Big Mama's Kitchen gets new space after devastating fire

- Stirring up sweetness, employees and the owner of Big Mama's Southern Kitchen are turning up the burners at a new location after a fire destroyed the busy west side Detroit restaurant on Grand River.

"It is beyond my understanding," said Patricia Clay, owner of Big Mama's Southern Kitchen. "But I know its God, I really do."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation after heartbroken Clay walked through what was left of her dream business last week.

But that heartbreak turned into a heartfelt reach out  from Clara's Place banquet hall owner Andrea Durham. "I kind of felt what she was feeling."

Durham offered Clay a temporary place on Joy Road near Ohio Street to do what Clay does best. Clay and Durham, however, say that this may not be temporary.

"Andrea and I seemed to hit it off," Clay said. "I think we needed each other."

Clay says she does not expect the restaurant to reopen until Jan. 1, but catering is now available.

As Clay says she has no cash flow yet, and is still dealing with her insurance company, she's also working with city officials and the  Motor City Match program, applying for grants.

"(Clay) represents that spirit of resilience in the city of Detroit," said Stephanie Young, Detroit Department of Neighborhoods. "And she has benefitted because of it."

"Business owners need to help each other out, network, and we can go a long way," Durham said.

Clay,  planning a benefit for Dec. 19, says she can't thank the community and Big Mama, enough.

"Shout out to you Big Mama," Clay said. "She's been so good to me, she saved me in so many ways."

And now Clay is saving her memory.

Because of the outpouring of support, there will be two Sunday buffet benefits: from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Clara's Banquet Hall, 8505 Joy Road, Detroit.

The cost is $20 per person, with all the money raised going to get the restaurant opened by Jan. 1. Call: 313-531-MAMA (6262) for more information.

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