby has hand selected after watching hours of video footage. “This restaurant will truly be the best of both worlds. From the art deco, 1940’s Great Gatsby feel of the Cincinnati location to the high energy and high-volume experience in both Nashville and Louisville. And of course, great entertainment,” says Ruby. “However, staying consistent and not getting away from what we do well: that’s service and experience”.
Managing the growing Jeff Ruby brand is a family affair. All three of Ruby’s children are involved in the company at the Corporate level. Daughter Britney RubyMiller serves as President, and sons Brandon and Dillon Ruby fill roles as Corporate Director of Training and Corporate Traveling Manager. When asked what it’s like to work together Britney Ruby-Miller laughs and says “as cliché as it sounds, it really is awesome. My father is my best friend”. With the kids taking over the day to day management and running of the business, JR, as Britney refers to him, had the freedom to scour the country with imagination and a blank canvas to design exactly what he envisioned for Lexington. “We give him an unlimited budget and he somehow exceeds it every year,” says Ruby-Miller. A prime example of that would be the extravagant chandeliers Ruby has curated from around the world. “Most restaurant ceilings are 14 feet,” laughs Ruby “I actually had to have them build a gold fleck painted dome, so my 14-foot chandelier didn’t touch the ground”. His kids often joke and say he designs his restaurants not by the square foot, but by the square inch, putting immense attention to every last detail.
But the attention to detail doesn’t stop with the design. While Ruby has become an expert in finding the most unique, over-the-top pieces from all over the world he’s also an expert at relationships, finding top talent and bringing hardworking people into the culture and family. “My father may not be the greatest chef in the country, but he has a knack for finding the best chef and making them even better,” says Dillon Ruby. The menu at the new Lexington location will feature a more modern look and feel with a chef-driven approach. “Each location has its own executive chef, not kitchen manager, so each of our chefs is given creative control.” While they don’t want to reinvent the classics such as the Baked Mac and Cheese, which has been featured on Food Network or the Freddie Salad, a perfect assembly of hearts of romaine, roma tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon and ranch dressing, guests will find hints of southern flair and redefined classics.”
Of course, Jeff Ruby’s is known for their steaks, specializing in USDA prime beef. Starting with their house-made rub, they pop the steaks under a broiler to ensure a nice char and perfect temperature every time. Many of the steaks are dry aged and with cuts ranging from a cowboy ribeye to porterhouse and filet, you really can’t go wrong. Not to be missed is the Steak Collinsworth, a 12 oz. filet topped with king crab, asparagus and béarnaise. We can’t forget the sides items, large enough to share. Ruby’s favorite, the Potatoes Anna, a dish of thinly sliced layered potatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter baked until golden brown on the outside, soft and buttery perfection inside.
“We want everyone feeling like that was amazing and worth the value. You can go anywhere for great restaurants and food, but we excel in service and ambiance,” explains Ruby-Miller.
Whether you’re sitting in the bar, the main dining room, the Wildcat Room, Breeders Room, Bourbon Room, Gatsby Room or enjoying the sprawling 1,800 square foot outdoor patio space and cigar bar, Jeff Ruby’s is sure to deliver a dining experience well worth a 7-year wait.
Q+A with Britney Ruby-Miller
Do you have a morning ritual if so, what does it look like?
I do my best to wake up at 4:30 am and get through all of my emails, followed by a workout and then I’m ready to start my day.
Favorite dish from your childhood?
TV dinners my nanny would make me after school. She was always consistent; it would be ready at 4:00 prompt and Power Rangers would teed up on the tele (she was British, and said it that way!
What’s the last thing you ate?
Right now, I’m doing a juice cleanse from the Weekly Juicery: Kimmye is my favorite!
When you’re not working are you cooking or grabbing carryout?
When I’m not working, I love to cook at home for my family.
What made you fall in love with food?
The way you can transform an ingredient from one thing to something completely different just by adding spices and heat is so simple but so interesting. There’s more than 1,000 ways to cook one vegetable.
What do you love most about Lexington?
Lexington has it all, it’s situated in beautiful horse country, has a small city with a big city feel, and is filled with such kind-hearted people. It’s a city my dad fell in love with years ago and I can now proudly say I share that sentiment.