Nobody does soul food like Big Mama’s Kitchen – nobody

As we celebrate Black History, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight the achievements of African Americans and recognize their central role in American history. All too often, only the most negative aspects of African American culture and communities get highlighted. This month, we want to honor some of the best.

What started as a part-time catering service in Patricia “Big Mama” Barron’s kitchen turned into a family-owned restaurant that has carried Big Mama’s name and legacy beyond Omaha.

Big Mama discovered her passion for cooking as a child in her grandmother’s kitchen. She dreamed of owning a restaurant and sharing her grandmother’s soul food with as many people as possible.

After retiring, Big Mama decided to expand her weekend catering service and searched for a restaurant location. In December of 2007, she opened Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering in an old school cafeteria near 45th and Bedford streets.

“My desire when I opened this restaurant was to bring jobs to the North Omaha community,” she told the Food Network in 2013.

Big Mama’s Kitchen is best known for its oven-fried chicken and sweet potato pie ice cream. The restaurant has been featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel.

Big Mama served as a Habitat Omaha board member for two years before passing away in March of 2018.

“Big Mama was a wonderful board member. As a veteran, she helped Habitat Omaha open doors in the veteran community,” said Habitat Omaha CEO Amanda Brewer. “We are thankful for Big Mama’s willingness to serve on the board and that her daughter Gladys, continues to be a great partner to Habitat Omaha.”

In January 2020, Big Mama’s Kitchen moved to the Highlander Accelerator building near 30th and Patrick Avenue. Gladys Harrison, one of Big Mama’s daughters, is now the owner. Big Mama’s family continues to serve delicious, quality soul food to customers.

“Many of our recipes have been in our family for over 100 years. They are recipes that were passed down from Big Mama’s grandmother Lilly, down to her, and then down to me and then down to a fourth generation,” Gladys told KMTV on February 16 of this year.