*Tim Norman, one of the stars of the hit OWN TV show, “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” comes from a troubled past but has reinvented himself as co-operator of the family restaurant business alongside his mother, Miss Robbie Montgomery.
Sweetie Pie’s is a popular St. Louis-based eatery with a growing clientele and the hit show chronicles the family as they open new restaurant locations, devise strategies to expand the company brand while depicting the ‘ins and outs’ of operating a business and simultaneously taking care of the lively clan.
“Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s“ garnered record-breaking numbers for the network early on and continues to draw audiences with its growing popularity.
The new season premieres tonight on OWN and EURweb.com had the chance to catch up with Tim Norman and his amusingly frank cousin Charles Crenchaw (a.k.a. Lil’ Charles), both set to celebrate the new season’s premiere at Taboo Bistro in Atlanta.
“Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” is entering into its 6th season, what can fans expect?
Tim Norman: What people can see this time around is seeing the expansion of Sweetie Pies opening in Los Angeles. You are going to see cast members going through growing pains of being in a new city.
Is it a nerve wrecking experience whenever you open a new location?
Tim Norman: In St. Louis we got the hang of it, but moving out to the west coast California we knew nothing.
Charles Crenchaw: Absolutely different. We knew nothing; I mean we don’t know anything, diddly squat. You have all kinds of different rules out here. We don’t know nobody [in L.A], in St. Louis we knew everybody. It’s like a brand new vision.
Tim Norman: It’s like a brand new baby.
Since it is a new environment, it should be an entertaining experience for your fans.
Tim: I will tell you one thing; just imagine Charles living with three other workers in the restaurant, all of them moving from St. Louis living in California, they are all sharing a place together. They are ready to kill each other and then go to work and be ready to kill each other.
Tim: You see you’ve never heard Charles talk about the Lord before.
Viewers will have a kick watching Charles trying to adapt.
Charles: It really is a blast, but it is a problem half the time because don’t nobody clean up, don’t nobody take out the trash. You have to worry about doing dishes; I don’t like doing dishes I might add. I let them know from day one, I am not doing dishes. I will put in the dishwasher, but I am not doing them. Even in the restaurant, Tim just threw everybody in there, and now everybody is fighting for the title of manager. But since I have been there the longest I think seniority wins. And I’m the overall manager.
Tim: But some of the other people are having second thoughts on that. Charles thinks he is running things, but they tell him otherwise.
How have you both grown working in the restaurant and participating in the show?
Charles: I will definitely say I have grown a lot. As the seasons have progressed, I have definitely learned that I have to work.
Tim: He has to work a little harder out here in L.A. because his Mama and my Mama can stop me from beating him up.
Charles: I was going for more responsible, but that pretty much is the gist of it. I ain’t got nobody protecting me out here. Also, I am on time, most of the time now. I am pretty firm now, I am actually a good manager, and I take care of my business. I make sure everything gets done. I’ve actually gotten more “I’m proud of you” this season than I think I have gotten ever in life. I have matured overall and just being away from home like Tim said, being away from Mom and Aunt Robbie, I don’t have the fall back like I used to. I have been trying to be the big boy and taking care of my bills as I am supposed to do. I think I should get another raise for that because I am not quite good at managing money just yet, but I think I am doing pretty good.
Tim: Similar to what Charles said with us stepping out on our own we don’t have our parents out there. Sometimes you have that elderly guidance to fall back on you don’t have [all the responsibilities] rely on you. Out here in L.A. it is all on us, you have to throw the bird out the nest and force it to fly.
Tell me about your new sweet tea line?
The Sweet Pie’s Sweet Tea is out, and it is in approximately in 105 stores right now. We are working our way across the country. Before long, hopefully, we can do some numbers like Patti Labelle’s pies. We are working on some other products for grocery stores right now as well.
Sweetie Pie’s was an instant hit on OWN when it first debuted, and it continues to be successful. What are some reasons you feel fans continue to gravitate to the show?
Tim: I think when people turn on Sweetie Pie’s they see a little of themselves in everybody. Everybody has a Charles, everybody has a hard-headed son, their Mama, their Grandmother cussing and fussing all the time. Some of the other reality shows you see, and I am not talking bad about them, but you see a lot of popping and riding around in fancy cars, doing fancy extravagant things, and that is not the norm. I think when you turn on Sweetie Pies you are going to see a normal family doing normal things, trying to make it work every day.
Charles: I think that’s the biggest part, with it being a family, separates us from the other reality shows. Like Tim said, you definitely see characteristics of each family member in somebody in your family, and that’s why people love it.
How do you both balance operating the business and family?
Charles: We’ve been doing it so long it goes hand in hand. I’ve always felt like that there is no balance between the two of them. When I am at home, I am still dealing with exact same stuff at the restaurant. It is kind of to the point where I have to get my own house to get away from it. I think that is what makes us such a strong family, we don’t have any separation or distance, and we are together constantly. That’s what creates such a strong bond between everyone in our family versus the normal family who goes to work and only has that normal family time.
Tim: I think I sometimes suck at that balance. I have been so focused on growing the business and pouring myself into it that I wasn’t the best person to be with in a relationship. I damaged my relationship with my son’s mother because I was driven and focused on the family business. So I am a work in progress. I am growing, and I pray my next relationship I will be able to balance it better. But right now, I am trying to the best to see my son as much as possible and handle my business. But as far as my relationship was concerned, I was very bad at that.
Charles: While he was working on his relationship, my relationship with my family is perfectly fine.
Tim: You have a relationship?
Charles: I have a relationship with my family. I am waiting for my Christmas presents, so I am making sure I stay in good. My birthday is coming up very soon. I expect a gift. So I keep family in the clear.
What has the family business and the being on the show taught you?
Tim: One thing I will say when my mother opened Sweetie Pies, no one told her that it was a good idea they told her the opposite. As far as myself, when I came up with the concept for the television show, and I was pitching it, no one told me that it was going to work. So one thing that I have learned from the working in the restaurant and being on the show is that you can’t expect people around you to support or believe in your vision. Even though you may not get people to champion you on and tell you it is going to be great, you have to believe in yourself and keep on moving forward.
Charles: What he said, I haven’t done much on that, so I am going to go with answer A.
During the Ferguson protests about the killing of Mike Brown, you were very vocal. Do you think you will continue to be vocal and active in cases of social injustice?
Tim: The Mike Brown situation was an incident that a lot of people of my generation felt they had to speak up. There are things that happen every day in our country, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back especially in the city of St. Louis. I am always actively trying to help promote consciousness in our community and forward movement of our young people to try to keep them out of situations like that and to be progressive. We have to vote and be active in our communities and make changes. We can sit back and complain, but when the important times come around, we don’t allow our voices to be heard. The thing I am constantly preaching to young people is that you have a voice, and you have a message. But if you get yourself behind bars and get yourself incarcerated, your voice is muffled. So do as much as you can to stay free and speak your mind but don’t take it to the point where you get yourself in trouble.
Do you still participate with the Better Family Life organization?
Tim: Yes, I do. Better Family Life is the most active groups in the community in St. Louis. They are at the forefront. A lot of times, things make the newspapers and a lot of times they don’t. If a young person gets killed, they are there before the police and news cameras get there. On the other hand, when a person is doing well in high school, they help with that as well. They are in the community doing actual work.
We are coming into the holiday season, for what are you the most grateful?
Charles: I am grateful to be in L.A. I am happy that my family is still intact with the reality show grown as big it has, a lot of people expect families to fall apart or turn into something you are not. We have done a pretty good job at keeping ourselves in the same boat five years ago when we started this. I can see the progress of where we are going and also can see the past of where we [started]. Tim is going to try out-do me, but that’s okay.
Tim: No, I’m going to let what Charles said stand.
Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s returns tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.