A restaurant is more than just a business

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A restaurant is more than just a business

by Ryann Zechmann

 Starting in her own home, Patricia Givernbarren took her love for cooking and poured it into her restaurant, Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering. Better known as Big Mama, Patricia was born in 1942 in Omaha, Nebraska. Being a Nebraska native, she was very adamant about keeping the restaurant in North Omaha.

“My mother wanted to see North Omaha revitalized. She wanted it to be the thriving place it was when she was a kid,” says Big Mama’s daughter, Gladys Harrington.

After serving and catering in their home, they finally opened Big Mama’s Kitchen in 2007.

Givenbarren learned how to cook from her Grandmother, Lily, and the same recipes are used at Big Mama’s today. An important part of their mission is that they want every customer who walks through their doors to feel like they are a part of the Big Mama family.

Along with family, they take the community very seriously. Donating food and merchandise to schools, baby showers, and other community events is important, as Big Mama's Kitchen believes that businesses should add value to their community. So, hiring people from the community, some previously incarcerated, is something they proactively support.

"Everyone deserves a second chance,” says Gladys.

Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering has been featured on numerous channels such as Food Network, Sundance, and the Travel Channel. But, Harrington credits the continued success of Big Mama’s to their feature on Guy Fieri’s show, Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The show really saved them by putting them on the map. Harrington says, “The people are the most exciting part. We have people come from like England, Hawaii, Alaska, the Philippines.” Without the show, they wouldn’t have the chance to welcome people from all over and share their love of soul food.

In the next couple of years, Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering would like to have their recipes in grocery stores and airports around the nation. “My mother wanted to feed a million people and I think we’ve done that.”

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