Friday, May 16, 2008

Full of Soul

What feeds your soul? Big Mama has founded the recipes to feed your soul a combination of love,compassion,and dedication. It taste like success in the form of a blessing, she has after a year of business brought you some of the best food you have every tasted, and left you with a few blues note as well as you visited here at Big Mama's House of Soul in Pittsburgh's Strip District. She has stayed focus on her blessings through the ups and downs, no matter what she accomplished to operate a restaurant even without the finances physically available to maintain the operations but the lord has constantly shown her he deliver, recently in the form of a call form CBS stating she was selected out of numerous other businesses to be it's focus in a length long series called Early on the Case "Small Business Big Rescue". The business has almost tripled since this call as been set in motion, also she has appeared on countless shows,magazines, and sites. We appreciate your business, letters of support, interest in our sauce, and media inquires. One thing to remember no matter how this whole publicity stage places out, Big Mama will always stay focused and sharing her God giving blessings with you, welcome to the family.

for more about Big Mama stay glued to our next blog or go to Big Mama's House of

Press Release

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Big Mama's Takes Flight Literally

Pittsburgh, PA
May 16,2008

Big Mama's House of Soul is back in Pittsburgh, after a week long trip to New Orleans,LA to train under their mentor from Ruth Chris Steakhouse, and to be part of the opening of the new Harrah Casino location, Ruth Chris Steakhouse with association with CBS Early Show have followed Big Mama(Brenda Franklin)for the last two monthes to get Big Mama's House of Soul prepared for her dream to become reality in the series " Small Business, Big Rescue ". The dream is reality, Big Mama's House of Soul has a makeover while she is in New Orleans thanks to many generous contributors to the dream being completed, new atmosphere, new appliances, with more spacious design.
Big Mama's is now re-open to her customer in which have been patiently waiting on her return and soul.
Make sure to stop by Big Mama's House of Soul at 1603 Penn Ave inthe strip district
end of release..............

Deavon Hammonds
Promotional Push PR

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post Gazette Article

Big Mama's spring is slap-your-face good

Thursday, April 03, 2008
By Bob Batz Jr., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
J. Monroe Butler II/Post-Gazette
Brenda "Big Mama" Franklin preaches the gospel in Big Mama's House of Soul.
Big Mama is having one blessed spring.
"Mama" is what customers call Brenda Franklin at her Big Mama's House of Soul soul food eatery on Penn Avenue in the Strip.
"Baby" is what she likely calls them back.
As in, "Hi Baby! You waited on? What you need, Precious?"
This week, more hungry Babies than usual squeezed into the front of this take-out only storefront, the exterior of which glows Steelers gold even through the black smoke that pours off the outdoor grill.
In early March, the CBS Early Show chose this tiny joint to give a business makeover as part of its "Early on the Case: Small Business, Big Rescue" series.
Big Mama's House of Soul
Big Mama's House of Soul, at 1603 Penn Ave., is open noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; on Friday and Saturdays, it's also open from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The phone is 412-471-2910; on the Web,
Contributions to the Brenda Franklin Fund (checks made out to "The Pittsburgh Foundation" or "The Pittsburgh Foundation -- Franklin Fund") should be sent to:
The Pittsburgh Foundation5 PPG Place, Suite 250Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222
Credit card gifts may be made by going to
The TV show had learned about her from a story in the New Pittsburgh Courier. The show not only came to Pittsburgh, it also took Mama to New York City, where she spent March 26 through Saturday. Episodes about her and her restaurant aired on each of those mornings and were posted on They show how executives from Ruth's Chris Steak House chain, including Vice President Culinary Jim Cannon, helped her with procedures such as calculating costs and coming up with standardized recipes, since she cooks everything from her head -- and her heart.
It didn't take the restaurateurs long to recognize that, as the CBS producer and crew had.
Regulars know how "the Reverend" Franklin -- she's a minister in addition to a jazz-turned-gospel singer -- breaks out into song in her place.
On her New York trip, while being dined at Harlem's famed Amy Ruth's soul food restaurant, Ms. Franklin heard the opening note and couldn't resist belting out "I'll Take You There," which had other patrons singing along and asking for her autograph.
"Then she had a receiving line!" marvels Lanette Jarvis, Ruth's Chris' public relations director, who'd been charmed by Ms. Franklin within minutes of meeting her the week before the "Early Show" series ran.
Thanks to the restaurant chain, Ms. Franklin is only getting more famous -- and more efficient. Ruth's Chris already gave her a new commercial mixer and other kitchen gear. Later this month, the company is flying her and her son, Vamar, one of the family members who works with her, on an all-expenses-paid, 10-day trip to New Orleans, where the chain is opening a new restaurant. The Franklins will get some more training at the new restaurant and do more meet and greets ("Brad Pitt is supposed to be there!"). But the big news, Ms. Franklin says, is, a plant there is going to make and bottle her "Big Mama's Steel City Soppin' Sauce," the first in a line of foods she plans to distribute to supermarkets.
Even bigger: While the restaurant is closed when the Franklins are away, Ruth's Chris is covering her expenses and, via its kitchen design company, remodeling the place, which she hopes to eventually expand into the space next door (or somewhere else) as a sit-down restaurant, even a restaurant-jazz club.
That's her dream, as she told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith, explaining, "That's my vision. Every color, every creed. I want everybody to be able to come in and enjoy what it's really all about. It's all about the music and then the food. Because that's what it originated from."
The show had another surprise for her on Saturday's episode: Tim Adams, principal timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, showed up and announced the starting of a charitable fund to honor her wish to give back to her community by helping students get musical instruments.
The fund, run by the Pittsburgh Foundation, will be overseen by a committee that will include Ms. Franklin. Once it reaches $10,000, money can be given to area schools to buy instruments.
Ruth's Chris got it rolling. The remaining seed money will come from the auction of a Steelers-autographed rocking chair that sits in the front of Big Mama's, which is decorated with autographed photos of Steelers including Hines Ward, who loves her food. She's also hung up the autographed photo of the PSO that Mr. Adams gave her.
"God is sooo good," Ms. Franklin was saying as she bustled around the tiny kitchen Monday morning, struggling with her son and cook George Dillard to keep up with customers who were eating them out of collard greens (her specialty), corn bread (she makes a seafood corn bread stuffing too) and cobbler (peach or cherry or apple caramel).
"Ridiculous!" Vamar Franklin said as he rushed from the stove to the steam table. "We went from 20 slabs of ribs to 100 overnight!"
The food wasn't coming out fast, which is the only criticism you hear about the place, but that's what the Ruth's Chris makeover means to fix.
Meanwhile, his Mom was "too blessed to be stressed," as she told a customer.
"Oh, this mac and cheese is absolutely pretty!" she sang. "Now this is slap-your-face mac and cheese. ... That macaroni will make you hurt somebody!"
The customers, most of them regulars, and many feeling at home enough to try out the Steelers rocker, ate it all up.
They're used to Mama telling them to speak up -- even telling them to answer the phone for her if she's busy. She'll tell you if you're ordering too many starches for one meal, and folks she thinks are eating too much pork, she cuts off.
"One guy had the ambulance stop to get a half slab of ribs for him -- on the way to the hospital," she says with a smile.
Get her going on a topic such as drugs or violence, and she shifts into the cadence of a preacher. "We've got to get back into these kids' business!"
That's why she seems so thrilled about her music fund, which she hopes will grow into a way to reopen closed schools and teach music and culinary arts to lift up young people.
On possibly the worst day ever to ask her about her life story, she steps out of the kitchen onto the street, where she's met with honks and waves from passing cars. Neighborhood firefighters hit the air horn and wave, too.
"This is all day, child," she says. "I'm gonna have to get an automatic arm."
She tells how she grew up in Garfield and attended Schenley and Peabody high schools.
It was her Alabama-born grandmother who taught her to read and write -- as part of teaching her to cook. "She told me I had to learn to cook because I was so greedy" about eating her grandma's cooking.
She says her interpretation of those family recipes isn't Southern, but true soul food: "Your heart, your mind, your soul -- everything you have goes into that food!"
Ms. Franklin starting singing in Pittsburgh jazz clubs when she was so young that she needed a chaperone to get in, but 22 years ago, she was saved and gave up that life for Jesus, she says. She's been drug- and alcohol-free as well as celibate since.
In the early 1990s, she says, she left town and went to Maryland. She sold cars for a while and when she lost that job, sold her homemade food to the car salespeople.
When she worked on a construction site, as an elevator operator and "prayer counselor," she also sold food to the other workers. She kept doing that even after she lost her car and traveled by bus. She got knocked so low she was surviving on supermarket food samples.
Life, and the Lord, took her to North Carolina, where she cleaned houses before managing to open her own small eatery. But she soon closed it, called to come back to Pittsburgh, where in April 2007 she opened Big Mama's House of Soul.
She couldn't get a bank to help her, not even her own, but help came from many quarters, including a friend who loaned her some money and a contractor who agreed to put a kitchen in.
Among the customers who could hardly wait for her to open was Howdy Emery, founder but no longer owner of Emery Tree Service of Pa. Even before tasting hers, the soul food fan, who peeked through her eatery's newspaper-covered windows, asked her to cater "a party for a friend of mine named Bill."
As in, then-retiring Steelers coach Bill Cowher. His photo hangs in the restaurant, too. He's hugging Mama.
"And the rest is history," she says.
Mr. Emery wound up giving her the big black custom commercial grill, too, to replace the puny one from Wal-Mart that she started with, plus picnic tables and more.
"Don't tell me what God can't do," says Ms. Franklin, who's enjoying all these blessings, but she's not losing her bearings. "I been in the storm for 22 years," she says, invoking the parable of "The Little Red Hen" to say she isn't going to be stupid.
"I think what's getting ready to happen is going to snowball," she says with a grin, before pantomiming a parade march.
But for now, she's got to march inside and make more collards, corn bread and cobbler.

Small Business Big Rescue

Article in JENESIS Magazine

Big Mama's House of Soul and Spirit

Big Mama's House of Soul is a blessing to have in the heart of the strip district it adds a much needed spice of love to the food market and cultural elements of Pittsburgh, as you come across that lonely 16th street bridge. It is a place of delicious food, candid conversation, good music, a home away from home experience to come and get your food, taking waiting for a meal to a whole new ball game. The soul Big Mama " Reverend" Brenda Franklin, and her family put into the taste of the food and the humble and remarkable look of the resturant makes a statement of its own slowly but surely transforming it into a landmark for quality food in the strip. This establishment support for the city is showcased through their building from the outside Steeler decals to the rich history inside of newspaper clippings building the story of the lengendary Jazz scene of the 60's to the soul era of the 70's. As the " Word" is displayed as a reminder of where their blessing come from, the ribs say something to your spirit.

What makes Big Mama's House of Soul a unique place to grab a bit to eat?

The Heart and Soul in the food literally, My mother pours out the passion of cooking into her food for each patron until satisfied with the results.

How did the idea come together of starting a resturant here in the city anyway?

Big Mama's actually started in South Carolina in a small town where we travel everyday from North Carolina to cater to our customers in our location, with the down south scene in love with our cooking we decided to bring it back home with a buzz already wanted aold familar taste back in the burgh so we packed up and let the lord work the rest here.

How is it owning and operating a black business in the city?

It's cool actually, sometimes you run into people with differences, we all don't always agree on everything in the area, but all and all no problems, it's good to see segregation in the area finally ending.

Were there any support or funding given to you to start your business?

It all started with our family handing down the family recipes, and the hustle of the the family in every step of building the stage for the restuarnt amongst the blessings we receive.

Give us a typical day at Big Mama's House of Soul?

Winter time comes alot of back and forth amongst me and the staff to prepare for what we have to look forward to such as the elements of the weather, and more so me following my mothers every step to ensure we are on track, but its all love , I'll say people and guest apperances from a selected group of celebs you wouldn't aspect to stroll in.

What advice do you have for future business owners?

Stay away from the snakes of the industry you are in, watch out for the advertisement cost, the new sales angles coming at you learn to stick to a solid script or plan, lol, I found us purchasing a barber chair for the restuarant, a barber chair at our restaurant.

Who makes the final decisions on what items to include on the menu?

Me and my mother make a joint effort to come up with the best selections.

Why did you decide to go with the black and gold theme for the restuarnt?

It came from me and my brother , it was a idea to boast the visiblity of the restaurant at first, mixed in with my mothers love for the Steelers.

It was also the love from the city donating the materails to make it happen, some one stood out after a taste of one rib and took on the job for free. It was all good business from there him and his crew came back after he lead us to catering Bill Cowhers Retirement Party, the next thing you know we had a make over with new grills and flags and steeler county was born with thanks from the man up above.

You have alot of athletic support from the Steeler organization, how was this bond formed?

It was Santonio Holmes whom made an apperances and then Hines Wards, Nate Washington, Casey Hampton, Nadej Davenport , Willie Parker, the list then went on and on on a regular bases spreading the word for business the rest is history.

Can you say its safe to say Big Mama's House of Soul is a permanent fixture to the Pittsburgh landscape?

Yes, We look to build on all four sides of the city as we expand this summer throughout the county

Final comment to our viewer?

Thanks for the support, god bless and come on down for a taste of soul.

Big Mama's House of Soul, 1603 Penn Ave., Strip District, 412-471-2910
Big Mama's take-out and delivery . Hours are Monday through Saturday 12 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.