Apr 26, 2022 - Food and Drink

Beloved Des Moines restaurant Rice Bowl is closing

A photo of exterior of Rice Bowl in Des Moines.
Rice Bowl's location is up for sale in the Beaverdale neighborhood. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Rice Bowl in Beaverdale is permanently closing, marking the end of a decadeslong dining staple in Des Moines.

Why it matters: The restaurant has served thousands of customers since it first opened more than 45 years ago — and the family's food legacy goes back even further.

State of play: Rice Bowl has been in the Lee family since 1975, when Frank and Mee Jane Lee first opened it. Their son, Kenneth, eventually took over, while they helped with food prep, according to Register archives.

  • Before that, their family owned one of the first Chinese restaurants in Des Moines — King Ying Low in 1905. It's now the home of the downtown Fong's Pizza.
  • Some early Rice Bowl customers may remember the restaurant’s Chinese and American entrees, as well as their popular yeast rolls served with every dish.

What they're saying: The Lee family announced the closure following Mee Jane Lee's death earlier this month after battling cancer.

  • "It has not been an easy decision to come to, and definitely one that was not taken lightly but given the circumstances this is what we have decided is best," the restaurant wrote in a Facebook post.
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