Magnolias appoints new executive chef

Kelly Franz/ Provided

The menu will remain the same, but the executive chef is changing at Magnolias.

Kelly Franz, who joined the downtown restaurant in 2003, has been promoted from her chef de cuisine role. “(She) will be continuing to highlight seasonal specialties as well as menu staples,” publicist Sarah Sackett says.

Franz will collaborate with former executive chef Donald Drake, who has been named Culinary Arts Director. In his new position, Drake will focus on restaurant operations, including the “culinary recruiting and procurement of products from local farmers and fishmongers.” He’ll also guide future menu development at Magnolias and its sister restaurant, Blossom.

Drake was appointed executive chef in 1995. He succeeded the legendary Donald Barickman, who helped establish Charleston as a dining destination. Although Barickman stayed with Hospitality Management Group until 2011, Franz credits her success to Drake, who a press release identifies as “a leader for Franz since day one.”

Magnolias this year is celebrating its silver anniversary, but diners have lately voiced concerns that the quality of its food has slipped. After I awarded the restaurant’s food one star in a May 6 review, reader mail ran 8-to-1 in agreement with my conclusion. “I have eaten many, many meals at Magnolias over the years,” one correspondent wrote. “(It) is but a shadow of its old self.” Nearly all of the former fans expressed hope that the iconic restaurant would correct its course.