Movale Hagler, owner of Movale's Eatery and Soul Food in Riverdale.
RIVERDALE — Movale Hagler takes no shortcuts in her kitchen, when preparing some of her finest Southern soul food dishes for Clayton County residents.
The North Carolina native is the owner of Ms. Movale’s Eatery and Soul Food, in Riverdale.
“Everything is made fresh to order,” said Hagler.
She has been cooking since she was 12 years old, taking pointers from her mother and grandmother.
“They taught me everything I know,” she said. “Being a Southern woman, you had to learn to cook if you were going to get yourself a husband.”
Her skills paid off. Movale snagged her husband of more than 30 years, Grant, and a business.
“I love to cook — it’s a passion for me,” she said.
Movale said she and her husband have operated the soul food eatery in Clayton County for almost a decade, attracting some of the county's top dignitaries — who have become regulars — such as Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, who she says likes her oxtails and pot roast, and former Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, who she says orders the collard greens.
Movale said she is also known for her chitterlings and sweet tea among her customers.
“I have a special way I season and cook my chitterlings that no one else can do,” she said.
But it’s the customers like Dr. Chante Ellison-Hodges, who can’t get enough of the oxtails.
“They are just so tender and juicy and fall right off the bone,” Hodges said while licking her lips.
Hodges said she walks from her office, Cadel Medical Group — which conveniently sits next door to the restaurant— once a week for lunch.
“I always order the same thing each time I come in here,” she said — oxtails, green beans and yams. “Maybe one day I’ll try something different on the menu.”
Or maybe not.
“She’s always bringing some oxtails home,” said her husband, Lafayette, owner of HLC Reality Management in Stockbridge. “She won't let us eat that much beef at home, but she cheats when she comes here to eat for lunch.”
The couple, dining at the Movale’s on a sunny Friday afternoon, agreed that when it comes to some good ole’ Southern fare, Movale’s is at the top of their list.
Grant Hagler, Jr. said he loves just about everything his mother cooks.
“I tell you one thing — I always ate good,” he said.
The 20-year-old said he’s been helping out in the restaurant since he was 11.
Movale said right now she is the only cook allowed in the kitchen, but she is hoping one day her four children will take over the family business.
“They can all cook. just like their mama.”
However, Movale said, she still has a lot of energy in her.
“I don’t get burned out,” she said. “I consider this my exercise when I’m cooking. I just love what I do and hearing customers tell how good the food is.”
Ms. Movale’s Eatery and Soul Food is located at 1250 Hwy. 138 SW, in Riverdale. Daily hours are 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.