Morgan Freeman came home about 12 years back, home to the Mississippi Delta. Freeman, who has three Oscar nominations, for The Shawshank Redemption and other films, was born and raised there. He spent Saturday mornings tending to chores on the family spread near Charleston and Saturday afternoons watching cowboy flicks from the balcony of Greenwood's segregated movie theater. But after high school, Freeman joined the Great Migration out of the Jim Crow South.
More than three decades passed before he returned. When he did, he built a house right on the spot where his family's shack once stood. This past November, he staked another claim. Along with local attorney Bill Luckett, he opened a restaurantMadidiin downtown Clarksdale. A town of 22,000, Clarksdale attracts a fair share of blues pilgrims, but it's a far cry from Los Angeles or New York City, where celebrity-backed restaurants are rampant. "My motive was somewhat selfish," Freeman says. "I wanted to have a place close by, kind of in the neighborhood." Or, as Luckett says, "We wanted a place that the Delta could claim as its own."
Set in an early-twentieth-century redbrick building, Madidi has the stolid good looks of a small-town bank. Downstairs are exposed masonry walls and a mahogany bar, accented by a gallery's worth of art. Upstairs is a warren of private dining rooms painted in russet and gold.