Restaurant expands and feeds local economy

A Fort Wayne restaurant is expanding.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Sweet tea, hot water cornbread and fried catfish. Those are just some of the specialties you’ll find at Madea’s Soul Food Place.

The Fort Wayne restaurant celebrated its grand re-opening this weekend. When it opened nearly two years ago, it was located off of South Hanna Street. Owner, Raymond Mack, said he opened the restaurant, affectionately named Madea’s which stands for “Mother Dearest,” in memory of his mother, and he serves some of her favorite recipes. He said as the restaurant grew in popularity so did the need for more space. So, he went in business with his friend Antonio Nino. However, he said the day they were supposed to sign their paperwork, Nino was murdered at his business, the Smoke House.

“Prior to his untimely death, we had talked about the building,” Mack said. “This is something that he wanted me to have.”

Nino owned the building where Madea’s is now located which is two blocks north of the Smoke House. Mack said the restaurant is a part of Nino’s legacy because the expansion wouldn’t be possible without his help. Mack said he hopes to be a pillar in the community just like Nino and the Smoke House were, and community members said businesses like Mack’s are needed, especially when other Southeast businesses are leaving or closing.

“We need to keep some money on the South side of town, everybody cannot migrate to the North side,” customer, Ethel Comer said. “That’s why I’m happy to see that he’s not giving up in the face of adversity. He’s hung in there.”

Restaurant patrons and community members said they’re glad to be able to help the local economy.

“If we don’t support our community, how do we expect for the inner city to come up,” customer, Davian Rutledge said.

The new restaurant is located at 2115 Lafayette St. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, closed every fourth Sunday of the month. Phone: 444-4933.


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