It’s a pristine day in the City of Inglewood, the week of the big game when the Rams play their first home game with fans at SoFi Stadium, but just a short distance away from the glitz and glamour of the new sports mecca sits a deserted soul food restaurant nestled just off Hawthorne Blvd and Imperial Hwy.
Ms. B M&M Soul Food has always been a Southern California favorite since 1990.
A year ago, their location was a lot closer to the action at 801 Manchester Ave., a scoop of gravy away from The Forum and SoFi, but after 15 years the landlord increased their rent from $6000 to $14,000 after their five year lease was not renewed.
“When it was time to renew the lease, I went to him and asked him if he was going to renew it and he said well, Ms. B, I’m not thinking about renewing the lease but the best I could do is month to month. I told him I can’t run a restaurant from month to month. He said he had someone who wants to lease the building, but the rent is going to be $14,000 if you want it. He knew we couldn’t afford to pay that much. We were barely making the $6000,” Beverly Brinson, M&M owner explained to Inglewood Today.
Her tale is one quite familiar to small, mom and pop business establishments in Inglewood since the city became home to the NFL and soon the NBA, owners are cashing in on more lucrative tenants.
Land owners are increasing rents, forcing businesses to either find another location or close.
“It is about big business,” added Brinson.
She didn’t have a clue as to her fate, but says many M&M customers assumed it went out of business and they eventually began flocking down the street to Dulans Soul Food Kitchen on Manchester and La Brea Ave. to fill the void.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she solemnly said.
So, one day while she was driving down Imperial Hwy her son Jerry decided to stop by a Mexican restaurant for a meal.
Once inside she sat at the same booth where she granted this interview and began crying.
“I was just crying and crying and all of a sudden the owner came and served us. He then offered to lease the restaurant to me for the same amount that I was paying on Manchester. This was nothing but an act of God.”
For Brinson the long journey from Jackson, Mississippi has been daunting.
She came west to Los Angeles on a Greyhound Bus in 1974 with two kids and $14 in her pocket. She ran away from an abusive marriage.
Her mother the late Celestine Mosley took her and the two children in.
M&M back in the day stood for Mississippi Mary, Brinson’s God mother, as time progressed and she became the owner it represented Mississippi Moses, after her maiden name.
Brinson took over the business in 1990 and has been at several locations in Inglewood, but she says this might be her best one.
“As you can see there is much more space here,” as she pointed to the various pictures of celebrities who have enjoyed her succulent oxtails, short ribs, candied yams, or Southern fried catfish, all-time favorite of macaroni and cheese, greens, cornbread, tender liver and onions buried under smothered gravy, and even turkey chops.
Down from 19 employees to 12 including her son Jerry and daughter Toni, Brinson says that it has been a struggle to keep the doors open because business is so slow.
“I think the primary problem is that people don’t know we are still in business and I don’t have the financial resources to get the word out. I need help or we may have to close,” she stated.
The family has established a GoFundMe campaign with aspirations that donations will allow for this family owned treasure to keep the doors open.
Ms. B’s M&M Soul Food is located at 4549 W Imperial Hwy. in Inglewood. For more information contact (310) 330-2697.