Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Court House Deli Closes Shop

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 3:34 PM

click to enlarge Owner Brad Peden closed his Court House Deli April 30th. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Owner Brad Peden closed his Court House Deli April 30th.

Ross McDaniel isn’t happy to hear Court House Deli was closing.

“No way,” says McDaniel, who works Downtown.

Then he says, “Try some of those voodoo wings one last time.”

After 17 and a half years, Court House Deli owner Brad Peden is calling it quits. Court House Deli closed for good about 3 p.m. April 30th.

“Business isn’t good and I can’t get any help,” Peden says. “I’ve been working free for months.”

A native Memphian, Peden took over Court House Deli, which originally was on Madison, from the previous owner because he wanted a “downtown lunch place” to serve his Cajun cuisine.

Business was good for a long time. “I’m like a Downtown staple.”

It got to the point where Peden and his 76-year-old mother, Mary Hiller, were doing all the work. With more restaurants open, construction going on next door (people thought he was closed, he says), and law firms, which used to be his big customers, moving out East —  all contributed to the closing. “I did enough business to keep the doors open.”

And, he says, his mother’s health problems are another reason he’s closing.

But, he says, Downtown “has been good to me,” he says. “It’s really hard.”

His specialities — all made from scratch — included his voodoo wings, which he boiled in crawfish seasoning before adding his mixture of sugar, honey, Cajun seasoning, and other ingredients. “Whatever happens to me next, I’m taking that sauce with me.”

Court House Deli wasn’t Peden’s first gig; he worked eight and a half years at Mortimer’s. He also worked at L&N Seafood Grill. And he was part owner of Jacques Cajun Cafe,” which was at Airways and Democrat. “I’ve been a chef my whole life.”

He didn’t make a big announcement he was closing Court House Deli. “I told a lot of people I like today was my last day. Everybody was sad to hear it.”

Peden says he’s got two and a half years left on his lease, so he’s leaving all the kitchen equipment in hopes he can find someone to take over his lease with a new restaurant.

For now, Peden says he’s going to take some time off. “I don’t know what’s next. I’m going to be a chef somewhere.”

Beckii Lee, one of his regulars, walks in the all-but-deserted restaurant. “We’re going to miss you,” she says. She then goes behind the counter and gives Peden a hug.

“Nobody can make chicken salad like he can,” says Lee, who lives Downtown and works at nearby Rachel’s Salon and Day Spa.

Lee is going to miss Court House Deli. “It’s always been home,” she says.

click to enlarge Beckii Lee gives Brad Peden a hug on his last day at Court House Deli. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Beckii Lee gives Brad Peden a hug on his last day at Court House Deli.

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