Please Note: Unfortunately, Mama J’s is no longer in business. We wish Mama J the best in her future endeavors.
There must be a secret ingredient in Mama J’s banana pudding.
My picky eaters, ages 4 and 1, don’t give the pudding I make much love. But they both couldn’t get enough of the pudding at the new Southern food buffet in Yulee.
In fact, we all ate pretty well the night we checked it out. My parents joined us, and from the retirees to the toddlers, we all found dishes that we loved. My daughter pigged out on the homemade corn bread, my son devoured the made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese, and my dad went back for seconds on the fried chicken.
Mama J’s just opened in the space where Picante used to be in the Verizon Shopping Plaza on State Road 200. The parking lot has been packed every time I’ve driven by, so I had to try it out for myself.
One taste of the food explained what all the fuss was about.
The owner, Judy Brewton, told me she’s been cooking all her life. The Fernandina Beach native started at home in the kitchen with her father, who did almost all the cooking at home because her mother was disabled. And her dad didn’t just cook. He made meals with a passion, whether it was just for the immediate family, or for a crowd at a barbecue or reunion.
As an adult, Judy’s worked for about 25 years in the food industry. Her career included 7 years as the manager of Woody’s Barbecue, a job she loved. But when she found a financial backer to open her own business — and the ideal location became available — she had to follow her dream to have a restaurant of her own.
She says the secret to the mouth-watering food on the buffet line is that everything is made completely from scratch.
“We even snap the green beans ourselves,” she told me.
Her specialty fried chicken is featured on the buffet every night. Other dishes featured regularly are Sheppard’s pie, chicken and dumplings, country ham, pork chops, Salisbury steak, and the list goes on. They have a seafood night every Friday. Judy also serves up a hefty breakfast every morning, including omelet and Belgian waffle stations on the weekends. If you don’t have the appetite for a whole buffet, there’s also a menu to choose from and a kids’ menu. Children under 10 eat FREE all day Tuesdays, and kids 3 and under always eat free. You can see details and a complete menu on their website at http://mamajsyulee.com.
It’s not just the price that makes the restaurant family-friendly. It’s also the atmosphere.
There were lots of other kids when we were there, which worked out well when my daughter finished eating, because she was perfectly content to stare and babble at all the other kids. The open seating area leaves plenty of space for high chairs or strollers. It’s also a relaxed atmosphere that can handle a little noise, so you’re not on pins and needles trying to keep your kids from disturbing all the other diners.
If you haven’t been there yet, you’re in for a treat.
By the way: In case you were wondering, the name “Mama J” comes from Judy’s days as a cheerleading coach for her three daughters, who are all now in their 20s. Judy said her daughter’s friends all called her “Mama Judy,” and the name stuck.
If you want to go:
Where: Eagles Crossing Plaza (next to Verizon Wireless), Intersection of SR-200(A1A) & Blackrock Road. Physical address is 464073 SR 200 Unit 1-2, Yulee, FL.
When: As of the time I posted this article, their hours and buffet prices were:
Mon to Sat
- Breakfast: 6am-10:30 am $6.99
- Lunch:11 am-3:30 pm $7.99
- Dinner: 4:30 pm-9:00 pm $8.99
Also open Sunday: 8 am- 3 pm
Contact: Call 904-432-7179
For More Information: Visit their website to see pricing and a full menu at http://mamajsyulee.com/