MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One year ago, the deadly shooting of superstar rapper Young Dolph sent shockwaves throughout the music world and here in Memphis.

So, imagine the feelings of the owners of the store where gunmen took his life while he was there to buy his favorite cookies.

At Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies on Airways Boulevard, the love is finally back one year later. The smiles are also back on the faces of owners Maurice and Pamela Hill as they warmly greet and joke with customers at their flagship store with warm fresh baked cookies out of the oven.

For the first time in almost a year, a steady flow of customers come through the door to make a purchase from the business known for having the “best butter cookies in the world.”

“I believe they’re continuing to make a mark in this area, not just because of their cookies, but to give back and people love their cookies,” customer Donna Cooper said.

Still, reopening the location wasn’t easy for the Hills. During the past year, what weighed heavily and constantly on their minds was the murder of superstar rapper Young Dolph who was their friend and loyal customer.

A camouflage sports car believed to belong to Young Dolph sits in front of Makeda’s on Airways after the shooting on November 17, 2021.

He lost his life here and for us to be opened back up and say ‘This is how it ends. Young Dolph was gunned down here and now Makeda’s is closed’ we didn’t want it to end that way,” Pamela Hill said.

Young Dolph’s life ended when he was gunned down on November 17th of last year while visiting Makeda’s to buy his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

At first, the Hills didn’t want to reopen and only operated their Jefferson Avenue store downtown, after receiving threats following the rapper’s death.

But they realized the community needed the original store and they also wanted to honor the memory of Young Dolph.

“It’s very important for us to show the criminals that we just want to stand strong. Makeda’s strong and just show some love to the community and show the love that we loved Young Dolph and what he represented for the city,” Pamela said.

Now when you walk into the store, on the left side the Hills pay tribute to the late rapper with a memorial with photos and a dolphin with the words “long live Dolph.”

They are reminders of what he meant to Memphis and what this cookie store meant to Dolph and this community.

“We’ve been here 23 years and sometimes we can’t believe that we’ve been here 23 years. The fact that families would bring their children and those children are bringing their children. It’s like we belong here,” Maurice said. “We didn’t know how important we were. We didn’t know we were a pillar. We didn’t know we were a staple.”

A staple in the community because of cookies made out of love as Maurice and Pamela Hill, along with their customers celebrate a bittersweet reopening and a new beginning at Makeda’s as they remember Young Dolph.

“My husband and I wanted to open back up in his honor and let people know that this is the place he loved, and this is his favorite cookie place and he loved his chocolate chip cookie, and they can come and tase the cookie that he loved,” Pamela said.