CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After nearly four decades, the doors of Martha Lou’s Kitchen have closed for good. Although she served out of a humble pink building, her Lowcountry cooking was known around the country.
“People came in from all about to patronize us and I appreciate everything that everybody did to keep me open,” Martha Gadsden said. “Ain’t too many businesses hold up that long.”
At 90 years old, Martha Gadsden said she had to close over the weekend after the land she rented was sold to a developer.
“I’m too old to get started again,” Gadsden said. “When I opened up everything was reasonable but now, everything is sky-high and the rent nowadays would kill you.”
Although, her daughters say they want to continue their mother’s work and reopen at another location.
“That’s one of our goals,” daughter Lillie Gadsden said. “To try and get some place else to open up so it can go on. So we can have a legacy.”
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard said he was saddened to hear about the closure. He said he wants to honor Gadsden for sharing Lowcountry culture one dish at a time.
“Come January, there will be a state resolution honoring her years of service at the state level, that’s the least I can do,” Gilliard said.
Gilliard said Martha Lou’s Kitchen was one of the last traditional, black-owned restaurants on the peninsula. He is calling on local and state leaders to help preserve and cultivate businesses like Martha Lou’s Kitchen.
“We’re still left with a gap. When I say that, we ought to be about creating more businesses on King Street and such, mainly black businesses,” Gilliard said. “Black businesses on the peninsula right now, they’re very rare.”
Lillie Gadsden said she will miss seeing the many return customers, locals and tourists alike.
“We grew a lot closer to our customers than normal people do,” Gadsden said. “They were like family, coming back-and-forth. So, we’re going to miss them as much as they’re going to miss us.”