By JACK WEATHERLY
Long time coming. Gone so soon?
That is the story thus far in the saga of Sweetie Pie’s restaurant in Jackson.
The soul-food eatery opened to a throng of people on Thursday. And it closed Friday morning.
Too much business is the stated reason.
The chain started in St. Louis, expanded to Houston, flirted with Memphis and, thus far, has been jilted in Jackson after a two-year courtship.
It had a five-year run as a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, which gives it a large following.
Tim Norman, an officer in the company and one of the stars of the show, was busy greeting cruising motorists on Congress Street at the intersection with Amite in downtown Jackson mid-afternoon Friday.
He was breaking the news to the curious well-wishers.
Sweetie Pie’s is looking for a new home.
The throng that showed up on Thursday disrupted the comings and goings of other tenants in the 12-story Plaza Building, which includes two other restaurants, Basil’s and Keifer’s.
An earlier version of this article stated that the Estes Group, which leases property in the Plaza building, is the manager of the skyscraper, but the firm said subsequently to the publication of the initial article that that is a mistake, and that it had no authority to shut operations down. The Capital Tower LLC of Beverly Hills, Calif., is the owner and manager.
Attempts to reach someone with the Estes Group and Capital Tower on Friday were not successful. A call to the mayor on Friday was not returned.
Norman said that the business had all of the permits in hand from the city and state needed to open the business, but that the landlord decided to shut down operations.
The capacity of the ground-floor restaurant is about 80, but he said that customers were blocking the exterior doors and access to the elevators.
Norman said that “we were open for about 20 minutes” Friday morning before the building managers told them to shut down.
He said that Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city would be trying to find a more-suitable place, perhaps in the Farish Street Historic District.
“I love this location,” Norman said.
But in the past 24 hours, the managers “did a complete 180 on us. I don’t think they were expecting the crowd.”
Norman said the 20 people he hired, who were waiting in the dining area, ready and prepared for the evening meal, had not been told yet that they were no longer employed.
He said managers of the building said he could not run a power cord to the large portable smoker parked in front of the restaurant and which, he said, can smoke 700 slabs of ribs at a time. And they rejected the suggestion of a generator to power the unit, because of the noise, Norman said.
The wheels that were turning for celebrations for the new restaurant have been put into neutral, Norman said.
“The city has been really helpful and they said they’re going to help me find another building,” Norman said. “I like downtown, so I’m going to try to stay downtown.”
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