Mama's to offer unique spin on staples of American food

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

Head waitress Cristin Hasty holds Mama's signature burger and fries. The restaurant plans to open in Varnell Tuesday.

VARNELL, Ga. — Fresh ingredients, reasonable prices and friendly service.

Owner Aref Al-Tamimi promises diners will find all of these at Mama's restaurant, which is slated to open Tuesday in Varnell in the shopping center that also houses Sutton's Family Pharmacy just off Cleveland Highway.

The restaurant features classic American food — hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken — and will also include a salad and vegetables. It will also offer three Mediterranean favorites: falafels, gyros (made from a roasted mixture of lamb and beef) and hummus.

"But really, we are looking to hear from our customers about what they want," said Al-Tamimi. "We want to hear from the community, and we will adjust our menu based on what we hear from them."

He says prices will be "as reasonable as possible."

"A burger will be about $5 with fries and a drink," he said. "That's a quarter-pound burger. We will also have a half-pound burger. A gyro will be under $9. We want families to be able to come here."

Kitchen manager Chad Dickinson emphasizes that the meat for the hamburgers will be "straight from the butcher."

"There won't be any fillers or additives," he said.

Al-Tamimi said the restaurant will make its own sauces and coleslaw.

"We won't serve anything that we wouldn't eat ourselves," he said.

He says he wife Sherry, who is from Tennessee, developed many of the recipes. He said she is working on coming up with desserts that people with diabetes can eat.

An alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Al-Tamimi says he has lived in the Dalton area for some 30 years and has owned a number of businesses, including Mama's Home Cooking in Calhoun.

He said that he chose Varnell because it's a small community and close by.

"The people have been super nice and very welcoming and that's why we wanted to come here. I love the people here," he said. "As I said, I want to serve the sort of food they want to eat, and I want to give back to the community."

Manager Patti Lynch said the staff has been working for almost four months getting ready for this week's opening.

"People have been constantly stopping by asking how soon it will be before we are open," she said. "It's going to be great to be able to open the doors and welcome all of those people in."

Al-Tamimi says the restaurant will initially be open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. but those hours could be adjusted.

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