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Dining Out Spotlight: Madidi, Clarksdale

A dream come true for Luckett and Freeman

Ten years ago, when Bill Luckett and Morgan Freeman were preparing to open their Clarksdale restaurant, Madidi, they could park just about anywhere they wanted downtown.

A few weeks ago as Luckett drove to the restaurant, he lucked out and got the only available parking spot on the block.

“There used to be no cars on the street after five,” Luckett said. “But it’s a pretty good feeling when you can’t find a parking spot.”

Madidi and Ground Zero Blues Club sparked the revitalization of downtown Clarksdale. Five restaurants now fill the street in addition to two art galleries — and a third gallery is planned.

“That’s what it’s about,” Luckett said. “Madidi is not a money-maker, but it’s good for the community, and as of now we can afford to handle it.”

He describes his participation as a lot of time and a little money, while Freeman’s is a little time and a lot of money. While the restaurant isn’t necessarily profitable, it gives both men satisfaction to give back through the jobs the restaurant and club offer.

“It’s a good place to eat and entertain, and it gives people a place to see people and have a good time,” Luckett said. “It’s not for the money. It’s something Clarksdale needed, and we wanted it, too.”

Chef Levi Minyard uses local products like greens, quail, pecans and polenta as often as possible, and favorites on the menu are soft shell crab and rare ahi tuna. Luckett said the menu is paired with an affordable selection of wines.

The best seller, though, is the fried quail.

“People tell me it’s the best quail they’ve ever eaten,” he said. “Some have told me it’s the best meal they’ve ever eaten, which makes me just as proud as I can be. People have written thanking us for their experience. How many times in your life have you written a restaurant? But we’ve actually gotten letters – there’s real satisfaction in that.”

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