'I don’t want to leave Jackson’: Sweetie Pie’s looks for new location after crowds force closure

Sweetie Pie’s restaurant looks for new location after crowds force closure

Customers came from Dallas, Louisiana, Alabama and even New York.

But the business was shut down suddenly, disappointing fans and the owners -- and leaving 20 restaurant employees out of work.

Hundreds of people were clambering for their delicious meals during Thursday’s grand opening.

But management says the owners are now looking for a new location in Jackson.

“I don’t want to leave Jackson,” said owner Tim Norman. “I’m gonna come and try to put down some roots here. We’re gonna try to open our business."

Sweetie Pie’s may sit empty now, but Norman said by 11:00 a.m. on opening day, there were 100 people in the lobby of the Plaza building waiting to enter the restaurant.

Sweetie Pie's restaurant owner Tim Norman apologizes to fans and customers after Plaza Building management told them to close following crowd complaints. Source: WLBT
Sweetie Pie's restaurant owner Tim Norman apologizes to fans and customers after Plaza Building management told them to close following crowd complaints. Source: WLBT

Within 20 minutes he said building management told them to close because there had been complaints.

“You have people who have been here for a long time. Tenants, residents and other businesses here, and I don’t want to interrupt anybody else’s business. I apologize," said Norman. “Give us some time. We’ll find a different location.”

Norman is hoping they can find a new location soon so the Capital City will have a new soul food restaurant to enjoy.

“I want to come lay down roots in Jackson. My mother’s a Mississippian. You know all my family is from Mississippi. She wants to get back down here,” he said.

The restaurant is named after Robbie “Sweetie Pie” Montgomery, a former Ikette -- a background singer with Ike and Tina Turner.

The St. Louis based eatery was made famous on the OWN Network series “Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s”.

Montgomery was the star of the reality series, which featured her son Norman and nephew Charles Crenshaw.

The show followed the lives of the family in the restaurant business.

Montgomery said she is highly disappointed about the closure and would definitely be moving out of the building after losing money.

“I had no idea that all this chaos was going to happen,” said Montgomery. "I’ve opened a million restaurants and this is the first time. We spent all that money in that building preparing to open and try and feed the City of Jackson.

The giant smoker, a big tourist draw, is parked in front of the building and violates city codes.

Jackson city officials say the location of one of a kind smoker, which can hold 700 slabs of ribs, violates city ordinances. Source: WLBT
Jackson city officials say the location of one of a kind smoker, which can hold 700 slabs of ribs, violates city ordinances. Source: WLBT

Meagan Gosa, Public Information Officer with the City of Jackson, released the following statement.

Jordan Hillman, Deputy Director of Planning and Development, released the following statement saying the city did not give permission for a smoker to be placed in front of the building.

The city did not give permission for a smoker to be placed in the front of the building. It violates zoning, food truck and parking ordinances, along with obstruction of sidewalk and blocking a fire hydrant.

Our zoning inspector visited Thursday to let them know it could not stay there long term. In that conversation it became apparent that they will need assistance facilitating a location for it permanently. The smoker was not mentioned during any of their site plan review conversation, so it was surprise to us as well.

They completed most of their inspections, including passing Fire inspection (prior to placement of smoker), but have not yet completed their privilege license. They did pick up the application.

Phylandria Hudson lives in the Plaza and was looking forward to having Sweetie Pie’s as neighbors.

“I don’t think you’re gonna have that type of crowd in the coming weeks you know, but this is something that is nationally recognized,” said Hudson. “Something that people have heard about. You’ve watched the show. I’ve watched the show. So it was one of those things that you wanted to be a part of and take part in it.”

Sweetie Pie's was located at the corner of Amite and Congress Streets in downtown Jackson. Source: WLBT
Sweetie Pie's was located at the corner of Amite and Congress Streets in downtown Jackson. Source: WLBT

Plaza management declined to comment.

Sweetie Pie’s manager Perry Herndon said the Plaza had not terminated their lease.

Copyright 2019 WLBT. All rights reserved.