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Ruth's Hospitality Group, inc (RUTH) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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RUTH earnings call for the period ending September 26, 2021.

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Ruth's Hospitality Group, inc (RUTH -0.40%)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Oct 29, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today's Ruth's Hospitality Group Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's conference call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Kristy Chipman, Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead.

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Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Latata [Phonetic] and good morning, everyone. Joining me on the call today is Cheryl Henry, our President, Chief Executive Officer & Chairperson of the Board. Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that in part of our discussion today, we will include forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of our future performance and therefore undue reliance should not be placed upon them. We would also encourage you to refer to the Investor Relations section of our website at rhgi.com as well as the SEC's website at sec.gov for copies of today's earnings press release and our recent filings with the SEC for a more detailed discussion of the risks that could impact our future operating and financial results.

During this call, we will refer to adjusted earnings per share. This non-GAAP measurement was calculated by excluding certain items. We believe that this measure represents a useful internal measure of performance. You can find a reconciliation of adjusted earnings per share in our press release for today's call.

I would now like to turn the call over to our Chief Executive Officer, Cheryl Henry.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Thank you, Kristy, and good morning, everyone. Our third quarter results demonstrated our team's continued operational excellence in a challenging and dynamic environment. Our performance also reminds us of how sought after the Ruth's Chris brand experience is and how our guests trust our commitment to safety, quality and a genuine hospitality that our team members and franchise partners have delivered for more than 56 years.

During the quarter, we generated solid revenue growth, including a comparable sales increase of approximately 8% relative to 2019. The improvement over 2019 was especially notable, given a negative 700 basis point impact from our Boston, Hawaii and Manhattan market, which as we have discussed, have not fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic. Excluding these markets, comps were up about 15% over 2019. In terms of margins, we were also able to deliver improvement over 2019, driven not only by the strong sales, but also by our operations team and the efficiency initiatives they've worked on for the last 18 months.

As far as the fourth quarter to date, I'm pleased to say our comparable sales remain approximately 11% above 2019, excluding the six restaurants in the three markets I just discussed. Embedded in that comp number is softer performance in private dining, which has not returned as quickly as our main dining room. Having said that, we have recently seen an uptick and increase for holiday season events and are working to convert those to booked events. We also expect to see some rebound in Hawaii in the fourth quarter and more so early next year as the state welcomes tourist again beginning in November.

As far as the state of the business generally despite near-term external pressures and uncertainties, we are committed to investing in the long-term health of the business. An important part of that is ensuring that when our guests return to our restaurants, they are welcomed with world-class hospitality and safety. This requires not only hiring exceptional team members, but investing the time and resources to train them. Beyond investments in hiring and training, the second bucket of investment is growing our restaurant base. In late September, we successfully opened in Short Hills, New Jersey. We are pleased that sales performance to date has been better than our system average, demonstrating the enthusiasm guests have for Ruth's Chris when we enter new markets. To build on this momentum, we will open an additional company-owned restaurants in Lake Grove, New York, before the end of the year, and are on track to open five new restaurants in 2022, including one management agreement. We also have a solid pipeline for 2023, and currently anticipate finding additional leases by the end of this year.

The third bucket of investment is enhancing our ability to use advancements in data and digital technologies. As you've heard me say before, this effort is focused on three areas for us, enhancing the guest experience, reducing friction in the restaurant and driving operational efficiencies. To realize the full scale benefits of this initiative, we have been working to replace old and introduce new technologies into our restaurant. For example, in the third quarter, we made progress implementing our POS and labor management systems with a full rollout expected in the first quarter of 2022. In addition to the foundational technology, we've been mining our data and testing several ways to automate restaurant in place to deliver on these priorities. For example, we are testing a proprietary approach to use guest data to enhance the guest experience. The intent is to better understand why our guests visit Ruth, and make sure each visit is further personalized by our staff.

Another example that targets both the topline and bottom line is the pilot links to maximizing our capacity in the restaurant while managing labor hours. Early results are positive and we expect a systemwide rollout to begin by the end of November. While these technology initiatives may take time to rollout and refine, we're confident that when we reach full scale, they will help us drive sales and operating efficiency, including more protected menu, better labor management and demand forecasting. Now, it's important to note that all of these investments are possible because of our financial position, which has allowed us to make investments in organic growth, while returning capital to shareholders.

During the third quarter, we repurchased 192,000 shares of our common stock and were resolutely were able to resume buybacks as part of our total return strategy. We also entered into a new credit agreement, which not only increase the size of our facility but also provides us with more favorable terms, including additional flexibility with regard to capital expenditures, share repurchases and potential dividends. In closing, we are encouraged by our continued sales momentum and strategic progress. I reiterate, at the core of this success is our team members and franchise partners. We have remained resilient and committed to excellence. They have provided an amazing and consistent guest experience, which is the core of what Ruth's Chris must do every day.

I will now turn the call back to Kristy Chipman to cover some specifics of the quarter.

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Cheryl. For the third quarter ended September 26, 2021, we reported GAAP net income of $6.9 million or $0.20 per diluted share compared to a net loss of $5.3 million or $0.15 loss per diluted common share during the third quarter of 2020. Excluding adjustments, non-GAAP diluted earnings per common share was $0.20 compared to a loss per common share of $0.04 in the third quarter of 2020. Please refer to our earnings release and related disclosures for a reconciliation of the GAAP to non-GAAP net income.

Total revenue for the quarter were $104.2 million compared to $63.4 million in 2020. Company-owned restaurant sales were $97.5 million compared to $58.6 million in the prior year. Comparable restaurant sales for the quarter versus 2020 increased 66.8% and compared to 2019 they increased 7.6%. Five months comp sales were positive 16.3% in July, 1.9% in August and 3.3% in September. Comp sales dropped to positive single digits in the last two months of the quarter as the Delta variant moved through our largest market. We are pleased that despite the variant, guests have been dining in our restaurants and we averaged weekly sales of nearly $103,000 versus $93,000 in 2019.

Franchise income for the quarter was $4.7 million, up 35.1% versus the same quarter last year, while other operating income was $1.9 million. Overall, restaurant margins during the quarter 2021 were better by 80 basis points compared to third quarter 2019 despite rising inflation, particularly in food. Food and beverage cost for the quarter were 34.2% as beef prices during the quarter increased approximately 65% compared to last year and were up 47% compared to 2019. Our market basket experience inflation of approximately 29% compared to Q3 2019, with most of this increase being in proteins, particularly beef, crab and lobster. While this inflation is historically high, we remain committed to serving our guests fresh, prime [Indecipherable] Given the volatility within the supply chain and our inability to precisely predict cost of goods sold, we will not be providing further guidance for the fourth quarter or next year at this time.

I'd now like to take a minute to address how we are thinking strategically about pricing as we move forward to offset the inflation we're experiencing. We have historically taken price in the 1% to 3% range, and this year's pricing to date has been over 4%, from the price taken in May and the one we recently did in September. While we are carrying more price this year, it remains below the inflation levels we are experiencing in the restaurant. With beef prices remaining at high levels, we reviewed pricing again recently and will be taking another price increase of 1.3% in mid November.

As I mentioned in our last call, we are thoughtful and surgical with these price increases to ensure we balance profitability with the value we've been known for in the fine dining category and we will continue to approach pricing with this lens. Our efficiency initiatives continue to benefit us during the quarter with labor as a percentage of sales improving 414 basis points compared to the pre-COVID third quarter of 2019. We began adding an additional manager back into our higher volume restaurants this quarter and expect to continue to add back on an average one manager to most of our restaurants in 2022.

Given our year-to-date results, we expect that we will end the year with our labor as a percentage of sales approximately 300 basis points better compared with full year 2019. G&A increased $100,000 compared to the third quarter of 2020 to $7.7 million. This increase was primarily due to an increase in performance based comp related expenses. Full year G&A is expected to be between $32 million and $33 million. At the end of the quarter, we had $83.8 million in cash and our outstanding debt remained at $70 million. Our cash balance as of October 27th was $84.6 million.

With that, let me turn the call back to Cheryl.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Thank you, Kristy. In closing, we feel very good about our sales momentum. We've taken price to the degree that we can, but make no mistake, we will not jeopardize our long-term brand position for short-term quarterly gain. Preserving our brand positioning is critical for long-term success. We also feel very good about our pipeline of new restaurants and the strategic progress we're making in the areas of technology and training. You simply can't deliver solid long-term financial performance without unit growth, greater efficiency and attention to detail within our four walls. This all translates into confidence that we can continue to create value for our share holders as the virus abates and the economy recovers, and obviously longer term. We look forward to the remainder of 2021 and continuing to execute against our plans in 2022.

With that, I will turn the call over to questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question first question comes from Nicole Miller with Piper Sandler. Please proceed.

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning. I wanted to better understand the new store opening in the quarter and the commentary around, it sounds like the sales trends essentially. And if I'm thinking about the core base, it's a lot of heavy lifting on recovery than differences maybe in channels of sales, right, lunch versus dinner, things like that and what people are ordering, and then of course some price from inflation in the past few years. But then you opened the store and it opens at parity, it sounds like with the core, and I'm wondering how does that inform the development going forward when you see that kind of success and take us back to the East Coast acquisition and the total addressable market whitespace that you had envisioned at that time?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Thanks, Nicole. So I'm going to take it in parts and maybe pass a couple to Kristy. But I think your question generally is around, are we optimistic given the opening of the store in a market and mentioning that 2019 acquisition was along Long Island [Phonetic] So let me just start with -- the restaurant we are opening before the end of the year is actually in that market and so I think we were optimistic when we made the acquisition about the marketplace and certainly given the performance of Short Hills, which is generally in the Northeast area and given it was actually over our system average, we feel even more positive about what the potential is for us. We are doing work, it's hard to say right now and I wont adjust numbers based on what we shared back then, we did the acquisition.

But I think there's a couple of factors in play. One is, as we get toward the end of the pandemic and things abate further, what type of population migration are permanent. Does that say anything about suburb locations -- suburban locations for us even more so that we may have seen in our portfolio before. And then looking at some of the work that we were doing pre COVID, but we're bringing out of the ground now these smaller footprints that we can maximize and optimize capacity, and so we are looking at all of that. I think it's a great question. Thoughtful around potential changes in the marketplace and we are currently doing that work.

I'd say about Short Hills, we were -- we were very pleased about seeing it open the way it did. I think just see us in the marketplace was exciting for us about the Ruth's Chris brand, they knew we were coming, they showed up. They continue to show up, so it's early, but I think it's a good sign in general for how market reacts to Ruth's when we enter markets. So that was certainly great to see. I think there was something else in your questions specific around kind of AUVs and pricing and I'll let Kristy speak a little bit to that.

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Nicole, thanks for the question. I think you were asking about just what's happening within people building their own checks as well as the pricing. So, I mentioned the pricing in my prepared comments, but as far as what we're seeing with guests continuing to create their own experience by adding on, that is definitely still continuing in the areas of app, salad side as well as our tray compliments and desserts. So we are still benefiting in our check not only from the price, but also from the guests who are coming into our restaurant trading up or into additional items per visit.

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

And then just a second and last question on the adding, I think I heard you say adding one more manager per store. Talk a little bit about -- more about that because you're still obviously hitting from a year-end perspective the objective on the labor savings. It sounds like this would be because of increased demand. Is it one manager that was already in the system, is it someone new you have to go out and teach the Ruth's culture? Do they work the same in terms of is it an equal hours to the way you established the manager shift previously? What has changed in that profile?

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

So let me try and then Cheryl can clean up after me if she needs to. So to date, we've added approximately 20 additional restaurants to our highest volume properties. We are offsetting some of that labor because we have had key hourly labor in the restaurants to accommodate the number of hours we need from a management perspective. In some cases, if they're ready, we'll promote from within, otherwise we will go outside to fill that stiff manager position. And so as we look to next year, it really is about sales and traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels as we look to add those managers back into the remaining 50 odd restaurants that we need to do that.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, and just let me add, Nicole. I think your question of these new people, what about the culture is really important. And one of the things I've talked about before, that remains true even coming out of these 18 months or so is the average tenure of the leadership teams in these restaurants. So if you look at the Chef and the GM, you are looking at nine and 10-year tenure with our company and culture lives through people. So having that leadership has such an amazing tenure and understand this brand. Been through a lot of things and come out the other side, it really helps us. We are training the people into the culture that those people still set in these leadership positions and just breathe the culture of Ruth. So that's -- it's really one of the things I point out a lot because I think it's so critical to ensuring that the culture and the experience the guest has is consistent.

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from James Rutherford with Stephens. Please proceed.

James Rutherford -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Great. Good morning, Cheryl and Kristy, hope you're doing well. I wanted to start off on the menu price discussion. How did you settle on the mid-single digit price that it looks like you'll be running toward the exiting part of this quarter. Everything we've heard from restaurant operators broadly is that there is little to no consumer push back when you're -- when you're hitting on price, and I know it can take time to to discern what the push back actually is. But with commodity basket up nearly 30%, why not push more? It seems like maybe this is indication or you think this is temporary -- it is temporary in nature to these higher prices on the beef side? But just love your thoughts around the menu price.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, we've talked about menu before and I'll reiterate something Kristy said. So we've been and we've used this term quite a bit and over the years is reluctant prices. I think what has -- what's at the core of that is ensuring that we're not just thinking short-term but long-term, and this is a -- we've been 56 years at this and I think when you think about short-term, long-term relative to 56 years, I think that gives you some idea of how protective of the guest experience and the value proposition you bring is. Having said that, we are looking at the impact and making the right decisions. And we've said this before, we use a lot of data. We review it usually on a quarterly basis or twice a year and then quarterly, and now we're reviewing it consistently. So I think we'll look at it again if we need to. I think we feel good with where we are now. And to your point, I think guests have given us the permission to sit between that 5% and 6%, which again is higher than we've ever been, but I think it strategically and surgically understanding where that price is available going forward and so the way we are addressing it is within more frequent review and understanding exactly where we need to date going forward.

James Rutherford -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, got it. That's helpful. And then, Kristy, one for you. Could you remind us what the monthly average weekly sales were, it's kind of going back, but in the fourth quarter of 2019, I know November and December ramped pretty significantly. I just want to make sure as we lap those and thinking about the comps so we can get that right. But more importantly, underlying that is, I mean how you're staffing levels and how do you think you're set up to accommodate that higher demand in the holiday season?

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure, so I'll take the first part and then if Cheryl wants to come in for the back half of that question. So if we look at fourth quarter 2019 of October, we were at $100,400. We were at 109. 7 call it for November and 150. 5 for December in 2019.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

And just on the staffing. So every -- the holiday season comes every year and every year months prior to that the operations team has a plan, they implement, obviously the environment around labor and for every call is a little bit different. We are in a different segment. And so as we look at the, our average hourly wage and so forth and that helps us. So we have implemented the same plan this year to ensure that the restaurants were staffed and I'm not going to say it's easy and that's not more work and take more attention from the management team as it does, but we feel confident that we will have the right team in the building and we are -- as we mentioned investing to ensure they are trained in the right way, they offer the exact experience that guests have expected from us for years. So we're confident as we move through that we will be able to staff the restaurants. The areas are a handful of markets where we're struggling, we're putting additional initiatives in to ensure that we have the staffing levels we need.

James Rutherford -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. If I could squeeze one more in. The marketing and advertising guidance of $13 million to $14 million implies, I think a bigger fourth quarter than we've seen in recent history for advertising and marketing spend something in the $5 million to $6 million range. What's the source of that step up? And just kind of any thoughts around that please.

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, thanks for the question. So marketing for us right now is all leading into the data digital projects that Cheryl mentioned during the call, which is expected to have a greater impact as we've ramped up in Q3 and now into Q4.

James Rutherford -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, perfect. Thanks very much.

Operator

Our next question comes from Andy Barish with Jefferies. Please proceed.

Andrew Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Yeah, hi guys. A couple of operational questions just on a few things you mentioned in your opening remarks, Cheryl. On POS and labor management systems and then capacity expansion efforts. Can you just give us a little color in terms of what that potentially could give you and layer in as new efforts in as you move through 2022?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

So I'll start it. There is only a little bit I can give you just because of the uniqueness of the work and we don't want to share to broadly at this point. Obviously, POS, we're end of lifing at our existing POS system, so moving to a new one was necessary. But it also gives us an opportunity to make sure that we streamline it for our teams in the restaurants and make sure that we have a set up for the future of that data and digital, bringing all those guest insights into the restaurant that we need.

From a labor management perspective, we are expanding the use of labor management as we look at what operating hours we should have, when do we want to bring in each position within the restaurant in order to maximize the efficiency that we can -- we can have and using the insights on exactly in 50-minute increments when sales are coming in, etc., so we can save on the margin still within the labor category overall. So a lot of it is around how do we get more turns on the busiest days within the restaurant, how do we staff that appropriately, how do we take into consideration, people no shows within the restaurant and make sure that we still are able to accept walk-ins and not have a table sitting empty on our busiest days.

Andrew Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Thank you. And is the capacity expansion more the table management that's seating utilization or is it actual physical expansion as you've done with some of the remodels over the years?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

It's not physical expansion, it's more of the former.

Andrew Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Okay. And then just -- just finally from me if you could, I guess frame up sort of the 300 basis point labor save at '21 year-end versus '19, but then having a full cadre of of additional managers back in the system for the full year of 2002, how should we think about that kind of coming off of that year-end '21 comment you're making? Meaning, are there other efficiencies that maybe offset some of that -- some of that manager spend or is that really incremental labor cost we need to factor in?

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

So I think there are some efficiencies that will offset that. If you start with 300 basis points kind of versus 2019 is where we'll end the year, I think -- I think assuming that we carry to 2 to 225 [Phonetic] of that into '22, allowing us to do the training that Cheryl mentioned as well as add back the managers, that should be good.

Andrew Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Okay, thanks for that. Very helpful.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Brian Vaccaro with Raymond James. Please proceed.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Hi, thanks, and good morning. I wanted to just touch on the underperforming markets and can you speak to what you're seeing at the local level across Boston and Hawaii and Manhattan? I heard your comments on Hawaii, but we're seeing some datasets that suggest Boston is starting to come back to life a little bit. So if you can just touch on some of those underperforming markets at the local level that would be helpful?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Sure, I'll take the -- this is Cheryl. The most obvious one for us is Hawaii. I think, we all thought -- so as Hawaii opened in July, there was actually an uptick and we were running about 70% of 2019, and then the market was shut down more or less. And so I think that's where you see the impact in the quarter. And the expectation is that it is opening back up for tourism in November and so we expect a build back at that point. I think, as I mentioned, we'll see a benefit in December and then as we go into next year, barring any other shutdowns or restrictions to tourism. So that's really -- it's very specific to that market. It's certainly has an impact. I think it's been the one that's probably had, if we looked back the most kind of open, closings restrictions, back to restrictions and requirements back to open again and so that ones caused to be most volatile -- Boston, Downtown Boston and Manhattan. I think your comment about it starting to come back. They've been the two markets I think reacted the most aggressively from a consumer mindset standpoint as well as kind of return to office. And so those two probably have the biggest impact of that. The dual consumer celebratory guests not being ready to come back yet as well as having offices were going to open, then delayed, then were going to open and then delayed again. And so I think as Kristy and we've mentioned going into -- further into the fourth quarter around the holidays and into next year, again barring any other variants or of any other Delta issues, we expect that we'll start to see those come back a bit more as well.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. I was hoping the shifting back to pricing, I was hoping just to sharpen my pencil a little bit on some of the details there. Can you give us what effective menu pricing was in the third quarter? How much did you take in September and then where will effective pricing be in 4Q with all these puts and takes, If you're lapping any etc., where will that effective pricing be in the fourth quarter.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, so Q3 effective pricing was 4.5%. We took 2.5% in the May time frame, mid-May. Our September pricing was 1.6% and our effective pricing for the fourth quarter is 5.9%. And I'll just add, you're going to see about a percent of that roll off as we enter that beginning of next year.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Excellent. Very helpful. Last one, I guess for me, just on labor. Where are -- can you help us frame what's -- where are your average staffing levels across your company units versus '19? And can you break that down a little bit further for us, maybe comment on what percent of units remain materially understaffed, and are they seeing material impact on sales that are being left on the table due to the staffing shortages?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, sure. So we're at about 90% staffing level right now. And that is -- we're happy with that because we did make the efficiency changes within the restaurant and eliminated the need for some positions. So we haven't seen some of the staffing shortages overall. We do have a handful of restaurants, I would say that our challenge right now in particularly in the back of the house. But for the most part our restaurant team member size is 90% of what it was before.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Okay and. And you mentioned bringing back an additional manager once you're -- per store. Once you're done with that, how was your average number of managers per store compared to 2019?

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

It will be down approximately one manager.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Down about one manager. Okay, great. All right. All right, I'll pass it along. Thank you.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Todd Brooks with CL King. Please proceed.

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

Hey, good morning to you both. Just couple of quick questions around holiday demand. And Kristy, you shared kind of the build that you see and -- or saw in December fiscal '19 off of November. Can you maybe talk about that 150,000 [Phonetic] how much of that was kind of private dining and holiday group related? And then if we can talk about kind of the timing of when those bookings typically would show up. I know, Cheryl, I think you talked about starting to build here recently. But any color that you can give on -- are the bookings that are happening similar size, are they smaller parties than usual? Just some color around how holiday is shaping up early on here.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, and I think I mentioned even in the last call, the way people book advances, trays and -- I'm saying I've been here probably 15 years and it's shifted significantly about when people book versus in prior years. And so I think the pandemic and back to office and a lot of those even further put some variables into the timing of booking. I can speak to what we've seen and I think that's -- there is -- what carried out from private dining to a good extensive social event, since so those are hanging in. We see people that are smaller groups and family celebrations and friends celebrations have been fairly consistent. We're seeing an uptick on the business side of bookings within in the last few weeks. I think it's still a bit early because of the uncertainties out there. I think we'll see over the next couple of weeks or three to four weeks this kind of fourth cycle of kind of with the wait and see that some of the Delta implications are. But I think it's early good signs. I will say it's really going to be dependent on how people feel as we get closer to the holidays. So yeah, I think, again early good signs. It's good to see some of the business inquiries coming back that we didn't necessarily have before. And I think we'll know more over the next few weeks.

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

And I don't know if you can quantify kind of going back to fiscal '19 at 150,000. What's the complexion of that? How much is made up by this business that we're hoping is still on the come here, but we won't know because of the nature of how people are booking. Is that typically when you look at the $40,000 dollar weekly lift, is it half of that? And I'm just trying to think about what whole we're trying to sell.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Yeah, I would say that if you used approximately 20% of your December number that's related to private dine in 2019. And we talked about this all through the pandemic is the fluidity of the buckets of business and so to your point, we seen -- our whole focus has been at least for the last year is meet the guests where they are, if they want Ruth's anywhere, if it's a private dining event, if it's outside in tent, if it's all hard dining, bar dining is make sure that wherever the guest wants to be we can accommodate it and we've seen them move within. So pre-COVID, the buckets of business being special occasion celebratory just because in business and we've been able to kind of move and speak to our guests within the -- what's the occasion they want to come from. So we see that fluidity remaining as we look toward the fourth quarter and understanding the different revenue channels and revenue centers that we can move the guests into.

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, great, very helpful. And a final one from me, if I could. How meaningful typically in this fourth quarter period is the gift card business for Ruth's and what was the experience during kind of '20, how much did that business dip? And then, opportunity and kind of marketing against that, is that a focus in '21, and does that get realized fairly quickly, is that if it's a Q4 type of gift, is it a Q1 type of redemption pattern? Thank you.

Michael Hynes -- Vice President of Accounting

Hi, Todd, this is Mike Hynes. On the gift cards, Q4 is obviously our biggest season, but we saw last year is the sales did drop similar to -- gift card sales did drop similar to our restaurant sales, not quite as severe, but a similar pattern. We have not seen a change yet on redemption behavior, it's followed historical pattern so far, so no change to note there.

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks, Mike.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

I'll add one, that is, there's been a lot of reports lately that the gift card channel is something people are going to be looking for this year to sell experiences. So I think that's positive for us versus items or things and so we look -- we're trying to tap that to the extent we can because it does help with future visitation.

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, great. Perfect, thank you, Cheryl.

Operator

Thank you. At this time, there are no further questions in queue. I would like to turn the call back over to Ms. Cheryl Henry for closing comments.

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Thank you, everyone, for joining us on the call today and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 38 minutes

Call participants:

Kristy Chipman -- Chief Financial Officer

Cheryl Henry -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman

Michael Hynes -- Vice President of Accounting

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

James Rutherford -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Andrew Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Todd Brooks -- CL King & Associates, Inc. -- Analyst

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