Spotlight on Juanita Buggs of G-Ma’s Cafeteria: Home cooked soul food

| February 3, 2014
(Left to right) Roosevelt Lee, Juanita Buggs, Marissa Jones and Inez Royal of G-Ma’s Cafeteria. (Photo: Jeanie Summerville)

(Left to right) Roosevelt Lee, Juanita Buggs, Marissa Jones and Inez Royal of G-Ma’s Cafeteria. (Photo: Jeanie Summerville)


Whatz up, babies?

I don’t know if you know this or not, so I’m gonna share it with you. A new soul food restaurant has opened in our city and it’s on the corner of McKinney Avenue and Hanna Street. And, check this out, babies, it’s buffet style. I knew about it because they advertised with us in Frost Illustrated. So in turn, I knew I had to check them out and bring them to you because they’re coming to you, in the name of love and you know I love that kind of stuff. So, here and now, we bring to you the people of G-Ma’s Cafeteria and this is what they have to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Juanita Buggs and I’m the CEO of G-Ma’s Cafeteria. We’re located at 626 McKinney Ave., here in Fort Wayne, Ind. Although I wasn’t born and raised here, Fort Wayne has been my home since the late 1960s. This is my first time owning a restaurant but it’s not my first, as far as, being in the food industry. When I was a child, I got a taste of it, when I worked with my mom at a truck stop.

“Then when I moved to Fort Wayne, I was hired at NE Area Counseling and Aging as a site director and they served senior citizens lunches. Then I went from being a site director to sites manager and I was the manager over the nine counties for their nutrition program. However, after sickness, I couldn’t do that anymore, so I started working with the Department of Education with their summer feeding program and I was the site director for about five years and for different churches as well.

G-Ma's as it looked when it was decorated for Christmas (File photo).

G-Ma’s as it looked when it was decorated for Christmas (File photo).

“So since I had the bug for food, opening a soul food restaurant had been a dream of mines and my family for a long time and they made plans of what we were going to do when that time happened. So about a year ago, it started dawning on me, that when my children made those plans, they said you can do this! And, I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do this!’ So. I decided it was time because I believe in prayer and visions coming from the Lord.

“My daughter DiDi is senior pastor of the church, In His Presence, and I was praying about it because I want to be a support to the church so we can do things in the community. We want to be a church outside of the walls, of a traditional church building. We haven’t started all of our plans for G-Ma’s Cafeteria yet but we have great plans that are coming down the pipe and it’s for In His Presence Ministries, an outreach site for the community. Because we just don’t want to just serve food, we want to do other things too and at this time the church does meet at G-Ma’s. 

“I think what makes our soul food stand out more than others is because myself and Inez Royal are the cooks and she does an awesome job on our fish and everything else that she cooks—and so do I. Presentation also has a lot to do with it and I think that our restaurant has been presented in a very positive manner and our décor is great for the restaurant because we feel it’s inviting and we also have a calm atmosphere. Plus, we have two flat screen TVs with surround sound for our customers that like to watch television while they’re eating and it’s also enjoyable on Sunday’s for those who like to watch the game. Currently, we’re only open on weekends but in the future we planning for seven days a week. 

“We have an all you can eat buffet and some of our menu items include traditional chicken, buffalo and barbeque wings, a variety of fish, pork rib tips, black eyed peas seasoned with pork or turkey, collard greens are also seasoned with pork or turkey, rice, chili that’s served with crackers or corn bread. Desserts include cakes, sweet potato pies and sweet potato cobbler and I take requests to make personal banana puddings. My cold bar consists of potato salad, Cole slaw, tossed salad and our new pasta salad that everyone seems to love. We also have a second new item, which is our chicken primavera which is also a big hit. So come on down, we’re reasonably priced, we aim to please and we love our customers. Dine in or carry out (260) 431-7447.”

Aw, that was fun, now let’s hear more:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is DiDi Lee and I’m an employee of G-Ma’s Cafeteria and I’m also [Juanita’s] daughter. We’re open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. We’ve been here since Oct. 27, 2013 and we choose this location on this corner because we needed a place on the south end of town where you can go and have some good down home soul food. I don’t mean to be bragging or anything, but we do have the best cooks in the city and we’ve heard, that we have the best catfish in the city from a gentleman from West Africa. He said he stopped by our restaurant for lunch to see what we were about because the parking lot was clean and he knew he wasn’t going to slip and fall, since this was during our big snow. When he saw that we have catfish he said, ‘Well let me try it and see’ because it’s his job to go around to the various restaurants in the city to taste the fish because he comes from a fish eating culture. He ate our catfish and said, we have the best cat fish in the city and then he bought another one to take home. 

“We make our atmosphere very homey because we want you to feel very comfortable and very welcomed so whenever anyone comes through our doors, the first thing I say is, ‘Welcome to G-Ma’s’ and I extend out my arms and that’s because I want you to feel warm and welcomed. And, we wait on you and make sure you have everything that you need. If we don’t have it right then, we’ll try our best to get it and we let them know that too. Also, if there’s something about our food that you don’t like, we want you to tell us, what you’d like changed and we’ll do our best to accommodate you because that’s what we’re here for, you. And, on Sundays, you must come early because we have a lot of business. We’re doing really good business and we thank GOD because we cook our food with a lot of love and we give it a lot of attention because we love GOD’s people.”

Now, I’m going to bring some of their customers to ya, so can hear their input and this is what they have to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Pastor Karen Staton and I’m the pastor at Destiny Life Center located at 3601 Warsaw St., and I met these fine people some years ago and they’ve been like family to me. I’m so excited about Juanita finally deciding to open up this fine restaurant. Because she catered the food for both my parents’ funeral and the main thing that the people talked about afterward, was the food. So when she opened this restaurant, I wanted to make sure, that she had our blessings with it because her food is superior, it’s wonderful and she’s a great lady who loves people. 

“Juanita, her daughter DiDi and her church family are so wonderful and it’s great to know that you can come and get great soul food—food that’s cooked with love, in the center of the community and, they serve you when you come here, so if you’re feeling down, you’re going to feel a lot better when you leave. Because of the service and the love that you feel in this environment and in the food, that’s the kind of place I want to eat. I would recommend G-Ma’s Cafeteria to everybody on the weekends when you’re hungry. This is the place where you can come on the south side of town and know that you’re gonna get a good meal and be satisfied when you leave. Also, on Sundays, so many of us have been going out north for all you can eat and now there’s this wonderful place within the community, with the food that we all enjoy right here and it’s delicious. So, make sure you come right after church because it’s a house full of us enjoying good food like mama made at home.”

Then, Lance Royal, had this to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. G-Ma’s is the place that I come to eat every weekend when I get off of work because the food is good, I love it and I’m going to keep coming back and everybody else should come on over and try it and I know you’ll love it too.” 

G-Ma's Cafeteria

G-Ma’s Cafeteria

And, Steve Bolin of Bolin’s Odd’s and Ends used furniture said:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. G-Ma’s food is very good and tasty and the chili is wonderful, the fish is great and we needed something like that on this side of town. We’re very thankful that we have a place to go and eat good food and the people are very friendly and the atmosphere is wonderful.”

Now in closing I say, great job everybody! And, I too recommend G-Ma’s Cafeteria because the food is very good andthe atmosphere is warm and very friendly. Most of all, their food Is made with love and I truly enjoyed my visit with all of you and will visit you again. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.

P.S. If you would like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to I’d love to hear from ya.

P.P.S. I’d also like to thank all of you who have been sending me e-mails to give me some feed back on our journey of love as we get to know one another better. Keep up the good work and to those who haven’t please feel free to do so because I’d love to hear from you too.

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