Walking into Mother Clara’s BBQ Kitchen located at 3751 Douglas Avenue, is like walking through the doors of an old fashioned southern café. You are captured by the warm green colors that make up the decor, as well as the warm hug you might receive at the door from Mother Clara herself. The aroma of foods that so many African American grew up eating in the south, hits you as you enter. Soul Food! “No it is not soul food, it is southern style cooking,” says Clara Watson, owner of the newly opened eatery.
The diner that seats 45 is the brainstorm of her son, Walter Blair, who served 13 years in the United States Air Force, and herself.
The two want the restaurant, which they describe as a home style southern cooking with BBQ as a specialty, to be the anchor to several other ventures they plan to launch in the near future.
What is southern style cooking?
Mother Clara says it’s southern foods cooked with a lots of love in each recipe. When she cooks her food, she puts her heart and soul into it. “I put that extra special touch to the food. When I am cooking, I am singing and praying. So all my food is blessed,” she said.
The two say that food provides common ground for people that might be different in other ways. “Food is where we share widespread similarity, we can teardown walls, and what better place to do that than across the table from each other with a good cooked meal like grandmamma once prepared,” her son explained.
Bringing a community closer and closer together is what we want to do,” he added.
Mother Clara’s cooking career started a year after her mother died when she was only 12-years-old.
She remembers an elderly Italian woman who cooked at the downtown Motor Inn in Greenville, Mississippi, taking her under her wings and teaching her the distinctive things that it took for her to master the ability of cooking southern cuisine.
“I am going to teach you how to cook if it kills me,” she said her instructor once remarked.
She gives her grandmother equal credit for the special touch of a pinch of seasoning here and there that have local customers in Racine raving over her daily meals. “Grandmother would feed the pastor from our church each Sunday, and I would be in the kitchen helping her because I did not like eating after pastor got through. By the time he was finished, I had ate also,” she said jokingly.
Momma Clara said that her entrepreneur spirit has been driven by the desire to never have her or her children receive public assistance. “I was determined that my kids and I were not going to be on welfare, that we were not going to have handouts. So I worked and learned a lot of stuff,” she said.
In addition to the restaurant, she is an avid baker, earning her the nickname around town as the ‘Cake Lady”.
She has also been a Mary Kay distributor.
The store has a wide variety of items including:
Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus as well as catering services at great pricing.
They are open Sundays 9:00am-5:00pm, Mon-Thurs 8:00am-8:00pm, Friday and Saturday open 24 hours!