Muriel Craig’s family is mourning the death of a woman who spent nearly 25 years serving hungry stomachs and providing employment opportunities for some who needed it most.
Craig was a mainstay in the Lee’s Summit business community in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, first as part owner of Stonecrest Restaurant from 1973-1986 and later Muriel’s Restaurant from 1986-1996. Both were located at 902 SE Douglas St. near the intersection of Blue Parkway.
Craig passed away July 28 at age 87. A visitation service will be held in her honor from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at Langsford Funeral Home.
“It was her dream to always have a steakhouse,” said Craig’s granddaughter Melony McClendon. “There are not many businesses – especially restaurants in Lee’s Summit – that have been owned as long as she owned the business.”
McClendon said Craig was an immigrant from Newfoundland who stopped attending school in the fifth-grade. As one of 10 children, Craig had to go to work to help support the family. Work, McClendon said, described Craig’s life.
“She didn’t get a lot of time to spend with her family because she was always at work, but that’s what everybody loved,” she said. “All she knew was work. She was there from sunrise to sundown. People went in there just because she had such great customer service.”
According to McClendon, a long-standing tradition at Neighborhood Café, a local restaurant in downtown Lee’s Summit, got its start at Stonecrest and continued at Muriel’s. Craig was part owner of Stonecrest with Francis Ford, who along with her husband opened Ford’s Family Restaurant in 1977. Ford’s was an early incarnation of Neighbor’s Café.
“She would bake pies and cinnamon rolls early in the morning and she would put them on everyone’s table,” McClendon said. “At dinner time she would put one or two in a basket and there would be other rolls on every table. That’s how the cinnamon rolls came from the end of Douglas to downtown.”
McClendon said feedback the family has received via social media and phone calls reinforces the belief that her grandmother was a big part of the community’s fabric.
“She did anything for anyone,” McClendon said. “She was a strong worker.”