Restaurant Revisited: Mama Lee’s

by in Shows, May 2nd, 2012

Mama Lee'sWhen Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team visited Mama Lee’s soul food restaurant in San Antonio, it had never turned a profit and was just weeks away from closing down. A few months after Robert’s major revamp — he even called in reinforcements from HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins — we caught up with Ken, the owner, to see how business is going.

Four months later, Mama Lee’s is closer to turning a profit. Sales are up 15 percent and Ken is seeing many new customers in addition to his old regulars. With the increase in sales, he is slowly catching up on overdue bills.

Ken still feels reinvigorated as a leader. “We’re holding staff meetings every other Sunday,” he told us, in order to address service issues and discuss customer feedback. “I’m re-energized.”

The restaurant is now a source of pride for Ken and his crew. They are cleaning the new kitchen daily, and the vents are cleaned once a week. Weekly visits from the exterminator have eliminated the roach problem. “The guys are taking pride in the restaurant, and that is reflected in our actions.”

The new decor is a big hit with customers, who talk most about the frying-pan flowers on the walls. Ken’s favorite part is the new bar. He has applied for a liquor license, which he expects will help boost sales even higher.

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Valley View (March 14)

Pelican Grill (April 25)

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Comments (1,095)

  1. dawnskye says:

    Hard to find what to read with all the spam. a shame. I enjoyed this episode and hope that they stay the course Chef has plotted for them

  2. applestycx says:

    If viewers are to be directed here to read and place comments about the Restaurant Impossible shows; some one should be doing a better job filtering the site for spam so that the relevant comments can actually be read! Thanks

  3. Lisa says:

    great episode, hope they make it!!! -Lisa

  4. @randyr316 says:

    This was the best episode to date, and well deserved

  5. Rick Norwood says:

    Fantastic episode!! RI's own rules of budget and time limit get a little annoying at times. Nice to see an episode where they admitted they went over budget and over time. It was worth it, that family is so nice and so honest, I hope their sales are up by way more than 15% these days.

    BTW, all those hundreds of garbage comments were solicited by somebody hired to do SEO for this portion of the Food Network site. Food Network should be as embarrassed of that as Ken was of his Kitchen. Write better follow-up articles and allow your viewers to have real conversations down here….and you won't have to fake the traffic.

  6. ALMA SOSTRE says:


  7. Danielle says:

    ken you deserve a successful business after serving your country for 21 years…by far my favorite episode and one of the most deserving families i have seen on the show…sending love from louisville ky!

  8. John says:

    Mama Lee's is fortunate that Irvine intervened to get this restaurant back on track. The owner should not have been in the business of serving food to the public with the nasty kitchen and insect issue. Hopefully the owner will stay on course and maintain. Otherwise it would have been in vain….

  9. raven says:

    Loved the show, brought me to tears, I hope they make it, I think sales will increase eventually, I'am sure it will take time considering it has more then likely developed a bad reputation. Good Luck Mama Lees!!!

  10. Kathy Addison says:

    Mama Lee's was a great show. We bawled like a baby, having closed a restaurant 10 years ago, I really wish Levine would have been around. Great job everyone.

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