New Tree House Cafe owner stays true to Magnolia restaurant’s roots

Mike Kelton took over ownership of Tree House Cafe in June, which has pet tortoises on display, among other oddities. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mike Kelton took over ownership of Tree House Cafe in June, which has pet tortoises on display, among other oddities. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mike Kelton took over ownership of Tree House Cafe in June, which has pet tortoises on display, among other oddities. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Magnolia Burger ($12.95) comes with cheese, bacon, grilled onions and a sweet and spicy sauce. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
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One of the changes owner Mike Kelton made was adding Salisbury steak ($11.95) to the menu. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Tree House Cafe offers customers more than just a meal. The restaurant also has pet tortoises on display, a “graveyard” beside the restaurant with zombies that pop up in the windows and a rentable event space housed in a tree house. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mike Kelton said he worked in the wine and spirits industry for 32 years before retiring in 2018. However, he said his wife, who works at Exxon, still has a few more years until she retires, so he wanted to do something in the meantime.

“I couldn’t just sit around and not do anything,” Kelton said. “I’ve always wanted to do restaurants. I love to cook, and I love food.”

Kelton took over ownership of Magnolia’s Tree House Cafe on FM 1488 in June, he said. The restaurant, previously named Family Tree Recipes, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, including American cuisine such as cheeseburgers, meatloaf and chicken-fried steak.

Kelton said he has run other restaurants in Houston and Austin, but they were franchise locations. He said he chose to become the owner of Tree House Cafe because it has a different environment and he has more freedom as an owner.

“What intrigued me about Tree House was that it feels like home. ... It’s very casual; it’s very relaxed,” Kelton said. “I wanted an environment where people felt at home, and that’s really what this is.”


Kelton said he has made some changes. The restaurant is now open on weekends and for dinner three nights a week, and he has added menu items such as mashed potatoes and Salisbury steak.

As the new owner of the restaurant, Kelton said his staff and the customers that come in have helped him have success and make positive changes.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our staff and our customers,” Kelton said. “I’m very thankful to have the people that I have to help us do this because I couldn’t do it by myself.”

On Dec. 22, a tree in the parking lot at the front of the restaurant holding its famed tree house was cut through, Kelton said. However, the restaurant is open, and the tree and tree house are both secured, Kelton said in an email.

Tree House Cafe

12202 FM 1488, Magnolia

281-259-7800

www.facebook.com/TreehouseCafeMagnolia

Hours: Sat.-Tue. 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Wed.-Fri. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
By Chandler France

Reporter, Tomball/Magnolia

Chandler joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Southern California, where he was the executive editor of Annenberg Media. He previously interned with the company in Gilbert, AZ and with the Beacon Project, an investigative reporting team in Los Angeles. Chandler is originally from Laguna Hills, CA.