Food & Drink

‘Fixer Upper’ couple to fix up historic restaurant

‘Fixer Upper’ hosts reveal where they’d live if they weren’t in Texas

Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of the wildly popular HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, talked with the media prior to making their appearance at the Greater Kansas City Home Show at Bartle Hall. Credit: Joe Ledford/Kansas City Star
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Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of the wildly popular HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, talked with the media prior to making their appearance at the Greater Kansas City Home Show at Bartle Hall. Credit: Joe Ledford/Kansas City Star

The Waco Tribune reports Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s popular series Fixer Upper have bought the spot formerly occupied by the landmark restaurant, which closed in February.

Even if your knowledge of Waco is limited to driving through it on I-35 on your way from DFW to Austin, San Antonio or other points, chances are you recognize the name of the Elite Cafe, prominently advertised on freeway-adjactent billboards — at least till February 2016, when the restaurant abruptly closed after 97 years in business.

Among the famous faces who stopped in at the Elite Cafe over nearly a century: Elvis Presley, who dined there once upon a time, and The Daytripper’s host Chet Garner.

The Tribune report doesn’t offer many details about what the Gaineses’ Magnolia brand plans to do with the restaurant — Brock Murphy, the couple’s spokesman, confirmed little more than the purchase, saying “people may speculate on the best use of the property, and even make suggestions, but at this point, the couple have nothing to announce and are formulating ideas” — but the couple has undeniably driven a lot of tourist traffic to the central Texas town.

“I’m thrilled Chip and Joanna bought The Elite,” Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau marketer Carla Pendergraft told the Tribune. “It seems like everything they touch turns to gold, and in their hands, I can trust that The Elite will follow in that same vein, and maybe become something even better.”

Chip, who went to Grapevine High School, and Joanna Gaines, in addition to Fixer Upper, oversee a burgeoning empire in Waco that includes, according to the Tribune, Magnolia Market at the Silos, The Findery, a bed and breakfast called The Magnolia House and a real estate company that sells the couple’s Magnolia Homes.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones

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