A husband-and-wife team are working to restore a Greenwood neighborhood grocery and cafe back to its glory days.
“On the outside, you may see it looks OK, but if you go inside, some of it’s not up to par,” said Dr. Bacardi Mayfield-Harris, referring to the Curry’s Grocery building at the corner of Avenue G and Elm Street.
The building at 223 Ave. G was built in 1945. The following year, Mayfield-Harris’ grandparents, Freeman and Essie Curry, opened a family-run grocery store.
The two-story building had a grocery store and cafe on the first floor and several residential apartments on the second floor.
After Freeman Curry died in 1973, Essie Curry kept running the grocery store before passing it over to her daughter, Shirley Curry Mayfield, who was Mayfield-Harris’ mother. Mayfield and her husband, Charles Freeman Mayfield, ran the grocery store together.
She died in 2014, and her husband died the following year. Mayfield-Harris said the family grocery store stopped operating about 10 years ago; the cafe ceased operations before that.
“She wants to come back and put some life in the neighborhood,” said Harold Harris, the husband of Mayfield-Harris.
The Harrises’ plan is focused on community revitalization, with the grocery store and cafe providing a local source of fresh produce and other foods in the neighborhood plus employment and job training programs for youth, he said.
Mayfield-Harris, 53, and her husband, 51, along with their 13-year-old daughter, Madysan, currently reside in the DeSoto County town of Walls. Mayfield-Harris works as an educational consultant; her husband, who was a law enforcement officer for 20 years, works with the city of Memphis’ environmental services.
Both are members of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute, an organization that focuses on building and connecting community leaders from across the state.
Since 2018, the Harrises have stopped by Greenwood on weekends to work on the building. So far, they have cleared and cleaned the second floor and had a new roof installed. They have also purchased two shotgun houses next to the grocery store building, which they plan to revamp and rent out.
For the store building, the Harrises are focused on cleaning the ground floor as well as upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems, Mayfield-Harris said. They also intend to get the cafe back up and running at some point.
To build a rapport with the community, they’re hiring local contractors to assist them with the work, Harris said.
They also plan to fix up the upstairs apartments and intend to have tenants who are educators so local teachers are plugged into the communities they serve, Mayfield-Harris said.
There also will be another group of tenants — Mayfield-Harris and her family.
Growing up in Greenwood, Mayfield-Harris and her family lived in one of the apartments above the grocery store.
“As far as I can remember, I worked at that store. Before I was 6 years old, I was around that environment,” she said. “Sometimes I could even give change and do a transaction.”
The cafe had sold soul food, such as spaghetti, brown rice and gravy with fried chicken and a tomato-based stew.
After graduating from Greenwood High School in 1986, Mayfield-Harris left Greenwood to study technology at Alcorn State University. She also has a master’s degree in curriculum instruction from Christian Brothers University in Memphis and a doctorate in educational leadership from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.
After years of living away from her hometown, Mayfield-Harris said she’s excited to come back.
The family hopes to move to Greenwood during the next year, though that ultimately depends on when the building’s rehabilitation work for the store is finished, Mayfield-Harris said.
She said Greenwood needs the neighborhood grocery store.
“I still want it to have some authenticity of what it was,” she said. “That grocery was a big center part of our neighborhood.”
Now she hopes it’ll be like that again.
• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.