Hometown Eats: Ruth’s Place in Rocky Mount

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:47 AM EDT
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ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WDBJ) - Friday’s Hometown Eats takes us to Franklin County! You might have driven past Ruth’s Place a dozen times but never knew just how special a gem it is. Well, let us tell you what the locals have known for years.

Right off 220 in Rocky Mount, you can’t miss it. Ruth’s Place, where they put the home in homestyle cooking.

“We use all of Ruth’s family recipes or Ruth’s recipes herself,” owner Heather Muse said.

Ruth Niece, the family matriarch, passed away in January 2020 of ovarian cancer.

“Anybody who needed anything she would help them with it,” Muse, who is also Ruth’s daughter-in-law, said.

And before her passing, she helped set Muse and her family up for success by giving them her restaurant.

“When she got really sick, I took over full time for her,” she explained.

Now Muse is running the place with the efficiency of a 20-year veteran.

“Every day we come in and I have my prepper, Sharon, does all of the prep work for the day ahead of time,” Muse said.

So that’s where WDBJ7′s Katey Roshetko started her tour.

“What are we doing over here?” She asked.

“She’s going to make some coleslaw,” Muse said. “We go through piles and piles of coleslaw.”

It’s a popular menu item so they make it in giant batches.

“This will make at least about two of the large Cambros,” Muse said, pointing to the two piles of cabbage. “We go through probably at least four or five of those a week.”

The reason it’s so good?

“We finely chop everything in the chopper,” she explained. “We put vinegar in it. It gets sugar in it, mayonnaise in it. She just mixes it really, really well so all the flavors get in there. To me it’s really, really good.”

Every day there’s a different specials menu.

“Tuesday is pork chops and chicken casserole day,” Muse said.

But Wednesday is when Ruth’s signature family dish is the star.

“Ooh, look at that,” Roshetko said as Muse lifted off the lid of the meatloaf.

“It’s a different type of meatloaf than people are used to. It’s a sweet meatloaf,” Muse said. “We put brown sugar mixed in with our ketchup so it gives it a sweet flavor.”

“I can literally smell the meatloaf just wafting through there and I’m salivating,” Roshetko said.

“When I see this, this is Ruth. You know what I mean?” Muse said. “This is just what we always had at every holiday, at a meal with her, this is what we had.”

“So ya know, this is going to be good,” Roshetko laughed. “We’re going to have to serve this up on a plate I think.”

Muse loaded Roshetko up with some classic southern comfort foods.

The meatloaf, obviously; plus, mashed potatoes and gravy.

“I personally requested the mashed potatoes,” Roshetko said. “That’s kind of like my go-to thing. It’s the only thing I’m allowed to make on Thanksgiving because it would be a disaster if I made anything else, but I can do mashed potatoes.”

She also got peach cobbler.

“My mom would kill me if I went for the dessert first so I’ll start with the meatloaf,” Roshetko said before taking a bite. “Oh my goodness, you weren’t kidding. That is so sweet,” Roshetko said. “No offense, mom, but that’s better than yours!”

The mashed potatoes deserve to take center stage on any family table, but the cobbler is more than just peachy.

“Oh man,” Roshetko said. “That’s really good.”

So if you love things to be sweet:

“Almost everything we have here has sugar in it because it’s all southern recipes from Ruth’s family,” Muse said.

And if you have an affinity for hugs and smiles:

“We strive to make everybody feel like family, even if they’re not,” Muse said.

Ruth’s Place is the place for you.

“I want everybody to always remember Ruth, even though she’s not here - even in her food,” Muse said.

“Well, I think I tasted a little bit of Ruth in here,” Roshetko said, pointing to her plate. “That was really good.”

Ruth’s Place is at 17555 Virgil H Goode Hwy, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

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