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.

Chip and Joanna Gaines in the newly rennovated Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (Portrait)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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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.

The front door to Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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 renovated Magnolia Table has lots of large tables in the space to promote strangers sitting with one another for a meal, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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.

Detail in the renovated Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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.

Before

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

After

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

As seen on FIxer Upper, the vintage sign of the Elite Cafe in Waco, Texas. (Before)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

The new sign at Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

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.

The offical historical medallion remains on the exterior of Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Chip and Jo wisely opted to keep the exterior true to its original form, maintaining the familiar profile that Waco natives know so well.

A new sign in Magnolia Table pays homage to the restaurant's old name, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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

Detail in the renovated Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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. 

Feel free to silence your cell phones and deposit here while dining.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Feel free to silence your cell phones and deposit here while dining.

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. 

The Gaines kids prepare to be the first to see the final reveal at Magnolia Table.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Gaines kids prepare to be the first to see the final reveal at Magnolia Table.

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.

See the Photo Gallery:
A Delicious Fixer Upper

See All Photos

A Big Reveal for Some Very Special Clients

Gaines kids — Drake, Duke, Emmie and Ella — prepare to get their first looak at the newly completed Magnolia Table restaurant. The project revives and revitalizes a Waco landmark, the Elite Cafe.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

There's Always a Seat at Magnolia Table

Waco's newest restaurateurs Chip and Joanna Gaines eagerly await hungry customers at Magnolia Table.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Have a Seat and Stay a While

Custom metal wall-art displays one of the welcoming slogans that capture the spirit of the new restaurant.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

All In the Details

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

All In the Details

Detail in the renovated Magnolia Table, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Essentials To-Go

One side of the restuarant is the designated Take-Away area, where customers can grab a quick sandwich, snack, pastry or beverage — and pick up some fresh flowers or a gift item.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Entrance, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

The Magnolia Table is on the site of Waco's beloved Elite Cafe, the city's oldest restaurant and a bona fide Texas landmark.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

The name may be new, and the decor updated, but Magnolia Table respects and the original restuarant's history as a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, and maintains a welcoming and classic feel.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

The original Elite Cafe dates back to its first incarnation established in 1919. The more recent structure dates to the 1940s and is regarded as one of the best surviving examples of the region's midcentury roadside architecture.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Chip and Jo wisely opted to keep the exterior true to its original form, maintaining the familiar profile that Waco natives have grown to love and cherish.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Exterior enhancements include a raised roofline, lower profile awnings, new entry doors in natural wood finish, larger windows and fresh landscaping.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

A Piece of History

The official historical  medallion and plaque, placed on the building in 1995, is located on the building exterior just to the right of the front entrance.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Take-Away Entry

Maintaining a separate entrance for to-go customers will help keep the main restaurant entrance and waiting area less croweded.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Courtyard, Before

As seen on FIxer Upper, there is an outside pavillion on the side of the Elite Cafe. (Before)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Courtyard, After

A fresh exterior for the outdoor serving bar, bistro tables and new outdoor seating help make the courtyard an ideal spot for alfresco dining.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Courtyard, After

The outdoor courtyard at Magnolia Table has new tables, a covered pavillion, and a walk-up window to order coffee and pastries while you wait, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Covered Pavilion, After

One completely new addition is this outdoor pavilion providing shade and shelter in the courtyard area. The pergola structure features custom metal arches and decorative wood shutters.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Covered Pavilion, After

Prior to the renovation, this area was simply part of a parking lot.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Main Entrance, Before

As seen at the main entry area, the furnishings and features were somewhat dated, likely holdovers from a past renovation dating to the 1980s.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Main Entrance, Before

"It was important for us to honor the history of this place," said Joanna, "so we aren't changing the exterior too much, just updating it a bit. But inside, I really want to give it a fresh start with lots of crisp, clean black-and-white elements."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Main Entrance, After

"The design is just really classic, timeless, nostalgic," says Joanna. "Black-and-white with some wood tones. And then to top it all off, a lot of plants."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Main Entrance, Detail

Grab a menu while you wait.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Dining Room, Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Dining Room, After

Larger windows that let in lots of natural daylight, and newly raised and vaulted ceilings, help transform the main the dining areas, providing them with a grander and more open feel. 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

The restaurant includes several distinct dining spaces, each with its own character but with design continuity throughout.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

As seen on FIxer Upper, the bar area inside the Elite Cafe. (Before)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

This area features a roomy serving bar and an adjacent row of booths with bench seating. 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

As seen on FIxer Upper, the bar area inside the Elite Cafe. (Before)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

The original logo of the Elite Cafe is faithfully reproduced as a key feature on the wall behind the serving bar.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Cup 'A Joe

House blend coffee is available for purchase in the gift area.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Exposed wood beams and leather seating provide a warming counterpoint to the bright white walls and the black and white patterned tile.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Good Food, Good People

A custom mural emphasizes the restaurant's decidedly familial feel and welcoming character.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

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."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Joanna worked with Becky Goss-Shepherd, Magnolia's director of food operations, on creating the restaurant's design, making certain that the final result was practical and efficient as well as striking and beautiful.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Restroom Entrance, After

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Restroom, After

The bathrooms feature white subway tile, concrete countertops, large mirrors and the vintage-look industrial lighting found in the main dining areas.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Drop ceilings were eliminated to give the space a more open and industrial look. 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Statement chandeliers and modern styled metal-and-glass dividers, as well as a simple black-and-white palette, have all become part of Joanna's trademark style. All are well represented at Magnolia House. The framed art includes vintage menus from the original Elite Cafe.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

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."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

Removal of walls, vaulting the ceilings and other structural modifications required using steel beams to provide additional structural reinforcement.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Dining Room Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Dining Room Details

"I'm really liking the idea slatted backs with a leather seat," said Joanna, "and wood-top tables and black-and-white flooring."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Dining Room Details

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Please Silence Your Cell Phones

In one particularly inspired detail, wall-mounted leather pouches are installed at booths and tables — offering an implied invitation to deposit cell-phones there to better facilitate conversation and an authentic dining experience.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Dining Room Details

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Dining Room Details

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Take-Away Goodness

For the take-out counter and boutique area, Joanna took inspiration from the look of a classic soda shop, with black-and-white tile floors and tall black cabinets. The "cafe" sign is a vintage piece dating to the 1940s that Joanna found at an antique fare.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Take-Away Goodness

Joanna worked out some of the restaurant recipes, including the homemade biscuits and jam, in her own kitchen.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Texas Pride

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Behind the Scenes

Chip and Joanna place menus and do some of the final detailing prior to the reveal.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

After

When you step into this space, it really has history. We wanted to pay homage to that.
—Joanna 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Now Serving

I just want to live here. I love just sitting in a booth and just looking ... I can't wait to see this thing filled with people gathering around a table and enjoying each other's community.
—Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Now Serving

I've always wanted to own a restaurant. I've always wanted it to be a breakfast joint. So here we are.
— Chip Gaines

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Proprietors

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Now It's Official

Chip and Joanna at the ribbon cutting attended by staff, special guests and members of the Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Finis

If you enjoyed this special Fixer Upper project, be sure to check out these:
"Sweet Surprise at the Magnolia Silos"
and
"The Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast"

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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