By JACK WEATHERLY
Sweetie Pie’s restaurant reopened in a new location last week.
The soul-food eatery has changed neighborhoods – moving from the shadow of the Governor’s Mansion on North Congress Street to 110 East South St., adjacent to the south side of Cathead Distillery.
Tim Norman, son of Robbie Montgomery, the matriarch of the family business, said Tuesday that there will be a concert at the restaurant on Feb. 4, to kick things off.
It will feature his mother, who performed with Ike and Tina Turner back in the ’60s, along with blues legend Bobby Rush. The show, which starts at 8 p.m., will be followed by others in coming weeks, Norman said.
Norman, part of the family that operates a Sweetie Pie’s in St. Louis, which was the setting for a successful five-year reality series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
That exposure has given them a brand following that is intense, especially in the African-American community.
The South Street property will fit the needs of a music venue.
It was formerly Club 110 and then South Street Live. An online ad about the latter from 2015 said, that “not only does South Street have a full kitchen and state-of-the-art sound and light systems, but it’s also one of the largest bars in Jackson, holding up to 2,500 people.”
Norman said the sound and light equipment are still there.
Norman’s former landlord, Plaza Building LLC, is seeking a $110,000 judgment in U.S. District Court for South Mississippi for past-due and contractual future rent and other costs.
Sweetie Pie’s moved out on Dec. 7 after the business was given an eviction notice to leave its quarters at 120 N. Congress St., which it occupied in August, only to shut down for a week because of it was in violation of city code by positioning a large smoker in front of the restaurant.
The restaurant, which opened on South Street on Martin Luther King Day, was shut down briefly during the lunch hour on Tuesday. Norman said later in a phone interview that a customer had passed out and he was trying to restore order in an overcrowded space.
It has been a bumpy road to get to this point.
The family has had other failures in the past, such as an effort in 2014 to open a restaurant on Beale Street in Memphis and the closing of a restaurant in Houston, where Norman was sued last year for $250,000 in back rent and other issues, a matter that he says was settled.
Montgomery sued her son several years ago for copyright infringement for opening restaurants by himself but which are named to confuse the public about whether they are part of the original enterprise.
Yes, it has been a bumpy road.
The original Sweetie Pie’s in St. Louis is no longer open, but another in that city is still open.
Norman says he thinks he has solved one problem that contributed to a bad fit in the Plaza Building.
The city would not allow him to park his oversized smoker in front of the restaurant.
It will be put into a separate building on the South Street property, he said.
Another move is to not have a landlord.
He said he is in negotiations to buy the 110 South St. property. Norman declined to say who the owner is.
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