Ruby’s Kitchen Was Not Just a Business But a Labor of Love

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

“All I knew is that I liked to cook. This was my childhood dream: to own a restaurant.”

Ruby’s Kitchen, a Toledo mainstay, serving fresh homemade soul food for two decades, closed its doors February 29, 2024. Owner Ruby Bulter reflected on the 20 years of her experience serving our community food that felt “just like grandma’s kitchen.”

Ruby’s opened in 2004 and started in the kitchen of a sports bar that Butler rented for eight months before moving to the shopping plaza on Dorr St. where she served our community for 12 years. She moved to the Reynolds Road location in 2016.

Ruby’s Kitchen was not just a business but a labor of love, with Ms. Ruby making family of each customer who frequented her doors.

“[My biggest satisfaction] was just being able to have people that were so pleased that I was there and pleased to come and eat,” reflected Ms. Ruby. “That and just making friends and knowing people by their name and just being there for my customers– I mean people that really enjoyed southern cooking and food that’s hot – that’s just been cooked while you’re waiting for it.”

It’s an emotional farewell for Ms. Ruby. “What I’m going to miss the most is the customers and knowing people, good conversation, and cooking and I going to miss being there. “

Ms. Ruby could always be seen up front greeting customers, even in recent years battling COPD and wearing an oxygen tank. It was hard for her to maintain the restaurant as she would like, and she made the tough decision to close its doors permanently.

Famous musician John Legend dined at Ruby’s Kitchen (2012)

There were many highlights she experienced in 20 years. Nancy Pelosi and Marcy Kaptur spent the day at Ruby’s when she was at the Dorr Street location. “They came on the bus and they had the Secret Service with them and the Secret Service was in the kitchen. That was such a fun day.”

John Legend, Michelle Obama’s brother and many more entertainers and dignitaries than she can count have stopped by and sat for a plate at Ruby’s Kitchen.

“I would have never dreamt that I would have had a restaurant and for it to have been as successful as it was for 20 years,” she stated.

Ms. Butler was born and raised in east Toledo. “My mother taught me how to cook. I started cooking at 12 years old, wanting to have my own restaurant… I could remember at that time the neighbors were real close to each other, I could remember going to the neighbors and telling them ‘I’m cooking dinner today would you want to buy a dinner? “

“It seemed like I was a good little cook at 12 years old. They started requesting dinners. Certain days of the week I would cook for the neighbors. That’s where my dream started.”

Her mother was a big influence on her life and cooking. She always stressed “a good cook always tastes her food” said Ms. Ruby. Ruby’s own favorite dish at Ruby’s Kitchen was her famous dressing that was her mother’s recipe.

Ruby Bulter fed us from her heart and soul for two decades and leaving has been bittersweet. She graciously put her life into her business and the community and closing her doors has been a very emotional experience.

“It was such a happy journey that I’ve had and, really, I’ve had no complaints or remorse but I’m so sorry I closed up. I wish I was still open.”

Ms. Ruby plans now to travel and visit family.

One lasting message Ms. Ruby has for her family of patrons: “I thank them so much for patronizing me, being there for me and mostly loving me. I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I love them. I love them all so much. I’m really missing them.”