CLARKSDALE — Actor Morgan Freeman and business partner-lawyer Bill Luckett have ended their 10-year run as owners of Clarksdale’s Madidi Restaurant, an upscale establishment in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.
In a statement on his Facebook page, Luckett, who also owns a blues club with Freeman, says: “Madidi Restaurant 2001-2012. Madidi was one of Mississippi’s premier dining establishments owned by Bill Luckett and Morgan Freeman. We thank the many who dined with us over the years.”
Its closing party was held last night.
Luckett, who made an unsuccessful run for governor in 2011, said he has been quietly looking for a buyer but none has been found.
He remains hopeful someone will take the property and open another restaurant there.
“The restaurant has never made money. It was never about the money to us. Success is not always measured in financial gains … There is a satisfaction in helping your community and exposing people to something they haven’t been exposed to.
“We set out to offer an experience. Thanks to Morgan, and to me to a lesser degree, we had the capital to do that,” Luckett said.
He said the restaurant’s employees were helped in finding other jobs.
Luckett said the name Madidi came from a story in National Geographic magazine about Madidi National Park in Bolivia.
“The park has everything from rain forests to glaciers. It had a great ring to it, and you can metaphorize and say you’re going to serve everything from hot food to frozen delights,” Luckett said in 2000 shortly before the restaurant opened.
In the same interview, Freeman acknowledged his name would bring some attention to the restaurant. He said that is not what would make it successful.
“This is not a Michael Jordan’s Sports Bar. It will have to stand on its own reputation, not mine,” Freeman said.
The restaurant offered up what Luckett called “Americanized French” cuisine, a good wine list and fancy tablecloths and silverware.
Luckett said the restaurant and the blues club he and Freeman opened helped start a revitalization in Clarksdale.
“We went from no restaurants in downtown Clarksdale to eight over the ensuring 10 years. Four arts galleries also opened,” Luckett said.
Both businesses, he said, attracted famous chefs, celebrities and rock stars.
Now, Luckett said neither he nor Freeman has the time to run and manage the restaurant.
“It’s time to let someone else do and I hope they do. There’s been some interest expressed,” Luckett said.