"Mama" Louise Hudson made her return to H&H Restaurant in downtown Macon on Saturday.
She opened the restaurant in 1959. After some financial trouble, she had to close in December 2013.
Moonhanger Group, owners of downtown's Rookery and Dovetail restaurants, announced in March that it was purchasing the restaurant.
Moonhanger owners, Chad Evans and Wes Griffith, were adamant about two things before they reopened - Mama Louise would stay on board and the ambiance of the iconic soul food restaurant would not change.
H&H will reopen to the public at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 13.
Friends and family greet "Mama" Louise Hudson in her return to H&H restaurant in Macon. She opened it in 1959. Money troubles forced her to close in Dec. 2013. The restaurant reopens at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 13.
Evans and Griffith held a private birthday party for Mama Louise on Saturday for dozens of family and close friends. The menu included all of the H&H favorites - fried chicken, okra, cornbread, peach cobbler, macaroni & cheese and hamburger steak.
Mama didn't do any of the cooking Saturday. That task was left to Moonhanger executive chef Doug Sanneman.
She gave him high marks.
"Everything is so nice," she said. "I want to keep it going."
After showering her at the door with gifts and hugs, the well-wishers sang happy birthday.
Friends and family sing happy birthday to "Mama" Louise Hudson on Saturday at H&H Restaurant in downtown Macon. She opened the business in 1959.
"It's extremely important to us and Macon," Griffith said about reopening H&H. "As a business, we're happy Mama Louise and her family trusted us to preserve it, its music history and cultural importance."
Through the years at H&H, Mama Louise was known to feed hungry patrons who were unable to pay.
She became a close friend to two hungry, struggling musicians in the early days of H&H. Those musicians were Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley, founding members of The Allman Brothers Band.
After greeting Mama Louise, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said while he appreciates the music history at H&H, he also loves how it has brought people from all walks of life together.
"Millionaires, people without a penny, black, white, young, old, come here to find a wonderful environment and great food to boot," Reichert said.
Mama told the crowd how much she appreciated them after they sang happy birthday to her. She ended her short speech saying, "I am back."