She sure is purdy. "She" being Pink Magnolia, chef Blythe Beck's new Southern garden party-chic gem set in the former Driftwood space on West Davis Street in Oak Cliff. Together with restaurateur Casey Caldwell, whom she worked with at Kitchen LTO, chef Beck snagged the space and got to work creating her own restaurant from scratch. She opened her doors with a full book of reservations, a full bar and a wine fridge fully stocked with domestic-only bottles Thursday evening. I asked Team Pink a few questions about the restaurant and its roots, just a few hours before the first customers arrived and as the final touches were being made.
What was the inspiration behind Pink Magnolia? I'm especially loving the nomenclature around Pink Magnolia and how it's so inviting. Words like “company” and “blush.” Tell us more...
Beck: Pink Magnolia came from my love of Pink and Magnolia is a symbol of Southern strength and hospitality. It marries my love of pink, positive love and taking care of people.
Caldwell: We are each independent, fun and fearless, so the symbol seemed to suit us both perfectly. The words we use are important to convey the message that we want the customer to feel welcome and at home. Growing up, when we had people over to our house for dinner, our parents would say “company is coming to dinner.” We just want to connect with people over some great food and wine, enjoy their company and hopefully see them again.
How did you two decide, after working together at Kitchen LTO, to make the jump to a real, live brick-and-mortar?
Beck: After my first week at LTO, Casey said she was going to keep me, and I laughed. But the Driftwood space became available. ... We walked in and knew this was our new home. It was fate.
Caldwell: It was something I knew immediately, that Blythe needed her own restaurant. We were knocking it out of the park at LTO and I joked with her that I was never going to let her go. When she was doing a lot of TV, people like Bobby Flay and Paula Deen would ask her where her restaurant was and she would have to say she didn’t have one. I knew we had to change that answer so we began exploring the idea of, “What if ...”
Let’s talk Bishop Arts. How did you choose the location, and how do you feel Pink Magnolia will fit into the neighborhood?
Beck: We looked at the space as soon as Driftwood closed. We loved it immediately and knew we wanted to be there. We are OBSESSED with the neighbors and everyone in the area. In fact, love it so much I moved over here.
The Sunday suppers sound awesome. Tell us about them:
Beck: Pink Magnolia is all about the family and honoring our roots and how we got here. So we decided that on Sundays we would honor the company we have over and honor their family heritage. Every Sunday we will cook a different family's three-course meal with wine pairings and just love on the people who help make Pink Magnolia successful.
Caldwell: We want people to truly feel a sense of home here. These suppers pay homage to the people who got us here by honoring the old family recipes that bring a sense of nostalgia.
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“Butter, bacon and booze.” All-out, down-home Southern recipes. In today's figure-and-fitness-obsessed culture, is there still room for such a place?
Caldwell: With more restaurants going in the direction of "less butter and bacon," I feel we actually fill a niche that isn’t exactly saturated anymore. So yes, I think there is definitely still room for such a place.
Beck: There is always room and a place for Pink Magnolia. She is a place filled with love, hospitality and warmth. My food is decadent but it is comforting and meant to remind you of your childhood and celebrations. I love to cook with bacon, butter and booze, but I also cook with fish, scallops and chicken stock. Pink Magnolia is not just about naughty but it is about family and being together.
Pink Magnolia opened for dinner on Thursday night at 642 W. Davis St. and will add brunch service soon.