When a massive heart attack stole the life of Lucius and Addie Moultrie’s 39-year-old son, Greg, last October, they closed their landmark Palmetto Seafood Co., the store Greg had run for the past several years.
“We needed time to regroup, to just bury him,” Addie said Tuesday, while ringing up fish dinners and helping customers at the distinctive blue shop on Gervais Street in the Lower Waverly neighborhood.
A few days after Greg’s death, local media outlets, including The State, noted that a sign on the front door of the store at 2200 Gervais St. said the store was closed “indefinitely” because of the death. The Moultries couldn’t be reached for comment at the time.
The seafood market near Five Points had been an institution for 57 years. Word of the closure spread quickly on social media.
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“There was a lot of miscommunication,” Addie said.
Addie and Lucius were devastated by the loss.
“He was a a momma’s baby, and I don’t mind if all of Columbia knows it,” she said. “All of this was going to be his. We would not be where we are now without him.”
The store had been a fixture since Ralph Floyd opened it in 1961. Lucius Moultrie had been a customer for 20 years before he bought the business in 1997.
He painted the building its distinctive blue and added a kitchen, and the market started a new life.
Lucius had retired and was still reeling from his son’s death. Addie, who had been filling in running the store while Greg took time off to deal with complications from his enlarged heart and hypertension, had to take the reins.
“He taught me a lot,” Addie said. “He wrote me a whole notebook.”
Addie reopened the store a week after Greg’s death, but she closed it again last month as she struggled with the loss.
“I took some time off just to get through the situation,” Addie said. “Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why. A parent is not supposed to bury their child. The child is supposed to bury them.”
But news of the “indefinite” closure had hurt the business. Addie wanted to get the word out that it was still open
So after the January break — a vacation, Addie said — the store this week opened again.
“Columbia has rallied around our family,” she said. “A day doesn’t go by that somebody doesn’t mention Greg’s name.”
Cedric McEachin was in the store on Tuesday, picking up a few platters of fried fish.
“This place is legendary,” he said.
McEachin is a chef and owner of Elevation Catering. He recently moved back to Columbia after living for 30 years in California.
“I was going to try to buy” the store, he said. “But I drove by today, and they’re open!”
Addie Moultrie hopes more people will realize that she is back in business and wants to get the word out.
“You don’t have to” come in, she said. “But that would be nice.”