Community says goodbye to Marla's Caribbean Cuisine

Owner blames closure on unexpected rent hikes and other property issues

Mark Freie
June 15, 2019 - 3:31 pm

Credit: Mark Freie / WCCO Radio

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A crowd had already formed Saturday morning nearly an hour before Marla's Caribbean Cuisine opened its doors for the final time. Inside the restaurant Marla Jadoonanan, her husabnd Ian, and her daugher Marissa cooked, cleaned, and waited to greet hungry customers one last time.

"Crowds have been like this since we announced we were closing," Marla said. "Some wait two or three hours for a table."

Known for its spicy, personalized dishes and family atmosphere, Marla's has been open for 14 years with 13 of those years at their 38th and Bloomington location. However, a change of building owners in 2017 brought about an unexpected rent hike and other issues.

"Rent went up to $3,000 a month," Marla said. "After ongoing battles and discussions, I decided in early June that enough was enough and that we would close our doors."

Support for Marla's poured in from the community, celebrities who frequented the restaurant, and a protest was even held on Thursday, June 13.

"It's almost like a funeral," Marla said. "People are bring plants, flowers, and just stopping by to get a hug from me. It's because of them that I am going to come back."

A GoFundMe has been set up to assist in finding a new spot for the restaurant, however there are no concrete plans to reopen at a new location.

Marla, a native of Trinidad, came to the United States in 1980 at the age of 15. Marla's originally opened in Uptown, but moved to its current spot in 2008.

"The neighborhood was known for drug dealers and prositution at the time," she said. "I personally went out and talked to these individuals and respectfully told them that things were going to be different. Things improved and some of them even became my customers. A few of the prostitutes went to college and became nurses."

Things will be different for Marla with the store no longer open. Her husband works for the Minnesota Department of Transporation, but Marla will have some time to fill, which isn't something she's too worried about.

"That's how I am," she said. "I have to be some place and do something. I'll be doing a lot charity work. It's how I grew up and I've sought out a few places.... I'll even go fishing!"

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