CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Artwork from an iconic soul food restaurant in Charleston may be salvaged and put on display before the building is demolished.
Martha Lou’s Kitchen, which served customers on Morrison Drive for 37 years, closed its doors in September 2020 amid development in the area.
The restaurant – a noticeable yet unassuming pink building with a large mural, signage, and various artwork, was visited and featured by the New York Times, Travel Channel, and Martha Stewart. It was a staple in the Charleston community.
But Melanie Alston, the granddaughter of Martha Lou Gadsden, and who served as the restaurant’s operator, wants to ensure the restaurant’s legacy lives on.
Martha Lou Gadsden passed away in April 2021 at age 91.
“I am writing to express my support for the demolition of 1068 Morrison Drive, the former location of Martha Lou’s restaurant,” Alston wrote in a June 15 letter to the Charleston Board of Architectural Review. “I understand the significance the restaurant held for our family and the community. It was a beloved institution.”
Alston wrote that to honor her grandmother’s history, she developed a plan to preserve portions of the signage and artwork which would be put on display at a future restaurant she will open in the North Charleston area.
“By preserving important elements of Martha Lou’s Kitchen signage and artwork, we can ensure that the legacy my grandmother created is not lost,” she added.
Artwork is featured on brick, plywood, strand board, and other construction elements.
The preservation effort was discussed during a July 27th meeting and approved with some conditions, including that future development incorporate a commemorative element to acknowledge Martha Lou’s Kitchen operating on the property for over 30 years and what it meant to the community.