Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering is an Omaha visitor favorite with celebrity status, featured on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and the Sundance Channel for its home-cooked soul food. Then the pandemic hit. In mid-March, Big Mama’s had to lay off all of its employees. Restaurant owner Gladys Harrison and her daughter took on all the responsibilities for an additional three weeks just so they would be able to cover the last paychecks for their workers, and then they closed the doors.
According to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 41% of black owned business have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Determined not to become one of those statistics, Harrison, Big Mama’s daughter, got creative.
Without a full dining room filled with customers, Harrison needed to create new demand. Her focus is to provide healthy meals at a fair price, knowing customers may also be facing economic uncertainty. Harrison created Take and Bake Meals and COVID Friendly Business Boxes that can be filled with anything on the restaurant's breakfast or lunch menu. Harrison's team also created One Room Schoolhouse Meals designed for those parents who are working at home, teaching at home and trying to keep it all together at home.