MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Sandy Beall, founder and chief executive officer of Ruby Tuesday, Inc. said he will remain with the company until the selection process is complete and a successor is hired.

“After 40 years with Ruby Tuesday, I look forward to taking some time off and to pursuing personal ventures,” Beall said in a statement. “We have plans in place to strengthen the Ruby Tuesday brand, grow our emerging brands, and have a capital structure that allows our team to execute on our plans to create value for our shareholders.

"It has been my honor and pleasure to lead this great brand and team over the past 40 years and it has been a wonderful experience in so many ways," he said. "I look forward to working with the board to ensure a smooth transition.”

Beall opened the first Ruby Tuesday restaurant in 1972 in Knoxville, Tenn., near the Univ. of Tennessee campus. He grew the business into a chain of 16 restaurants by the time Morrison Restaurants, Inc. acquired the concept. Since then, the chain has expanded to 300 restaurants.

Morrison Restaurants changed its name to Ruby Tuesday Inc. in 1996 following a spin-off transaction, according to the company. Ruby Tuesday Inc. owns and operates 740 restaurants and has 85 franchises.

“All of us at Ruby Tuesday are extremely grateful to Sandy for his many years of energetic and creative leadership which has created the company we are today, and we all wish him well,” said James Haslam, lead director of the board. “The Board looks forward to embarking on the process of identifying an experienced and capable new chief executive to lead Ruby Tuesday and its senior executive team.”