Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett Call It Quits with Clarksdale’s Madidi Restaurant – SIGN SAYS CLOSED

The front of Madidi Restaurant - CLOSED. Photo by Delta Bohemian

The front of Madidi Restaurant – now CLOSED. Photo by Delta Bohemian

(Clarksdale, Mississippi) It was a leap year not to be forgotten in Clarksdale, heart of the Mississippi Delta, and home to the once vibrant Madidi Restaurant. Sadly, owners Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett changed the locks and closed the doors for good at Madidi at the end of the day Wednesday, February 29, 2012, after being in business since 2001. The town and many of it’s residents are mourning the loss of the anchor business, which drew blues lovers, fine diners and admirers of the famous actor from all over the world.

Freeman and Luckett kick started the resurgence of Clarksdale when they opened the fine dining establishment and several months later answered with a juke joint of their own to provide another place for tourists to hear live music. Red’s Blues Club is the real deal and has been for decades and continues to thrive on the corner of Sunflower and Martin Luther King.

Ground Zero Blues Club is showing signs of persevering and Clarksdale is without question becoming a common destination for blues lovers, world travelers looking for something different, something real, and they are flocking here from as far away as down under in Australia. The art community is growing, new businesses are sprouting up everywhere and there is live music in numerous venues all over town seven nights a week.

The state’s response of adding Mississippi Blues Trail Markers is giving the industry a touchpoint map to help tourists navigate their way through this rich, gritty, and palatable world we love so much–the Mississippi Delta–and Clarksdale is right smack dab in the middle of it. We are at THE Crossroads.

The Delta Bohemian attended the final night of revelry at Madidi this past Wednesday. We celebrated and toasted with locals and staff to the years of enjoyment, and sometimes frustrations, with the iconic fine dining restaurant. Tonight the front door is adorned with a CLOSED sign, the gas lanterns out front continue to burn but inside through the closed blinds one can only see the light from a lone table lamp.

Prior to the bittersweet night of celebration and remembrance, ABC news affiliate Channel 24 in Memphis knocked on the Delta Bohemian door at 149 Delta unannounced with camera and microphone in hand. We had much to tell the film crew and we are pleased with their final product, which began airing during their early evening newscast on the ground zero day for Madidi. CLICK HERE to link to the article and the video.

The Delta Bohemian took many photographs and videos from the night and will share them with you next week after we have had a chance to recover. Music by local musicians Stan Street and Dr. Alphonso Sanders had folks dancing on the oriental rugs before the night was done. Madidi will forever be remembered by all staff and customers who graced it’s threshold. Many are left wondering what could have been. But oh the good times we had there. MM

STAY TUNED. More photos and videos to come of this historical evening.

Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Dr. Derrick Miles, Musician Stan Street and Bill Luckett toasting. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Musician Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Dr. Derrick Miles, Musician Stan Street and Bill Luckett toasting on the final night of Madidi Restaurant in Clarksdale. Photo by Delta Bohemian

In foreground, former GM Dixie Street with l-r Royce Ader, MJ Haley, and Dr. Erica Balthrop in the dining room of Madidi Restaurant on closing night. Photo by Delta Bohemian

In foreground, former GM Dixie Street with l-r Royce Ader, MJ Haley, and Dr. Erica Balthrop in the dining room of Madidi Restaurant on closing night. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Part of the fantastic kitchen staff. l-r Sous Chef Tony Dampier, Expeditor and Washer Little Jerry Hayes, Head Chef Carl Jackson, Lead Line Cook Lorenzo Jackson working hard on final night of business at Madidi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Part of the fantastic kitchen staff. l-r Sous Chef Tony Dampier, Expeditor and Washer Little Jerry Hayes, Executive Chef Carl Jackson, Lead Line Cook Lorenzo Jackson working hard on final night of business at Madidi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Smiling and lovable Madidi Custodian and all around lend-a-hander and GZBC mainstay Abraham Fox standing outside on final night of Madidi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Smiling and lovable Madidi Custodian and all around lend-a-hander and GZBC mainstay Abraham Fox standing outside on final night of Madidi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Faithful Server and the go to woman at Madidi Peggy Lloyd standing in the empty dining room on the final night of Madidi. Peggy was employed by the restaurant from day one to the final day. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Faithful Server and the go to woman at Madidi Peggy Lloyd standing in the empty dining room on the final night of Madidi. Peggy was employed by the restaurant from day one to the final day. Photo by Delta Bohemian

PS. Morgan Freeman was unable to attend the closing night due to prior commitments.

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Comments

  1. It was so nice to see you both on that report. I hope something nice comes to town in its place and hope the best for the folks who worked there.

  2. Thanks Steve! We miss you and hope to see you soon. I KNOW you are psyched about Plant headlining Sunflower in August. Maybe we will see you then?? As for Madidi, we too are hopeful for something the replace the gap it has left. Thanks for keeping the staff in your thoughts/prayers. Good will come out of this. I have faith in that.

  3. Marilyn kirtley says:

    Thanks to you Madge we were able to meet Morgan…..he was so nice to us. We enjoyed our meal and you were a great hostess.

  4. Marilyn, how sweet of you to share that treasured memory! Those were special times at Madidi. I got totally hooked on meeting all our visitors. You all bless us by coming here, ya know? I’m glad you got to meet Morgan. Thanks for sticking with the DB! ?

  5. Raymond Foret says:

    After years of “putting it off” in favor of other trips I guess we missed out on another thing to do on our “bucket list”. For that I am ashamed.. I hope to make it to the Club Zero before anything else happens. We plan on being in the neighborhood in October for the Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville. I hope we can catch a good Blues band there . We hope all turns out well for you all, may good fortune seek you out.

  6. Sadly attest venue has closed their doors for good ! But to be carried on with the new club I hope a successful new page. In Clarksdales history , the Blues Trail is magnificent as to the birth place of the Blues in which Memphis claims their the center o blues and birth place HOCKEY PUCK !!!!!

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