Big Mama’s Kitchen is getting a big change of address that should help the soul food cafe that is struggling in a hard-to-find location near 45th and Bedford Streets.
Big Mama’s will move its country charm out of the old Nebraska School for the Deaf cafeteria to the Highlander Accelerator Building that’s part of the Seventy Five North Development at 30th and Parker Streets.
Big Mama’s will join two as-yet-unnamed restaurants and a bar in a food court-like setup inside a building that includes a Metropolitan Community College satellite campus and a Creighton University health and wellness education center.
There’s a patio outside. A reception hall is being finished, and a swimming pool, playground and small park are coming.
Most importantly, the Seventy Five North project already has 101 apartments built, a 64-unit senior living complex on the way and more housing to come — all promising foot traffic for Big Mama’s manager Gladys Harrison, who is running the place for her mother, founder Patricia Barron.
Harrison is working with Profit Source Restaurant Consultants' Jim Trebbien, who built up Metro’s Institute for Culinary Arts before his retirement there, on trimming a long menu and prepping for the summertime move.
The construction and activity at the site attracted local coffeehouse owner Autumn Pruitt, whose Hardy Coffee Co. is scheduled to open there this month. Pruitt has two other coffee shops, the old Bliss downtown and old Aroma’s in Benson that she has renamed Hardy.
A north Omaha native who graduated from North High, Pruitt said the massive development showed her that enough momentum was happening to plant a business there.
The development brings a big enough scale that David Brown, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, predicts it will become a national model for inner-city redevelopment. He praised the setup — a nonprofit entity significantly backed by local philanthropists, namely Susie Buffett’s Sherwood Foundation.
Brown said that project and Metro Community College’s changes provide anchors that draw people, traffic and “tell the private sector, ‘Yep. It’s time to reinvest in that area.’ ”