It was 1989 when Tom Parsell Sr. decided to purchase an old historic building in an area of Charleston that had become run down in recent years.
His vision was to reinvigorate the area with a traditional low country fine-dining restaurant. Magnolias opened soon after in 1990, igniting a culinary renaissance in Charleston and paving the way for restaurants not only in the Holy City but across the South.
As the upscale Southern restaurant prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary this June, some are reflecting on the milestones that have made this restaurant a mainstay on East Bay Street.
1990 was the year that Charlestonians flocked to East Bay Street, dressed to the nines, to enjoy Magnolias’ traditional Southern dishes such as the iconic Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Livers, and the Down South Eggroll, which are all still on the menu today. What was once a destination for late night meals with just one menu available all day, Magnolias has evolved into a must-visit for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
In 1991, one year after Magnolias opened, current Executive Chef Don Drake joined the team. For 24 years, his passion for food and hospitality continues to keep Magnolias at the top of its game.
Magnolias’ first cookbook, Magnolias Southern Cuisine, was published in 1995, offering home cooks and lovers of low country fare the opportunity to enjoy the restaurant’s iconic dishes in their own kitchen.
Magnolias followed the book with a second in 2006, Magnolias: Authentic Southern Cuisine. Showcasing more than fifty recipes in addition to the classics, the book featured everything from Skillet Fried Whole Flounder to Crackling Cream Biscuits.
With the 25th anniversary approaching, HMGI owner TJ Parsell, Jr. decided it was time for a new look for the historic restaurant. The restaurant underwent a six-week renovation in 2014.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary in a big way, Magnolias is excited to announce the release of a third cookbook, Uptown Down South Cuisine. Inspired by Magnolias’ original menu, the book features signature dishes from Chef Drake, as well as recipes from successful chefs such as Jeremy Ashby (Azur and Brasabana) and Jeff Delmastro (Mac’s Speed Shop) that have spent time in Magnolias kitchen. The latest cookbook hits shelves June 2015.