Wiam “William” Battah is the general manager of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Can you please tell us about your background?
I was born in Manhattan in 1971 and raised in Kentucky. I’m a full-blooded Iraqi/American. My parents escaped Iraq in the early 1970s because they didn’t like the direction the country was going. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1996 with a degree in police administration, and then spent the next five-and-a-half years in the Army as a criminal investigator. I realized that law enforcement wasn’t for me, so I changed gears completely and got into the hospitality industry.
I went back to school and then graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 2004. I moved to Florida in 2004 and started working for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Ponte Vedra in 2005. I was promoted to the general manager position in 2013, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I have a beautiful wife, Kim, and two amazing children, William (11 years old) and Vivian (7 years old), who attend Palmer Catholic Academy in Ponte Vedra. We’re members of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish. I’m a HUGE New York Giants fan, and I love the Jags! I’m honored to serve on the board for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ponte Vedra Beach Division, as well as the Ponte Vedra Greenway Committee.
What are your primary roles and responsibilities as general manager?
I am responsible for overall operations of my restaurant as well as maintaining a positive culture and the setting the right example at all times. All financials, facility maintenance, staffing, training and guest issues are also part of my primary responsibilities.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
Maintaining and developing my staff is one of the biggest challenges I face on a day-to-day basis. At Ruth’s Chris Steak House, we are on the hospitality stage at all times. Our guests expect the highest level of food and service every visit, and it’s my job to make sure all my team members are delivering that experience to every guest.
How do you see the restaurant industry changing over time?
The restaurant industry is constantly changing, but that’s not as exciting as the changes our Ruth’s Chris will go through this year. We’re excited about a complete renovation to our restaurant by the end of 2018. It’s been 10 years since our last renovation, so we’re excited about showing our community the new look of Ruth’s Chris-PVB.
What do you enjoy most about living on the First Coast?
We live in paradise, and it’s difficult to nail it down to one thing. The weather is great, the beaches are beautiful, the people are friendly and the community is warm. There’s no shortage of activities, so whatever you’re into doing, you can do it on the First Coast. We’re known for our golf and beautiful beaches, but there’s so much more to the First Coast.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In the restaurant business, I don’t get much free time, but when I’m not working, I love spending time with my family, working out, going to rock concerts and visiting with friends.