Cynthia (Ross) Freidhof: Ross’ Restaurant co-owner dies

Cynthia L. (Ross) Freidhof, co-owner of Ross’ Restaurant in Bettendorf, died Thursday, Nov. 2, at her home. CREDIT FREIDHOF FAMILY

The co-owner of a Quad Cities landmark restaurant has died.

Cynthia L. (Ross) Freidhof, 72, of Bettendorf died on Thursday, Nov. 2, at home surrounded by her family, according to her obituary

Ms. Freidhof and her husband, Ron, were co-owners of Ross’ Restaurant, which has been at 2297 Falcon Ave. in Bettendorf since 2015. The couple recently announced plans to retire and close the current business location after owning Ross’ for decades.

Ross’ Restaurant has been at 2297 Falcon Ave. in Bettendorf since 2015. CREDIT ROSS’ RESTAURANT

“Over the past few days, friends shared wonderful ways of describing her – world traveler, spirit of adventure, fearless, full of light and fun, the life of the party, a woman who loved God, her family and dear friends, a unique sense of style that always involved a hat, a lover of people who could connect with anyone in a matter of minutes, as someone who loved music; she could have the worst seats to a concert and would always end up in the front row anyway, or even dancing on stage,” her daughter, Melissa Freidhof, posted on Facebook on Thursday.

According to her obituary on Trimble Funeral Home & Crematory: “Cynthia, alongside her devoted husband, was the proud owner and heart of Ross’ Restaurant for over 50 years. Under their stewardship, Ross’ became known as the ‘Home of the Magic Mountain,’ leaving an indelible mark on the local community and visitors alike, including presidential candidates. She often expressed her appreciation for having the best staff and customers in the world.”

The 85-year-old restaurant was founded by Ms. Freidhof’s father, Harold Ross, in 1938.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Freidhof family announced in a news release plans to retain the business and search for a smaller space to reopen the restaurant with new management. They said this plan will “continue the Ross” generational legacy of providing quality home-cooked food to the local community, travelers and presidential candidates.”

The restaurant’s former location near the riverfront was popular with politicians, including a surprise stop from President Barack Obama in 2011. The site was just off the old I-74 Bridge and was relocated due to construction of the new bridge.

“Losing the downtown property to eminent domain and the subsequent move was quite difficult for us, both as a family and business. A big part of our hearts were left behind at the downtown location,” Ron Freidhof said in the recent news release.

The restaurant had its struggles throughout the pandemic, supply chain issues, rising food costs and staffing shortages. 

“My wife and I have realized that when you love what you do, there is never a perfect time to step away. But we aren’t getting any younger and we have realized that life is short. … After 50 incredible and memorable years in the restaurant business, my wife and I are ready to travel, enjoy our retirement and more time with our grandchildren,” Mr. Freidhof added.

Some of the celebrities to visit the restaurant over the years included Joe Biden, Jimi Hendrix, Bette Midler, Johnny Cash and Bill Murray, according to the Ross’ Restaurant website.

However, according to Ms. Freidhof, the most important visitors have been the many generations of Quad Citizens served. “It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the greater Quad City Community for most of our lives, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and thank all of our customers for their support throughout the years. From serving hungry customers during their late-night stops, to seeing the same families weekly for breakfast after church on Sundays, we truly have had the best customers in the world, they are like our extended family, and we will miss them all dearly,” she said in the October news release.

According to her obituary, she was “an adventurer at heart, Cynthia possessed an unparalleled ability to connect with anyone she met, forging bonds within moments. Her love for travel and exploration was only surpassed by her love for her family, especially her adored grandchildren.”

Survivors include her husband of more than 50 years, Ronald Freidhof; three children: Melissa (Josh Cox) Freidhof-Rodgers, of Davenport, Kelli (Scott Tawse) Koschmann of Oak Park, Illinois, and Rylan Freidhof of Scottsdale, Arizona; four grandchildren: Sylvia Cruz, Kirin Rodgers, Max Koschmann, and Lucy Koschmann; siblings: Marcy Ross of Phoenix, Arizona, Bernard (Victoria Taylor) Ross of Blacksburg, Virginia, and Gina (Tim) Ross-Boon of Des Moines, Iowa, and in-laws. She was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and June Ross.

Services are set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Heritage Church, Bettendorf, under the direction of Trimble Funeral Home, Moline. Memorials may be made to the Heritage Church Mission Fund.

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