Tim Norman has big plans for the future. The restaurateur and reality TV star wants to spread his mother’s food all over the nation. “I’m trying to have a Sweetie Pies on every corner in St. Louis,” he admits during a press event in Los Angeles.
While there are national chains for everything from Chinese food to chicken sandwiches, Norman wonders why there weren’t any major soul food brands across the U.S.
“My goal is for us to be the first African-American national food chain. I don’t know if that’s going to be big restaurants like Sweetie Pie’s or small restaurants like TJ’s Sweetie Pie’s,” he says. “I believe it can be done and we can be the ones to do it.”
Though admirable, Norman’s ambitious dream is the basis for his current legal battle with his mother, Robbie Montgomery. Back in July, Montgomery—known to fans as Miss Robbie—filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against her son, claiming he opened several restaurants, including TJ’s Sweetie Pies’ in Los Angeles, and other eateries in Berkeley and Flourissant, Missouri, using her “Sweetie Pies” name without her consent.
The drama has played out both on the pair’s hit TV show, Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, and in the media. But despite the very public spat, Miss Robbie says it hasn’t affected how she feels about Norman.
“He’s my son first, and the other is just business,” she tells EBONY.com. “Since we don’t agree, we have to let somebody else, a professional, come in and solve our problems. I still love him, but we don’t agree on business.”
Norman echoes his mother’s assessment of the issue.
“You need greater minds to tell you what should or shouldn’t be, but we gonna work it out. Right now we’re just duking it out,” he says jokingly.
Still, the legal battle has taken a toll on mother and son, as well as the whole Sweeties Pie’s clan.
“It’s devastating,” Miss Robbie admits. “It’s not a place I’d like to be, but I’m here.”
On the latest season of Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, viewers will get an up close and personal look at just how much the legal battle is affecting the family. As they continue to expand the brand, Miss Robbie and Norman duke it out over how to grow the business while staying true to the Sweeties Pie’s spirit. In the midst of the business drama, the family suffers a devastating loss when Miss Robbie’s 21-year-old grandson, Andre Montgomery, is murdered. Despite trying times, the family rallies to make it through the challenges—together.
As the holidays approach, Miss Robbie hopes other families can put their differences aside, like hers, and remember what’s really important.
“I think you should just lay down your problems during the holidays and make it through,” she says, noting she can’t wait to cook a full spread of chitterlings, ham, greens, and mac and cheese for Thanksgiving. “We’re going to get together for fun and just enjoy each other.”
Fans of Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s loves the family’s authenticity, humor, commitment to each other, and their ability bounce back from any challenge. Miss Robbie hopes their story—even when it’s messy—inspires others to pursue their dreams.
“I hope it’s encouraging because if it happened to us it could happen to you,” she says. “We didn’t do nothing spectacular for this to happen to us; it was just a blessing. I feel that everybody’s entitled…it can happen to them. So I’m hoping it’s an inspiration.”
The new season of Welcome to Sweetie Pies premieres Saturday, November 19 at 9 p.m. on OWN.