It just keeps getting better at OWN! Saturday’s premier of Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s was a great surprise. Within the first fifteen minutes, it felt like home and I feel in love with Robbie Montgomery and her “tell you like it is” attitude. When she was younger, she toured as a back-up singer for Ike and Tina Turner. Although she was able to sing in white restaurants, she wasn’t able to eat in them. Luckily for the group, Robbie was a fantastic cook…and I am pretty sure the food she prepared in their hotel was better than any place they were shut out of.
With my own southern roots, I can completely understand the power of good ole’ southern cooking. And apparently Robbie does it right. When her lung collapsed, she was forced to stop singing. However this setback ultimately led her to the thriving family business she has today. Raising her young son, Robbie didn’t always have it easy. She may have made a lot of money with Ike & Tina, but she also spent a lot of money. She soon found herself homeless and broke. Unable to sing, she turned to cooking to earn a living. She actually began cooking and selling food from the trunk of her car. Determined to make it, she worked hard and scraped up enough money to open a small restaurant. In 1996, the original Sweetie Pie’s was opened in St. Louis, Missouri. Cafeteria-style home cooking such as fried chicken, meatloaf, short ribs, mashed potatoes, fried okra, macaroni and cheese and cobbler filled out the menu. Seven years later she opened her second, larger location in the upscale Mangrove neighborhood. Now, Robbie is working on her third…and that is part of the drama. Tired of being at the mercy of the property owner, Robbie decided to buy her own building. For a million dollars she had her location. Unfortunately she is struggling to get a $3.8 million dollar loan for construction. Knowing what it is like to be homeless, she doesn’t want to put her house up as collateral. As the show moves forward, I am certain it will all work out.
After the back story, the show began by giving us a glimpse into Robbie’s business and the fascinating cast filled with her own family. It can be hard to draw a line between work and home, but even more so when everyone you love is working for you. The lead in was great. Within minutes the audience knew who the major players were and their roles in Robbie’s life. This first show highlighted the relationships with her flirty son, Tim, his pregnant girlfriend, Jenae and Robbie’s slacker nephew, Charles. Within minutes, we are in the thick of their family. So let me try to give you the quick run-down.
Tim is Robbie’s son who is also her partner in business. His father passed away before he was born, so he and his mom have always been a team. They were like most close families – arguing over not returning a phone call and simply telling him how it is. She didn’t hold back and he seemed to listen. As a young teen growing up, Tim didn’t make the best life choices. In high school he started selling drugs and eventually ended up doing time for stealing – over 10 years. Fortunately, he has turned his life around and is now expecting his first child with his girlfriend, Jenae. His mother is elated. “ She’s a 10. You can’t get any better than that.” Although he is a clean-cut, polite man who clearly loves his mother, it isn’t clear yet on how loyal he is in his romantic relationships. In this premiere episode, Tim struggled with committing to his insecure girlfriend. At first I thought – wow, she is either really hormonal or really insecure, especially when she sized up the new waitress and confronted the female customer who was talking to him. It reeked of unhealthy. BUT then as the show progressed and J.R., his best friend told him not to get married Then when his cousin, Monique, told him she didn’t think he was ready and asked “what will your fans do?”, I had to wonder. Tim then disclosed “Ever since she’s been pregnant, I’ve been good”. Uhmmm…not good. So maybe Jenae’s insecurities have some foundation. Still, not healthy. In the meantime, Tim set out to buy the ring. He took his mom along to the PAWN SHOP. Okay we need to stop here for a second. Please tell me this is not common. I wouldn’t be able to stop wondering if the ring was pulled off some poor, fragile old lady at gun point. Thinking I will need to see a receipt! But the ring drama was different. Tim took his mother along for the ring hunt. The perfect ring was just that. So perfect that his own mom wanted to buy it! She joked that “I hope you can’t sleep at night” if you buy it. Tim asked “did you just curse me?” With that, Tim decided to ponder the decision. In the meantime, he began to think twice about the commitment. With no support from his best friend, Tim found himself confiding in Pops, a line cook and somewhat of a father figure at Sweetie Pie’s. Pops shared that there was nothing like being married, working hard and coming home to your family – “it is a beautiful thing”. He then advised Tim that “you’ve got your own life to live. You do what makes you happy.” It was just what Tim needed to hear. He was back on track and knew what he wanted to do. He went back to the shop and pawned his Rolex to buy the yellow diamond ring! Despite the trust issues, Tim proposed to Jenae at the end of the episode…well, kind of. He gave her flowers, sang her a song he wrote, got down on one knee and opened the box. Then he sat there and she kissed him. He never asked but it was clear the answer was yes.
NOW, let’s talk about Charles. He was too much. Everyone knows a free-loader. Someone who is totally comfortable letting everyone else take care of them. Well, Charles is that guy! The original Sweetie Pie’s is managed by Charles mom and Robbie’s sister, Janice. It seems that Charles is in the middle of a game of hot potato. No one wants to be caught with him. Hired to do whatever is needed, Charles seems to do nothing. When he was asked to take out the garbage, he replied “is someone going to help me?” Alone that wouldn’t be a big deal, however he had no problem expressing his thoughts about his unfair treatment.
My thoughts immediately went to the teen living in my house. Now, Janice isn’t in denial. She is fully aware of Charles’ short-comings and knew he needed some discipline. How did Charles feel about this? ““If I get more discipline, then I would work more. Why would I want do that?” Her hopes were that she could pawn the deadbeat off on Tim so he could train him. Yet it appeared that Charles was tossed back and forth between both restaurants. He was either sneaking off for a cigarette, dodging tasks, or driving people crazy. When Tim finally broke and confronted him, Charles stepped into his space and claimed “I work here but I’m not a worker”. Tim giggled and asked for clarification. He got a pay check but he doesn’t do any work? Charles broke it down for him. “I do what I want to do”. Only with family can someone get away with this. Tim placed him in a friendly headlock and told him to head back to his mother’s location. Before he left, he sat down with Robbie and rated out her son. Within no time Tim was sitting next to his cousin while his mother told him to play nice. Funny for viewers, but hard on the family. He’d drive me absolutely crazy! Let’s hope he pulls it together for the family’s sake.
Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s appears to be mixing it up perfectly for the viewers. A little family drama, lots of love, some jealousy and a pinch of bitterness. Only an hour in and it clear that Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s is another great addition to the OWN lineup. I can’t wait to see what kind of drama the family will cook up on next week’s episode!