Kandi Buruss' 'Kandi & The Gang' Showcases Three Generations of Family in Business Together
The menu at Old Lady Gang deliciously illustrates the story of three generations in one family. There's Mama Joyce's BBQ Rib Tips slathered in house-made sauce and served with a side of coleslaw. You'll also find Kandi's Sweet Potato Souffle, enhanced with a sprinkling of graham cracker. Another is Ace's Fish & Grits, composed of smoked gouda grits with a crispy Alaskan white fillet.
Old Lady Gang, aka OLG, is the first restaurant for mega-entertainer Kandi Burruss and husband Todd Tucker. Based in Atlanta's historic Castleberry Hill neighborhood for four years, the Southern-focused eatery is the subject of Bravo TV's newest reality show, "Kandi & The Gang."
The series is the first of its kind showcasing an all-Black cast and serves two purposes: It explores the inner-workings of a bustling restaurant environment, and it celebrates three generations of an extended family working together.
On Her Village
"I am super excited about ['Kandi & the Gang'], not just for me, but for my entire family that's on the show," says Burruss in an interview with Kindred. "That's my mom, aunts, and then I have some cousins who work at the restaurant. Then, the other people who are on the show, they're like family."
But without Burruss, none of it would be possible. The multifaceted entertainer and entrepreneur got her start in the music business as a member of the Grammy Award-winning R&B group Xscape, then rolled her success into multiple ventures. That includes producing and writing music, starring in the hit "Real Housewives of Atlanta" Bravo reality series, and opening four Atlanta-based restaurants and a trendy clothing boutique.
Burruss is also mom to 19-year-old Riley, who's away at New York University, as well as 6-year-old Ace and 2-year-old Blaze with husband Todd. For many, that would be enough work, but she embraces the hectic lifestyle she's carved out for herself. She admits that she wouldn't be able to handle it without the support of her family.
"I could not do what I do without having a village around me," says Burruss. "It's all about that village, especially when I was younger and was a single parent to Riley."
She continues, adding that friends with similar backgrounds should be a part of the village that helps parents raise their children. "If you have a friend who also has a child who is around the same age as yours, take turns looking after them," she advises. "If you keep your kids as busy as you are, they never really have time to notice or feel like you're not there enough.
"You have to keep them doing activities. Keep their minds going. It's easier when you have a friend who is also busy, and you can share the responsibility and be a co-parent to each other," she says.
On Honoring Her Elders Through OLG
Burruss credits her tenacity to her mother, who was the 14th of 14 children and a single parent. Momma Joyce, as she's affectionately known on RHOA and at OLG, was the inspiration for the restaurant concept along with Burruss' feisty aunts, Bertha Jones and Nora Wilcox. In addition to several menu items inspired by their original recipes, their likenesses can be found throughout the three locations of OLG.
Her mother and aunts, however, aren't fans of the name Old Lady Gang, admits Burruss. She says the moniker originated during the taping of her Bravo wedding special in 2014. One of her friends started calling them the "old lady gang," and the name stuck. Burruss decided to capitalize off it with the restaurant brand.
"At the end of the day, it stands alone because people know it," she says. "You have to be very strategic in how you build your brands and the names you choose. You have to find something that's original and that means something. That's why we rolled with it."
The name, for Burruss, is a sign of ultimate respect for her elders, who raised her, helped her raise her children, and taught her how to cook soulful staples like collard greens, fried chicken, and peach cobbler.
"I feel like other people can relate [to OLG] with the older, protective women in their families," she continues. "She's at the top of the hierarchy of their families, the queen of their families… she's the boss."
Or so they like to think they are—at OLG. Burruss and her husband are the actual bosses, followed by a management team that keeps the colorful staff in line. It all plays out on "Kandi & The Gang" in hilarious and dramatic fashion.
"My family is naturally over the top, but you get them on the show with some of the people who work at this restaurant. … There are a lot of big personalities [here], and it's really cool that people get to meet them," says Burruss.
Each location is strategically placed in predominantly Black communities, she says, so that they may provide more jobs for those who live in the neighborhoods. In addition to solid local support, with lines down the streets on weekends, OLG has also attracted the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Knowles, Will Ferrell, and Isaac Mizrahi.
"Because so many people saw the journey of us putting the restaurant together on 'Housewives,'" explains Burruss, "it's now a destination for so many people who want to come to Atlanta and try it."
It's an empire she wants to proudly pass on for her children to run one day. "We hope to leave the legacy for the little ones," says Burruss. "We will really be sad if we build all this up, then they don't even want it. We are trying to get them more involved."
No worries. They have an entire village of loving family members to get them motivated.
New episodes of "Kandi & The Gang" airs on Bravo on Sundays.