Martha Lou’s Kitchen, peninsular Charleston’s preeminent soul food destination, has closed | Raskin Around

Martha Lou’s Kitchen, which was vaulted to international fame by well-placed soul food fans, including chefs Sean Brock, Andrew Zimmern and Sara Moulton, has served its last plate of fried chicken.

As first reported by WCBD, the Morrison Drive institution closed Sept. 1, following the sale of the iconic pink building that housed Martha Lou Gadsden’s celebrated cooking for 37 years. According to Gadsden’s granddaughter, Melanie Alston, the building previously owned by Craig Bennett is slated for demolition.



Goose Creek artist creates an itty-bitty Martha Lou's Kitchen

Gadsden, 90, apparently isn’t overly concerned about being displaced after decades of renting.

“It’s her retirement age,” said Alston. “But she is going to miss doing business.”

Business barely dropped off following the onset of the coronavirus.

“We did well during the pandemic,” Alston said, attributing the ongoing success to the restaurant’s overwhelming popularity and facility with takeout items such as turkey wings, lima beans, baked chicken and collard greens.

Alston isn’t ruling out serving those customer favorites again. Martha Lou’s will continue to offer catering services and the family is discussing whether to eventually reopen the restaurant in another location.

“If we’re going to have something else independently, we’re going to revisit that in six months to a year,” said Alston, who for two years ran Martha Lou’s Kitchen #2 in North Charleston.

In a 2016 oral history interview with the Southern Foodways Alliance, Gadsden said she started her restaurant career as a waitress at the legendary Ladson House Restaurant on President Street in the late 1960s when her nine children were old enough to take care of themselves.

She opened her own restaurant in 1983 in a converted service station, selling hot dogs and soda pop.

We publish our free Food & Dining newsletter every Wednesday at 10 a.m. to keep you informed on everything happening in the Charleston culinary scene. Sign up today!

But Gadsden was eager to distinguish her kitchen from the snack bars around town, so soon switched to making the kind of home-cooked dishes she could create again and again without consulting a recipe, such as smothered pork chops and okra soup.

Still, she admitted her repertoire wasn’t complete: She wasn’t satisfied with her biscuits, so instead served sweetened Jiffy cornbread at her restaurant.

“I like what I do and I do what I like, and if I didn’t like it it would be a drudgery, but I like it,” Gadsden told the interviewer. “I don’t never get up in the morning and say, ‘Oh, Lord; I don’t know what today going to be.’ I get up with a meaningful attitude. I’m ready to go — ready to go. As long as I can go, I’m going.”

Brock’s affection for Martha Lou’s and its owner was documented in a 2011 New York Times column, which concluded, “In the cosmology of Southern cooking, Martha Lou’s is no dwarf planet. It is close to the sun itself.”

Then-critic Sam Sifton’s praise incited a torrent of additional press coverage: Bon Appetit characterized the restaurant as worthy of

Read more

Lou’s Beer Garden, Where the Beer Grows

If the definition of a Horticulturist is one who works in the disciplines of plant propagation, cultivation, crop production and plant breeding then a “hops-culturist” would be a beer-breeder a Beer-Master of his domain.

This is exactly who and what Lou Ramirez is; Miami Beaches’ very own beer-master extraordinaire. Chef and beer lover Luis Ramirez is the person behind this hip and very unique namesake, Lou’s Beer Garden, where all tasteful things are propagated and cultivated.

Last Saturday night I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with South Florida’s very own Epicurean Mayor, ER Gagit and his charming wife at Lou’s Beer Garden. When “The Mayor” says we’re gonna check out this new place, you go; ask no questions because it will undoubtedly be an experience. And what a night it was! Lou’s Beer Garden is definitely where the locals go; it is very cool, hip and very friendly.

First we started with a beer tasting from around the world each as exotic and wild as its name, Dead Guy Ale, LongBoard, Pilsner Urquell, Double Arrogant Bastard, Raison D’Etre; The Mayor’s Wife and I wimped out and stuck with Shock Top for the evening however, The Mayor in true form literally added hair to his chest with his choices being Double Arrogant Bastard, Dead Guy Ale and Old Thumper E.S.A.

For our hip eats we started with Lou’s special Belgian Fries and a round of made to order bowls of Shrimp Bisque. Both starters were perfecto! Who would have ever thought “specialty gourmet” in a Beer Garden tucked behind some non-descript historical deco hotel in the North Shores area? The pearls are always hidden in the oyster!

For dinner we had Burgers, Pizza and Tripe. The burgers and pizza great and typical “Beer Garden” food as one would expect but Tripe? another rogue surprise of this beer-breeding-gastro-pub hideaway in Miami Beach. So many bolts from the blue here at Lou’s Beer Garden and I would venture to say these are daily occurrences at Lou’s and you’ve got to check them out for yourself to truly experience it. It is where the locals go and even if you’re not they welcome you with open arms and huge smiles. They invite you to sit in their garden, kick back and have a brew with them; they’ll even throw a burger on the grill for you, the clandestine hospitality here at Lou’s Beer Garden just doesn’t get any better than that. So whether you’re from Minnesota, Montana, Maine or Miami they’re gonna treat you like a next door neighbor at Lou’s Beer Garden.…

Read more