Lunch at Sweetie Pie’s at the Mangrove

A few days ago, a few friends from high school got together for lunch on the spur of the moment.  We chose to go to lunch at a place that has been receiving quite a bit of buzz both around town and has received national attention, too.

The place – Sweetie Pie’s at the Mangrove – is a soul food restaurant located in The Grove neighborhood in the city of St. Louis.  It is owned by Miss Robbie Montgomery who learned to cook in her mother’s kitchen, but started out life as an entertainer including stints as an Ikette (backup singer to Ike and Tina Turner).  She also toured with Dr. John as a “Night Tripper” and worked with Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, Joe Cocker and the Rolling Stones among others.

Miss Robbie honed her cooking skills while on the road as an entertainer.  Back in those days, they could not eat in many restaurants due to segregation so she prepared meals in their hotel rooms on hot plates.  After she retired, she opened her first restaurant in California, but eventually made her way back to St. Louis.  We are glad she did!

The sign at Sweetie Pie’s.

The day we chose to go to Sweetie Pie’s, in turns out, they were filming for her new show on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) – Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.  We actually were filmed and asked to sign releases allowing our images to be used in an upcoming episode.

Wow, we didn’t know we were going to become celebrities!

Lunch with high school friends (Teri, Kim, Mama, and Martha) at Sweetie Pie’s.

When you go to Sweetie Pie’s, you will go through a buffet line and pick your choices of entrees and side dishes.  Several entrees and sides appear everyday and many more appear on a rotating schedule.  Your beverage choices are soda, water, or tea.  The lines are long, but it doesn’t take too long to get through them and to a table where a server will take care of anything else you might need.

Our server was a young man named Dee who spied some Chex Christmas Mix that one of our friends had prepared for us for the holidays.  We had shared an extra bag with Miss Robbie, and word quickly spread.  He spent the rest of our lunch begging for samples, and one of the other servers came by for samples, too.  It was great fun!

Mama with Miss Robbie.

And, in spite of the camera crews, and the busy lunch crowds, Miss Robbie made it a point to visit with many of the customers.  I had been trying to snag a picture of her, and she noticed, and she made an extra effort to come by and take a picture with me.

Yes, I am a food groupie.  I love getting pictures with my favorite restauranteurs and cookbook authors.

Thanks, Miss Robbie, for good soul food, and a great lunch experience!  And thanks to my friends of over 40 years who shared a fun few hours with me for the holidays!

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