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Soul Food

Gee Gee’s brings southern cooking to Providence

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Growing up, Tameka Gass would travel all the way to Boston in search of a restaurant that would serve the home-style Southern cooking that she craved. Now, she doesn’t need to. Last summer, Gee Gee’s Southern Cuisine was born – serving up collard greens, fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, shrimp chowder, pork chops, yams, fried fish, and cornbread, right out of Olneyville.

For first-time restaurant owner Tameka, Gee Gee’s is as much about food as it is about family and community. The restaurant, which is named in honor of her mother “Gee Gee,” serves the kind of food that her mother and grandma ate growing up Florence, South Carolina.

“They moved here when I was about one-year old. Everything we cook is authentic Florence, South Carolina, style food,” says Tameka. Her family would always keep a refrigerator stocked full of the food that they made, and would often invite neighbors into their home to join them. As a result, Tameka and her brother Richard became “foodies at a young age,” and loved going out to restaurants, especially local “mom and pop” shops. Naturally, when it came time to start her business, she made it a family affair, with her brother as the general manager and family friend Alyssa Bardarelli as the chef.

For Tameka, the goal of Gee Gee’s was to create “a cozy environment where you can come in and get really good food and really good conversation.” This place can cater to everyone, with fish dishes on Fridays, “Gee Gee’s Late Night” offerings like piping hot wings and fries, and daily specials based on what Chef Bardarelli wants to cook that day. Tameka is working to make sure that customers don’t have to trek all the way to Boston for authentic Southern cooking like she used to.