Magnolia blossoms under new management

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2005

GREENSBORO-Remember when the restaurant at the end of Main Street in Greensboro was a big, open space with deer heads on the walls?

Well, not anymore. Magnolia has changed its look and its ownership.

Seaborn and Buck Whatley, a father and son team, became owners of the restaurant on May 31.

A speaker system and partitions have replaced the deer heads which once covered the walls.

“We wanted to change the feel in here,” he said. “We wanted to make it more intimate and comfy.”

The restaurant now has a private dining room where many community groups and businesses meet.

“For me it was an investment,” Buck Whatley said. “My son is the manager. He and his two frat brothers owned The Decoy in Tuscaloosa.”

Whatley said they basically kept the old menu, but “expanded it.”

Magnolia still serves steak, seafood, and chicken meals but has added daily lunch specials and specialty items such as a chicken cordon bleu, crawfish pizza and a fried green tomato sandwich.

Patricia Hidgon, a customer, said the fried green tomato sandwich is “absolutely marvelous and unbelievable.”

With Seaburn, an award-winning cook, and Germone Jackson a cook from Tuscaloosa who specializes in New Orleans type food, Hidgon said “everything is just so good” at Magnolia.

There is a garden in the restaurant’s backyard from which all the herbs used are fresh picked, literally.

“When you order the fresh tomato and basil, the basil is picked minutes before it’s made,” Whatley said.

Magnolia’s best-selling menu item is the fried catfish flowed by the fried chicken although Whatley said he has gained weight thanks to Margie Wilson’s coconut pie and lemon pie.

According to the new owner, all the members of the original staff and some new employees are helping Magnolia run.

Employees will soon attend a training course that will brief them on ways to become a more efficient and courteous staff.

“Business has been extremely good,” Whatley said. “We have already surpassed numbers from the previous owners.”

The Whatley’s have also been approved to get a liquor license. In a matter of days Magnolia will be the only restaurant in Greensboro besides El Tenampa with a license. Once the license is received, a new bar will also be built to serve cocktails and good beer.

So do you still need a reason to visit Magnolia besides good food and drinks?

Well, where else will you go for dinner? Because according to Whatley, Magnolia “is the only good place to eat in Greensboro.”