It's been just over a year since EBONY.com last chatted with “Miss Robbie” Montgomery, the 72-year-old restaurateur and star of OWN's hit docuseries Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s. Now in its third season, the NAACP Image Award-winning show premiered with its highest ratings yet and follows the matriarch and her clan – son and business partner Tim Norman, nephew “L’il Charles” Crenchaw, Tim’s fiancée Jenae Wallick and their baby boy, TJ—as they balance love, family and their famous St. Louis soul food chain.
If three restaurants and a hit show aren’t enough to whet your appetite for Montgomery family values, soon HarperCollins will publish a ‘Sweetie Pie’s’ cookbook featuring delicious deep South dishes with a side of humorous stories and advice. The family also just released a song written by Tim and featuring Miss Robbie's vocals called, "Do the Sweetie Pie," complete with a music video and line dance. EBONY.com caught up with the whole fun-loving family as they celebrated another great season and a future full of promise.
EBONY: With so much family in the mix, what’s a typical day like in the restaurant?
TIM NORMAN: Me and moms get in two or three arguments a day, Charles shows up late, and if he doesn’t show up late he shows up on time, but disappears somewhere during the day and Jenae yells at me for various things.
EBONY: What are the arguments usually about?
ROBBIE MONTGOMERY: Tim thinks he knows more than I do, [and] he tries to tell me what to do. He’s got a million ideas, and because I don’t think they’re all great, he wants to go back and forth with me about them. In the end, we end up agreeing to try some of his ideas, but not all of them ‘cause mom knows best.
CHARLES CRENCHAW: Which is why they end up arguing the next day, ‘cause the other path that didn’t get tried has to get tried that day. They go back and forth all the time.
JENAE WALLICK: And then there’s the [idea] Tim sneaks in without saying anything to Mom about, so when he gets those over that’s when the trouble really starts.
TN: I call that a Nike: I “just do it”!
RM: And that pisses me off!
EBONY: Janae, how is it just being in the mix of all this all the time?
JW: I definitely didn’t sign up for this! I met Tim in the restaurant when he was really just working the register. I had no clue who he was. I met him when I came on a Sunday after church. When he first came up with this idea [about pitching the show], I was a little bit stand-offish to it, but I just figured whatever I could do to support him I was gonna do it. So that’s how I ended up here.
EBONY: With three restaurants in St. Louis, are you looking to build more in other cities or states?
CC: At one point in time, we do wanna make it to where everybody can have their own restaurant. You know, there’s one in Texas, there’s one in California, there’s one in New York—so I run one, Tim runs one, Aunt Robbie runs one, Aunt Linda…but I haven’t told anyone this yet.
EBONY: So this is one of those “Nike” moments.
CC: Yup! Just gonna do it.
EBONY: Is it automatic that every [family member] gets to take part in the business now?
RM: As far as I’m concerned, when they’re born [into the family] that’s their job: they go into the business.
CC: I’ve been [at the restaurant] since I was 14.
RM: And then the other kids are there bagging [food] at seven, eight and nine.
JW: When Tim and I first got together, I was on the register, and I was bagging! And I had a full-time job.
EBONY: Since you’re at the restaurant cooking all day, every day, does that mean you cook again when you get home?
RM: No! It’s all take-out.
TN: If you go to her house, my house, or anybody’s house, there’s no food — no lunch meat, no cereal; it’s all take-out boxes.
CC: If you come to my house, there might be some cereal. But it’s probably old because we eat out 24/7—breakfast, lunch and dinner.
EBONY: Although the restaurant business is your life now, Miss Robbie, you just recorded this new song, "Do the Sweetie Pie." Do you miss your life singing back-up for Tina Turner as an “Ikette,” and performing all over the world?
RM: I do miss it, [but] I kinda relate it to the restaurant. Here, I’m trying to pick what foods [people] like; when I was singing I was trying to pick what song the audience [would] like. It’s the same thing to me: making people happy.
Catch Welcome to Sweetie Pie's every Saturday at 9/8c only on OWN.