Owning a restaurant requires a lot of passion and sacrifice, Maria Macri said, adding that she and her husband, Joe, have put a lot of both into Elm & Magnolia—a restaurant, bar and event venue the couple owns in Old Town Spring.

Maria, an outgoing New Jersey native who grew up working at her father’s restaurant, and Joe, a reserved former Manhattan chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, said they are opposites in many ways. However, the two share a passion for fine dining.

“When Joe and I met, I just think it was an excellent collaboration,” Maria said.

After meeting in New Jersey, the couple felt compelled to move to Texas in 2012 after visiting friends in The Woodlands for a weekend.

“We went back up north, and then 10 days later, I was driving back down with my knife kit and two chef coats,” Joe said.

Shortly after relocating, the couple opened the Black Sheep Bistro and The Italian Joint prior to opening Elm & Magnolia in November 2019. Due to hardships from Hurricane Harvey and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, the Macris decided to close their first two restaurants and focus solely on Elm & Magnolia.

The restaurant serves fine-dining cuisine, such as duck with fried goat cheese and fig jelly, and regularly hosts live music and wine dinners.

Like most small-business owners, the pandemic presented many challenges for the Macris as they had to learn to operate during mandated shutdowns without a drive-thru and adjust their menu to make to-go service easier.

Now, 18 months later, their struggle is to find more people to hire. Joe is the only one cooking in the restaurant’s kitchen, while Maria makes drinks at the bar.

"Some restaurants need seven guys to execute what [Joe] is doing, but we had to survive,” Maria said.

Along with their love of food, the couple has a passion for switching up their menu.

“I think that’s us,” Joe said. “We like to change it up.”

Elm & Magnolia

206 B. Magnolia St., Spring



Hours: Wed.-Fri. 5-9 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.