On the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Park Avenue, Mama Carey’s Kitchen & Catering is where soul food meets family.
The restaurant, which has replaced Wildcat Cafe inside the Metro Wildcat convenience store, is now open for business after its grand opening on Aug. 24.
All of the food is inspired by the home-cooked meals of Mama Carey herself-from Tisha Carey’s childhood home of Trenton, N.J.
For Tisha, this restaurant has been a family dream for as long as she could remember.
“I love to cook … I like being able to spend time with my family, cooking together and being around each other,” she said.
That is what lies at the very heart of the restaurant: family. Tisha receives unconditional support from her family, particularly from her son Ka’Deem Carey, who is a UA alumnus and former All-American running back.
“Ka’Deem has always loved Tisha’s cooking and he wanted her to share that with people,” said his grandmother, Deborah Atkins.
Ka’Deem was drafted in 2014 to play for the Chicago Bears but is now currently playing as a running back for the Calgary Stampeders. Though busy during the football season, he would always come back to help out as much as he could.
His wife Missy did as well.
“I am very hands-on in the business on the business side of things, so that’s my role for the kitchen,” Missy said. “I think it’s great that my mother-in-law took her cooking talents to the next level, and we are excited to share that with Tucson. My husband, Ka’Deem, and Tisha have always talked about selling her food and having a restaurant, so being able to see that dream become reality is amazing.”
The start of this dream began with the idea to cater to the Tucson community.
“My mission is to fulfill the Tucson community’s appetite with my specialties. The food I prepare is one of a kind and I pride myself on the different flavor profiles created for a unique taste in Tucson,” according to Mama Carey’s website.
Specialty dishes include: Catfish Dinner; Chicken & Waffles; KC #25 Extreme, which was named after her son’s University of Arizona football number; and the Wings, which come in lemon pepper, BBQ or HOT.
“My favorite thing to eat is the catfish,” said Valerie Bell, a regular customer. “The food is phenomenal, the portions are good for what you pay for. [New customers] are going to be very pleased.”
Menu prices range from $4 for the grilled hamburger to $12 for a dozen chicken wings with fries. Mama Carey’s Kitchen & Catering accepts card payments as well as CatCash. There are different specials every single week. Catering options are available online, and so is the ability to get delivery through GrubHub, DoorDash and Seamless.
“It benefits both of us,” said Jinal Patel, sister-in-law of the Metro Wildcat’s owner. “It [Mama Carey’s Kitchen and Catering] has brought business from all over town and it has been busier than ever before.”
While there is no formal dining area inside the Metro Wildcat hub, this is only the beginning of the dream for the Carey family.
There are plans to expand the restaurant to have a formal dining area in the near future, as well as the possibility of having more than one restaurant. However, for now, the current establishment will remain open in the heart of Wildcat County, serving the local community and students.
Mama Carey’s Kitchen & Catering is the place to be when a slice of home is desperately needed.
“The idea of home-cooked meals serves as a home away from home,” Atkins said. “We try to have things on the menu that we know students would enjoy being away from home. Not having home-cooked chicken or collard greens … if you miss home cooking, this is the place to go.”