Troost Avenue, an arterial road that runs north to south through Kansas City, has long been a racial and economic dividing line. However, individuals and organizations within the community have been working to eradicate the divide, with positive results that have garnered national attention.
A vital part of this renewal has been a string of locally-owned restaurants that have opened along the Troost corridor in the past few years, the most recent of which is Thelma’s Kitchen.
Thelma’s Kitchen is an initiative of Reconciliation Services, which is the community outreach branch St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church.
Thelma’s Kitchen is named for Reconciliation Services’ co-founder Thelma Altschul, who later took the name Matushka Michaela. Matushka Michaela passed away in 2012, but her spirit lives on in her namesake restaurant, which is the first donate-what-you-can-café in Kansas City.
Located at 3101 Troost, Thelma’s Kitchen serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests can choose either a small meal or a large meal.
Suggested donations are $7 and $10 respectively, although guests can donate more or less. Guests can also volunteer for 30 minutes in exchange for lunch.
The menu at Thelma’s Kitchen changes daily. Meals include a choice of soup, a choice of salad, an entrée or sandwich and a dessert.
Although the mission of Thelma’s Kitchen is what draws many through its doors, the culinary aspect is not to be ignored.
The portions are generous and the food is amazing. The shredded potato cheddar soup, a regular offering at Thelma’s Kitchen, is possibly the best potato soup I’ve ever had. It’s rich and flavorful, without the weird viscosity you often find in thicker soups.
The bread pudding, which is drizzled with butterscotch before being served, is notable as well.
But even more notable than the food is how successful Thelma’s Kitchen has been ayt accomplishing its goal of “transform[ing] Troost from a dividing line into a gathering place.”
On any given day, the small, bright restaurant is brimming with a diverse crowd of diners. Matushka Michaela would be proud.