Family Vows To Keep 'Old School Soul Food' On The Menu After Owner Of Kansas City, Kansas, Diner Dies
Ruth Scover, proprietor of Ms. R’s Soul Food Café on Quindaro Blvd., died in early September. As her family plans for the future, they say they will honor their mother’s legacy by keeping fried chicken, peach cobbler and other soul food favorites — as well as a role in the community — on the menu.
They come from Johnson County, Kansas, north of the Missouri river, and out of state to this modest diner on Quindaro Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, seeking its authentic soul food, and plenty of it, for a reasonable price.
“When you’re looking for real, old school soul food, you gotta get to Ms. R’s Café in Kansas City,” one North Dakota patron wrote on Ms. R’s Facebook page. “Today I had the best black-eyed peas of my life and quite possibly the best baked chicken and dressing of my life. Luke had the neckbones. Pizi had a BBQ Turkey leg. Just omg.”
Ruth Etta Scover, or “Ms. R,” as she was known, died on Sept. 4, 2021 at the age of 64. She owned and operated Ms. R’s for 37 years, but she was also beloved in the community for her warmth, generosity, mentorship and bubbly personality.
Rosette Scover, 41, the youngest of the three Scover children, says her brother, Eddie, has been running the restaurant for the year and will continue to do so.
"The restaurant will remain just as it's been," Scover said. "We're staying where we are, no changes to the menu or anything."
If she wasn’t in the kitchen, Ruth Etta Scover would be standing over one of the handful of tables in the dark but intimate space, checking in with her regulars and welcoming newcomers.
In a 2019 interview with KCUR, Scover, never one to brag, said she was always surprised when she got thank you notes for being a pillar of the community from people she didn’t know.
“I try to keep my prices down so (my food) is affordable,” she said. “People always know they can come out and get a good meal here.”
She kept Ms. R’s open on Christmas and provided free dinner to anyone who stopped in.
She mentored young people and always was available to provide advice, encouragement, or a helping hand as part of her ongoing interest in reversing the economic decay along the spine of Northeast Kansas City, Kansas.
“I’d like to see more businesses come to Quindaro Boulevard,” she said. “They’re coming, but they’re taking their time.”
Gary Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Pizza and Grill, 1801 Quindaro Blvd., said he and Ms. R frequently shared stories as fellow business owners and friends.
“I’d go down there and eat with her,” Wilson said. “She was just a lovely lady, always kind to everyone.”
Former Kansas City, Kansas, councilman and retired businessman Chester Owens got to know Scover over decades of visiting Ms. R’s for his favorite foods.
“I love liver and onions and hers were so good!” he said. “(Ms. R’s) was a place where you could get a good quality meal and excellent service, and she made people want to come back.”
Owens said Scover always had a family member at her side, teaching them how to replicate her recipes or keep the books.
“Ms. R’s will remain because she had her kids by her side for years, and you know she had a system,” he said.
Scover attended Westport High School in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Vocational School to acquire business skills. Over the years she received recognition and awards, not only for her food but for her service to the community, many displayed on the walls and countertops of the diner.
Rosette Scover says as the only girl and the youngest of the three Scover children, much of the responsibility for moving forward has fallen on her shoulders.
But she says she and her brothers share the commitment to keeping their mother’s legacy alive, not only through her cooking but as a reminder that northeast Kansas City, Kansas, has not only a rich past, but a promising future.
"My mom was so trusted in this community not only for her service, but as a second mom, or an aunt, to so many who didn't have that," she said. "She was just a very positive person up until the day she passed."