After years of working in pubs in the U.S. and U.K., Magnolia-native Lori Gwynn and her English husband, Stephen Gwynn, opened Pengus’s Place in late September 2019 with the hopes of offering a sit-down, family restaurant for both the local and foreign clientele.
“We figured we’d put half American, half British [food]; that way the British people that come are super excited about coming and having a taste of home, [and] the people that are here have something that they are familiar with. Everybody’s happy,” she said.
Lori said the seaside-inspired restaurant often sees families traveling from as far away as League City to get a taste of their British Breakfast—a hefty portion of bacon, fried egg and sausage served with traditional black pudding, Heinz beans and toast.
“We didn’t want to run a pub anymore; we wanted to run a cafe where people can come in with their family, sit down and have a really good hearty meal,” she said.
After seven years of being in Texas, Stephen said he was surprised to learn how large the British community is in the Greater Houston area, as well as how alike Southern culture is to his own. Whether in Magnolia or his hometown of Sunderland, England, Stephen said the people are friendly, the food is hearty and the portions are big.
“[Country food] is real food for real folk,” Stephen said. “We actually do an English-sized portion rather than a Texas-sized portion, which is far superior to the Texas size.”
Despite a welcoming community, Pengus’s Place experienced rocky waters in its first year of business during the coronavirus pandemic and the state and local mandates that required restaurants to suspend dine-in services.
"We had to close down obviously when everybody else did; we closed down for three months, and that nearly broke us, to be honest,” Stephen said.
Lori said the restaurant lost its employees be•fore getting the chance to apply for government loans during the pandemic. She said it took a little sacrifice and a lot of community support to get things back up and running.
“We weren’t able to get any government help, so [Stephen] sold his guns so that we could restock all of our fridges ... and we were able to reopen for three days,” she said. “The local community was really supportive about getting us back on our feet and making sure that they were here right away when we opened back up.”
17902 FM 1488, Ste. C, Magnolia
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Mon.