A century of meatless eating in Kansas City
Last week, Fat City’s Jonathan Bender reported on the opening of Cafe Gratitude in the Crossroads: the vegan restaurant at 333 Southwest Boulevard, a licensed satellite operation of the California restaurants of the same name. The local owners, Natalie and Mike George, have gotten quite a bit of press for bringing the concept (which includes dishes named “I Am Fortified” and “I Am Transformed”) to Kansas City. But they owe a little gratitude to the real pioneers in meatless food service in Kansas City, like Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.
In the summer of 1906, the Fillmores opened Kansas City’s first all-vegetarian restaurant, the Unity Inn, on the first floor of an old frame house at 913 Tracy. The restaurant opened, like Cafe Gratitude, with meatless cuisine and good intentions. Perhaps intentions that were too good. During the opening weeks of the original Unity Inn, patrons could pay as little or as much for their meals as they wished. It was a noble gesture, but the Fillmores sadly learned that some people in this city didn’t understand the real meaning of the word gratitude.