Tess Thomas, the owner of Emma’s BBQ, standing with her family. (Photo: Intentionalist)

To celebrate Mother’s day, we are highlighting generational greatness with these five family-focused businesses with grandmothers at the helm.

Emma’s BBQ

In 2016, Tess Thomas realized her lifelong dream of opening her own restaurant. Emma’s BBQ is named after her mother, whose recipes and influence make the restaurant a place where good food and kind people abound. The Southern menu includes plates of pulled pork, brisket, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and plenty of BBQ.

Marcus Green, the founder of South Seattle Emerald, said “even if the BBQ didn’t make you thankful for your tongue having sensory organs, this place would be worth supporting just for the story behind it. Matriarch Tess Thomas saved up several years to open this South Seattle business which brings hundred-year-old recipes of her family to this city.”

Paper Delights

Kathy Perkins and Alicia Olsen are stationary connoisseurs and believe small things leave a lasting impression. The mother-daughter duo opened Paper Delights in 2008 with the simple mission to create a shop they loved to come to every day and fill it with cards, stationery, and gifts that portray a design aesthetic that lifts the spirits. Paper Delights stocks a wide range of beautiful wedding and party invitations, unique cards, high quality stationary, and hand selected gifts. Visit Kathy and Alicia, and you’ll see why Paper Delights is a trusted resource for many couples-to-be, party hosts, gift givers, and those with a passion for all things paper.

Alicia’s son and Kathy’s grandson, “Drew the plant guy”, often makes appearances on Paper Delights Instagram. In his charismatic videos he highlights the plants and gardening supplies that the shop has to offer. 

Quickie Too 

Quickie Too has been serving Tacoma vegan grub made with love since the ’90s, and customers still line up to try their food. The restaurant is owned and run by Niombi Howell and her daughter Afi Howell. The pair love to travel and have collected recipes from around the world that you can try at their cafe, like the Crazy Jamaican Burger with Jamaican spice tofu.

The Howell name is well known in Seattle’s vegan food scene. Plum Bistro was founded by Niombi’s daughter Makini Howell. 


Monica Di Bartolomeo and her husband Ariel Firpo were inspired to open Seatango after growing up in Buenos Aires and waking up each morning to the delicious smell of the local bakeries around them. The couple opened Seatango in September 2020 to bring the fresh, delicious pastries you’d find in Argentina, including a variety of empanadas. Seatango started as a part of the Food Innovation Network’s Spice Bridge food hall and is known for being the only local business in the area that makes facturas (Argentinian pastries) from scratch. In 2021, the Seatango moved to its permanent location in Lake City.

Seatango’s social media is often filled with photos of delicious Argentinian dishes, but sometimes Monica will post glimpses of her grandchildren at the eatery or during weekends away with family. 

Simply Soulful

Owned by mother-daughter duo Barbara Collins and Lillian Rambus, Simply Soulful serves up authentic Southern cooking in a relaxed and welcoming cafe atmosphere. What began as a small operation selling their famous sweet potato pie quickly transformed into a community hub for delicious food and friendly service.

Lillian said it’s rewarding that her three children get to see their mother and grandmother working together and creating something. The cafe also features family recipes, including the sweet potato pie, which is from Lillian’s grandmother Elizabeth Hammond.

Know other mom and grandmother-owned businesses we should highlight?  Let us know by suggesting your favorites. 

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