Have you ever wondered why the food at Marble’s Southern Cookery tastes so delicious? The answer is simple. Lee C. Marble, 76, the owner, has been serving delicious Southern style meals for over 27 years and he takes his food seriously.
Sure, you can visit the Westside eatery and order greens, lasagna, sweet potatoes, fried corn, baked chicken or turkey and dressing like you could at other Southern restaurants. However, Marble says what makes his restaurant special is that his quality food is made honestly and with love.
“I am very conscious about this place and everything I do. You can have your chest stuck out because you’re proud to invite someone into your ‘home.’ This is my home,” said Marble. “This is nothing to be slack about.”
Marble’s Southern Cookery has a loyal clientele that wait until the weekends to savor the delicious flavors of the South made from scratch daily. The restaurant oftentimes has lines out the door consisting of a diverse array of people.
Today, Marble creates dishes that are familiar to African-Americans, but he also has the discipline and skill to compete with the best gourmet chefs in town.
Marble’s love for food comes from his Mississippi Delta upbringing. He was a natural in the kitchen. At the age of 14 he moved to Indianapolis with his culinary skills in tow.
“I got in a training program at Indiana University when I was 17. I had a basic knowledge of cooking, but I wanted to do better,” said Marble.
His training was heightened because of his work at the university, but in 1961 Marble became restless and wanted to up the ante – he wanted to become a gourmet chef.
He began working at the old Washington Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, which was famous for good food and beverages.
“I worked for a chef by the name of Andre. He was French. Oh my, he was as mean as a junkyard dog. I was the youngest and least experienced there. It was tough, but I survived,” said Marble, who went on to reminisce about how chefs would have to cook everything from scratch with no aids unlike today. “There isn’t any food that I can’t fix.”
Marble worked for other establishments like the Country Club of Indianapolis and the Hilton Hotel.
In the early ‘80s, he decided to step out on faith, take his corporate knowledge and meager savings and go back to his roots. He opened Marble’s Southern Cookery at its first location on Michigan Road but eventually moved the restaurant to its current location on 2310 Lafayette Road.
Marble is currently training his daughter and niece to run the restaurant if he was to ever choose to retire. In his spare time, he keeps his gourmet chops sharp by creating dishes such as lobster or Beef Wellington for himself and his family to enjoy.
“My training is where I can fix you something simple like a fried chicken dinner – but I can fry that chicken, you can’t quit eating it. When you eat it, you know it was made with love. I thank God for my experience and I enjoy doing it,” said Marble.