Hey Gwen, I am Tim, grandson of a man named Ralph Burton who owned/operated "Ralph's Chili Joint" in downtown Kansas City. I wonder if this is the same Ralph, Cuz?
There is a story about my grandpa's joint, that it was so popular that, not unlike other restaurants in KC, it was not segregated; and Ralph's was EXTRA popular with black folks and the building owners did not like that, so they said that they would kick him out if he didn't stop letting the black people eat in his dining room. So, Ralph just invited them into the kitchen where they ate with my Mom, Aunt, and Grandma. But, Ralph's Chili Joint was SO popular with black folks that the kitchen filled up quick, so he took the counter that divided the dining area from the kitchen and moved it all the way up to the front of the restaurant, leaving only a little space between the door and counter, and effectively turning the entire joint in to a kitchen, so as to accommodate his customers; which in turn had him making $1000 bucks a week, BIG money back then and not so bad now either!
My wife and I are looking into opening a chili parlour, here in KC but serving, along w/ Ralph's traditional KC style chili, New Mexican-style red and green, and Mexican Chili Verde, heck maybe even some curried goat too?
Neat to find Ralph, Chili, and Kansas City in a search!
Recently, when we moved back home to KC I found some old reel-to-reel tapes in the attic, that are air-checks of KCMK radio, same station Patsy Cline played her last show at, called "Dinner Bell Jamboree", this radio show is "brought to you by" by "TJ's Chili Parlour" check it out great old-time commercials and fantastic live country music!