PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 19, 2013

Familiar chef brings Magnolia Diner to life

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — Christos Lemonis is one proud cook and restaurateur.

His dedication to the culinary arts is well known in the area and he has proof to show for it. The proof includes a first place trophy for shrimp gumbo from 1995 earned during Shrimp Fest, a feature story about the honor laminated on a plaque and two certificates from restaurant guides taken from Texas Monthly.

Lemonis, who has local fame from Nederland Lunch Counter, John’s Grill and Primo’s Italian Restorante, couldn’t stay away from the restaurant business, is preparing to open his newest venture — The Magnolia Diner, 2401 Port Neches Ave., in Port Neches.

“I love what I’m doing,” Lemonis said. While he spoke work crews moved about the diner and a female came in to drop off an application for work at the restaurant.

Lemonis gave a brief tour of the business, pointing out the area where the serving line and salad bar will be, the waitress station and dish washing area and the kitchen with industrial sized appliances.

While the building has served as a diner of some sort for many years under different owners, the new renovated diner will now encompass what was once the Hair Clinic thus giving the diner more square footage for patrons.

Clarence Bridges, property owner, was at the site as the renovations were underway. And he can’t wait for the diner to open. He knows Lemonis is famous for the gumbo and hot plates and sandwiches and dumplings and biscuits.

When asked to name his favorite dish he gave a short laugh.

“I don’t have a favorite,” he said. “All food is good.”

The Magnolia Diner will serve breakfast from 5:30 to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and hot lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The diner will be closed on Sunday.

Besides the steam table and other items Lemonis will also be cooking up hamburgers and other lunch items as well.

The business is expected to open for business by next Tuesday.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews