By JACK WEATHERLY
Sweetie Pie’s restaurant in downtown Jackson has reopened after a one-week shutdown.
Tim Norman, an officer in the soul-food chain, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the restaurant will be serving only lunches for the time being.
The large commercial smoker is no longer parked in front of the restaurant at 120 S. Congress St. It is instead parked across the intersection with Amite Street on the southeast corner of Smith Park, permission for which, Norman said, was granted by the city director of business development, Mike Davis.
Efforts to get a statement from Davis on the matter were not immediately successful. The smoker is not running.
The reopening followed a shutdown that Norman blamed on management of the 12-story Plaza Building, but Rabin Michael, managing member of Capital Tower LLC in Beverly Hills, Calif., emphatically denied that.
A problem with the one-day initial opening Aug. 8 was that a throng of people jammed the building’s lobby and caused a problem with access to elevators.
The chain has a big following because of its five-year run on the Oprah Winfrey Network as a reality show called “Welcome to Sweetie’ Pie’s.”
On Tuesday of this week a line had formed outside the restaurant and a barrier was put up to guide waiting customers to its front door. The rest of the lobby and the elevators were accessible.
In the wake of the shutdown, City Zoning Director Ester Ainsworth said that that the smoker was not in compliance with municipal code, plus there are “aesthetic concerns.”
John Gomez, interim president of Downtown Jackson Partners, a business improvement district, told the Mississippi Business Journal that no one representing the restaurant asked the city for permission to use the smoker.
Capital Tower has invested millions of dollars in the skyscraper in the past few years and wants to make that investment pay off, Michael said.
Michael said the company signed a multi-year lease with St. Louis-based Sweetie Pie’s a year ago. Norman said he couldn’t address the agreement. He reiterated that he is looking for another location in downtown.
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