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Friday, December 7, 2012

The REAL Jeff Ruby Part II

Jeff Ruby reading his @ mentions to me on Twitter. In our 2-hour meeting at his office, each time someone tweeted at him, he'd reach for his phone without exception to see what people were saying to him.


Shout out to the best attorney that Lexington, Kentucky has to offer: Nick Nicholson. This article was obliterated from the internet due to technology being a fickle lady. Nick had it archived and sent it over to me this morning. 

The many monikers of Jeff Ruby

Depending on who he's conversing with, Jeff Ruby is addressed by many different names. Reds Second Basemen Brandon Phillips, who Ruby had to "unfollow" on Twitter because "he tweeted too much (BS)", calls Ruby "Bossman." Highlands students call him Uncle Jeff, Pops or Dad. Whatever they decide to call him, the Highlands students that "follow" Ruby on Twitter are part of a self-proclaimed "Tribe."

"I don't know why these kids follow me," Ruby said as he adroitly scrolled his thumb across his phone screen. "I guess they like my inspirational quotes,"which Ruby noted were all originals.

"It's very therapeutic to me and if they need a mentor, I can do that. I'm a better mentor than I am a husband."

A Twitter conversation between Ruby and Highlands student and Wide-Receiver, Brandon Hergott. Hergott goes on to explain to Ruby that being in his "tribe" is more exclusive than being at Augusta National.

Obviously the connection to Fort Thomas and Highlands started with his relationship with Cris Collinsworth, who Ruby went into business with with his restaurants. At Ruby's restaurants, a Steak Collinsworth was a steak accompanied with lump crab meat. Ruby played semi-pro football with Gino Guidugli's father, Dave, as well.

His son, Dillon, went to Highlands for a portion of his high school career. And if you've been to David A, Cecil Memorial Stadium since their (at the time) state-of-the-art field turf went down, it's impossible to watch a game without glancing up and seeing the biggest Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment advertisement you've ever seen posted on the the red-bricked backside of the school. Collinsworth was instrumental in collaborating with Ruby to ensure Highlands was one of the first schools in the area with the artificial playing surface.

The Highlands "Tribe" are sometimes treated to a corporate box at a Bengals game, or maybe a Bone-In Filet and Freddie salad by Ruby. But when I asked some of the Highlands "Tribesmen," about what they can tell me about the bond they've formed with Ruby over Twitter, every single one of them mentioned his leadership, his knack for saying exactly what he believes, and his caring nature over the ancillary benefits to being inside of the "Ruby Ring."

Junior Defensive Lineman, Seth Hope, of his relationship with Ruby said, "His story is so interesting. For me, it's just cool to hear about all the stuff he does, the people he gets to meet and the stuff he does to help people."

Junior Wide Receiver, Brandon Hergott, said, "It's awesome because Mr. Ruby is looked up to by so many people in the area for the success he's had and the fact that he takes time to interact with students at Highlands and get involved with the football team just displays what a great person he is."

I get it. As a high school kid, being able to hob-knob with Jeff Ruby is cool as hell. That end of the equation is easy to comprehend. But to me, the more interesting part of this relationship is what Ruby gets out of it. Why does he feel the need to go out of his way to help mentor these kids? One look at the way he grew up and you'd know exactly why.

Brian Jeffrey Kranz. Jeff Ruby. Jeffrey Goldstein. Larry Brockton. 

Jeff Ruby was born Brian Jeffrey Kranz to his mother and Louie Kranz. They divorced shortly after Ruby was born. His mother remarried early in his life and fittingly renames him Jeff Ruby. At 13, his mother remarried again. This time to the Hot Dog King of New Jersey, Sidney Goldstein. They want him Bar Mitzvahed under the name Jeffrey Goldstein. Later, as a 15-year-old high school student, Ruby runs away from home and checks into his new, uncomplicated sleeping quarters as Larry Brockton.

If you have to re-read that paragraph a few times, I don't blame you. It doesn't take Sigmund Freud to understand that the father-type figures in Ruby's early life were non-committal to put it lightly. Ask Ruby about it and he'll go on to tell you that as far as his mother's marriages went, there were no real father figures there for him.

"For most of my life I'm Jeff Ruby. I'm 13 years old and during the day I'm Jeff Ruby. At night I go to Hebrew School in Asbury Park, New Jersey and I'm Jeffrey Goldstein. I've had 4 names throughout my life, which is probably why the F.B.I. thinks I'm in the mafia," Ruby said as he pushes his once-lit cigar around his ash tray.

Ruby's biological father was pretty much non-existent in his life. As a teenager, without his father in the picture, he had built up disdain for him. He didn't want to listen to him, didn't want advice from him, didn't want to talk to him after years of neglect.

Ruby had runaway from home at 15. He hadn't seen or talked to his father in 14 years. Out of the blue, his father shows up to tell him he needed to go back home to his mother.

"Get out of here. Get out of here!" That's all Ruby could tell me about what he remembered from the encounter as he sat up erect in his chair, rolling the sleeves up from his custom Robert Graham shirt. Going back into character, Ruby furrows his brow and points his eyes to the ceiling to start to rehash this obviously difficult part of his life.

A week later, after sending his father away from the steps in his rooming house and subsequently his life, Ruby gets a call from his brother. Ruby tells me he loves his brother, who's 6 years older than him, but he lived with his father after their parents divorced and rarely saw him as well. He asked Ruby to drive to Monmouth College to meet with him to talk about the brief encounter with his father. He proceeds to tell him that Louie Kranz is not his biological father.

"What do you mean?!" Ruby said.

"Jeff. Mom doesn't have blue eyes. Lou Kranz doesn't have blue eyes. The (crap) hit the fan. That's why they got divorced. My dad told me that you just read him the riot act, and told me that it was time for you to know why he hasn't been there for all these years."

"Then who's my real father?" Ruby said.

"Louie Weiss."

Louis Weiss was an attorney from Newark that Ruby's mother worked for. He was always around during Ruby's childhood. "Uncle Louie," blue eyes and all, was even there during Ruby's Bar Mitzvah. But he wasn't any more of a father figure than Louie Kranz, his supposed biological father.

In part III of The Real Jeff Ruby series, we'll talk about who reached out to him as a father figure as a teenager. We'll discuss how his mantra "the boomerang effect," goes into helping young people without a father figure themselves, including some Highlands students. We'll tell the story of this first restaurant, how he fired his first cook at 13 and an inspirational story about how he's holding a job for a "server assistant," at The Precinct, because it's possible that that job is the only reason he's holding on for anything.

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