DETROIT - A fire at a popular Detroit restaurant not only destroyed the business, it ruined the family dream. But the flames won't stop the family from getting back in the kitchen.
At Big Mama's Southern Kitchen, you can get soul food, made in the memory of Big Mama, herself. The restaurant has captured hearts and appetites of neighbors for years. On Monday, it was gone.
"It's really sad. It's devastating. I thought It was a dream this morning," Big Mama's Cook, Prince Charles, said.
Flames destroyed the neighborhood favorite that Patricia Clay moved to Detroit from Redford. She grew up poor and set up shop on Grand River near Evergreen nearly 3 years ago.
"One night at 4 o'clock in the morning it was like, in my head - I didn't see God or hear him - but something went off in my heart, it said 'cook'," Clay said. "And I have to say I didn't know what I was doing. The only thing I did know how to do was cook. I didn't know business."
But that didn't matter as Clay cooked up her specialties: baked chicken and peach cobbler, just to name a few, all in memory of her great grandmother.
"She took me in, I was a foster child. It's rough. I named it in her honor," Clay said.
The thriving restaurant was so succesful it even catered an event for Mayor Mike Duggan. Duggan's Deputy Manager of the Department of Neighborhoods, Reggie Davis, said this was the place to be.
"I wanna cry. I wanna pray. I want to say God please bring it back like immediately because this is a place that everybody frequented," Davis said.
15 employees are now out of jobs but they all worry about Clay. On Monday, she sifted through the ash and soot while looking at a picture of Big Mama.
"This was a great lady and I would hate to see her dream end here," George said.
Big Mama lived to be 94 years old and Clay says she was never the type to give up. Clay says she won't either.
"Big mama: we still gonna do it. Still gonna do it."