Queen Quet of St. Helena Island, left front, performs a traditional Gullah spiritual groundbreaking for Ma Daisy’s Porch in Bluffton, while Bridgette Frazier, owner of the new restaurant project, holds a bucket of smoldering sage, part of the ritual. LYNNE COPE HUMMELL

March 10 started as a rainy morning in Bluffton, but the clouds parted in time for the 10 a.m. groundbreaking of Ma Daisy’s Porch on May River Road.

The project is a dream come true for Bluffton native Bridgette Frazier, whose partnership with Watterson Brands made the project possible.

Ma Daisy’s Porch is an ode to Frazier’s grandmother and to the Gullah community in the way that it is not just a restaurant, but an entire compound composed of a restaurant, bakery, open-air market with goods from the Black and Gullah community, and the first Gullah Heritage Center in Bluffton.

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, of St. Helena Island performed a traditional spiritual groundbreaking, surrounded by all attendees in a circle around her, her comments sprinkled with her native Gullah language. 

As she began, Queen Quet said that the previous rain was not intended as a dampener for the event, but rather the drops were tears of joy from the ancestors in the heavens.

It was evident to Frazier that the ancestors were present, watching over her and the event. 

Speaking at the podium later in the event, Frazier noted that she had a lifetime of support along the way to get her to that moment.

“I know that it’s because of people, like Ma Daisy, my grandmother, and like my mother, Sadie Wilson, and like my father (Oscar Frazier Sr.) who is no longer with me, their stories keep me going,” she said. “I’m reminded of Maya Angelou, who said when she gets up every day, she doesn’t think that those people are gone and forgotten – she gets up and she says, ‘Everybody come with me.’ And that’s how I live my life.”

Fighting tears, Frazier continued, “I feel very blessed that I have God at the helm, but everywhere I go, that my dad and my mom and my grandmother, and all the people who made me who I am, that they are always with me. … It’s a type of fortitude you cannot buy.”

The project – which is expected to be open for business early next year – is another of Billy Watterson’s investments in the Lowcountry community and its people. 

Plans, artists’ renderings and information about Ma Daisy’s Porch were on display during the luncheon that followed the groundbreaking. The 1.8-acre parcel of land and existing buildings will be “reimagined” and renovated with the help of Shoreline Commercial Construction.