Ruby G’s brings soul food to Evanston

Susan Du

Simpson Street is littered with empty retail spaces, yet a smattering of recent business openings has made some 5th Ward community members optimistic about the area’s economic prospects. Ald. Delores Holmes (5th), who participated in Ruby G’s Soul Food Kitchen’s ribbon-cutting Friday, said the new restaurant signifies a bright future.

“I’m happy to have a new business in the ward,” Holmes said. “I’m looking forward to more and more development. I think that people need to understand that we are a vital part of the community and there are opportunities here.”

With darkened windows and a green sign over the door reading “Ruby G’s” in white letters, Cora Galbreath’s new restaurant at 1623 Simpson St. has the feel of a vintage diner. Inside, red vinyl booths stand opposite a bar where customers sit watching the local news. Most people who walk in know Galbreath by name – they’re neighbors, church members and friends of friends. They come for the smothered pork chops, a soul food menu favorite, or the popular fried catfish with side orders of seasoned macaroni and cheese and preserved greens.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was Friday, but Galbreath said business has been steady since the restaurant’s grand opening Jan. 1.

“I’m 100 percent sure there is a demand because there’s no other soul food place that I know of in Evanston,” Galbreath said. “A lot of people have welcomed me to the neighborhood to say, ‘Oh my God, this is just what we need.'”

Galbreath, who grew up in Louisiana with eight brothers and one sister, said cooking started as a childhood chore but turned into a lifelong love. She named the restaurant after her grandmother, who along with her mother taught her how to cook.

The restaurant continues to be somewhat of a family operation.

Sharreese Hunt, a junior at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, is one of Galbreath’s granddaughters. Over winter break, she helped take orders, wait and bus tables, and she expects to do the same this summer.

“I’m just glad (Galbreath) finally did it, because she cooks so much for us and people call all the time around the holidays just to have her make them a pie or something,” Hunt said. “I’m glad she just took it a step further and opened up her own restaurant.”

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