Rae's Cafe reopening in Independence

Mike Genet

Rae's Cafe plans to reopen, but not in Blue Springs. 

The diner formerly off Missouri 7 in Blue Springs, which a judge ordered closed after it repeatedly violated Jackson County's mask requirement and subsequently lost its food permit, is getting ready to reopen in Independence.  

Rae’s Cafe will move into former Responders Grill and Bar space off Missouri 291 just south of 23rd Street. Owner Amanda Wohletz said Wednesday she recently signed a lease for the space, which will be nearly twice as big as her previous space in Blue Springs. She said she plans to open by the end of the year. 

Independence has its own health department and unlike the county did not institute a mask mandate in August for indoor public spaces. 

Wohletz said moving to Independence, rather than look into possible other spots outside of Jackson County or waiting to possibly open again in Blue Springs, was the quickest path to operating a restaurant. She still must go through the necessary permits in Independence to open. 

“It's faster to move now and just start again, to get back to working,” she said. “I want my regular customers back, and my staff can continue their daily lives.” 

Independence Council Member Mike Huff, who helped arrange the move, said Responders (which first opened a couple years ago in Blue Springs) had renovated the Independence space off M-291 to open another location, but amid the pandemic never actually opened.  

The building’s landlord, Star Development, agreed to let Responders out of its lease early to welcome Rae’s Cafe and fill and empty spot, Huff said. 

The county revoked Wohletz and Rae's Cafe food permit Sept. 3  after several customer complaints about not following the mask mandate, and then warnings and citations from the county. After the permit was revoked, the diner continued to operate as a “private club,” charging a $1 membership fee and claiming it was exempt from the public health order.  

The county a week later took out a restraining order to close the diner. After Wohletz filed a counterclaim suit to end the restraining order, a Jackson County judge on Sept. 23 ruled the public health order lawful and upheld the restraining order.