That’s Amore: Where will your Valentine dine?

Published 7:00 am Sunday, February 13, 2022

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By Jennie Guido

For this couple, Valentine’s Day usually is spent at one of three places. To be honest, they are probably running between the three restaurants in town, lovingly known as the Parks’ Places; but we can only hope they get to sit back and share a plate of spaghetti and meatballs at the end of the night.

Malan and John Parks own Magnolia Grill, Pearl Street Pasta, and 100 Main. All of these are located within a few blocks of each other and serve the best that Natchez cuisine has to offer.

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When I chatted with Malan about working side by side with her husband, she explained, “I can honestly say I love having my best friend and husband by my side. I thank God for John in my life.” Their working relationship is one that started from day one of the meeting. “John and I met at John-Martins Under the Hill. We both worked as servers, and he became my best friend. John moved up to manager there and was my boss,” she said.

After a few years, John Martin moved on as the chef at The Castle where Malan followed into a management position. “Later John came to the Castle to work, and I was his boss,” she added.

John and Malan married in August of 2001 and have three children: Kyler, Emily, and John, Jr. “John is a positive influence on our children,” she said. “Kyler has worked at Magnolia, Pearl Street, and events as a server. John, Jr. has helped more with events but has helped as a busser and host, too.”

In 2009, they bought Magnolia Grill, where John was a server many years ago. In 2015, Pearl Street Pasta was purchased. “This was the best of both worlds because we were able to work together again and have more time with each other,” Malan shared. In 2019, John and Malan leased what is now 100 Main Spirits & Eatery.

“Unfortunately, Covid hit, and we eventually had to close all three places. We were worried about our staff, but it was something out of our control. Our staff was given the food we had at the restaurants, and thankfully our restaurant families were able to receive checks during the shut down,” Malan said. “For many businesses, it became a problem of getting people to go back to work. Thankfully, most of our staff did come back to work.

“With the restaurants, we both started out as servers; so we understand both sides of working under other businesses and working for ourselves. We respect our staff and expect the same in return. We really do have a strong staff at our Parks Places and are thankful for them.

“People say they could never work with their spouse, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. We love each other more now than ever. We have been through some tough times, but it has made us stronger. John is my calm, my rock. He encourages me, believes in me, and always finds the good in me.

“Being there for each other as soulmates and business partners is something we do well together. If one of us wants to go do something with friends, we encourage each other to go. When John gets to go fishing or to the camp, it makes me happy for him to go and enjoy having a break from work. He works hard, is up before daylight, and checking off his list of things to do.

Our goal is to continue to make our restaurants a place people want to come back to.

“The locals have supported us, and we are hoping that people will start traveling more and come to Natchez. Being a small area, Natchez has the best food and many places to choose from.”