One mother’s life-long dream of operating a restaurant has turned into a Birmingham-favorite, family-owned business that will be making its Netflix debut June 9th! Yo’ Mama’s has only been open for 7 years, and the soaring success of this restaurant is a true testimony of the great hearts and recipes behind this 2nd Ave N establishment.
Appearing on the new show “Fresh, Fried, & Crispy”, hosted by Connecticut Youtube sensation Daymon “Day Drops” Patterson, is the latest summit mounted on the Peterson family’s journey to the status of restaurant royalty. The episode will premiere Wednesday, and Yo Mama’s is selling watch party bundles featuring B’ham Mix popcorn from Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., a cupcake from K & J’s Elegant Pastries, and a bottle of water (we would also recommend getting some watching wings).
While the last decade provides the most physical evidence of Denise Peterson’s vision, she’s strived for this goal since her first days working at a restaurant by the name of Fish and Chips when she was around 15 years old. She went on to have three kids and work 33 years at Bellsouth, making sure her children had fresh cooked breakfast and dinner every day. When she finally retired, she took her savings and invested it in her dream - owning a restaurant. Her partner for this journey was her daughter, Crystal, who many recognize as the friendly face behind the counter.
At the beginning of this massive leap into the unknown, the Petersons’ pastor had been focusing many of his sermons around faith. A drive down 2nd Ave North soon brought the sign Denise had been looking for - a literal “for rent” sign in Faith Skate Supply’s old location. They walked inside, saw faith on the wall, and knew this would be the destination for what would soon become a Birmingham classic.
Crystal was in charge of overseeing the construction process from skate shop to restaurant. As she puts it “My parents put in a lot of financial equity. I put in a lot of sweat equity.” While the building took some time to develop, the family knew the wings were a hit the moment they first tried momma’s signature sauce. Another easy decision was their shrimp and grits plate, which was their staple dish when they first started vending at Florida jazz festivals. They would sell the meal until they ran out - the same philosophy that’s used on their daily specials today.
Yo’ Mama’s has felt the full force of the Magic City’s love since the moment they opened their doors. They spent years on a recurring cooking segment for WBRC FOX6 until the pandemic stopped in-house production. They’ve been featured on the Cooking Channel’s show “Cheap Eats”, and are now elevating to the status of a Netflix show appearance. With the hundreds of fantastic restaurants in the Greater Birmingham area, the team feels truly blessed to receive such esteemed recognitions. “We only have 8 employees. It’s all so surreal for us,” Crystal states of the international praise. “We’re ecstatic every time we get chosen. We really take on the Nick Saban motto of celebrate for 24 hours and outwork yesterday. We try to continually kick out high quality food at a reasonable cost.”
The headlines have brought in famous politicians, musicians, and athletes, but for Yo Mama’s the only stamp of approval they are looking for is from the customers who’ve always shown them love. “Those are the pictures I would want on the wall, because those are what keep the walls going,” states Crystal. And you can feel this community experience the moment you step in the door.
The memorable dining moments come back in a new way on June 12th from 9am to 1pm, as Yo’ Mama’s bi-weekly brunch series returns in the form of a partnership with new neighbor Neon Moon. As Crystal puts it “Cocktails are the new coffee,” and eating chicken and waffles with a Birmingham bar beverage sounds like the ultimate Saturday.
Despite all the new attention Yo’ Mama’s has been receiving, the staff will never forget the thousands of Birminghamians who first made their restaurant a household name. “We appreciate every single nickel, penny, quarter. Every single word of mouth. You can pay for advertisements, but we all know nowadays people respect word of mouth more than they respect public figure reviewers.” And the city of Birmingham gives this family 5 gold stars!