Marvin and Michelle Russell have long lived near Raytown, preferring its small-town feel, where people seem friendlier.
And they saw a need for more locally owned restaurants serving food made to order and using fresh ingredients.
So six years ago they purchased a tan brick building just across Blue Ridge from Raytown High School. Since then they’ve gutted the space except for the vintage tin ceiling and wood floors.
Marvin Russell’s mother had always wanted to open a restaurant, so he was fulfilling her dream too. Marvin worked as a supervisor in fleet operations for the Kansas City Police Department and retired in 2013.
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Michelle Russell, who works full time in information technology for AT&T — 10-hour days, four days a week — spends some free time attending plays.
And they both have a strong interest in the news.
So they combined their passions in the NewzRoom Cafe, which opened in late January at 6020 Blue Ridge Blvd. It features a mural of local and national news reporters and other local scenes such as stadiums and the Country Club Plaza.
The couple’s family pitches in. Marvin’s brother, Ron Russell, a retired Kansas City homicide detective, will wash dishes or cook. Another brother, Eric Russell, serves as general manager.
The NewzRoom logo was designed by Michelle’s sister, Willetta Willis-McGhee, who works in the advertising field. Marvin’s mother will cut the ribbon during a grand opening planned for warmer weather.
Younger NewzRoom customers like the Cajun burger (with jalapeno peppers, onions, crushed bacon, mushrooms and Cajun ranch sauce) and the Philly chicken sandwich (with creamy cheese, jalapenos, red onions, green peppers and Cajun sauce). Older customers often opt for the chicken fried steak.
Other menu items include burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, build-your-own hot dogs and chicken wings — Cajun, Parmesan, ranch, barbecue or hot — and single-serve deep fried apple pies.
Breakfast is offered all day.
Daily specials are posted on a whiteboard behind the bar, perhaps chicken and dumplings or sweet potato pie.
Veterans and senior citizens get a 10 percent discount.
NewzRoom plans to stay open late for special events — poetry readings, live jazz and local discussions.
“People love it,” Michelle Russell said. “We hear it all day, that Raytown needs a place like this and how friendly our staff is.”
NewzRoom hours are currently 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday.