By Jill Davies
Walk through Magleby’s wide wooden door and you are greeted by owner Doc Parkinson’s motorcycle on your right, and a table of graceful bronze statuettes on your left. You are in for a night of delightful contradiction.
For the most part, the interior of Magleby’s flares with Italian and Spanish romanticism. The stucco walls, held up by wooden beams and stone columns, blend into the terra cotta tiled floor. A sloped roof, draped grape vines and floor-length curtains between rooms are reminiscent of scenes from Zorro.
Other nooks are right out of a British parlor. Prim wicker chairs with floral cushions, miniature lamps and glass partitions masked by lace might inspire you to sit up straight and order tea.
But don’t. Magleby’s is anything but pretentious, said floor manager Kelly Thompson. For 18 years, Magleby’s has maintained a faithful Provo clientele by offering elegant ambiance, with hospitality and food that are all-American, he said.
Thompson said Magleby’s food is “gourmet homemade” and the most important ingredients are quality and downright good taste.
“We like to call it fine dining, but it’s as casual fine dining as you find,” he said.
The person responsible for this unique approach to fine dining is Parkinson, who founded the restaurant with a mission companion by the last name of Magleby, Thompson said. Patrons know him as “Doc” and he oversees everything at Magleby’s from the look of each entree to the surprising design of Magleby’s jazzy menus.
“I know for a fact Doc doesn’t know everybody in here, but he acts like he does,” Thompson said. “He loves everyone and he tells them he loves them. It’s kind of funny, but people really feel it.”
Magleby’s dinner menu includes a variety of steaks and fresh fish. “Doc’s Power Buffet” is also a lunchtime favorite for business groups and students alike. The buffet includes a variety of fresh produce, roast beef, stir-fry and seafood. Magleby’s does not serve alcohol.
Despite Magleby’s variety of hearty dishes, its bread sticks and 25 desserts which are baked fresh daily still rank among patrons’ favorites, Thompson said.
“(Doc and his wife Lenora) don’t get overly creative, they just make sure it tastes great,” he said.
Doc’s charisma can even make a weekend wait more pleasant, Thompson said.
“On weekends when there is a bad wait, Doc will take himself out of the game, take a tray of bread sticks and a tray of drinks, and, with one of his grandchildren trailing behind him, pass them out to the people sitting and waiting,” he said. “A 45 minute wait doesn’t feel so bad.”
If that isn’t enough, Magleby’s has a large collection of fine art to enjoy. Several dozen bronze sculptures by Springville artist Gary Price grace the entryway and other corners of the restaurant. Magleby’s also exhibits paintings by Frank Magleby (a relative of the co-founder) and BYU professor and artist Wulf Barsch.
Or patrons may simply choose to sit and take in the unique setting. Stone benches cozy up to swan-neck lamps with fanned shades. A massive canvas and wood parasol lounges on the beams above the buffet.
Thompson said Magleby’s has become a Provo tradition and the celebration place for graduations, homecomings and wedding receptions. Magleby’s is unique because it is not a chain, he said, and can cater specifically to Provo residents.
The seating in Magleby’s includes intimate booths for couples, private sections for parties, booths for families with children and a large dining room for celebrations.
Magleby’s is synonymous with Doc, Thompson said, and Doc just likes to make people feel at home.
“He’ll go into the kitchen and come out with a huge plate of french fries and ranch dressing and say, ‘Snack on these. Make a mess with this. Have fun.'”