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No matter the name of the restaurant, when customers walk into soul-food cafe Southern Kitchen, the greeting is always “Welcome to Mama's.” Employees at the three-month-old spot stand ready behind steam trays of flour-crusted fried chicken, greens wilted into submission, buttery yams as sweet as candy, and (on Sundays) actual carved turkey and broth-moistened dressing. “Everything we make here is a tribute to my mom,” says part-owner Fred Slack. The restaurant's inspiration, Vetrea Mae Davison Slack, a champion of the family get-together, raised four kids on her own and graduated from IUPUI at the age of 61, the same year she passed away. The kitchen churns out macaroni and cheese from scratch, smothered pork chops, boiled cabbage, banana pudding, and hunks of iced cake. There's even Kool-Aid to wash it all down. “We go through 12 pitchers of Kool-Aid a day. Every flavor,” Slack says. “We don't add anything to it—no oranges or lemons. We do it just like my mom did with all the kids.”
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