*Viewers will get a treat when the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) debuts “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” on Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, 8 p.m. CT
The series chronicles the Montgomery family as they run the highly successful soul food restaurant “Sweetie Pie’s” in St. Louis.
“The series is about a family that’s struggling in business. It portrays our high points and low points,” said Robbie Montgomery, 71, owner of Sweetie Pie’s. “It shows us whether we’re serious, crazy, arguing, fussing or fighting.”
Robbie runs the restaurant with an iron fist with her son, Tim, who struggles to balance a hectic work schedule and family life. The cameras capture the love and conflicts the two undergo as they work grueling hours in the restaurant.
“Tim’s the public relations person. He’s just coming into the business,” said Robbie. “Tim and I fuss every day.”
The restaurant’s lip smacking soul food attracts a diverse clientele—from the businessman to the college student. With 40 items on the menu culled from Robbie’s mom’s recipes, Sweetie Pie’s always boasts a line that stretches around the block. “Nearly 2,000 people a week come to our Grove location,” said Tim.
“We serve macaroni and cheese, meat loaf, collard greens, candied yams, ribs, oxtails, neck bones, and short ribs, just to name a few.”
The series also follows Tim as he interacts with his fiancé, Jenae, who is expecting their first child. Janae feels Tim flirts too much at the restaurant, but she gets the surprise of her life when Tim arranges a special moment at the restaurant—one that brings tears to her eyes.
Before she founded Sweetie Pie’s, Robbie was an Ikette and sang backup for the 60’s soul group Ike and Tina Turner, but left the group after experiencing a collapsed lung. Recalling the days when she sang with the group, Robbie recalls, “Ike was very strict. We had to be on time, we had to rehearse. I really learned business from Ike—I run my restaurant the way Ike ran his band.”
As Robbie and Tim work side by side in the business, they both learn life lessons along the way.
“I try to teach Tim that anything you want, you have to have patience. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to persevere. That goes not only with business, but with life.”
And that loving relationship provides some of the show’s high moments. “Every time we look up, we’re fussing about something—we’re like Siamese Twins,” said Tim. “We can mess with each other, but no one else can mess with us.”
And Tim said he is constantly learning lessons from his mom.
“One thing about life, mom says never gives up. My mom taught me to keep persevering. When she was selling pies in the back of her trunk, I was embarrassed, I didn’t see the vision—but now I see it. We’re doing pretty well now.”
With two restaurant locations open, the series follows Montgomery as she attempts to open a third location—Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust in a formerly segregated section of St. Louis. The area holds special memories for Montgomery.
“I think it would be great to own a restaurant in an area where I wasn’t allowed as a young girl,” she said. Montgomery attempts to secure a $3.8 million loan from the bank, but balks when the bank notifies her that she’ll have to put her house up for collateral.”I’m not going to do it,” she says. “I’ve been homeless once; I’m not going to be homeless again.”
In the meantime, between running the restaurants, Robbie, who has never been married, is still looking for love.
“And I’m still looking,” she chuckles.
And she is happy that her restaurants are still humming along. As she quotes in the series, “If it don’t make money, it don’t make sense.”