Controversial signs gone from Mamma Nem's

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A much different image used to grace the signs at Mamma Nem's restaurant on the Eastern Boulevard--a black woman many say resembled the "Mammy" pictures often circulated during slavery.

"I'm profoundly sorry," says restaurant owner, Dee Parks.

She says when the image went up, business went down - in a nosedive.

"We received a lot of phone calls where people were hanging up or people would call and they would say a lot of ugly things," says Parks.

So she decided to get rid of the image, replacing it with stripes, checkerboards and the restaurant's initials.

"We just did what we needed to do to have a viable business in the community."

Even after she did away with the controversial image, she admits the restaurant is still getting angry phone calls from folks. But it's not stopping her from doing what she believes is the right thing.

"Since offense was caused, that's the reason I wanted to say I'm sorry because of it," adds Parks.

"I was pleased that they covered up the sign but I did wonder why the sudden change of heart." says Montgomery resident, Beverly Williams.

Williams says the old sign offended her. While she questions the owners' motives for changing it, she says, "I am happy that they are paying attention to what potential customers, potential patrons might feel."

Owners say they're going back to basics, with the first graphic they used of the real Mamma--a family member known for her good cooking.

"I'd be willing to give them a try," says Williams.

Owners hope others, too, will give them a second chance.

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