Magnolia to replace Dolce & Gelato in East Hill as owner retires

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The Dolce & Gelato in East Hill will close permanently on Friday, but the sweetness that comes with this bitter news is that The Magnolia restaurant and bar will soon replace it.

Fate contributed to a stressful situation for Magnolia owners Bill and Kiley Manning in early September when the couple were informed by their landlord that their lease on the property at 2907 E. Cervantes St. would not be renewed, well. that the Mannings were interested in an overtime. .

As they started trying to find another location, another location found them when Dolce & Gelato owner Brenda Mader called less than two weeks ago.

Mader informed his friends of his impending retirement and asked the Manninges if they were interested in taking over the lease on his building in East Hill, which was for years City Grocery.

“It was weird,” Mader said of the ironic timing. “The first people I thought of were Bill and Kiley. I met them early when I opened my shop and had gone into the Magnolia, where I was teasing them. I was like, ‘Hey, come on to East Hill. , people want food, and I don’t want to make food. I don’t want to make my kitchen bigger. So I called them out of the blue and Bill said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

Mader cited a “pandemic epiphany” for her retirement, which she didn’t aim for until she turned 60 in 2023. Mader, 58, had a strong desire to spend more time with her family, so she called it an early career.

“She had no idea what was going on,” Manning said, of Mader knowing the couple’s predicament. “Nobody did it, just me and Kiley. So it was the most perfect moment you could imagine.”

Since its opening in 2011, the magnolia has earned a reputation as a cozy and quaint little restaurant and bar, known for its burgers, sandwiches, cocktails and dimly lit atmosphere.

The Dolce & Gelato restaurant is located in a cool area with something for everyone in Zaragoza Street.

The move across town to the Dolce & Gelato property at 2050 N. 12th Ave. means the Magnolia will dramatically increase its carrying capacity from under 50 to just under 90. Revolver Records, which has been operating inside Dolce & Gelato since Mader opened in May 2019, will continue to operate there once Magnolia’s transition is complete.

Manning said his restaurant’s identity won’t change with the new digs, but a menu expansion could be considered to celebrate a fresh start.

“We want to make sure there’s enough familiarity with where it still feels like the Magnolia, but when you leave that space you’re going to have to go through a little personality change. So there is. will have normal elements and then there will also be different stuff. ”

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Magnolia and Dolce & Gelato are currently closed for unrelated reasons. Manning said Magnolia closed earlier this summer so owners and staff could take a break and reset.

Mader closed in September and started selling kitchen equipment, but said Dolce & Gelato would have “one last hurray” when the store hosts a family drag show on Friday. A bingo game starts that evening at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.

“I like to think that (Dolce & Gelato) brought the community together, people from all walks of life,” Mader said Tuesday, reflecting on his two-and-a-half-year tenure at East Hill. “They understood that this was not a gay bar, it was not a dive bar, it was not a date bar or a family bar. It was an ice cream shop with a cool bar. People could sit next to people they couldn’t otherwise sit next to. I think I turned it into a super welcoming place. “

Brenda Mader, owner of Dolce and Gelato in East Hill, cited a "pandemic epiphany" for his retirement.

Mader added that just because she is retiring as a business owner doesn’t mean she’s going anywhere.

“I’ll always be there, I’ll be right on the other side of the bar,” she said.

The Magnolia is aiming for a grand reopening in East Hill in November, according to Manning, who added he was excited to join a growing dining and entertainment hub along 12th Avenue.

“I think we find ourselves in another great area of ​​Pensacola after spending 10 years in East Pensacola Heights,” Manning said. “I think that this road in Pensacola is not yet fully developed, so it is a kind of road between the Cordoba district and the city center. I have the impression that we will have a lot of new faces and that we will still see many of the same faces that we have seen all these years. ”

Jake Newby can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8538.


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