Dining Divas Get a Taste Of Reality at Sweetie Pie’s

The Dining Divas

By Lisa Kampeter

I have to admit that the sole reason for choosing the Dining Divas restaurant of the month was the excitement of a potential celebrity sighting.  Well, if you’re a reality show junkie, you’d find it exciting.  Months ago, the Gladys Kravitz Diva requested we head to The Grove neighborhood for the chance of seeing Miss Robbie or Tim or Lil’ Charles.  Thanks to the Oprah Winfrey Network, these three St. Louisans are household names in many homes in the country now because of the reality show, “Welcome to Sweetie Pies.”  And for the Gladys Kravitz Diva, she speaks of them as if she’s one of the family.

Miss Robbie put her heart and soul into recreating her mother’s own recipes and opened Sweetie Pie’s, a soul food family restaurant, on Manchester Avenue.  Formerly an Ikette (a backup singer of Ike and Tina Turner’s), once she stopped singing and touring, she turned to her other passion…cooking.

When you walk into Sweetie Pie’s, you’ll notice the “warning signs”.

“Filming in progress.”

“Your image or likeness may be used in the production of …”

And “no sagging allowed.”

Had our Hip Hop Expert Diva not been present, I would have had to Google “sagging” before I walked in to make sure I was in the clear.  Basically, your pants have to pulled up at all times.  A quick double-check, and we were good to go.

The warning sign that was unfortunately missing was the “Do Not Overdo It” sign giving us the “eyes bigger than the belly” speech.

After an unnecessarily long drive to Sweetie Pie’s, we finally made it to the restaurant.  TRAVEL ALERT:  From North County, do NOT take 170 to 40 to get to Sweetie Pie’s during the afternoon rush hour.  270 to Riverview to Hall Street or the Halls Ferry Circle to 70 are much better options.  Traffic on 170 is horrible and usually for no reason at all.

Concerned that we were at another Sweetie Pie’s (there’s another one located by the Fox Theater), the On-Time Divas sighed when we walked through the door, relieved we finally made it.  (Or perhaps relieved that we weren’t “sagging.”)  The friendly host let us pick out a table (normally you order first, cafeteria style, and then you are seated) and then get in the food line.

This wasn’t the first visit for a couple Divas, but according to the line help, it didn’t seem to matter if you were a newcomer or a regular.  The Clueless Diva stood perplexed as she tried to figure out how the food line worked and how she was supposed to order.  No one was forthcoming with details, and when she did ask questions, she got the evil eye.  Her questions were something like “What am I supposed to tell you?”  “What is this?”  “What do I get with this?”  The impressions we got from the line help were that we were annoying them and that we were asking too much of them.  Their faces may have cracked if they’d smiled.

What the line help lacked, our waiter excelled in.  Even as he claimed he was having an “off” night, we made it clear he was “right on” for us, especially for the Flirtatious Diva as she personally gave him his tip.

Years ago, Miss Robbie’s lung collapsed, and her singing career ended.  Evidence of her legacy is displayed throughout the restaurant, and it’s evident patrons are more than just hungry; they are fans.  Personal cameras flash throughout dinner as reality junkies capture their own evidence.

This night, the main characters were nowhere to be found, but that didn’t keep the Gladys Kravitz Diva from checking out all the situations, including driving down the back alley in hopes of catching a glimpse of Tim.  Her heart leapt when she thought she saw his white SUV parked out back.  Then it leapt again when a few cops cars and officers looked to be handling a shady situation just down the street.

Sweetie Pie’s is located in the growing and diverse Grove neighborhood, but just off the main street, you may feel unsafe, even though crime statistics show that it is a low crime area.

The Divas all agreed that Sweetie Pie’s was an adventure.  It reminded one Diva of her childhood days in the same neighborhood and of her relatives shooting slingshots at squirrels and then cooking them up for dinner.  Fortunately, Sweetie Pie’s does not consider “squirrel” as soul food, and it’s not on the menu.

Sweetie Pie’s was definitely out of the comfort zone for the Conservative Diva.  And as for the fried chicken, it should have been called “dried” chicken.  She likened it to “pigeon”.  She also thought the sides were just average, complaining that none of them were hot.  Another Diva agreed with her and said the sides were too sweet.

The Overloaded Divas couldn’t pass up the side of mac and cheese, even though they’d already chosen the mashed potatoes and the green beans.  Baking the mac and cheese added a little crunch to it which always makes it better.  The extra side was extra good as leftovers the next day.  And these Divas even loved their other sides, including the green beans.  They had to have been doused in bacon grease to be this good.  And the candied yams qualified for dessert according to the Food Coma Diva.

That night’s Meatloaf special obviously was the wiser choice between that and the fried chicken.  The breading on the chicken pleased the Picky Diva while the others didn’t really enjoy the chicken at all.

The Superfan Diva loved her experience overall even without an autograph or a picture. And her clean plate was evidence of how much she enjoyed her food.

I’m not sure when filming will begin again, but I’d recommend coming prepared.    Like with your pants pulled up.  Or with your order settled before you arrive in the food line.  And if the line help still has an attitude, we’ll give them a taste of Diva reality.  And that will be something you’ll definitely want to capture on film.


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