CLARKSDALE, MS (abc24.com) - It's closing night for movie star Morgan Freeman's Madidi restaurant in Clarksdale, Mississippi. After a decade of serving up fine dining in the Delta, Freeman and his business partner are calling it quits.
Locals say the restaurant helped bring tourists back to town, now they hope its closing doesn't keep them away.
According to Clarksdale resident Billy Howell, "There isn't a day in the year that we don't have people from all over the world piling into Clarksdale."
They come for the barbeque and blues, but if fine dining's on the menu, the first and only option in Clarksdale has been Madidi.
"They came there primarily because it was Morgan Freeman's restaurant," said Madge Marley Howell, also of Clarksdale.
Freeman and business partner, lawyer Bill Luckett, opened Madidi in 2001 along with blues club Ground Zero. Luckett says the two never made a profit at Madidi but it did enrich the downtown. Locals believe it changed Clarksdale for the better.
"Madidi and Ground Zero both were huge draws and catalysts for getting Clarksdale back on the map," Billy said.
Madge noted, "We've got a lot of really great unique restaurants. [Madidi] was the catalyst to get that started here."
Do locals think Madidi's closing will hurt their economy? "I pray that it doesn't," Madge said.
Blues club Ground Zero will stay open.
Freeman won't be there for the restaurant's last night; he's filming on location in New Orleans, but the restaurant's last night is expected to be one of its busiest. Nearly every local in town has called to make a reservation.
About a dozen people will be out of a job, but residents don't want to see the building sit empty for long.
George told abc24.com, "Even if people didn't come simply because of Madidi, I think it still was a huge factor in the overall decision to come to Clarksdale."
As they say, 'that's a wrap' to one restaurant, with hopes to soon celebrate another's opening night.