Longtime Chinese restaurant Rice Bowl closes in Beaverdale
A family restaurant in Beaverdale has closed its doors for good.
The owners of Bowl of rice2607 Beaver Ave., made the announcement on its Facebook page on April 24. The announcement comes shortly after news broke of the death of longtime owner Mee Jane Lee, who died on April 10 at the age of 90 after battling a rare form of sarcoma.
“After some difficult decision making, we have decided not to reopen our doors. It was not an easy decision to make, and certainly one that was not taken lightly, but given the circumstances , that’s what we’ve decided is best,” the family wrote on the Rice Bowl Facebook page.
The Lee family could not be reached for comment for this story.
Lee was born in Sun Wui, China, and later moved to Kowloon, an urban area of Hong Kong, where she met and married her 69-year-old husband, Frank Fun Nam Lee, on April 2, 1953.
Lee and his family moved to Des Moines in 1970 from China, and his father was the longtime owner of one of the city’s first Chinese restaurants, King Ying Low, which sat in the space that Fong’s Pizza now occupies at 223 Fourth St.
In 1975, Lee and her husband Frank Lee opened Rice Bowl, serving an array of Cantonese staples in the Beaverdale neighborhood. The Lees eventually passed the operation on to their son, Kenneth Lee, but continued to be present in the restaurant, helping with food preparation and visiting longtime customers.
Lee was known for giving customers bags of fortune cookies and was “the queen of making fried rice and wontons”. according to his obituary. She worked at Rice Bowl until October 2021. “You can always find an infectious smile on her face. There isn’t a person she has met whose heart she hasn’t captured,” wrote the family in his obituary.
Rice Bowl had been temporarily closed since October 2021 while the family cared for Lee and handled other family medical emergencies. Family members regularly updated the Rice Bowl Facebook page with ongoing news before announcing the permanent closure.
Customers and former employees posted their condolences on Rice Bowl’s Facebook pageevoking decades of meals and memories with the Lee family.