The estate of Thomas J. “T.J.” Moran, the longtime Baton Rouge restaurant operator, has donated $1 million to four programs at LSU.
Members of Moran’s family visited campus Thursday to present $250,000 donations to the university’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Manship School of Mass Communication, E.J. Ourso College of Business and the College of Human Sciences & Education.
In a statement the family said they were honored Moran’s legacy will live on in the students and programs that will benefit from the gift. They noted that Moran made a number of longtime friends through LSU, including former men’s basketball Coach Dale Brown; Bo Bahnsen, an associate athletic director; Scott Berg, the Baton Rouge market president for Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry; and Robert Justis, professor emeritus at LSU’s Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute.
“For more than 40 years, LSU has been an instrumental part of our lives. Dad proudly watched all five of his children and one granddaughter become Tigers, with a total of eight LSU degrees earned by them,” the family said. “Encouraging students to obtain a college education was another way for him to stay true to his life and business philosophy to ‘make it better every day.’”
Moran died in May at age 84. In 1975, he opened the first Ruth’s Chris franchise on the outskirts of Baton Rouge in Prairieville, going on to become one of the company’s largest U.S. franchisees with about a dozen locations. In 1986, he founded TJ Ribs in Baton Rouge. He also had operated the Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant franchise in Baton Rouge and was a founder of Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant. “T.J. Moran was an esteemed member of our community who contributed in countless ways to the local business and nonprofit sectors,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Part of his business philosophy was a commitment to serving the communities where his restaurants were located. LSU is humbled by his generous decision to extend this commitment to LSU.”