There are little white paper signs on the windows at 2932 Cherry, the yellow-brick building that formerly housed the cozy vegan bistro known as Cafe Seed. You have to stop your car, get out and stand in front of the building to see what's printed on the signs: Magnolia's Catering. The three-year-old catering company, owned by former financial adviser and current chef Shanita McAfee, is already operating out of the old Cafe Seed kitchen.
Next month, however, McAfee will begin remodeling the venue's kitchen and dining room to create a full-service cafe that will be open by mid-March for lunch and dinner, as well as a contemporary Southern-style brunch on the weekends when the weather is balmy enough to use the outdoor patio at the rear of the building. The February remodel is going to have to be fast: McAfee is already booking private parties for the patio.
McAfee was a professional financial adviser who changed professions when the economy started going bust: "All the young agents who had been at our firm less than five years," she says, "were let go."
Shanita attended culinary school and started catering — first for friends, then professionally. "I now have a solid client base," she says, "but I needed my own base of operations. This location is perfect for what I want to do."
McAfee's catering specialty is Southern cuisine, but not old-school Southern cooking. "My dishes are Southern cuisine for the Food Network generation," McAfee says. (Magnolia's Catering is based in Missouri, but the phone number is 913-907-8288.)
When brunch kicks off in the spring, McAfee plans to focus on a different region of the South every Sunday: "It might be the cuisine of New Orleans one Sunday and the cooking style of Charleston the next."