The Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Blvd began as the Omelettry West in 1979, opened by Ken Carpenter (owner of the Omelettry on Burnet Rd) along with Patricia and Kent Cole. Then, when the Omelettry announced it would indeed be moving locations, the spot it was currently in on Lake Austin Blvd was offered to Kent and Patricia (who were married at the time) for their own venture. Why yes, thank you. But then Patricia and Kent then split up; she sold her share in 1980 and went off to open ye olde Kerby with David Ayer, and Kent went on his own.

The restaurant was always ready for fun. When the doors closed at 3 PM each day, the staff would, many times, stay into the evening working on homemade films, music videos in the kitchen, or making humorous staff glamour calendars. Sometimes on the busiest points of the rush on Saturday mornings, everyone would simply stop what they were doing for two minutes and sing the Omelettry theme song. 

Shop shoo wah.

Shop shoo wah.

Imagine three-part harmony:

 

Omelettry West is the place you go in Austin,
      shop shop shoo wah, yum, shoo wah.
Omelettry West is the place you can get lost in...
     shop shop shoo wah, yum, shoo wah.
You better "ooo" come "ooo" whoever you are, shop shoo wah,
You better "ooo" come "ooo" in your Japanese car,
     shop shoo wah,
     shop shoo wah,
     shop shoo wah, yeah yeah yeah...... yummmmmm.

Finally, in 1987, Kent bought out the remainder of the shareholder stock from Ken Carpenter, and it was time to rename the enterprise. Kent really wanted to name the restaurant Eddy's Westside Cafe, given the proximity to Deep Eddy (and also, Eddy is just sort of a cool-sounding-name, right?), but instead decided to name it supposedly after a diner he really loved in Louisiana, which, he vaguely remembered, was some sort of nice tree flower - a magnolia maybe? Magnolia. Okay, so the diner he found out later was not a magnolia, it was the Camelia Grille, but that's okay. Magnolia Cafe it would be. He was committed to it being a place you could bring anyone, even your mom.

In February 1988, the Magnolia expanded to its location on South Congress. Kent, by this point, had been remarried for a few years and had a second kid on the way with his wife, Diana Prechter. She had left her job at the highways department and became the co-owner of the Magnolia, and business swam along. Story has it that the restaurant started staying open later and later each day until Kent or one of the managers or someone finally lost the keys, and that was that.

Since then, the restaurants have been open 24/8.

These days, the Magnolia crew has many of its members from ye olde days, many local vendor relationships for decades in a row now, and the good luck to still have so many customers who remember those old days, too. But we are also excited for the future, even with our roots deep in Old Austin. That second kid mentioned above has now joined Kent and Di in steering the ship (hi, Ava!), and even though our menu has so many gems from our past, we keep evolving our recipes to try new things. Herbed feta spreads! Quinoa tabouli! Salmon lox and eggs! You know, stuff that we like eating so much that we found a way to make it ourselves. 

With that said, thank you Austin, for so many years of love and support. Because of you we can stand by our motto -- Everybody knows, Everybody goes.

 

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