Waverly restaurant that helped with flood recovery now faces new business struggle

Mama's Table
Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 20:08:08-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Whenever a city is faced with a devastating event, there are always businesses that step up and help in immeasurable ways. What if one of those generous businesses then needs a little help itself?

Between the flame broiled burgers, the checkered curtains and the sides of fried okra, Waverly's Mama's Table is the very vision of a southern comfort food restaurant.

"The chick pea salad is delicious," said one customer.

"I love the chicken sliders!" chimed in another.

So, who is the Mama at Waverly's Mama's Table?

"That would be me!" laughed Stephanie Graham. "They all call me mama!"

Graham opened her eatery with daughter Kristin Carter.

"We've always wanted to own our own restaurant but never really had the guts," Carter said.

Today their little place is filled with big smiles over fry baskets, barbecue, and baked beans.

"These are peeled," Graham said, scooping some mashed potatoes onto a plate. "We don't do any boxed potatoes. We make our potatoes every day."

Among the crowd at lunch hour were some people who still find it hard to even hear the sound of rain. It's a reminder of August 21, the day of Waverly's devastating flood.

"It's very emotional to me cause I was born and raised here," said Graham. "I've seen so much damage, so many lives ruined."

This community remembers so well what Mama's Table did in the days after the flood.

"They opened up their restaurant, and they were serving free food to people," said one customer.

"They fed workers for so long without charging," added another.

"This was a time people were left with nothing," said Graham. "We just felt that was our purpose."

Mama's Table is now in a hard place.

"We have depleted our savings that we had 'cause we wanted to take care of people," said Graham. "We wanted to do that. so now we're trying to rebuild."

Graham added that business has not returned to normal levels after the flood. As their city works to recover, a mother and daughter said they're going to try their hardest to stay open for a community and for their own restaurant dream.

"We're here," said Graham. "Here to stay."