Meet the Owner: Mama's Southern Soul Food
Patch caught up with a local business owner and pastor to learn more about his brand of soul food.
Evonn Reaves got into the restaurant business for one reason, and as a pastor he won't lie about it.
"Money," says Reaves with a laugh when asked what his favorite thing about owning the business is. "I needed a good steady income and this was a good start. It has ended up being fruitful and I enjoy what I do. There really isn't anywhere else around this neighborhood where you can get soul food like this so we're doing well."
Mama's Southern Soul Food on Tampa Street is only two years old, but it has the loyal customer base of a long time establishment. With a menu consisting of all the southern soul food classics, Reaves has found a market in need of some good home cooking.
3919 Tampa St.
Inspiration: "Southern food has always been something that people of color have always enjoyed and have done well preparing it. We decided to produce something you can't get everywhere. People have responded very well and are glad we're here. My mom got me cooking this kind of food and when you see someone's face after they've eaten it, it makes you feel good," Reaves said.
Keeping busy: "I pastor in Plant City and here in Tampa as well as doing this. It's a thing called order, and when you have it, life flows like a river. You just have to keep your life in order and you'll do well," Reaves said.
A family operation, for now: For Reaves, a father of two grown children with careers of their own, the business is a family operation in the sense that he works with his mother who taught him how to prepare the food. His children, however, will not inherit his business when he decides to hang up his chef's hat. "I think when I'm done, it's over. This is very demanding of your time if you want to make a really good product. I don't think it's something I'll be able to pass on to my kids."
Specialties: "Unfortunately, you can't get pig feet, oxtails, chitterlings, smothered pork chops, homemade gravy and homemade corn bread just anywhere. We don't pour stuff out of a can, we have fresh greens," Reaves said.
What does Mama, Ollie Reaves, think? "She likes my cooking. She still comes around one day a week or so and does some of the things I haven't gotten her touch with yet," Reaves said.
Price: The prices at Mama's Southern Soul Food are fair, ranging from $7.25-$10.75 for a dinner and $6-8 for a hot sandwich. Portion sizes are generous and dinners come with two sides.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.