Marigold remains a Madison favorite upon reopening

Marigold Kitchen may have new owners, but the 21-year-old local stronghold stays true to its roots.
Woman and man sit next to each other behind a wooden table, both holding white coffee mugs. Flowers in a vase sit on the table to the left and a wooden mural fills in the background.
Photo by Christian Grover
Kristy and Clark Heine in Marigold Kitchen

After shutting down for a year and a half at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, downtown eatery Marigold Kitchen reopened its doors in July 2021. But the reopening also marked a change for the popular eatery. Married couple Kristy and Clark Heine were now at the helm as the new owners.

For the many loyal customers who had come to love the restaurant’s bottomless coffee, daily specials and friendly counter service in a fast-casual setting, it was a seamless transition. Knowing what makes Marigold a special place is not new for Kristy Heine, who joined the staff as a line cook two months before the restaurant first opened in August 2001, or for Clark Heine, who started working there in 2010.

Originally opened by Phillip Hurley and John Gadau, who also own Sardine and Gates & Brovi — Marigold was the pair’s first Madison restaurant — the Heines took control in April 2021 after Hurley and Gadau first approached them about the idea in late 2020. “We were the only ones who knew how and what it deserved, what people wanted,” Kristy Heine says. “It was just one of those things … if someone else took it on they would never do it justice.”

Open seven days a week, Marigold serves breakfast, lunch and brunch. The majority of the menu has remained the same — “we wanted to stay true to our roots,” says Clark Heine — and is inspired by flavors from Mexican and Californian cuisines. Located right off Capitol Square, Marigold is a favorite spot for many, including the restaurant’s former owners, who visit before the downtown farmers’ markets.

“John and Phillip come in with the chefs from Sardine every Wednesday and get coffee before they hit the market,” Clark Heine says. In their new role, the Heines are thrilled that the restaurant can remain an important part of Madison’s downtown community.

“It’s a happy story,” says Kristy Heine.

Crunch Time

Red bowl holds ingredients of chilaquiles on a wooden table.

Photo by Christian Grover

“We really wanted to showcase the quality of La Cosecha’s chips, which are made from scratch using locally grown heirloom corn,” Clark Heine says. The chips are tossed in house-made verde and roja salsa and topped with Guajillo-braised chicken, pickled onions, melted Chihuahua cheese and a sunny side up egg. “The chips are crunchy and have a dangerously delicious tooth to them,” says Kristy Heine.

Gluten-Free Goodness
Citrus Ricotta Buckwheat Pancakes

Stack of pancakes with frosting drizzle and strawberries sits on red plate.

Photo by Christian Grover

With a high demand for gluten-free pancake options, Marigold switches up these buckwheat stacks seasonally. The summer version featured a bright citrus ricotta and a generous sprinkling of candied citrus zest to add crunch and sweetness. Fall will bring a new flavor — pumpkin cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing.

Dream Combination
Roasted Beet, Warm Goat Cheese and Grapefruit Salad

Roasted beet, warm goat cheese, and grapefruit salad is presented in a white bowl.

Photo by Christian Grover

“The star of this salad is the pepita-crusted orange goat cheese,” says Clark Heine. The cheese, which gets rolled in crushed pepitas and orange zest, is warm when it arrives at the table and is crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside. With roasted beets from Garden to Be in Mount Horeb, greens from McFarland’s Vitruvian Farms, slightly bitter grapefruit rounds and a tangy champagne vinaigrette, this salad hits all the right notes.

A Fresh Look
When Clark and Kristy Heine took over, they spent a couple of months working on the space before reopening. “We wanted to brighten it up,” says Clark Heine. The bar seating that looked out on the street was suspended from the ceiling and filled with lush plants from the couple’s home. Former employee and Wisconsin-based artist Natalie Hinahara painted three new murals. A pastel-colored abstract sunrise greets customers next to the counter and one bathroom features a wall of lemons while the other has oranges. “We are into the citrus thing here,” says Kristy Heine. Marigold also doubled its outdoor patio’s capacity through the city’s Streatery program.

Find Marigold Kitchen:
118 S. Pinckney St., 608-283-9758,

Erica Krug is a contributing writer for Madison Magazine.