By Patrice Smith
Gary Benjamin Mitchell, 56, aka Benjie, passed way suddenly on Friday, February 9, 2018. He was known as a peacemaker and always made sure that everyone was okay with each other.
“Benjie was very serious about everyone getting along and he would always be the one to calm the storm,” says Terrance Waters, a longtime friend and Benjie’s employer.
Benjie was the fry cook at Geechie Grub, a soul food restaurant on Dorchester Road in North Charleston where his niece is the chef and owner.
“He really loved to cook. His passion was for food, like mine. He used to cook at my grandmother’s (his mother’s) restaurant on Union Heights. He learned everything about food from “Dot”, the same as me. He was responsible for frying up all the chicken, fish and pork chops that we serve every day,” according to Chef Levonna Mitchell. Benjie was her uncle.
“We used to go to his house on the weekends and he would take us for rides on his motorcycle. He’d fix our cars. He was a great all around guy and I’m going to really miss him.”
Benjie not only cooked by did just about everything else around Geechie Grub to make sure things ran smoothly.
“He would clean meat, take out the trash. He opened the restaurant door for the customers and even walked some of them to their cars. He would do it all from the front of the restaurant to the back and I don’t know what we’re going to do without him.” says Waters.
Benjie’s longtime girlfriend Theresa Gillins worked alongside him and is devastated by his death.
“It’s like we lost two employees.” Waters says. “But I will tell her that if she wants to come back to work, we’ll gladly welcome her even though I know it will be hard for her with Benjie not being there.”
Benjie, who grew up on Union Heights, showed his love for his entire family. He reportedly complained all last week of not feeling well. He passed away at his home on Friday.
A wake will be held on Thursday February 15, 2018 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Calvary AME Church on Union Heights.
Gary Benjamin Mitchell’s funeral will be on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 11 a.m. at Caanon Missionary Baptist Church located off Durant Ave. in North Charleston.
Geechie Grub will close early on Thursday for the wake and won’t open at all on Friday. Regular business hours resume on Saturday.