Kandi Burruss is proof that reality stars can extend their platform far beyond 20 45-minute episodes a season. She's been a staple on The Real Housewives of Atlanta since Season 2, making her the longest consecutive housewife on the franchise. Already a mogul in her own right before the show thanks to penning top hits like TLC's "No Scrubs," which earned her a Grammy, as well as making history as a member of the R&B quartet Xscape, Burruss has used RHOA to expand her business profile beyond unimaginable heights. Burruss has multiple businesses, including two popular restaurants in her hometown of Atlanta: OLG, and Blaze Seafood and Steakhouse.
OLG has been open for the last five years and has more than one location. It's a soul food eatery in the heart of Atlanta with family recipes going back generations. Burruss' mother Joyce, and her aunts Bertha and Nora, are heavily featured in the show as they were the inspiration behind the restaurant.
But it's the employees of the show who are the true stars. In Episode 1, Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker enlist the help of Phillip, a manager from their steakhouse, to change things around at OLG. OLG has been bombarded with negative online reviews, low ratings from health inspections, and high turnover. Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker feel that the staff practically does whatever they want, and Burruss keeps them around due to their loyalty.
When asked why she'd expose the ups and downs of OLG in this way, Burruss said it was the only logical way to do things. "If we want people to really love the show, they're going to love it because we're being real and honest," she told PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview. "It's hard to avoid the reviews that we have been getting because a lot of people talk about that stuff in comments [on social media]. So to do a show and not address those things and be honest about the fact that we were having issues keeping the level of service up that we needed to [wouldn't be right]. And people would've put us on blast if we didn't. So we might as well just tell on ourselves."
But social media users cannot wrap their heads around why Burruss would keep certain employees around when she's dissatisfied with their performance. There's Shawndreca, a hostess, who customers are constantly calling out for having a less than stellar attitude. Brandon is the interim manager who does the bare minimum and only began working there due to his attraction to Dom'Unique. Dom'Unique is the longtime bartender/professional background dancer who works when it's convenient for her. The list goes on. And despite being thoroughly entertained, social media users have questions.
Burruss has good reasons for why she chose to keep her longtime staff. "People have come to an understanding that within the last two years, we've been in a pandemic," she went on to explain. "And I don't know if you've noticed, but pretty much any restaurant you've gone to, I'm sure you've seen the signs where people [post signs that read], "We need help," or maybe they couldn't even open that day because they didn't have enough employees. Or either they're asking, "Please put in applications." It's everywhere because nobody can get anybody to come to work, especially in the restaurant industry. So my point to Todd and to Phillip is, "We can't keep firing everybody"…You got to take some of these people that have some potential and train them to do what you need them to do."
Kandi & the Gang Flopped w/ 69th place! "You can never win when you play DIRTY. Stay woke!" NeNe Leakes 4/22/19 @NeNeLeakes #BoycottBravo #BoycottAllThingsComcast #FreeNeNeLeakes pic.twitter.com/zg4gJ1PYa9— The TEAsearcher (@TooMuchForMe7) March 8, 2022
Burruss has been the only housewife in the history of any franchise to have multiple spinoff specials. Her first, The Kandi Factory, premiered in 2013. The reality competition series featured Burruss and her management team trying to help aspiring artists reach their musical dreams. From there debuted Kandi's Wedding, a multi-episode series on her road to the altar with Tucker. Kandi's Ski Trip followed Burruss with her family and friends in an attempt to mend broken relationships. She also had a brief nighttime talk show, Kandi Koated Nights. Kandi & the Gang is the first actual spinoff series that many believe will be granted several seasons.
Despite Bravo honcho Andy Cohen calling Burruss the "most business savvy housewife" he knows, not all people are happy for Burruss' success. Her longtime nemesis, Nene Leakes, has accused Burruss of being a network favorite. Leakes also alleges that Burruss has blocked her spinoff opportunities. She recently shared a shady tweet about Kandi & the Gang's season premiere ratings.
"What are the ratings on her show? Burruss asked in our interview. "I don't want this to become a big shade-throwing contest between she and I because just like she can throw shade at me, I can throw shade at her. But my whole thing is like, I do not understand why she does that. Back when she did have a show, even when she and I wouldn't even be on the same page, and I will still be posting [on my social media] telling people to watch that show. That's just how I am…What did I do to you? What is my show-stopping you from doing?"
Thank you— NeNe Leakes (@NeNeLeakes) March 8, 2022
Burruss explains that her shows are not just given to her, she works hard to get them approved, sometimes even years. "We pitch our shows. A lot of them [my co-stars] don't pitch shows," she noted. "A lot of them just sit there and think, "I'm so great that Bravo should just throw a show on my lap." That is not what I do. Me and my husband, we come up with these ideas and we pitch them. Sometimes the network is for it. Sometimes they aren't. Everything we do does not get picked up."
But the drama extends just beyond social media chatter, and Leakes isn't the only one Burruss is up against. In the forthcoming 14th season of RHOA, Burruss teases that she gets into a major verbal spat with Marlo Hampton. Hampton has been a friend to the show since Season 4 and the two put their rocky history to the side a few years back. Burruss even championed for Hampton to get a full-time position, which is why she says she was shocked that Hampton was so eager to fight with her this time around.
As to what started their issues this season, Burruss says it was a simple argument that escalated. "We were on the cast trip and she was saying something to somebody else. But to me, it was hypocritical," she explained. "Because I'm like, "You can't say that about this person when you are basically doing the same thing." And I guess she didn't like what I had to say. So she came back and said something to me. I said something to her. And the more we talked, it just got seriously disrespectful."
Luckily, the two have buried the hatchet. Burruss says she's hopeful watching the season back doesn't reignite the drama.
On Burruss' off time from filming, which is rare, she's engulfed in several other ventures. After nearly 20 years, Burruss reunited with her group Xscape. They completed a sold-out U.S. tour. They continue to perform together but haven't set aside time to focus on another tour. But it's not out of the cards for Burruss.0comments
"I would do a tour with them, for sure, depending on if the opportunity came up," she explained. "I mean, there actually have been some promoters who have reached out to say they want to do a tour. I think the problem for me is that I tape most of the year because I'm on multiple shows. I am definitely here for doing shows with them…But I just haven't had a chance to agree to a tour…I guess we'll figure it out. But it's just like something about when we are together on stage, it's magic."
Burruss expanded on her music career, what else to expect in Season 14, and acting. Check out the full 22-minute interview above.