Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

About Marie Nygren

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m the co-founder of the Serenbe community and the Inn at Serenbe. But, the truest answer is that I’m the daughter of Dixie cuisine.

In a time when women were either housewives or secretaries, my mother, Margaret Lupo, purchased legendary Atlanta restaurant Mary Mac’s Tea Room and ran it from 1962 to 1994. She filled a 375-seat dining room daily with everyone from sanitation workers to politicians, but she didn’t just feed them—she nourished their stomachs and their spirit.

I learned in utero how to cook, serve and make people feel like family. I was 12 years old when I hosted my first dinner party.

My experience comes from the kitchen, not the classroom. Though I studied hotel and restaurant management at both Florida State and Georgia State, I left nine hours short of a degree, married restaurateur Steve Nygren and had three daughters, Garnie, Kara and Quinn. I call them my three graces.

In 1994, we moved 40 minutes and a world away from Atlanta and established Serenbe, a sustainable community in the Chattahoochee Hill Country. Through Serenbe Farms and our restaurants, this community has largely come together through food, and from The Farmhouse and the Inn to many events including the Southern Chefs Series, I’ve created the space for people to sit down and share a meal.

That’s the secret to true Southern hospitality: creating a space where people feel welcome and comfortable enough to come together for food and fellowship. Well, that and a good cocktail.