By Damion Smalls
Ma Gloria’s Trinidad Catering has ventured into the restaurant business, opening its doors at 3313 Meeting St. Road March 22. Promoting an homely atmosphere accentuated by fresh ingredients, Ma Gloria’s represents the effervescent food culture of Caribbean island nations Trinidad and Tobago that has satisfied locals for several years.
Chef Roxann Melville, a native of Trinidad, has earned recognition with her company’s talent through the Black Expo’s Taste of Black Charleston, American Culinary Federation and South Carolina Jerk & Wine Festival. Her catering business is family-run, which will continue to operate alongside the restaurant. They are known from their work at private dinners, weddings and numerous social events throughout the Lowcountry for the better part of the last decade. Chef Roxann’s grandmother is the namesake of the business.
The expansion into a restaurant left Chef Roxann “excited and scared,” says Natalie Wright, realtor and Ma Gloria business partner. “It was a challenge to open the restaurant,” she reveals. Wright states that timing, opportunity, and an “if not now, when?” attitude were key factors in the formation of the Ma Gloria’s first dining establishment.
For its first few weeks of operation, Ma Gloria’s menu will be temporary. Current menu highlights include inventive shrimp variations, plump and saucy wings, refreshing tropical soft drinks, BBQ jerk chicken, vegetarian options and small bites that represent Chef Roxann’s Trinidadian heritage. Look for the rollout of Ma Gloria’s complete menu later this spring. Call the restaurant at 843-203-4662 for takeout orders and menu updates.
Ma Gloria’s Shrimp & Grits Cocktail is the classic Gullah dish served in a cocktail glass. Sausage, onions, bell pepper, and a generous amount of shrimp help enliven the creamy concoction with a flavor to savor that is well worth its $8 price tag. Another delight to dabble in is the fried shrimp entreée tossed in sweet chili sauce served with calypso rice in an halved pineapple that is as visually pleasing as it tastes, according to several patrons of Ma Gloria’s grand opening.
Located within a five mile radius of Black owned restaurants such as soul food/breakfast fusion diner Bread & Butter, market and take-out eatery Marvin’s Seafood, vegan-friendly Dell’z on the Macon, and the Jamaican cuisine-oriented Caribbean Delight, Ma Gloria’s adds to the diversity of Charleston’s resurging Black restaurant scene.
Charleston Minority Business Enterprise Office Manager Ruth Jordan was in attendance for the grand opening. She related that her office encourages women and minority owned business to show initiative, and Ma Gloria’s is no different. “We are proud to see a business so close to the peninsula that is set to thrive with their top-notch service, foods, and atmosphere.”