Low-Carb, Smart Menu?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto", March 9, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

Watch "Your World w/Cavuto" weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: First McDonald’s (MCD) gets rid of its super-sized fries. Now another restaurant chain is feeding into all the health-conscious consumers out there. Ruby Tuesday is the first national restaurant chain to list nutritional information on all of its menus.

With us now, Ruby Tuesday’s very thin chairman and CEO, Sandy Beall.

Sandy, good to have you.


CAVUTO: So on your menu -- and I think we have some shots of what is going on there -- all the nutritional information is there much like you pick up a food carton in the grocery store?

BELL: Well, the main ones that the guests wanted from our research are calories, fat, carbs and fiber. Because with those four items, you can pretty well adjust any diet that anybody is on. That is what they wanted.

CAVUTO: All right. What is the most popular as far as the diet themes? I would imagine, judging from the menu here, the low-carb diet.

BEALL: Low-carb is by far the most popular in America right now. I think it has been around for, gosh, over a decade now. And I think it is gaining popularity. People are on Weight Watchers, though; people are on their own diets, customers’ diets.

CAVUTO: So you offer something for everybody.

BEALL: Offer something for everybody.

CAVUTO: But what if this low-crab thing is just a passing fad?

BEALL: It could be. It could be. But, personally, I don’t think it is that way.

But with our offerings, it doesn’t matter. Dieting is something that has been big in America and will be. So having more information to make informed choices is what our program, Smart Eating at Ruby Tuesday, is all about.

CAVUTO: So you are covering both bases, the people who want to pig out and the people who wanted to diet? You’re going to rope them both in?

BEALL: It is your choice. Everybody has different lifestyles. Some people eat out, like myself, 10 times a week at least. Others eat out once a month.

When you go out once a month, you go for the full rack of ribs, and it’s great. If you eat out every day, you may need to have more salads without dressing or a wrap or a vegetable plate.

CAVUTO: In the low-carb arena, what is the most popular item?

BEALL: The most popular item probably has been the mashed cauliflower, which we were the first to come out with as a replacement for mashed potatoes. It has less than half the carbs, a lot less calories, less fat, et cetera. Great item.

CAVUTO: Well, it’s registering on Wall Street, taking a look at your stock right now. Unlike a lot of other food concerns, you have been moving up smartly, even in the face of this so-called thin-conscious America. Let me ask you about what the congressman wants to do, to quit telling people that if you are fat, sue the restaurants.

BEALL: Can’t disagree with him. He made a lot of points. But I do think there are things that we can do.

I think there are things at Ruby Tuesday we want to do. Because I think that by being the leader in smarter eating, and better options, we can attract customers, customers who haven’t been eating casual dining, or even the heavy users I was talking about. Get them to come back more often...

CAVUTO: But how much of this was fear that, you know -- I think that is why McDonald’s stopped the super-sized fries. They see the lawsuits coming, they see all of this. And they’re trying to be preemptive.

BEALL: In our case, it has nothing do with fear. We rolled out with the first phase of smart eating in November, with low carbs. And the success was so resounding, we went for the second stage and listened to them. They wanted more nutritional information, and that is what we are giving them.

CAVUTO: All right. Sandy Beall, thank you very much. The founder and CEO of Ruby Tuesday. He’s obviously eating the low-carb stuff because he’s thin. I don’t know what’s going on.

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