Chip and Joanna's Restaurant: Where Everyone Has a Seat at the Table
Order up! Chip and Joanna's new restaurant, Magnolia Table, is now open and serving breakfast daily. Get all the details in a new Fixer Upper special on HGTV.
We've said it before. Never underestimate the tenacity and boundless energy of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Seems they've always got a new project up their sleeves. The last two or three years have seen the opening their headquarters and market at Magnolia Silos, the adjoining bakery, the Magnolia House bed-and-breakfast and, most recently, the Hillcrest Estate. Add to that book deals, a magazine and a home product line. And then, of course, there's the fifth season of Fixer Upper, and the upcoming spinoff series, Fixer Upper: Behind the Design.
Time for a breather, you're thinking? Think again. Chip, it seems, had always had a dream of owning and operating his own restaurant — more specifically, a genuine old-style breakfast joint.
When the opportunity presented itself to purchase and restore Waco's beloved Elite Cafe, the city's oldest restaurant and a bona fide Texas historical landmark, the temptation was just overwhelming. Not surprisingly it became a bee in Chip's bonnet, and it didn't take too much arm-twisting to get Joanna fully onboard as well.
So despite the conventional wisdom of the risks inherent in opening a new restaurant, here was yet another chance to take the proverbial plunge. The result is the newly opened Magnolia Table. In keeping with the Fixer Upper ethos, just think of it as a traditional diner with a modern twist — and an emphasis on community.
The remodel took a full year. You can get the full story, and see the much-anticipated reveal, in the HGTV special premiering March 27, but here are a few appetizers to get you started.
The Elite Cafe, it turns out, is a place that Chip and Joanna had frequented as patrons. The older Gaines kids, in fact, will likely remember going there for pancake breakfasts. It's not only a long-time fixture on the Waco cityscape as a favorite local eatery, it's also a little slice of history.
According to the Texas Historical Commission plaque that now adorns the building, the Elite Cafe dates back originally to its first incarnation in 1919. The current structure dates to the 1940s and serves as one of the best surviving examples of the region's midcentury roadside architecture. Legend even has it that one Elvis Aaron Presley used to dine there while serving in the military and stationed at Fort Hood.
Chip and Jo wisely opted to keep the exterior true to its original form, maintaining the familiar profile that Waco natives know so well.
The interior gets a much-needed overhaul, however, with new vaulted ceilings, lots of large windows to let in plenty of natural light, black and white tile, simple clean lines, natural wood surfaces, fresh greenery and strategically selected vintage flourishes. This is, after all, a Joanna Gaines design.
One of my favorite things is watching people put their phones up and just really enjoying each other's company over a good meal. Doesn't get any better than that.Chip Gaines
The entrance and waiting area becomes a visual showplace, and visitors are welcomed with the slogan: "The Good Ol' Days Are Still to Come." The restaurant's original logo is faithfully replicated in a wall display in a new take-away section for grab-and-go sandwiches, treats and beverages.
Restaurant seating is a mix of classic diner-style booths with bench seating, quaint bistro tables and long communal dining tables. The latter, located in the community room, are intended specifically to encourage perhaps non-familiar patrons, whether local or visiting, to sit down and get to know one another.
In one particularly inspired detail, wall-mounted leather pouches are installed at booths and tables — offering an implied invitation to deposit cell-phones therein to better facilitate the kind of conversation and dining experience people enjoyed in the pre-digital age. How's that for forward thinking?
The Fixer Upper Restaurant Special premieres March 27 at 9p|8c. Check here for additional air times, and check back here following the premiere to see the full before-and-after photo gallery — with all the trimmings — and find out about the new spinoff series, Fixer Upper: Behind the Design.
Main Entrance, After
In keeping with Joanna's carefully crafted design plan, the entrance, waiting area and dining rooms are all given a cleaner and brighter look. "We vaulted all the ceilings," said Joanna, "which is going to make this front dining room more dramatic and feel much bigger." A custom tile mural serves as a stylized welcome mat just inside the front door.
As with many of Joanna's home design schemes, the restaurant's decor blends modern, industrial and classic elements and a clean, open feel "The restaurant's big to begin with," she said, "but I still wanted to vault the ceilings, add some larger windows throughout the space so that more natural light came in. I just really wanted it to make a bigger statement."
The back dining room is designed as a communal dining space with a fireplace and large tables intended to encourage interaction and help foster a sense of community. "So, the idea," says Joanna, "is that different groups of people who don't know each other can all sit together and share the table and, hopefully, get to know each other."