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WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES... WE’RE HERE FOR YOU & YOUR FAMILY Let us tell your story of what really happened. Let the truth be known. We also handle cases in:
• Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents • Workplace Injuries/Death • Industrial Accidents and/or Explosions • Commercial Business Disputes • Trucking Accidents involving commercial vehicles and 18-wheelers JESSE E. GUERRA JR., a.k.a. “The Texas Safety Lawyer”, is the founder of The J. Guerra Law Firm and serves as the firm’s lead litigator and trial attorney. In 2009, Mr. Guerra was selected as one of twenty five attorneys statewide by Texas Lawyer Magazine as Extraordinary Minority Lawyers. Mr. Guerra is nationally recognized as an aquatic litigation attorney who’s practice is primarily focused on swimming pool safety law.
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help meet retirement goals
POLITICS 12 » The next generation
PROFILE TITO BEVERIDGE: TITO’S HANDMADE VODKA
Anyone who likes vodka loves Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Tito Beverige shares his story of chasing a dream and landing international success.
LIANA GONZALES, DIVA DULCE PHOTOGRAPHY
PROFILE RUBEN & MARY SOLIS: A NEW NICHE
Catering particularly to Mexican nationals and always focusing on superior customer service, this record-breaking duo brings a new niche to the San Antonio real estate market.
RELATIONSHIPS 42 » Honesty: not always the best policy
TEXAS DINING GUIDE AUSTIN 46 » ‘Eat, drink and be merry’ 48 » Cutting-edge culinary crafts 50 » Eclectic eats 52 » Something truly different 53 » A true Texas food truck
PROFILE DEMERIS BBQ: HOUSTON’S FIRST FAMILY OF BARBECUE
This Houston BBQ staple got its start from a family tradition of hard work and delicious food. The quartet of brothers and cousins celebrate the 50th anniversary with this story of a legacy.
PROFILE CLARISSA SERNA: STAR OF “THE VOICE” LIVES A DREAM
The singer/songwriter from Corpus Christi shares her story of success as she won the hearts of the judges on “The Voice” and now inspires self-confidence in Texas teens.
MATT MOORE, THE ART OF MOORE
FINANCE 14 » How immediate annuities can
REAL ESTATE 32 » Blue Lake Estates
HOUSTON 60 » A Houston institution 62 » Briggs True 63 » A homerun for Houston’s midtown 64 » Deliciously different 66 » Coastal cuisine 68 » Mark’s American cuisine
RIO GRANDE VALLEY 70 » Divine dining SAN ANTONIO 72 » Foodie family
PROFILE JASON DADY RESTAURANT GROUP
Celebrated San Antonio restaurateur Jason Dady shares delectable cuisine from Italian to Asian and mouths are watering in anticipation of his newest BBQ endeavor. 79
» The smoothest in the state
86 » Aldino at the vineyard 88 » Flavors to savor 90 » The southern Brit 92 » The healthy side of Mexico 94 » Cultured cuisine
PROFILE FRALO’S: 10 YEARS OF DELICIOUS PIZZA
Settled in the Hill Country, Fralo’s, has served perfect pizza to its patrons for ten years. This local favorite gained it success by listening to what customers wanted and delivering on its promises.
AUSTIN & DALLAS COVERS: PHOTO OF TITO BEVERIDGE BY KNOX PHOTOGRAPHICS; COVER DESIGN BY CRISTINA VILLA HAZAR CORPUS CHRISTI, LAREDO & RIO GRANDE VALLEY COVERS: PHOTO OF CLARISSA SERNA BY LIANA GONZALES, DIVA DULCE PHOTOGRAPHY; COVER DESIGN BY CRISTINA VILLA HAZAR HOUSTON COVER: PHOTO OF DEMERIS BBQ GROUP BY JUSTIN CALHOUN; COVER DESIGN BY MICHAEL MANCHA SAN ANTONIO COVER: PHOTO OF JASON DADY BY MATT MOORE, THE ART OF MOORE; COVER DESIGN BY MICHAEL MANCHA.
FEATURE 8 » Flights of freedom 10 » All about color 12 » The dangers of identity theft
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FINANCE 98 » Continuing your financial
ARTS 100 » South by Southwest TRAVEL 102 » Where nostalgia meets modern
LEGAL 108 » Two excellent options
PROFILE CENTRAL CATHOLIC VARSITY SOCCER TEAM
Raised to believe in brotherhood, this team of dedicated and faithfilled athletes put their beliefs to work, bringing home the state championship.
NONPROFIT 116 » The story behind the
marquee 118 » A perfect pair 120 » The best years of our lives 122 » Third time’s a charm
ARTS 124 » Shannon Crider: the ballad of Polynices
ENRICHMENT 126 » 17 years later ... 128 » Leaders open doors: part II
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TEXAS FEATURE [ Life with Lisa ]
FLIGHTS OF FREEDOM
Experiencing the honor and bravery of our veterans By: LISA BAKKE
MEMORIAL DAY is the day all of us reflect upon, and remember, those men and women who have died while serving in our Armed Forces. While I have always held a tremendous amount of gratitude for those courageous individuals who have so proudly served, and lost their lives, for the benefit of our freedom, it was not until a rather fortuitous evolution of events which lead me to Dallas, that I
to educate younger generations through living history experiences, and honoring our Veterans. I had the pleasure of walking amongst historically restored, WWII, airworthy aircraft, with actual combat history, and hearing their stories, first hand, with Rob, a passionate war history enthusiast, and the executive director of the Collings Foundation. One of the many things I found significant about
B-24 Liberator 4 engine heavy Bomber-”Witchcraft”
came to understand, more acutely, what these brave heroes endured during air combat. Arriving in Dallas on a beautiful afternoon, I found myself at the Collings Foundation “Wings of Freedom” tour which has made more than 2,800 tour stops in 49 states since 1989. The educational foundation strives
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
the “Wings of Freedom” tour was the fact that there were no ropes surrounding these Warbirds. Generations of family, are welcome to explore their interiors, touch the artillery, squeeze through narrow scaffolding between the bomb compartments and view where the pilot and co-pilot once navigated the craft through
battle. Veteran volunteers meander through the area, answering questions and sharing their war stories with visitors. All the while, Mike, the lead aircraft mechanic, and his crew, perform routine maintenance, and keep the beauty of these Warbirds in proud and glorious condition. Rob lead me through a B-24 Liberator, a 4 engine heavy bomber. Painted in tribute to the “Witchcraft”, which was purchased in England, brought to the United States, and completely restored by the Collings Foundation. Today she is the only airworthy B-24 in existence and flies to honor the aircraft that brought home all of its’ crew on 130 missions. As I stood at the waist gunner, where a young “gunner” once fought, I couldn’t help but notice how thin the walls of the fuselage were. Nothing more than a lining of aluminum that wrapped the crafts framework, as the weight of the plane had to be as light as possible, to allow for more fuel and bombs. No protection for our brave men inside, from enemy fire. There was much for me to ponder as I stood in this aircraft. Undoubtedly a powerful and moving moment for me. Later that afternoon, as I was waiting for the P-51 to return. I introduced myself to Basil, a B-24 pilot at the age of 22, I sensed immediately, that he had many stories to share. A gentle and valiant man, nearing his mid-nineties, Basil flew bombing missions for the 8th Air Force, out of England, to occupied Europe during WWII. This undaunted gentleman shared with me a photo of a painting, that was recently given to him, honoring the formations in which he flew. Though the painting depicted only a few aircraft, he explained to me that most formations included hundreds of B-24 & B-17 heavy bombers with P-51s, as fighter escorts on the missions, protecting the flight crews as they flew over enemy territory. The enemy, waiting for our aircraft, dispersed FLAK (similar to shrapnel) into the air in front of the formations, causing devastating casualties of man and aircraft as they flew into the FLAK. One in five planes went down during some of
PORTRAIT PHOTO OF LISA BAKKE BY MICHAEL GIORDANO
For more information, contact Lisa Bakke of Bakke Limited Interiors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-861-7798.
Lisa & Rob with P-51 “Betty Jane”
these 8th Air Force missions, which lost more airmen than the U.S. Marine Corps lost in marines during the entire war. And it was on this day, that I was able to experience one of the most thrilling and rare opportunities of my life-to fly Betty Jane-the most beautifully restored P-51 Mustang ever. I was in love, from the moment I first placed my eyes on her. I immediately sensed her “presence”, a powerfully refined warhorse. As I approached this historic Jewel, Jim, a pilot with the foundation for more than 12 years, lead me up, and into the co-pilot seat, directly behind the pilot. As he secured my parachute and the seat belts, I placed my head set on and admired all of the instruments in front of me, as Rob prepared the aircraft for take-off. Once we were airborne, and had begun our ascent, Rob turned around and asked if I wanted to fly her ... of course I said yes! As I brought us to the desired altitude, he then asked if I was ready for some fun, I exuberantly replied yes, and gave the controls back over to him. I was now officially, a co-pilot! Well, perhaps not, but I was ready for the fun! Feeling the 3G turn and a few Ailerons (French for wing tip roll) I was prepared for the more advanced maneuvers, 4G loop. My body pinned to the seat, the sky and the earth spinning as I glanced through the windows above my head, trying my best to lift my camera for a video shot ... needless to say I was unsuccessful. Not sure if it
was the G forces or the fact that I was so blissfully ecstatic that I could hardly contain myself enough to press the correct button on my phone. A Barrel Roll followed by an 8pt Hesitation Roll and my mind and my body were overcome with complete exhilaration-what a rare and honored privilege to be sitting in this seat. Understanding now, what it feels like to fly in this craft and experience first hand her acute agility and willingness to perform for the pilot. She would fight the opposition and protect our men at all costs. Simply amazing ... and even more so as Rob put her into an inverted flight ... we were flying upside down and I wasn’t falling into the window, which at that point, was below me! I was more in love with her now than I ever was ... an experience that will remain with me my entire life. Because of one afternoon in Dallas, Memorial Day, for me, will never be the same again ... it will be so much more.
The Collings Foundation does not receive any Government funding and is totally dependant upon the support of public donations, and revenue generated from flight experiences on the P-51, B-24, B-17 and the “Huey” helicopter.
My view from the co-pilot seat If you would like to experience a flight, or make a donation, please contact the Collings Foundation at 978-562-9182 www.collingsfoundation.org MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS // FEATURE
ALL ABOUT COLOR Natural color diamonds: miracles of nature By: SAUMIL MANEK
the crown from the pavilion – the largest diameter to any part of the stone Pavilion: the lower portion of the diamond below the girdle (sometimes referred to as the base) Culet: the tiny facet on the pointed bottom of the pavilion, which is the portion of a cut gem below the girdle Depth: the depth of a stone measured from the table to the culet – a key factor in determining “fine cut” diamonds Facet: a plain, polished surface on a diamond or other gemstone
STRENGTH OF COLOR
CUT VERSUS CARAT
The natural color diamond’s color scale ranges in saturation from very faint to an intense vivid color. The shift in color by one grade scale can make a colored diamond more affordable or very expensive. Natural colored diamonds are among the few gemstones in which color is the main factor in determining price. In an attempt to bring some uniformity to the industry description of natural color diamonds, gem analysis laboratories have developed the fancy color diamond color scale to classify the strength or intensity of a diamond’s color. The cut of the natural color diamond affects the intensity of color in a variety of shapes. Cut plays an important part in determining the diamond’s color and brilliance. By changing angles on the pavilion or crown of the stone, the strength of the color enhances. The same proportions on a colorless diamond that are ideal do not hold same for colored diamonds. The Xaver Jewels team understands these principles and informs clients concerning the following: Diameter: the width of the diamond as measured through the girdle Table: the large, flat-top facet of a diamond – a key factor in ideal-cut diamonds Crown: the upper portion of a cut gemstone (above the girdle) Girdle: the narrow rim of a diamond that separates
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Weight is sacrificed to obtain better color, a better make or better clarity in a diamond. However, every bit of carat weight counts because these diamonds are sold based on their carat weight. A natural colored diamond’s clarity doesn’t play a vital role in determining the value of the diamond. The saturation of color makes it difficult to see inclusions, which makes it less desirable in colorless diamonds.
RARITY AND VALUE
While many factors determine the value of a natural color diamond, the most important is the face-up appearance and rarity of color. The most common colors are gray, brown and yellow. Attributes that affect value: ➊ The rarity of color: The more rare the color, the more valuable the natural diamond. A diamond’s value is either decreased or increased by the diamond’s modifying colors. The range of natural color diamonds is so broad that diamonds range from $2,500/ct (left side) to $1,500,000/ct. ➋ The strength of color: As previously stated, the value typically increases in a colored diamond with the intensity of the major color within the diamond. Laboratories grade these diamonds from light to vivid in color. ➌ The size of the stone: This holds true with size
“THE BEST COLOR IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD IS THE ONE THAT LOOKS BEST ON YOU.” – COCO CHANEL like color. The deeper the saturation, the more valuable the diamond; the larger the diamond, more valuable the natural color diamond. ➍ The shape: Some shapes are often more rare than others because of the weight loss incurred during manufacturing, the technical difficulties involved in cutting them and the overall demand. • Affordable: radiant, cushion, oval, pear shape • Highest value: round, princess, emerald cut The Xaver Jewels team offers not only top-quality diamonds and jewelry, but the priceless education you receive both during and after your purchase, as well. Nowhere in gemology is beauty and value more in the eye of the beholder than in that of natural color diamonds. It is in this world that the true value of the stone will always be exactly what it is worth to you and the lengths will you go to obtain such natural beauty.
Xaver Jewels is located at 6222 Richmond Ave., No. 315, in Houston, Texas. For more information, call 281-250-0671.
COLORED DIAMONDS, SNEHIT/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
THE EMERGENCE OF colored diamonds has made a huge impact in today’s market. They’re miracles of nature formed deep within the Earth’s surface millions of years ago. The gem’s rarity and spectacular beauty encompass a wide range of color. These one-of-a-kind gems bring warmth and style to each individual. Colored diamonds offer individuality with an array of colors not offered by any other gemstone. Natural color diamonds exist in almost every imaginable color, size and price range. They vary from the faintest shade of pastel pink to the bold and vibrant color of an orange.
TEXAS // FEATURE
YOU SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR ALL INVOICES AND QUESTION ANY THAT ARE NOT FAMILIAR.
your commercial banking agreements to see what your protections and reporting requirements are. Consider using a two-person authorization or other arrangements with your bank to protect against fraudulent wire transactions. Beware of phishing scams and monitor your bank account frequently. Protect your business identifying information. Guard your employer identification number (EIN) and tax identification number (TIN) the way you would your own Social Security number. Don’t give them out unless required and shred old documents with business ID information in them.
The Better Business Bureau offers advice for protecting your business against this growing problem – a serious threat to both consumers and businesses. By: LAUREN THOMPSON
• You receive a request to verify orders you didn’t place • You receive phone calls from someone trying to verify an address for your business that is not associated with your company or that you cannot confirm • You receive invoices for storage, shipping or other services that you did not place You should closely monitor all invoices and question any that are not familiar. BBB has the following advice to protect your company against identity theft: Protect your business bank accounts. Review
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Protect and monitor your business credit card, supplier and trade accounts. Keep an inventory of accounts and key contact information. Review and reconcile account statements as soon as they are received and immediately alert your credit card company if you find fraudulent activity. Protect and monitor your business credit file. Regularly review your business credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Keep personal and business finances separate and consider placing a credit security freeze on your personal credit file to make it harder for thieves to open new credit accounts in your name. Protect your business computers and networks. Restrict use of your business computers to only business activities, install anti-virus software and keep it updated and secure your company’s wireless network. For more information about ways to prevent business identity theft and resources for dealing with the problem if it happens to your company, visit BusinessIDTheft.org, a website operated by the Identity Theft Protection Association and the National Association of Secretaries of State.
To find out more about scams, check out www.bbb. org/scamstopper.
IDENTITY THEFT CONCEPT, PHOTOSANI/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
THE DANGERS OF IDENTITY THEFT
WITH THE RECENT news stories about retailers having their records compromised by hackers, Americans have been focused on the dangers of identity theft. According to a 2012 survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 14 percent of people age 16 or older, or 34.2 million people, had experienced one or more incidents of identity theft in the past. Identity theft isn’t just something that happens to consumers, however. Increasingly, criminals are targeting businesses for ID theft, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin is warning businesses to be on guard for signs of having their business’ name stolen. Criminals look for ways to steal the identity of a legitimate business by gaining access to its bank accounts, credit cards and other sensitive company information. The criminals can then secure lines of credit with banks and retailers at the expense of the victim. BBB offers the following signs could indicate that your business’s identity may have been stolen:
Protect and monitor your state business registration information. Regularly review your information with the secretary of state to make sure your information hasn’t been changed or updated without authorization.
FEATURE // TEXAS
AVOIDING THE SUMMER SLUMP HR tips for reinvigorating top talent through a slow summer.
EMPLOYEE LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES, CREATIVA/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
By: STEVE FREEMAN
AS WE ENTER the summer months, it’s time to reflect on the first half of the year and evaluate not only results, but employee engagement, productivity and enthusiasm, as well. This is an opportunity to prepare for the second half of the year and position your business for an outstanding push to accomplish your goals for the year. Naturally, you haven’t gotten through the first half of the year by yourself. Your team is the key to success. Now is the right time to assess strengths, make adjustments and build excitement and commitment. With any team, there are times of high energy and times that lag or lull. Summer is often a time of lower engagement, as individuals take vacations, have fewer deadlines and recharge. In general, there is often less business pressure. Believe it or not, even your best employees could succumb to summer lulls. Common symptoms are slower turnaround on assignments, deteriorating efficiency and quality, declining urgency, poor communicating and looking for a new job. What was that last one? Yes, it’s true. Some of your employees have made this decision and most certainly won’t share it with you. More importantly, your best employees are often the ones who follow through on accomplishing their objectives and goals, including accomplishing new and exciting ones that challenge them. Compounding the possibility of em-
RE-RECRUITING YOUR TOP PEOPLE SHOULD BE ONE OF YOUR GOALS THIS SUMMER. ployee turnover is the fact that the lagging economy has kept voluntary attrition at bay. Some employers have been lulled into believing that their improved employee turnover of the past few years will continue. In actuality, unless you have done something important to truly alter the former trends, higher turnover will return as the economy slowly grows in the coming months. There is now a pent-up demand for new employment among most workforces. What can you do to keep your employees refreshed and inspired? Start by identifying your top performers and top promotable talent based on behaviors, competencies and results. Once you have identified these employees, seek to re-recruit them by: ➊ Providing challenging assignments that motivate them ➋ Seeking an understanding of what they want to do in the future and planning to help them get there
➌ Telling them of their “high potential status” and your desire to maximize their potential ➍ Giving them merit increases that are two or three times the size of the average increase and putting them in a very competitive pay position in the market ➎ Seeking out their opinions and ideas ➏ Providing the right tools, equipment and technology to help them be their best ➐ Recognizing and rewarding with things that are personally motivating ➑ Investing in training and development to build skills and competencies, as well as for motivational purposes ➒ Communicating their roles in the organization and where they fit in now, as well as future possibilities ➓ Including them in strategy discussions and brainstorming Re-recruiting your top people should be one of your goals this summer. It’s also a great way to “wake up” from the summer and prepare to charge forward to accomplish great things for the rest of the year.
Steve Freeman, SPHR, is the director of human resources consulting for CoAdvantage. For more information, visit CoAdvantage online at www.coadvantage.com or contact the company at email@example.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS // FINANCE
HOW IMMEDIATE ANNUITIES CAN HELP MEET RETIREMENT GOALS
For more information, contact your Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Tiffany Mock Briggs of the San Antonio office at 201-805-2848 or Tiffany_Mock@ml.com.
A KEY CONCERN of many retirees is ensuring that they donâ€™t outlive their wealth. One way to accomplish this is to consider making immediate annuities part of a well-diversified retirement portfolio. Annuities are the only financial instruments available today that, like Social Security and pensions, can provide income for life and thus offer some peace of mind. WHAT IS AN IMMEDIATE ANNUITY?
An immediate annuity is a financial contract that makes fixed, regular payments starting within one
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
year of purchase. These payments can be for either a set period of time or over the lifetime of one or two individuals. In the latter case, the contract is known as a lifetime immediate annuity.
GROWING NEED FOR LIFETIME INCOME
Most retirees need to secure a guaranteed income for life. Social Security and pensions both provide lifetime income, but their outlook is uncertain. Meanwhile, defined benefit (DB) plans, which guarantee workers an income for life, are disappearing. Accord-
ing to the triennial Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, the proportion of workers covered by DB plans has slid from 88% in 1983 to just 32% in 2010. Consequently, people are increasingly left to their own devices to fund retirement. By purchasing an annuity, one can effectively create a personal pension that provides the same income stream that DB plans have traditionally provided.
ADDRESSING LONGEVITY RISK
A key threat to retirement security is longevity risk,
RETIRED COUPLE AT BEACH, EPICSTOCKMEDIA/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
By: DAVID LASTER AND ANIL SURI
the risk of living longer than planned and exhausting one’s assets. Workers are living substantially longer than in generations past. Their growing reliance on personal savings and defined contribution plans like 401(k)s and IRAs to fund retirement means they must increasingly bear longevity risk. The risk of outliving one’s wealth is particularly acute when financial markets fare poorly.
HOW LIFETIME IMMEDIATE ANNUITIES CAN HELP
Annuities that provide lifetime income are insurance products uniquely suited to helping investors hedge this longevity risk. In exchange for a lump sum, the buyer receives a stream of income for life. Lifetime immediate annuities can be contrasted with life insurance. Life insurance hedges the risk of dying prematurely and leaving others in financial distress. A lifetime immediate annuity hedges the risk of exhausting one’s assets prematurely. Immediate annuities can help people address longevity risk by providing an income for life that may be higher than they can earn elsewhere. The reason is simple: Retirees who purchase a lifetime immediate annuity are exchanging the use of their capital after they die for a higher rate of return during their lifetime, earning what are known as “mortality credits.” This trade-off may be worthwhile for retirees who need to generate higher income than is available from other low-risk investments.
MEETING WITH FINANCIAL ADVISOR, GOODLUZ/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Age and health should figure into the decision to buy a lifetime immediate annuity. Because these annuities offer higher payouts for older buyers, they tend to make most sense for people in their 60s – and even more sense for those 70 or over. For people under 60, other investments may be preferable. Moreover, since the cumulative payout of lifetime immediate annuities generally depends on how long the annuitant lives, they are best suited for people in reasonably good health for their age. Immediate annuities have some shortcomings worth considering. First, the funds used to purchase an immediate annuity usually cannot be accessed afterward except through its periodic payments. Therefore, those funds are unavailable to address unforeseen needs. Second, buying an immediate annuity means being unable to leave a bequest from the funds used to make the purchase. Third, inflation erodes the spending power of an annuity’s payouts.
IT’S NOT ALL-OR-NONE
These drawbacks are not as stark as they sound, however, because the decision to purchase an annuity is not all-or-none. A retiree might, for example, allocate some of his or her wealth to an annuity while investing the rest elsewhere. By so doing, one can gain the longevity protection that annuities provide while allocating capital for other purposes such as bequests. Timing too is important. There are compelling reasons to purchase immediate annuities gradually rather than all at once. Because the level of annuity payments increases with age, waiting a year or two before purchasing can mean higher payments. Moreover, because interest rates are now low by historical
standards, annuity payments today are relatively low. It might therefore make sense to wait before buying, in the hope of higher interest rates. Each of these points has a counterargument, though. First, if owning an annuity provides attractive income, someone who delays a purchase forgoes this income in the interim and may, due to inertia, never buy one. Second, although interest rates are low, they could stay low for some time or even decline, reducing annuity payments still further. Finally, while low interest rates mean lower payouts for annuities, this does not necessarily make them less attractive than alternatives. For many clients, immediate annuities can be a valuable part of a sensible, well-diversified portfolio that provides income for life.
Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in declining markets. All annuity guarantees and payout rates are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. They are not backed by Merrill Lynch or its affiliates, nor do Merrill Lynch or its affiliates make any representations or guarantees regarding the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Annuities are long-term investments designed to help meet retirement needs. An annuity is a contractual agreement where a client makes payments to an insurance company, which, in turn, agrees to pay out an income stream or a lump sum amount at a later date. Early withdrawals may be subject to surrender charges, and taxed as ordinary income, and in addition, if taken prior to age 59 1/2 an additional 10% federal income tax may apply. This communication was prepared to support the promotion and marketing of annuity products. Mer-
rill Lynch and its representatives do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Any tax statements contained herein were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. Please consult your own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. This communication does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security, financial instrument, or strategy. Before acting on any information in this material, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Any opinions expressed herein are given in good faith, are subject to change without notice, and are only correct as of the stated date of their issue. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management makes available products and services offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (“MLPF&S”), a registered broker-dealer and member SIPC, and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation (“BAC”). Investment products offered through MLPF&S and insurance and annuity products offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.: • Are Not FDIC Insured • Are Not Bank Guaranteed • May Lose Value • Are Not Deposits • Are Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency • Are Not a Condition to Any Banking Service or Activity Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc. is a licensed insurance agency and a wholly owned subsidiary of BAC. Note: This article was reviewed by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and has been edited according to the company’s policy and style. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • AUSTIN // PROFILE
TITO BEVERIDGE ENJOYING LIFE AS TITO’S HANDMADE VODKA TRAVELS ABROAD By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
PHOTOS BY KNOX PHOTOGRAPHICS
fter spending time with Tito Beveridge, a pioneer in the vodka industry, I realized that once a Texan is born with “Southern Hospitality,” it stays with them forever. A gentleman, entrepreneur, and a downto-earth type of man, it is a given that everybody just has to like and respect Beveridge because his roots are truly “deep in the heart of Texas.” Prior to his famous vodka empire, that is currently expanding distribution from coast to coast in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Singapore, the U.K. and recently to Mexico, Beveridge was a man on a mission looking for what he coins his “dream career.” As Beveridge explains his adventures, he says, “It has been a crazy ride.” But I can tell that he has enjoyed most of the ride and continues to do so to this day. His positive attitude and unwavering zeal for life and the people around him are both admirable and contagious. Perhaps because of his history before he devoted 100% of his time on Tito’s Handmade Vodka, there is a plethora of knowledge he learned along the way and he took all of life’s lessons along with him when he was building his micro-distillery. Growing up in San Antonio, Beveridge began visiting Austin in the mid 1970s and eventually attended college there at The University of Texas from 1980 to 1984. With a major in geology and geo-physics, Beveridge’s plans included working for oil companies. In fact, that is what he did do once he graduated from U.T. “I returned to San Antonio and worked for an oil company and after about a year, I got laid off.” But that didn’t stop him from forming his own “little” oil company in San Antonio. “I started a little oil company and called it Uno Oil Corp. because I was the Uno employee. That did not work out as well as I expected and I went to Houston and was offered a job doing seismic data processing. I tried to leave that job but they offered me a position in Venezuela. I started as a field clerk and worked my way up.” After working in both Venezuela and Columbia, Beveridge was determined to head back to the states. “One of the guys asked me where I was going to go. I told him I was heading back to San Antonio. He asked me why I would go back there-I always told him that if he ever goes to Texas, he should go to Austin. Austin is the best place in Texas. He reminded me of this and asked why I wouldn’t go back to Austin. He had a good point and that is how I ended up back in Austin.” After returning to the Lone Star State, Beveridge started a drilling company in Houston for a year. This was when oil went down to $10 a barrel. “That is when I decided to come back to Austin where people are just chilled out. When I came back in 1990, there was just about nothing going on in this town.” He continues, “I knew I made the right decision when I came back to Austin. I always thought that I would rather be broke in Austin than be somewhere else. For a while, I lived in trailers and was sleeping on friend’s couches.” That changed when Beveridge entered the Environmental Business. Using his geology skills, he traveled all around the country covering data in old mines, landfills, ponds, and steam electric stations. He laughs, “I got tired of being in a tie and suit in the hot summer time, sweating in my rubber boots. I had to get out of these dumps and sulphur dioxide ponds. That is when I called a buddy of mine back in Austin. He got me a job selling residential mortgages.” Beveridge was trying to stay off the road and wanted to enjoy the great lifestyle he created for himself in Austin. He bought a house, had dogs and a group of friends and he was never there to appreciate life in the Capitol City. Being in the mortgage business kept Tito in Austin; he enjoyed doing what he was doing but as fate would MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
have it, mortgage rates went up and “it killed my business. I said to myself-so now what am I going to do. “ All too familiar with the saying “Everything happens for a reason,” Beveridge would not believe this until years later. During all his career changes, Beveridge had been consistently making flavored vodkas for his friends as Christmas presents. “Strangers at parties would come up to me and call me ‘The Vodka Guy!’ I went home one night after a party and I saw this guy on T.V. It was an inspirational program. He said if you are trying to figure out what to do with your life, you need to find your passion. He gave instructions on how to do this. You take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle and on one side you put what you love to do and on the other side, you write down what you are good at doing. Then you come up with your dream job.” Beveridge did this exercise and decided he wanted to get into the liquor business. He made some flavored vodkas and took them to a local liquor store. But unfortunately, they kicked him out. “I was told that I had to go through the ATF distribution channels. This was in the early 1990s. The guy at the liquor store showed me all of the flavored Stoli vodkas that were not selling and told me I would be out of business before I was in business if I went that route.” After this encounter, Beveridge knew he could not do flavored vodkas although this is exactly what he had been doing for a long time. The same guy at the liquor store asked him what else he liked to drink. “I told him vodka, bourbon, scotch, brandy, tequila, rum, wine, beer… anything but gin. He said Vodka-that was a great category. Women love vodka and if I could make a good tasting one, I just might succeed.” Beveridge had friends throughout the world that made their own stills so they could make their own wine and beer. He always wanted to build a still but never had done so. Tito’s Handmade Vodka started with a little 16 gallon still that he built. He also built a little boiler and condenser. This is when that moment came-he was going to have a micro-distillery. “It ended up being a horrible idea for about the first 10 years. The last nine years business has changed drastically and it now seems like it was a great idea after all.” Beveridge explains, “In the beginning, everybody thought I was nuts. TABC (Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission) at first said I could not do the micro-distillery. Having been well versed in reading codes due to all the environmental work I did, I asked them which code said that I could not build my micro-distillery. I read the code and told them that I couldn’t find anything that said I could not do this. I realized that the guy I was talking with had never even read the code; they told me I was right. I knew I was right all along.” Beveridge learned that he had to get a permit from the Federal Government. Once he secured a permit, they would give him a permit in Texas. Beveridge followed the instructions given but was told that because he was a “one man” distillery, he could not proceed. Beveridge once again read their code and the only element he found that was missing is that he had to be a corporation. He filed to incorporate and after about 11 visits from the ATF, he received his well-deserved permit from them on 12 acres of land south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Fifth Generation, maker of Tito’s Handmade Vodka was in business and has grown exponentially over the years. As Beveridge explained, the first 10 years were rough ones. Who ever heard of vodka being made in Texas? To this day, Beveridge’s distillery is the only one of its kind in the Lone Star State. And Tito’s Handmade Vodka is enjoyed not only by fellow Austinites, but by fellow Americans throughout the entire country. Add international to the list now, and it is obvious that Beveridge’s hard work and unique recipe of using yellow corn instead of potatoes in his recipe for Tito’s Handmade Vodka has made all the difference in the world. Building a 1,000 square foot shack for his research and development lab and office on his land, Beveridge did not realize that this “shack” would end up being his whole distillery for the first seven or so years. “I thought that I would be able to raise money so I could build a big distillery but nobody wanted in on the deal. So I just built a bigger still and came up with a label, got it approved and used recycled
paper and Elmer’s glue and filled the bottles up by hand and put the copper caps on by hand as well. I did it like this for over six years.” In the beginning, Beveridge not only had a difficult time finding interest any investors but distributors were giving him a difficult time too. His first year, a small distributor in Houston decided to try selling this incredibly smooth vodka. After a year, they “kicked me out.” By then, Beveridge landed a big distributor in Texas and by his second year, he was on the shelves in the Lone Star State. After an arduous beginning that lasted a long time, Beveridge’s Handmade Vodka can be found on the shelves Anywhere, U.S.A. “It seemed like this would never happen. I am at the point where I can say I have certainly come a long way. I used to directly know who the link was when it came to people liking the vodka and wanting to carry it in their liquor store. Now with all my distributors across the country that are really standing behind Tito’s Handmade Vodka, I have no idea who the link is anymore. We just keep going and going and going!” Trying to keep up with the demand has proven to be another challenge that Beveridge and his crew have encountered along the way. They keep building stills, currently there are six bottling lines and Fifth Generation-Tito’s Handmade Vodka is constantly under construction. “Whenever we got caught up, we started marketing which caused me to start increasing production and expanding the facilities.” What started out as a one-man crew has evolved into 98 employees. Beveridge is enjoying each day and strongly advocates that “keeping it fun” is an integral part of the equation at Fifth GenerationTito’s Handmade Vodka. “We also are figuring out ways to give back to the communities that we serve.” And if anybody can figure things out, Beveridge is most likely ahead of the game already. And just who are Beveridge’s customers? Everybody that likes vodka and that is a lot of people. Made from yellow corn and distilled six times results in a mild sweet aftertaste that makes the vodka easy to drink without adding anything to the drink -except some ice. Beveridge still travels the country and partakes in “Meet and Greets” to keep up with the buzz. “I want to know how they found out about Beveridge’s. It’s funny; it always seems to be another family member that introduced them to the vodka or the 77 year old guy who drank Grey Goose and then his buddy started drinking Beveridge’s. I asked that guy why he began drinking Beveridge’s and he said that they did a side by side taste test -Beveridge’s won and he has been drinking it ever since.” It’s the stories like these that become a part of the legend of Austin’s -Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Beveridge’s attitude engulfs the spirits (no pun intended) of both his employees and many of his customers that know Beveridge personally. He often talks about the bottle that Tito’s Handmade Vodka is distributed in. While packaging may be important in the marketing mix, Beveridge believes otherwise. “You don’t drink the bottle; you drink what is in the bottle. I don’t believe in raising the price of the vodka just because the bottle is expensive. I believe in drinking quality vodka at a reasonable price.” A true Texan with a heart of gold, Beveridge has captured the essence of the Lone Star State with his humble beginnings, hard work, and labor of love and as a result his name is gaining momentum everywhere you turn. “What I am doing now is so much more fun than all of the other jobs that I have done in the past. I enjoy it and I have a great crew working with me. I look forward to going to work and I like the people in the industry. The whole project in progress has finally come together and I just want to keep on doing this for a very long time.” And Tito- we want you to keep having fun and to continue enjoying what you do. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is in a class of its own; it is a part of Texas’ history, a history that we are proud of. And we are mighty proud that you chose Austin to be home of the smoothest tasting vodka in the world. Cheers!
“I BELIEVE IN DRINKING QUALITY VODKA AT A REASONABLE PRICE.”
For More Information, visit the Mockingbird Distillery, Austin, Tex. or www.titosvodka.com MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • CORPUS CHRISTI // PROFILE
Star of “The Voice” Lives a Dream ORN AND RAISED IN CORPUS CHRISTI, Clarissa Serna was determined to be a singer since she was seven years old. When she received a karaoke machine from her parents for Christmas as a young girl, Serna says, “That was what ignited the flame of my passion for singing.” Serna participated in talent shows and dance and folklorico performances along with her other extracurricular activities from her first days in school to her high school years. “As I grew older and my talent became more evident, I believed more and more that singing was something I wanted to pursue as a career.” Developing her musical skills with piano lessons, choir and vocal lessons, Serna started writing lyrics at the age of 15. As she practiced and performed, she was already a star and had a growing fan base. Some of the songs that she wrote at this time are recorded as part of her EP which is available on iTunes self-titled “Clarissa Serna” which was released in 2011. Fast forward to 2014 and Serna is a singer and songwriter with over 10 years of experience in musical performance in the South Texas area. Cities included in her tours are San Antonio, Austin, Alice and many cities in the surrounding areas. Graduating from Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi in 2008, Serna has her bachelor of arts in media communications. It is apparent that this talented and well educated woman has places to go and things to do, and she has the power to make her dreams into a reality. Serna developed a following as she began performing weekly at various venues and private parties around South Texas with her band “The Clarissa Serna Band.” Serna explains, “We have been together for about six years and we do a variety of top 40 and variety covers along with a few originals and freestyles. Our performances are very energetic and each person in the band has incredible talent. Our personalities shine with each performance and we continue to entertain our audiences and keep them coming back week after week.” In addition to singing in her own band and recording in the studio, Serna also became a makeup artist at MAC cosmetics for several years. “After leaving that job to pursue my music career with more time to devote to my passion, I began working for my parents at their real estate company, ‘Richard Serna & Associates’. I also was focusing on getting my real estate license. In the midst of all of this, the opportunity to audition for ‘The Voice’ arose.” Serna had previously auditioned for the “X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,”
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
and “The Voice” in 2012 with what she refers to as little success besides the fact that she had scheduled appointments to sing for the casting directors instead of waiting in line. Although she never received a call back, they contacted her as a potential contestant on a couple of new singing shows but there were not effective results from those either. With an unequalled determination, Serna decided to give “The Voice” another shot and she tried out in 2013. “Around June of 2013, I drove up to Austin with an appointment and auditions for my second time to be on the show. After a month of anticipation and nervousness, I received the ‘call back’ for executive auditions. The rest is history.” Seeing and listening to this talented young woman sing on national television strikes a passionate feeling that inspires all of those that know Serna or are just getting to know her, to believe that dreams can happen if you believe in yourself. The intensity of her voice and her vibrant personality on stage convinced the casting directors and producers of “The Voice” to give Serna a chance to show them her talent, and she certainly showed them that in the executive auditions. “In addition to the audition, there is a screening process that narrows down the contestants as well. After all of that, I was invited to the blind auditions. I flew back to Los Angeles and prepared for some time for my performance on national television. From that point, it was up to me to make it past the blind auditions.” The blind auditions give the performer 90 seconds to sing a song while the four coaches have their backs turned to the performer. The coaches were Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton. If one coach turns for you, then the performer is automatically on their team. If more than one coach turns, the power goes to the contestant to choose their coach after each coach explains why they should be chosen to help the artist win the show. “I surprisingly got a four chair turn which is the best you can do on the show. I advanced to the next round after choosing Team Shakira.” Once each coach has 12 people on their team, the blind auditions are completed and the contestants advance to the next round called the “Battle Rounds.” For the “Battle Rounds,” the coach pairs up their artists to sing against each other to the song of the coaches’ choice. “Prior to this performance, the artists receive the opportunity to practice in front of the coach along with a guest celebrity musician mentor. In my case, that was Miranda Lambert. Each pair practices the song with the band, a vocal coach and one another until the time comes to perform on TV. The performance is held on a stage the likes of a boxing ring. Using harmonies and strategic vocal placement, the
PHOTOS BY LIANA GONZALES, DIVA DULCE PHOTOGRAPHY
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
SEEING AND LISTENING TO THIS TALENTED YOUNG WOMAN SING ON NATIONAL TELEVISION STRIKES A PASSIONATE FEELING THAT INSPIRES ALL OF THOSE THAT KNOW SERNA.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
artists battle to gain the interest of their coach, convincing them to keep the artist on their team.” At the end of this round, there are eight people on each team. Serna battled Jeremy Briggs in the first round. “Shakira thought it was suitable to pair her two rock artists together. She chose the song “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner for us to perform together. After all of our practices, Jeremy and I became good friends and we were determined to put on an epic performance. We wanted to make it appear as if we were already a successful rock duet performing at a concert.” And they certainly put on quite the performance. It was full of energy, powerful emotions and the duo seemed to fit naturally. The dynamic performance was felt by all viewers nationwide; Serna and Briggs could very well have been that successful “rock duet.” “We truly respected one another’s talents and felt that we both deserved to make it to the next round. The night of the battle, I won and stayed on Shakira’s team. Although I was happy to advance to the next round, Jeremy did not get that chance and that broke my heart. He is an incredible artist and that is one of the reasons we asked him to join us for a reunion concert in Corpus Christi at Brewster Street Icehouse on May 16th.” The next round, “Battle Rounds 2,” Shakira paired Serna with pop artist Dani Moz. “Shakira said that we
“THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE PLATFORM TO BOOST MY CAREER
AND I INTEND ON TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF IT AND USING THIS TO FINALLY ACCOMPLISH MY GOALS AS A SINGER.”
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
were her two ‘powerhouses’ and she would have to narrow it down to one. At this point in the show, the pressure was really elevating and the desire to make it to the live rounds really built up. Ultimately, Dani won this phase of the show. Although this was a huge disappointment to me, I was happy to go back home to my family and to experience the vast amount of support from my old and new hometown fans.” Perhaps the most wonderful part of being able to perform on “The Voice” was the learning experience that Serna gained. “I realized how truly comfortable I am on and off camera working with such experienced and talented people. I decided that this was definitely what I needed to be doing in life and that this was only the beginning of so many more opportunities to come after the exposure I received from the show.” Having performed on three episodes of “The Voice” over the course of a few weeks was a success even though it was not a win-win deal to stay on the show and continue the battles. It was a win-win situation though for Serna’s future. “I came back home and will use my exposure and experience to better myself and further my career.”
What inspires Serna most of all is her support system. “Over time I accumulated faithful fans which of course became friends and they religiously attended my performances and showed support whenever possible. If these people did not believe in me, I am sure I would have given up a long time ago. Because they DID believe in me and always wanted more, I never once thought about hanging up the towel or seeking another career.” Serna gives a great deal of credit to her family who are also an extremely important part of her support system and faithful following. The only person with musical talent that Serna is aware of within her family is her maternal grandmother who passed away when she was about three years old. “Right before my blind audition, one of my aunts told me that before my grandmother passed away, she said that it was a shame that nobody in our family became a singer like her. I kept that message in my heart for each performance on the show and prayed that she and my other family members guide me through the experience and give me the strength to succeed.” Serna’s uncle-Pepe Serna, a well-known actor who played roles in movies like “Scar-
face,” “American Me,” and “Caddy Shack” has always encouraged her to pursue her dreams and to not be afraid of criticism. “He is very persistent and has taught me a lot about self-promotion and being ambitious toward achieving my dreams.” After “The Voice,” Serna is more inspired and motivated than ever before. She has gained approximately 20,000 followers from all over the world who message her daily telling her that even though the show is over, they are still waiting for her to release new music and to tour in their hometowns. “At this point there is absolutely no reason to be discouraged because making it on the show in the first place is an enormous accomplishment. I made it to the top 36 of over 70,000 people who auditioned. People live their whole lives fighting to achieve something so great. Being a musician is one of the hardest industries to break into these days because music is so readily available at no cost. Shows like this have been beneficial to artists like myself that have come from small towns and have been working towards their dreams for years with little or no success. This is an incredible platform to boost my career and I intend on taking full advantage of it and using this to finally accomplish my goals as a singer.” With Serna’s positive attitude on life and the future, it is no wonder that her visits to local schools in Cor-
pus Christi and San Antonio are warmly received by the students. She also attends Chicas Rock Music Camp in Corpus Christi when she can, a program that allows girls to build their confidence through music and group exercise. Although she has done only a few workshops with these girls, Serna has seen drastic growth and she is honored to be a “small” part of this amazing program. Serna enjoys visiting schools throughout the area as well. “Every time I visit a school, I leave with a sense of pride and fulfillment because I know that at least a few of those kids will remember that experience for the rest of their lives and at least a few of those kids will drastically change their attitude or self-confidence because of one of my visits. There really isn’t any way that I can describe the feeling these kids give to my heart and soul. Even some of the older ones have begun following me on my social media and encouraging me on the show. When I was eliminated, they began telling me ‘don’t give up, remember what you told us. You have to keep fighting and believe in yourself. You are already a star in our eyes.’ It makes me cry every time I read one of these messages.” In the near future, the band intends to record a new album with amazing new originals which are already in the works.
Serna and the band are planning to tour Texas and to expand across the east and west coast. “There is no doubt in my mind that with the exposure I have from the show and the unbelievable talent that my band has, we will be successful.” Eventually, Serna would like to “sell out” concerts across the world and inspire people with her lyrics and performances; I have no doubt after seeing her perform and becoming a master of talents that she will reach her goals now and in the many years yet to come.
For more information, www.ClarissaSerna.com, Facebook: ClarissaSernaMusic, Twitter:@ClarissaSerna, YouTube: ClarissaSerna,Instagram: ClarissaSerna. For booking information, contact Daniel DeLeon (361)765-1690 or DLdeleon@hotmail.com
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
4-8pm Sonterra country club 901 Sonterra Blvd, • San Antonio, TX 78232
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Join us as we showcase San Antonio’s very own talented Fashion Designers, unique boutiques and more. Glam It Up SA Fashion Event dares to put San Antonio on the fashion map. Please bring gift cards to benefit the “Little Black Dress Society”. Boutiques and Designers: Fashion Diva Couture, GeedaJ Fashions, Bella Bridesmaids and Tavon & Taylor, Danny Towell, Etcetera, Stella & Dot, I.C Gorgeous Jewelry Designs & Moda Mia.
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TEXAS // REAL ESTATE
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NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Antonio, making it easily accessible from most major Texas cities and minutes away from one of the nation’s largest private airports. This luxury waterfront community is conveniently located inside the city of Horseshoe Bay, Texas but sits just a few miles outside of the main resort. Many property owners feel this is a huge benefit as they get the prestige that comes along with a Horseshoe Bay address without
all of the resort and tourist traffic. Convenience and serenity are just a few adjectives that come to mind when describing this particular Lake LBJ locale. Blue Lake Estates was originally founded in the early 1960s along the southern shores of Lake LBJ. At the time, there were no paved roads, street lights or telephone service due to limited development funds. Through the generosity and commitment by the com-
PHOTOS BY ERIC CARVAJAL
By: ERIC CARVAJAL
CONVENIENCE AND SERENITY ARE JUST A FEW ADJECTIVES THAT COME TO MIND WHEN DESCRIBING THIS PARTICULAR LAKE LBJ LOCALE.
Texas treasure was designed by Houston golf course designer, Joe Finger and was built around the rolling terrain and elevated greens offering a challenge to even the most skilled golfers while boasting incredibly scenic views of Lake LBJ and the Texas Hill Country. The course is made up of five par 3s, three par 4s, and one par 5 for a total yardage of 2376 yards per 9 holes. Many property owners own golf carts and can safely cart from home to course for a quick round of their favorite past time. Blue Lake Estates also offers two neighborhood tennis courts which are available through yearly membership or single use play and is home to five private, lakefront parks scattered throughout the community:
munity’s property owners, the money was quickly raised. This community involvement and camaraderie is still present today and is part of what makes Blue Lake Estates a one-of-a-kind community. Pride of ownership has never been so prevalent. In 1965, one of the original developers of Blue Lake Estates, Bill Canfield, built the Blue Lake Estates clubhouse and golf course for the community. This hidden
• Wenmoh’s Park – boat dock, swimming beach, picnic tables • Devil’s Hollow Park – sport court, shaded game area (Bocce Ball, Washers, and Horseshoes), ½ Mile Long fitness trail, swings, picnic tables. This park also has storage facilities available to members only • Driftwood Park – day boat dock, lake swimming, picnic table and plenty of space for outdoor activities • Blue Ridge Park – huge trees and a beautiful setting to relax by the water
• Sandy Creek Park – designated storage for trailers and boats Many of the waterfront communities on Lake LBJ require a septic system which often times creates development challenges and limits construction size on waterfront lots. However, Blue Lake Estates is part of the Llano county MUD, which provides sewer services to the homes in the area offering a clean and advantageous alternative for the community. Blue Lake Estates is also situated in Llano county which translates to one the lowest property tax rates on Lake LBJ, a very attractive quality for real estate investing. Homes in Blue Lake Estates come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in price from the low $200s up to $6 million+. Whether you are searching for a luxury waterfront home, a golfer’s paradise or a magnificent view house, Blue Lake Estates offers something for everyone. However, because of it’s desirability, many of these unique properties are passed down from generation to generation and very rarely come available for sale. When they do, they often sell for a premium and very quickly. In fact, in Blue Lake Estates we see many families desiring to stay in the neighborhood but moving up to bigger homes. These local residents often times purchase these rare properties before they hit the market. If you have ever considered owning a home on Lake LBJ be sure to check out this well kept secret in Horseshoe Bay. Blue Lake Estates offers lifestyle and value beyond compare. Just add golf cart.
For more information on Lake LBJ, visit www.lbjrealestate.com or email Eric Carvajal at firstname.lastname@example.org. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // PROFILE
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
A NEW NICHE Ruben and Mary Solis go above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome with superior customer service at the Solis International Group with Keller Williams Realty Heritage.
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL | Photography: MANUEL SERRATA
uben and Mary Solis moved from Mexico to the United States in 1990. They lived in California for the first eight years, and then, after much consideration, they chose to settle in San Antonio, Texas, to raise their family. These residents of the Alamo City for the past 15 years are very happy to call San Antonio their home. “The economic growth and opportunity seemed promising; although, the first few years were tough,” according to this dynamic duo. Ruben, always keeping an open mind and in search of the American Dream, found his niche in 2006. He realized that many other Hispanic families like his own moved in search of better opportunities, but were not receiving the full range of services they needed. So he and Mary entered the real estate business that year with Century 21 United. A year later, they moved to Keller Williams Realty Heritage. “We were in search of a company that would help us grow in the luxury market and cater to affluent Mexican nationals,” Ruben explains. “We wanted to build a new market – a niche – that there was a need for. We started advertising in Mexico City and all over Mexico in the most influential magazines and on airlines that had direct flights to and from Mexico and the United States.” As a result of their hard work and their keen ability to see the demand for these services, the Solises are No. 1 in Keller Williams Realty Heritage for sales and have sold more than $175 million in real estate. They specialize in helping Mexican nationals with their real estate needs and overcoming the challenges of moving from one country to another. The Solises have received many awards for their outstanding performance over the years and have continued to win Top Volume Closed, Platinum Top 50 and San Antonio Business Journal Awards multiple times since
becoming real estate agents – and that’s just a few of the many awards that have been bestowed upon them. The Solises detail the challenges in their target market. “Relocating to another city or state is always challenging. Now throw in another factor: You don’t speak English, and you are new to the country. That makes this move 10 times more difficult. What schools and programs are available for my children to thrive in this new country? Am I able to get financing through a financial institution? Where are the nearest hospitals, and can they accommodate me? All of these questions are addressed, and we help our clients ease into the move as effortlessly as possible for them.” The Solis International Group goes above and beyond to help everyone feel welcome, and the Solises take the time to answer all questions and find the assistance their clients are seeking. Educating every homebuyer about the city and how each region is different is an integral part of the process that Ruben and Mary advocate for all of their clients. “We help answer the big question: ‘What area may best suit my needs?’” Ruben details how certain strategies help Mexican nationals find their comfort zone. “Oftentimes, we are able to help them find an area close to other families that have relocated and are going through the same thing. They can relate to their neighbors, build friendships and have someone to turn to. Trust me, we know what it is like to leave family and home. If something happens, who do you call? We make sure that we are there for our clients even after the transaction. It is a support system that we strongly believe in.” While Ruben and Mary started out by themselves, their group has recently grown to include seven additional agents. Selling homes all over San Antonio and the surrounding areas, the Solis International Group is the only Double Platinum Award winner for Keller Williams Heritage with
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
ALTHOUGH WE ARE ACCREDITED LUXURY HOME SPECIALISTS, OUR TRUE PASSION IS HELPING OTHERS.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
sales for 2013 at over $45 million. Ruben and Mary are confident that their group will be a household name – and with their remarkable record and history and a marketing strategy that is growing stronger every day, it appears that their group is nearing that goal already. They sell not only in San Antonio, but also in a wide area of the beautiful Southwest, including the following: - Canyon Lake - Fredericksburg - Boerne - Comfort - Spring Branch - Austin - Alamo Heights - Terrell Hills - Olmos Park
- The Dominion - Shavano Park - Hill Country Village - Cibolo - Garden Ridge - Fair Oaks Ranch - Windcrest - Live Oak - Helotes
But the Solis International Group welcomes anyone who would like to sell or purchase a home. Branching out even further, one of the members of their team, Juan Uribe, also specializes in commercial real estate. Recently, the group sold a 50-acre ranch in Bulverde. “Although Mary and I are accredited luxury home specialists, our true passion is helping others,” Ruben says. “We want to make all real estate transactions a smooth and enjoyable one.” Several clients – if not all of them – support the Solis International Group. Steve Frank with Burdick Custom Homes (Burdick & Frank Ltd.) shares his experience with Ruben: “Ruben is a talented professional that does a great job in balancing the interests of all parties involved in his transactions. He is in tune with the needs of the buying public and has extensive knowledge in his field. His language skills in both
English and Spanish make him a valuable asset in the real estate industry. I would recommend Ruben to anyone interested in residential real estate in San Antonio. I have experience working with Ruben both professionally and personally, and I have been very satisfied with the results.” “Mary and Ruben did stellar work helping me sell a condo in San Antonio, Texas, amidst a very difficult condo sales market,” adds Roger Davidson. “They guided me through the ups and downs of potential buyers with financing issues and through title work. They kept me calm, focused and helped deliver a great sale at the end of the process. Both are delightful people to have as friends and advisors. I plan to use them again for future real estate transactions in the San Antonio market.” In late 2013, the Solises launched their own magazine: Unique & Distinctive Homes. Their magazine showcases their inventory and serves as a “go-to” for real estate needs and services. “With over eight years in the business, I have come to know and work with the most knowledgeable and professional individuals in all aspects of real estate, and we feature them in our magazine. It is the total package. We believe that this is just one tool that gives us the edge.” Of course, all of this marketing exposure brings interested buyers and sellers. What is most important, though, is customer service. With the Solis International Group, clients’ needs are not only met, but catered to with superior service. “When you call our office, you will be attended to as if you are calling a concierge service. Our office staff is a knowledgeable extension to our group. They will answer any questions you have or get you in contact with the right person.” “People may not know our names, but they will recognize one of our ads,” Ruben adds. “And when
the time comes to buy or sell, they can find us where they have seen us before.” With an active social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, the Solis International Group is moving closer to being the household name they are striving to become. With their success stories and marketing savvy, it will not be long until they reach all of their goals and then some. Their short-term goal is to break all record sales in San Antonio this year. “Looking ahead, we want to grow our group all over Texas and the United States and be No. 1 in the nation.” Stay tuned; this is only the beginning of the Solis International Group’s success story.
The Solis International Group is located at 2338 N. Loop 1604 W., Ste. 120, in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, call 210-477-4891 or visit www. sanantoniomicasa.com. Note: While NSIDE officially adheres to AP style, certain exceptions were made in the editing of this article.
Facebook: /thesolisinternationalgroup Google+: +SanAntonioMiCasa Twitter: @SAMiCasa2014 Pinterest: SAMiCasa YouTube: /SanAntonioMiCasa LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/rubenmary-solis/82/37a/326/ MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
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4.14 Acres 6 Br / 6 F 2 H Bths 6137 SF. $1,750,000
For all inquiries, please telephone 210.477.4891
1.2 Acres 5 Br / 5.5 Bths 6347 SF. $1,465,000
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TEXAS // RELATIONSHIPS
If you truly love and want what is best for your spouse, never put your spouse in the middle of a disagreement you have with his/her parents. This next statement is so important that I’m putting it in all caps: PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY HATE BEING PUT IN THE MIDDLE OF A DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN THEIR SPOUSE AND THEIR PARENTS OR ISSUED AN ULTIMATUM. So don’t be the one to do so. Instead, if there is petty squabbling going on betwixt and between, be the adult you are and learn to constructively and respectfully deal with, overcome or rise above the situation.
How to make peace with the in-laws By: MEDORA
ALWAYS TREAT YOUR BELOVED’S PARENTS WITH RESPECT.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Remember that regardless of your differences and/or disagreements, you have something very obvious in common with your spouse’s parents: You all love the same person. Try keeping this in mind to avoid saying or doing anything against your in-laws that might hurt your spouse.
Also remember that your spouse’s parents were the very first people to love your spouse – and they have loved him/her longer. There’s no getting around that fact. If you are satisfied with the job they did as parents raising your spouse, this is something positive you can focus on and be grateful to them for.
Now, I know that for some, these ideas and insights are going to be hard to understand and implement. It won’t be easy. But you just might discover that if you make the intentional decision to act in such a way toward your in-laws, you will find a greater sense of personal peace and another way to show love to your spouse. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.
For more information, contact Medora, the relationship expert, at www.medoraonline.com or www.medorasmarket.com. You can also look for Medora on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (@medoraonline).
Prior to pursuing a fulltime writing and speaking career, Medora had the good fortune of working/ having experience in three important fields: education, business and counseling. Her expertise and knowledge derives from these experiences, as well as her heritage – she is descended from four generations of strong, accomplished women, all of whom were also named “Medora.” Medora’s purpose, passion and mission in life are to share this knowledge so that others may also benefit.
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HONESTY: NOT ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY
AH, THE IN-LAWS. In my experience, I’ve found that there is rarely a lack of intense emotion regarding in-laws. Folks either love them … or don’t. And during the months of May and June, as we celebrate our own mothers and fathers, if you are married, you also help celebrate your spouse’s parents – or at least you should if you want to keep peace within your family. I do believe, though, that honoring a spouse’s parents on Mother’s/Father’s Day is a pleasant occasion for most people. However, for others, it might be done with gritted teeth and crossed fingers. So what if you are one of those who has to make nice-nice and act as if you actually like your in-laws when it is in direct opposition to your true feelings – and not just on Mother’s/Father’s Day, but all year long? Why should you do so or feel like you have to do so? Because you love your spouse, that’s why. But isn’t honesty always the best policy? Nope – sometimes silence is. In awkward or difficult in-law relationships, silence is not being dishonest, but instead, providing the best kind of love you can offer your spouse. Here’s why:
Always treat your beloved’s parents with respect. Hard as it may be, refrain from saying anything that could be misconstrued as critical, mean, sarcastic, snarky, etc. – particularly to them, but especially to your spouse. If your spouse is, however, frustrated about his/her parents’ behavior and vents to you, listen and say, “I understand how you must feel.” Then shut up. “WHAT? You mean I can’t join in, agree and recount to my spouse about all of the mean/hurtful/rude things his/her parents have said/done?” Nope – unless you want to get into an argument with your spouse. “But why?” The answer is simple: Criticize your spouse’s parents, and you are indirectly criticizing your spouse. Remember that he/ she is the product of your in-laws’ relationship, as you are of your own parents.
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TEXAS • AUSTIN // DINE
‘EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY’
Enjoy the fine art of Austin dining at Apothecary Café & Wine Bar, whose owners ensure there’s always something special for everyone.
SOMETIMES, all it takes is a great idea and
a group of close friends to open a novel restaurant in town. Niraj Mehdiratta, owner of Apothecary Café & Wine Bar, explains how the idea was born: “We had a few inspirations to work with. Individually, on different travels throughout the world, we fell in love with cafes and the neighborhood vibe they captured, the regularity of patronage and familiar faces and the breadth of items offered. We wanted to create a Europeaninspired café, as we felt our concepts of a coffee shop were very egg-headed and solitary and wine bars a bit pretentious and snooty, but the rest of the world marries these concepts very well into a café.” At that time, a few of the friends were living in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin and felt the area could use a great day-to-day hang-out spot and café to service guests who wanted coffee, wine and inspired eats from their travels. Mehdiratta and Oscar Pena, the general manager, opened the doors to Apothecary Café & Wine Bar in October 2009. Michael Hernandez, the operating partner, joined the restaurant a few months later, and Albert Gonzalez, the executive chef, came on board in November 2013. The concept they all shared has morphed through the four-and-a-half years they have been NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
open. Apothecary Café & Wine Bar is a very social wine bar with communal seating, communal dining-style shared plates and an extremely niche wine selection. “The wine bar aspect will always be at the heart of what we do, and we would like to think it is one of the best and varied boutique wine lists in town, honoring small-producers and emerging wine regions, versus generic, mass-produced steakhouse-type wines.” Apothecary Café’s guests are people who seek to be transported somewhere else in terms of food, wine and ambiance. The owners are so inspired by their travels in little ways that they want to take you away from Austin and to other parts of the world through their wines, their food (which is created by various cultures and cuisines) and their apothecary ambiance. “Our market is folks who enjoy the education and exploration of wine and food as much as we do,” Mehdiratta explains. “As we learn something new, we like to pass that on to our customers.” On Sundays, their one-of-a-kind brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is also a communal experience. “We want guests to try several things throughout the meal, but more so, engage with their friends by passing plates and sharing, which leads to much more relaxed meals and longer conversations.” The experience shared at Apothecary Café &
PHOTOS BY NIRAJ MEHDIRATTA
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
Wine Bar is quite a unique one that leaves the guests wanting to come back over and over again. Recent brunch highlights include Texas quail over liege waffle with honey butter, breakfast potato skins with duckfat fried potato skins, Roquefort blue cheese, crispy prosciutto and topped with a sunny-side up quail egg and the seasonal French toast that rotates every week and is featured with brioche. An exclusive concept is that the menu rotates seasonally, and although it is different throughout the year, the dishes and the level of execution remain the same. The dinners have an additional flair because they do a special set of off-the-menu dinner specials every single weekend (Thursdays through Saturdays). For regular guests, that means there is something new and unique that Gonzalez has brainstormed and cooked for that weekend based on seasonal items, weather and events. The dinner menu is communal-based, and its intention is to elicit the ability to taste so many different things throughout the night, and at the same time, to enjoy a slower-paced experience with friends. Dinner favorites include butter-seared diver scallops over buttemut squash purée with Meyer lemon gremolata, 36-hour sous vide short rib over parsnip purée, roasted farm carrots, red wine jus, cipollini onions and micro-greens and seared Texas quail over blue cheese grits, roasted carrots, agave and a fried quail egg. Apothecary Café & Wine Bar has a delectable dinner menu regardless of the time of year, and the vast array of cultural cuisines from around the world can be shared and paired with a favorite wine. And more often than not, several glasses of wine are shared, as all guests are following the golden rule: “eat, drink and be merry.” The brunches, dinners and desserts are all defined as scrumptious, and patrons return for the surprises Gonzalez has in store for the week. For satisfying the sweet tooth, all desserts are made in-house. The ice creams are hand-churned, and the flavors are out of this world. The gluten-free almond cake made from Spanish marcona almonds paired with house churned olive oil ice cream and the truffled chocolate ganache sprinkled with black lava salt paired with house churned salted caramel ice cream and amaretto whipped cream are both on the “must have” list, so always leave a bit of room to try these homemade delights. Austinites love happy hour, and Apothecary Café & Wine Bar accommodates their Texas neighbors. Happy hour specials include the following: • ALL DAY SUNDAY AND MONDAY: $1 off all glasses and $10 off all bottles • TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY FROM 4 P.M. TO 7 P.M.: $1 off all glasses and $3 off all bottles Saturdays are everyone’s favorites: all-day specials including half off all bottles of sparkling wine. You can get a bottle of cult favorite Pierre Peters Grand Cru grower champagne for half off, which is literally unheard of in town. Enjoying the best wines paired with delectable dishes and wonderful company? It just doesn’t get any better than that. Another wonderful amenity is the outdoor patio adorned with five tables that accommodates 20 to 25 people. As it is dog friendly and a perfect place to walk your dog in the morning on Sunday and pop in for
“WE WANT TO REMAIN PART OF THE FABRIC OF AUSTIN FOR A LONG TIME TO COME.”
brunch and mimosas, your furry friends can enjoy your dining experience with you as they bask in the warmth of a beautiful day in the Capitol City. Specialized catering per guests’ needs is another service provided by Apothecary Café & Wine Bar. “We have hosted plenty of baby showers to bridal parties. We have catered a beautiful, 100-person summer wedding at Hotel Saint Cecilia and also catered events such as a 300-person art gallery showing.” “We want to remain part of the fabric of Austin for a long time to come,” Mehdiratta concludes. “Our goals are to always maintain a high level of service and great level of execution from our food and wine. Our longterm goals are simple: As we evolve and mature individually, we want the restaurant to, as well.” Most importantly, “We feel the best restaurants are ones that are truly a personal expression of the folks who operate it day to day.” And Apothecary Café & Wine Bar fits that definition from the moment you walk into the restaurant and enjoy the fine art of dining in Austin.
Apothecary Café & Wine Bar is located at 4800 Burnett Road, Ste. 450, in Austin, Texas. For more information, call 512-371-1600, or visit www.apothecaryaustin.com or www.facebook.com/apothecaryatx.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
CUTTING-EDGE CULINARY CRAFTS Mulberry: Austin’s own urban American-style spot with a unique European flair By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
MULBERRY IS A NEW American-style restaurant and wine bar in the Warehouse District of downtown Austin. It has received praise for its cozy atmosphere, carefully prepared cuisine and expertly representative wine list. The intimate and inviting interior features a deep Calcutta gold marble, horseshoe48
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
shaped bar, an open kitchen to observe the artistry and rich oak ceiling planes and wine bottles displayed proudly and prominently throughout. Conceived by friends enamored with Austin from both New York and Texas, this cozy, urban neighborhood spot with a European flair
has enjoyed a growing following since it opened in August 2008. It draws its name from the Mulberry Streets common to Manhattan and Austin (now 10th Street) to reflect the influence and inspiration of the two cities in Mulberry’s style and flavor. “Mulberry opened in Austin over five years ago and has been well received as a place to get chef-driven seasonal food in a neighborhood setting,” says Mulberry Founder Michael Polombo. “We offer dinner with five farm-to-table entrée options until late, as well as a popular Saturday and Sunday brunch service. We’re grateful for the response thus far, and our goal is to continue to earn new guests through our offerings. We also believe there’s no better place to be a part of than the vibrant downtown Austin community.” Flavor at Mulberry begins with the freshest seasonal ingredients, locally grown produce and protein. Seasonal products drive a dynamic menu best kept abreast of via their website, along with daily creations based on the bounty of the day’s pantry. Menus are always an eclectic blend of seasonal ingredients and global inspiration. Mulberry has a broad wine selection offering more bottles per dining seat than most, but like only a select few Austin restaurants, it features a combination of great variety and intimate, modest seating availability. Mulberry incorporates eight different vendors to curate a diverse list in which small production and closely held wineries are preferred, but complemented by better-known labels of Groth and Cloudy Bay. Mulberry was one of the initial dining venues in Austin known as a small format restaurant; common in many larger cities throughout the country, a small format restaurant takes advantage of great active urban locations while remaining economically prudent with its smaller footprints. Mulberry serves a growing downtown population with a less formal fine dining option featuring chef-inspired food and great wine and crafted beer selections. Mulberry’s weekday hours are from 5 p.m. to an accommodating midnight each day, providing a full fare of fine dining later than all but a few Austin eateries to better serve downtown residents with diverse schedules. Weekends feature a brunch menu where Mulberry’s talented chefs let their creativity flow and enhance classic favorites. These enhanced innovations to many classic, widely recognized offerings feed Austin’s growing appetite for a healthy and increasingly diverse culinary environment. Mulberry is an urban neighborhood restaurant with its typical patron living either in the downtown area or in an adjacent established neighborhood and being young (between 25 and 50) and upwardly mobile; 60 percent of patrons are estimated to be female in gender. Given the restaurant’s intimate setting, conversation runs across tables as patrons share their new experiences from Mulberry’s multitude of diverse selections of food and libations, including many regionally inspired tasty specials available throughout the year. Mulberry’s chefs, past and present, are at the heart of the cutting-edge culinary crafts. Kristine Kittrell, Mulberry chef since 2012, is Canadian by birth and an Austinite by choice beginning in 1997, where she honed her culinary skills while rising to the ranks of sous chef at Jeffrey’s. Kittrell’s natural curiosity, love to travel and creative thinking have combined beautifully to create the backdrop for Mulberry’s blend of local freshness with global inspiration in each plate served to an increasingly cosmopolitan Austin audience. Diners discover new favorites on a monthly basis, including venison making a seasonal splash, as well as a blue cheesecake with a blackberry cardamom sauce. While the menu evolves continuously, some local favorites have emerged. Currently, appetizers such as meatballs prepared in a lemon, garlic and white wine brood and the ever-popular Devils on Horseback, a creative combination of fig, cheese and candied bacon, are unique and immensely popular offerings on the menu complemented
PHOTOS BY JANE KO
TEXAS • AUSTIN // DINE
MULBERRY’S MENU SATISFIES BOTH WORLD AND MORE PEDESTRIAN PALATES.
with many selections of cured meats and cheeses to develop one’s own cold plate of international flavors. Mulberry’s entrée selections are created from scallops, venison, duck breast and beef short rib, as well as the roasted pumpkin risotto with burgundy black truffle, leek and grana padano, a hard Italian cheese with a grainy texture that has been popular throughout European nations for more than 500 years. There are also the ever-present chef’s special offerings of seasonal ingredients at the peak of their freshness to choose from. The weekday menu continues to impress and satisfy with salad creations of braised pork belly, freshly picked spinach drizzled with curry apple vinaigrette, as well as the Mulberry hamburger capped with
HOURS OF OPERATION MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY 5 p.m. to 12 p.m. THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Brunch: SATURDAY AND SUNDAY 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
gruyere, dressed with a fried egg, crispy pancetta bacon, fresh greens and vine-ripened tomato. Mulberry’s menu satisfies both world and more pedestrian palates through its tasteful “something known and something ventured” creations, which are best exhibited in the offerings for weekend brunch. Brunch (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends) is a festive and flavorful combination of known favorites and new favorites. Thickly sliced French toast with fresh strawberries, whipped crème and cardamom syrup, fluffy crepes with blueberry and a delightful lemon ricotta fillings and a classic, corned beef hash entangled with fresh potato, seared cabbage, onion, free range eggs and one of Austin’s highest acclaimed hollandaise sauces highlight selections for the more traditional. Selections popular with the more adventuresome include poached eggs in a variety of finishes, a smoked salmon croque madame, the house frittata full of the delights of the day and a toasted brioche with fried egg, pancetta, arugula, tomato and gruyere. Special concoctions of mimosas and an enhanced Bellini complement one’s best breakfast of the week. Whether their experience at Mulberry is for a short happy hour to unwind from the workday, an afternoon brunch on a lazy weekend or that unbelievably scrumptious and unique dinner available closer to midnight, it is difficult for diners to decide if their favorite dish is the one they experienced on their last visit or the one they’re about to be served. Chances are it will be a tough and delicious deliberation.
Mulberry is located at the corner of 3rd and Nueces Streets in downtown Austin, Texas. For more information, call 512-320-0297 or visit www.mulberryaustin. com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • AUSTIN // DINE
ECLECTIC EATS Small Plates and Modern Tastes at Swift’s Attic By: HEATHER DANIELS
WITH THE EXTRAORDINARY VISION of coowners CK Chin and Stuart Thomajan and the culinary expertise of the Executive Chef-Mat Clouser, Swift’s Attic opened in May of 2012 to the delight of Austinites throughout the city. As CK Chin explains, “After spending the last decade or so in the bar and restaurant industry, I reached a point where natural ambition lead towards trying to open our own project rather than working at another person’s ideas. So when the serendipitous combination of the right partner and the right chef came around, we just took the leap.” That so called leap has turned into an ever popular restaurant in the dining and happy hour scene in 50
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Austin in just a couple of years. From their unique brunches to lunch, dinner and of course-happy hour, Swift’s Attic has become a “hot spot” in the Capitol City. The concept of Swift’s Attic was a culmination of Chin, Thomajan, and Clouser’s experiences in the restaurant business. “The style of dining that we enjoy, smaller plates with a larger variety and an emphasis on pushing the taste envelope as well as the high energy of socializing is what we love about meeting with friends over a meal and a drink.” It is quite obvious that fellow Austinites agree; the restaurant is vibrant, eclectic and makes guests want to explore the culinary treats prepared by Swift’s Attic expert chef and crew. Guests of Swift’s Attic are “all over the board.” They are proud to have received the attention of those that respect their culinary vision and risk-taking. “Having the foodies and critics speak highly of us is such an honor and such a joy. At the same time we take pride in the fact that we see people who just enjoy our vibe and energy and come in to enjoy great food with a great ambiance.” It is not uncommon to see a table of U.T. professors sipping glasses of tempranillo next to a bachelorette party toasting with glasses of champagne and a group of young couples on their first date talking about what dish is coming out next. Diverse in concept, food and company makes Swift’s Attic an authentic Austin eatery in every way imaginable.
Focusing on the core of hospitality at its finest, Chin says, “ We really care about the totality of the product we present each night-from the food to the service to the environment, it’s all an integral part of our equation. We try to remove our ego from it and spend a lot of energy and effort putting our ear to the ground and listening to what our guest are clamoring for and then we do our best to provide it.” An ever popular venue for lunch-favorites include the Porkstrami Sandwich, puffy tacos and the “Bowling Alley Burger.” The Porkstrami Sandwich is homemade pork, “pastrami” sliced thick and piled high on lightly toasted bread, jalapeno kraut, melted fontina cheese and Swift’s Attic Russian dressing. All the best parts of your favorite pastrami sandwich but made with pork because, “why not?” With this type of philosophy, the art of dining is a divine adventure and everyone in Austin is ready for something different. Swift’s Attic provides and promotes one of the ever popular slogans for Austin, “Keep Austin Weird.” While we strive to be different, Swift’s Attic keeps up with the pace with class and style. Another popular lunch item is the puffy tacos filled with braised and pulled pigtail carnitas, citrus and red onion relish and grilled grapefruit all on a crispy fried masa taco shell. Light and airy with the rich and decadent pork tails, the dish is balanced with the acid and brightness from the citrus and pickle.
“HAVING THE FOODIES AND CRITICS SPEAK HIGHLY OF US IS SUCH AND HONOR AND SUCH A JOY.” Last but not least, a favorite for the afternoon meal is the “Bowling Alley Burger,”made with house ground “never-ever” beef, melted fontina, griddled onion, Swift’s pickle, “fancy-ass” special sauce, all on a fresh baked sesame seed bun. “This is our take on the Chef’s and my favorite burger, the simple burger we grew up eating at bowling alleys and food trucks. It is loosely packed with melted cheese on top, cooked medium-rare and awesomely juicy.” Dinner favorites, the Warm Niman Ranch pork cheeks with house made fig spread, Dijon mustard on grilled sourdough toast. “This is such a perfectly simple dish but the combination of the impossibly tender braised pork cheeks with the house-made sweet fig and spicy mustard on crunchy toast is magical.” The Korean BBQ flank steak accompanied with crispy kimchi jumeok bap cake, grilled scallion and sweet galbi sauce is marinated and then sous vide flank is finished on the grill, sliced and served over crispy fried kimchi rice cakes; try this one with a runny fried egg, and you will be in heaven. The Masa “gnocchi” Parissienne is a southwestern take on gnocchi, made with corn mash instead of potatoes. This dish looks likes gnocchi and eats like tamales. Perfect fluffy pillows of masa with the heat coming from the chile and cooled by the creamy almond mornay. Swift’s Brunch has received rave reviews and with good reason. The delightful menu filled with unique takes on the typical American Brunch are anything but typical. “Pragel and Trox” is house smoked trout, pickled onions, frisee, runny poached egg, dill crème fraiche, served on a handmade pretzel bagel. This is a take on the very traditional bagel and lox that so many of us grew up eating. The smoked trout is light and flaky and is complimented by the fresh dill flavor and subtle runny egg. The Foie Gras and PB & J Pancakes are fluffy peanut butter pancakes served with a sweet and tart blueberry compote, Vermont maple syrup, a side of house made bacon and a beautiful seared piece of foie gras on top. This brunch dish is inspired by peanut butter and jelly; the peanut butter pancakes with blueberry is nostalgic but the seared piece of foie floating where you would expect a pat of butter adds the necessary decadence. Monday is “Big Ass Burger Night.” Chin explains, “We only make 12 of these except on certain occasions where we team up with a local brewery and they pre-order a few for their staff. People were clamoring for our Bowling Alley Burger to make it onto the dinner menu (currently only on the lunch menu) but that particular dish doesn’t flow well with our small plates sharing style concept. So in an efforts to give the public what they wanted and to have a little fun, we decided to do a burger night and offer a different burger each week for the burger lovers out there who love variety.” Swift’s Attic happy hour is a big hit downtown. Besides their rotating draft beer specials-known to
have one of the best draught lists in town despite only having 14 taps, they offer 50% off the specialty craft cocktails as well as a variety of snacks from $4 to $6. Many urban professionals from the many offices surrounding Swift’s look to unwind a bit before going home. And what a great place to spend happy hour indeed. Decadent desserts are created by Callie Speer, the pastry chef. “She has so much fun with desserts and we love seeing what she comes up with.” Since day one, Swift’s Attic has served “Popcorn & a Movie.” This dessert is butter popcorn gelato, house made candy bar, caramel corn, and root beer gel. “By far, this is our most popular dessert and for that reason we have never been able to even rotate it off the menu. It is like a trip down memory lane ransacking the concession stand at the movies. Creamy, buttery popcorn gelato with just a hint of salt, a chocolaty peanut buttery crispy candy bar that you then swipe through dulce
de leche and root beer gel. I dare you not to close your eyes and reminisce a bit.” With their wonderful success story, Chin, Thomajan and Clouser try not to look too far ahead and lose sight of what is happening now. A lot of effort is placed on each night’s service and they do not want ambitions and visions of growth to shadow that. “We have been flirting with the idea of opening additional Swift’s in other markets such as Houston and Dallas. Our restaurant group is currently working on our second concept, Wu Chow which is a Modern Chinese restaurant only a few blocks away that will be opening late fall. This is a labor of love for us and we will continue working on projects that we are passionate about.”
Swift’s Attic is located at 315 Congress #200, Austin, TX 78701. For more information, call 512-48ATTIC or visit www.swiftsattic.com. Facebook: swiftsattic. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • AUSTIN // DINE
SOMETHING TRULY DIFFERENT The Fat Cactus: an Austin food truck with a faithful following By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
CHRIS HOWELL and Courtney Jones-Howell knew they wanted to start a food truck, but they weren’t sure of a concept. “Southwestern food and fusion has always been a passion of ours,” Jones-Howell explains. When Howell’s grandmother became ill, Howell flew to Albuquerque to meet his mother, and they drove to Phoenix to see her. He noticed that nearly every small town on the way had small trailers making fry breads and Navajo 52
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tacos. Even though Howell had eaten from these trailers before, it was on this trip that he saw the potential foundation of their food truck in Austin. Upon returning to Austin, Howell and Jones-Howell discovered that there was not a single establishment serving this Southwestern treat. “We really started to see an opportunity to do something truly different. While paying respect to tradition, as well as always trying to learn and create new combi-
nations, we were incredibly excited to find that we had come up with something unique to Austin.” After running a small catering company, Howell and Jones-Howell were inspired to get their delicious dishes into the Austin market once again, and the beauty of a food trailer was the answer. “We offer high-quality, amazing food without the overhead of opening a restaurant.” In February 2011, the Fat Cactus opened for business on South Congress. With four food trucks in the lot, theirs is the only lot with multiple trailers left on SoCo. Housing three of the five best food trucks on Yelp in the lot draws quite a crowd throughout the week. There is also an artisan market that sets up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is a lot of action seven days a week, and the Fat Cactus has made a name for itself among the foodies in the Capitol City. Recently nominated for Taco Truck of the Year by MobileCuisine.com, the Fat Cactus is the only truck in Texas to receive this nomination. So what exactly is it that makes them so different? Howell and Jones-Howell explain their secret to success: “We find ourselves in a unique, yet challenging position. Being in the middle of Tex-Mex country, having ‘taco’ in your name and not serving the thing that we all expect when we hear that word is a challenge. We get asked all the time about Tex-Mex staples that appear nowhere on our menu, yet people assume that we should be able to just pop out quesadillas or flautas. However, the great part of our food is that it is still somewhat familiar, even if presented in a different medium, with different spices and ingredients. We live in a town of literally hundreds of taco places, and we can say that what we do is like no other. “Also, every last thing that comes out of the Fat Cactus is made from scratch and with a true passion for what we do. It’s all those things, combined with our experience in the business and
love of people, that make our business stand out from the others.” Frybread is such a versatile platform that Howell and Jones-Howell have been able to play with it and create gourmet frybread tacos and mouthwatering rotating specials. They draw inspiration from all over the world: From the Mediterranean to India and from Vietnam to Argentina, the bread is the star. By filling it with the best ingredients, the Fat Cactus is able to give customers something different to come back for week after week. The most popular special is the Bahn Mi on a frybread taco. The O.G. frybread taco is the most popular and the most traditional frybread taco served. As it is filled with pinto beans, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a choice of red or green chili sauce, Austinites depend on this rich-flavored favorite. Howell and Jones-Howell want to further develop their following and brand. “After three years of being in business, we can say we are getting there.” They want to get their sauces, rubs, appetizers and drinks to the farmers’ markets and then into stores. Looking ahead, they are thinking of possibly going brick and mortar. The carb goodness filled with fresh and different meats and veggies has become an Austin favorite in a short period of time. “Our product is unique to the Austin market and truly made from love,” Howell says. “We take great pride in making everything from scratch and educating people on what an amazing delicacy frybread is.” And Austinites keep lining up for more at the Fat Cactus every day. Jones-Howell has the answer for fellow foodies: “Our food speaks for itself.”
The Fat Cactus is located at 1318 S. Congress in Austin, Texas. For more information, call 512-585-4967; visit www.fatcactusaustin.com or www. facebook.com/fatcactusatx; or follow @fatcactusatx on Twitter.
PHOTO BY JUSTIN TAYLOR
“EVERY LAST THING THAT COMES OUT OF THE FAT CACTUS IS MADE FROM SCRATCH AND WITH A TRUE PASSION FOR WHAT WE DO.”
DINE // TEXAS • AUSTIN
A TRUE TEXAS FOOD TRUCK
Lone Star BBQ: homemade deep in the heart of Texas By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
JOHN AND JAYLYN MORELL
are both native Texans who have the knowhow and flavorful flair of serving up some of the best barbecue in the Capitol City. Prior to opening Lone Star BBQ in August 2013, they both had careers – and with luck and the will to follow their dreams, they made Lone Star BBQ into a reality. “We have always enjoyed barbecue and cooking barbecue,” Jaylyn explains. “As a matter of fact, John started cooking barbecue and selling the dishes to his coworkers because the demand was there. We knew we had something great going on even before we opened Lone Star BBQ.” Having always had a passion for cooking, Jaylyn started barbecuing while living with her grandfa-
ther as a child. “After Jaylyn got laid off from the IRS and could not find work, we decided to create our own job,” John adds. “And what better job than to do what we love … barbecue?” Located in a food trailer park on South Lamar and Bluebonnet, they are neighbors with Taco Baby, Wasota West African Cuisine and Kuxtal Coffee. There is a flea market every Saturday and a farmer’s market every Sunday, and fellow Austinites keep the Morells quite busy five days a week. Wanting to share the flavors they both grew up with, John and Jaylyn agreed that barbecue was the way to go. “We stayed with traditional recipes for our food. There is just something about good, old-fashioned barbecue
that is so comforting and really makes you feel at home.” All of Lone Star BBQ food is homemade from scratch, from the side dishes and the main attractions to the sauces. The offerings at Lone Star BBQ are made with love, and you can tell once you taste the savory selections. You can try anything on the menu before you buy it, which is a wonderful way for the Morells to welcome new guests to their barbecue concept. The briskets are slow-smoked over an oak fire, and a “secret” rub is added. The pork ribs have a “secret” rub and are slow-smoked and finished with brown sugar for a sticky sweet glaze. Pork belly is cooked just like the ribs until the end, when they open them back up so the top gets crusty and delicious. The sausage is a pork and beef combination smoked to perfection. The potato salad, cole slaw and pinto beans are made fresh daily, and they are out of this world. Lone Star BBQ sauces are made both fresh and daily; one is Texas traditional (a little tangier), and the other is a little sweeter, like a Carolina honey sauce. For sweet cravings, the banana pudding is made fresh daily and served with real whipped cream. “There is no Cool whip on this trailer.” And we can
tell; everything is homemade deep in the heart of Texas. The Morells are just beginning to make a name for themselves amongst the vast array of barbecue joints in Austin. “We want to continue to grow and be able to share our love of barbecue with Austin,” Jaylyn says. This duo loves the Lone Star – “our awesome state and the beer. We cook with it and sometimes even add it to our food.” There is nothing quite like a bit more Lone Star in the Lone Star State. The barbecue is a “must try,” and you will be addicted within moments.
Lone Star BBQ is located at 2323 S. Lamar in Austin, Texas. Operating hours are from Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until sold out – whichever comes first. For more information, call 512-739-4724 or follow @lonestaratx on Twitter. You can also visit Lone Star BBQ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lonestarbbq) or Yelp (www.yelp.com/biz/lone-star-bbqaustin). Note: While NSIDE Texas formally adheres to AP style, certain exceptions were made in the editing of this article. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // PROFILE
50 YEARS STRONG Houston’s first family of barbecue, DEMERIS BAR-B-Q, CELEBRATES it’s 50TH ANNIVERSARy, and puts family first. By: DOUG HARRIS | Photography: JUSTIN CALHOUN
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
When people speak fondly of Texas, familiar themes surface, and first among those relating to Lone Star cuisine is barbecue. Regardless of the spelling, discussions of this staple of the Texas diet will inevitably include Demeris BarB-Q, the family-owned enterprise in Houston that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since 1964, the Demeris family has been serving authentic, mouth-watering barbecue to Houstonians, and today operates two restaurants and a full-service catering division. A new generation of the Demeris family, led by a quartet of brothers and cousins all related to its patriarch, is honoring that legacy and sustaining their reputation as one of Houston’s great restaurant families. This story begins in the early 1900s, in the tiny village of Falanthe, Greece, where Frank Demeris and Angelike Vasilakopoulos met and married. They raised four children whose mid-century journey to America paved the way for their pursuit, and achievement, of the American Dream. Those four siblings—Gus Frank Demeris, Jimmy Frank Demeris, Nick Frank Demeris, and Georgia (Demeris) Vlahakos—laid the foundation for the enterprise that today offers similar opportunities for the grandchildren of Frank and Angelike Demeris, along with inspiration from the vision, faith, and hard work of these adventurous European immigrants. The 21st century incarnation of Demeris Bar-BQ and Catering is owned and operated by sons and nephews of founder Gus Demeris: Frankie and Yonny Demeris (Gus’s sons), George Demeris (son of Gus’ brother Nick) and Billy Vlahakos (son of Gus’ sister Georgia Demeris Vlahakos)—all grandsons of Frank and Angelike. Gus’ brother Jimmy recalls his father’s strength and decision to move his family from their homeland to America. “Our daddy, Frank, was a hell of a man,” remembers Jimmy Demeris. “He could foresee the future. He was successful in Greece, but he wanted a good life for his children in America. That’s why he came over here.” Frank Demeris traveled to America three times,
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first in 1915, at which time he served in the U.S. Army. After WWI ended, he returned to Greece to marry Angelike, but a short time later, his desire to provide a better life for his family brought him back to America. Soon thereafter, he again returned to Greece when he learned his young son had died in a tragic accident. For the next several years, Frank abandoned his dream of establishing a life for his family in America; but, when civil war broke out in Greece in the 1940’s, he returned to America and never left again. In March of 1947, Frank arrived in Houston, along with his eldest son Gus and his daughter Georgia. Frank worked for his brothers in the kitchen of the T&G Restaurant on Fannin Street, and Gus worked at Steve’s Barbecue, owned and operated by Steve Caloudas, Sr., a fellow immigrant from Greece who was married to one of Gus’ cousins. Every week, Gus gave his unopened pay envelope to his father so they could save enough money to bring the rest of the family from Greece, a goal which they successfully achieved in 1948. In 1952, Frank purchased Anthony’s Cafe on North San Jacinto at Wood Street, renaming it The G and N Cafe, after sons Gus and Nick. Frank’s youngest son, Jimmy, was attending the University of Houston and working for Royal York Coffee. In 1961, Gus and his brother Jimmy bought the Shipley’s location at West Gray and Dunlavy, and shortly thereafter acquired Carol’s Kitchen on South Shepherd (now a Starbucks location). In 1964, the pair purchased Sanders Barbecue on South Shepherd, which became the first Demeris Bar-B-Q restaurant and remains the company’s flagship location. Their brother Nick and sister Georgia—along with Georgia’s husband, George Vlahakos—came into the family business that same year. From the beginning, the family shared duties, with the eldest sibling, Gus, in charge. Nick ran G and N Cafe, Jimmy ran Shipley’s, Gus ran Carol’s Kitchen and Demeris Bar-B-Q, and Georgia, ever the diplomat, found herself frequently serving in the role of referee. Jimmy Demeris recalls, “We were a family, and there were always fights, but the next day we were brothers and sister again. No matter what, the family is number one.” By this time, the sons and nephews of Gus Demeris were already learning the ropes of the profession that would later provide their livelihood. The eldest of those descendants, Billy Vlahakos, was ten years old when the original Demeris Bar-B-Q opened, and that summer brought experience on the cash register. “Two sandwiches and two Cokes were $1.32 with tax,” says Vlahakos with a smile on his face. “That’s
fifty-five cents for a sandwich. Drinks were a dime.” Years later, he learned how to cut meat, served time “on the line”, and opened and closed the restaurants. Vlahakos worked throughout his years at Bellaire High School, taking particular interest in the family’s newly opened catering division. It was during his studies at Houston Baptist University that he made the decision to pursue a restaurant career. Meanwhile, cousins Frankie and Yonny Demeris,
sons of Gus Demeris, were putting in their time in the restaurants as well. “I would put on an apron and serve water to the customers,” explains Yonny. “I was about six years old, working at Carol’s Kitchen with my Aunt Georgia (Billy’s mother). She taught me how to count change back.” Throughout his teens, the Memorial High School student worked weekends at the Shepherd location, observing his father and, above all, obeying his teachings. “Those weekends not only kept me out of trouble, they instilled the work ethic that we all share today,” Demeris reflects. In December of 1969, the Demeris family opened a second barbecue location in the developing Town and County area of west Houston. A third location opened on Hempstead Road in 1975 and “Northwest”, as it came to be known, was a hit from the first day. The family expanded to a location adjacent to Sharpstown Center in 1976. In 1994, after extended negotiations with the management of Town and Country Center could not reach resolution, the Demeris family closed that operation to focus on its other units and its rapidly growing catering division. The Sharpstown location closed in 2013. “Everything my dad tried to tell me growing up has come true,” says Yonny Demeris, acknowledging his father’s contribution to the family’s continued success. “You have to be
out there with the customer. You have to show up on time. All the things he told me were spot on; but,” he adds with a chuckle, “you still have to learn some things for yourself. “ Like his cousins Billy Vlahakos and George Demeris, as well as his brother Frankie Demeris, Yonny decided to be a part of the family business while in college. Following his graduation from Texas A&M, Yonny devoted his efforts to the operation of the restaurants and the burgeoning catering business. “There were times when my dad and I butted heads,” admits Yonny, “but my brothers, cousins and I noticed things that needed to be changed. For example, my father had simple, effective processes, but we were still hand-writing catering orders. We introduced my dad to the computer age. In 1996 we had a program written for catering, and that’s when things really took off. My dad had one button on the computer where we summarized everything for him. He learned how to hit that one button well.” Since those early years, Billy, Frankie, Yonny and George, united by their bloodline and a common purpose, have refined the restaurants’ operational systems, created and added new menu items, and significantly expanded the catering division.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
THIS PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE DEMERIS FAMILY
In 2012, the relocation of the northwest Houston store to 1702 West Loop North (at 18th Street) opened a new chapter in the family’s history. The new location boasts a patio, a private dining area, a drive-up
home life with work life so we had to find out who was best at certain things. My cousin George, who’s a graduate of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at U of H, runs our kitchens and catering. My brother Frankie is very meticulous, so he handles the accounting side.” And cousin Billy Vlahakos? “Billy can do it all,” says Yonny. Vlahakos readily admits his passion for a specific segment of operations. “The challenges of the catering side were always my favorite part of the job. The logistics of serving 5,000 people in thirty minutes. What’s it going to take to make the food taste not just good, but great?” Vlaha-
“No matter what, the family is number one.” window, and a full-service bar, and will serve as the model for future expansion. “It’s a challenge working with brothers and cousins,” offers Yonny Demeris, “but in some ways, it got easier when we became owners. We were juggling
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kos reports that catering now represents two-thirds of the company’s revenue and is growing every year. “Catering helps us fill in off-peak production hours and the only downside is it’s like opening a new restaurant every time you go someplace. You take what you need, on your back, and make it all work.” Vlahakos says his biggest source of satisfaction comes from supporting the values he learned from his parents and uncles. “We provide an opportunity for our employees to prosper and raise families,” he says with pride. “Some of them have been with us for over thirty years.” Among those long-term coworkers is Helen Mudd, who has run the counter at the original location on Shepherd for an amazing 36 years. “I worked for Mr. Gus and I remember those little
Since 1964, the Demeris family has been serving authentic, mouthwatering barbecue to Houstonians.
boys,” recalls Helen of Gus’ sons and nephews. “Around high school they found their way and now they are the best bosses you could ever ask for.” When asked about Gus Demeris, Ms. Mudd becomes fervent, even emotional in her praise. “He loved his family and he loved God and he remembered where he came from. When homeless people would come to the window, he’d tell us to give them something to eat. I remember him telling Yonny, ‘That could be you.’ He had a caring heart.” Today these sons, nephews, brothers, and cousins have become husbands, fathers and successful entrepreneurs, renowned in the hospitality industry. They are assisted by a support staff that includes Gus’ son Jamie Demeris, as well as long-time employees Thimio Tsonis, Aurelio Bedolla, Gabino Corona, Ruben Gomez,
Moyses Lopez, Alfredo Magana, Glen Wheeler, and the engaging Ms. Mudd. “It’s different every day,” says Yonny Demeris. “The most satisfying thing is when you meet someone and they know your name, which goes back to my dad and my aunt and uncles. They gave us the foundation and we work hard every day to keep it going. If my daughters truly want to be in the family business after they graduate from college, I would support that, but I would encourage them to do something else first.” Billy Vlahakos, whose children have both pursued other professions, credits their time in the restaurants with enhancing their outlook on life. “Working here gave my kids a solid work ethic, taught them the value of a dollar, how people earn a living, and how you deal with the public. It’s not easy to learn those life lessons.”
So what lies ahead for Demeris Bar-B-Q? “Growth and controlled expansion,” predicts Yonny Demeris, “with an eye on what got us here.” Billy Vlahakos echoes that respect for the past. “Uncle Gus basically said, ‘Here it is, don’t screw it up.’ We have to maintain a brand that people have come to love. That’s a real responsibility.” Paraphrasing a message from the newly-launched Demeris.com, these barbecue aficionados invite you to “Eat hearty, play well, and celebrate life!”
For more information on Demeris Bar-B-Q and Catering, please visit www.demeris.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // DINE
THE IDEA FOR the breakfast klub began many years ago while Marcus Davis worked alongside his brothers in his father’s Houston catering business. Davis discovered the value of good food and the importance of a great ‘kustomer’ experience. The “koncept” of the breakfast klub was born after Davis “rekcognized” a void in the market for a unique breakfast restaurant serving signature items in a soulful, relaxed “kommunity” envi-
“OUR RESTAURANT IS ROOTED IN PRINCIPLES OF FAITH, FAMILY, ‘KOMMUNITY’ AND EMPOWERMENT.”
A HOUSTON INSTITUTION Still a destination spot for patrons in every sense of the word after 13 years in operation, the breakfast klub continues to offer great food in a soulful, relaxed “kommunity” environment. By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
ronment. He chose two of his favorite dishes from opposite ends of the country: “katfish” and grits from the East Coast and wings and waffles from the West Coast. And the rest is history. While David opened the doors to the breakfast klub in Houston in September 2001, the company’s strongest marketing edge has been word-of-mouth ever since. From face-to-face conversations to social media, this has been and continues to be one of the greatest assets in growing the business. “What sets us apart is that our restaurant is rooted in principles of faith, family, kommunity and empowerment,” Davis says. “We treat every kustomer like our family, and we believe that family is the cornerstone of any kommunity. Therefore, we place an emphasis on supporting activities and causes that enrich and strengthen families.” Activities include the monthly free children’s event, Kids 1st Saturday, which is for the kommunity and allows children’s groups and/or organizations to display their talent while providing entertainment to all patrons. Additionally, the breakfast klub has given scholarships to local students going to the local universities. “During our anniversary celebration, we have a kustomer appreciation day,” Davis says. “We use this day to say ‘thank you’ to our patrons for their support. We give them items that we have collected from the kommunity. Some of the items we have collected include paintings from former artists of the month, sports tickets and memorabilia, jewelry and more.” Having received numerous accolades and satisfied kustomers from all over the country and the world, at the breakfast klub, they certainly know what they are doing, and they are doing a great job! Their customer service policy and their restaurant philosophy are strong. “We are inspired by a passion to provide every kustomer with good food served in a soulful atmosphere every time they visit,” Davis says. “It is very important that everyone on our team shares the same level of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm to keep the kustomers’ needs first, from the moment they get in line until we bid them farewell.” It is obvious that their philosophy has worked, as the breakfast klub has been recognized as one of the “best breakfast restaurants in the nation” by Good Morning America, as well as by USA Today, Esquire and Forbes magazines. They have won numerous awards and honors throughout the years, including:
• Great Day Houston’s Best in Houston winner • Best Breakfast Restaurant (2013) • Houston Chronicle Top 100 Restaurant (2013) • LocalEats Top 100 Restaurants (2010 and 2012-14) • Best of Citysearch winner – Best Breakfast Restaurant (2009-13) • Houston Press Readers’ Choice – Best Breakfast (2009-13) • Great Day Houston’s Best in Houston winner • Best Breakfast Restaurant (2013) There are more awards, and the breakfast klub is sure to make the list for even more in the years ahead. At the breakfast klub, you are greeted at the door with a smile and the ambiance is extremely warm and inviting. The signature dishes are the Katfish & Grits and the Wings & Waffles. The Katfish & Grits consists of a katfish fillet that is fried to a deep golden brown and served with the “kreamy” and buttery grits and with eggs “made your way” or seasoned potatoes and Texas toast or a home-style “biskit.” The Wings & Waffles is a fluffy waffle topped with powdered sugar and a single strawberry in the middle, surrounded by six “chikin” wing pieces that are seasoned and fried to perfection. There are plenty of offerings, but the specialties are the very same ones Davis originally put on the first menu at the breakfast klub 13 years ago. In August 2005, TBK Holdings Inc. acquired and began renovations on the Reggae Hut, a longstanding staple in Houston’s Third Ward kommunity. The Reggae Hut served a tempting amalgamation of Caribbean cuisines for more than nine years before operational challenges almost forced it to close its doors. The restaurant was a considerable inspiration to Davis during the breakfast klub’s formative stages. But more importantly, Davis’ firm belief in the yearround practice of the fourth guiding principle of Kwanzaa-Ujamaa (cooperative economics and sharing) motivated him to reinvest the financial rewards realized by the breakfast klub in the preservation of this cultural icon. With widespread community support, and to the delight of its many loyal patrons, TBK Holdings Inc. unveiled the Reggae Hut Café’s new contemporary urban motif featuring mural work by local artist Tierney Malone in January 2006. According to Davis, the breakfast klub is central to Houston’s daily life. “Local politicos ‘kome’ here to pow-wow, downtown lawyers and CEOs congregate and debate, families gather after church, university students ‘kan’ kome in for an affordable meal and bottomless ‘kups’ of coffee and Medical Center patients and visitors know they kan stop before or after appointments for healing treatments of the ‘kulinary’ kind,” Davis says, concluding that “the breakfast klub is a Houston institution and a destination spot for every visitor in every sense of the word.”
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/thebreakfastklub TWITTER: www.twitter.com/katfishandgrits INSTAGRAM: www.thebreakfastklub.com/ katfishandgrits PINTEREST: www.pinterest.com/tbk3711
Visit the breakfast klub at 3711 Travis St. in Houston, Texas, to learn more. You may also call 713-528-8561 go online to www.thebreakfastklub.com. Note: Certain editorial exceptions were made in the editing of this article. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // DINE
Handcrafted hot sauces and seasonings with a Texas flair By: HEATHER DANIELS
BRIGGS TRUE is the brainchild and passion of Michael Briggs, a lifelong devoted fan of fiery foods. His love for cooking and playing host to his friends ignited the Briggs TRUE line of hot sauces and seasonings in the Houston area. He explains, “I am blessed to have some great friends in my life. I wanted to give them gifts that were more personal. They had always complimented me on the smoked meats, sauces and exotic treats I’d prepare during the holidays and for special occasions. So, I decided the one thing to give my friends was something that only I could provide - my food.” From there, Briggs started giving his unique culinary offerings to his clients. Again, it was a tremendous hit. After attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Briggs relocated to Houston to work as a musician. He gained success and notoriety as a drumming expert and soon was a drum equipment sales rep for manufacturers. “Most media pros would bring clients coffee mugs or koozies with their station’s logo on it. I would give them Michael Briggs’ HOT IDEA SAUCE. It claimed to make the consumers of this sauce, “better looking, wealthy and wildly popular.” Needless to say, my clients enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor and I stood out against 62
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my competition. Whether you’re a chile head or not, everyone is intrigued by hot sauce.” Although Briggs TRUE is a favorite among discerning “Chile-heads,” they also sell sauces and seasonings to some of Houston’s top restaurants and are included in their menus and bar items. The incredibly popular restaurant Eleven 11 in Houston, run by partners Joe Welborn and Chef Kevin Bryant, pack diners in with Gulf Coast and locally sourced menu items. In addition, they serve a wide selection of oysters flown in daily from various parts of the country.” Chef Bryant has incorporated our sauces into his menu in very inventive and creative ways. That makes me keep them in constant supply,” explains Briggs. Other Chefs, including the “Godfather of Southwestern Cuisine” Robert Del Grande and World Champion Barbecue Master Randy Pauly, are also friends and fans of Briggs TRUE. “Lots of top Houston Chefs use the Briggs TRUE products at home, if not in their restaurants.” Briggs is targeting the restaurant industry as a key avenue to growth. Several chain restaurants and franchises use Briggs TRUE to produce their instore products, which allows them to maintain consistency and keep the quality standard high. Briggs TRUE bulk seasonings are a huge hit with cooking teams and backyard grill masters alike. They frequently use up to 100 pounds or more of any one of the three Briggs TRUE seasonings in a single weekend cook-off. “We have a loyal and expert following of cookers who know what they want and they get that from our products.” In fact, Briggs TRUE is the Official Hot Sauces and Seasonings of the World’s Champion-
ship BBQ Cook-Off Committee which leads into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo each February. The committee has approximately 1,500 members of the most educated BBQ palates in the country, which they feed every day with the Texas flare of Briggs TRUE products. While their stronghold is currently Houston, Briggs TRUE is gearing up for expansion into other markets through some of the larger retailers. Always available online 24/7, they sell to customers throughout the United States. Briggs states, “We are currently expanding our retail presence weekly with grocery, specialty retail and distributors in Texas and are entertaining conversations with national distributors as well. We are also interested in exporting to American Military bases so the servicemen and women can enjoy a little bit of home and that savory taste of Texas.” Not limited to products, Briggs TRUE produces and promotes events throughout the Houston area, including the 2013 inaugural BBQ Cook-Off of the Sugarland Skeeters, a minor league baseball team. In addition, Briggs is a board member and adviser to the Houston Restaurant Weeks, an annual fund-raising event founded and run by Cleverley Stone and involving more than 150 of Houston’s fine dining restaurants. Briggs is proud that the event has raised more than $2 million dollars for the Houston Food Bank each of the last two years of the citywide event. Also, the Houston Chili Cook-Off is a Houston Young Professionals Chamber event conceived, organized and produced by the Briggs TRUE team. Briggs TRUE is a brand that embodies the spirit and flavor of Texas. “It’s not enough to be good, you have to be one of the best to truly stand out amongst a crowded shelf of hot sauce and seasonings. I will only put my name on what I believe is the best offering of its type.” At this time, there are six Briggs TRUE sauce and seasoning products being marketed. Sauces include Texas Jalapeño, Houston Hot and Texas Mustard, all available in 5-ounce bottles or gallons. Seasonings come in 8-ounce containers or by the pound in bulk, and feature Cowboy Cajun, Chili Mix and Texas Seasoning. Products are all natural, fat and gluten free and, “you can smell the wood fire and taste the flavor that Texas is known for.” Briggs’ love of cooking is legendary and his experience as a host, caterer, home chef and manufacturer have lead him to friendly terms with many of the chefs and culinary innovators he admires most. As a boy, his mother game him full access to the kitchen and Briggs enjoyed the results that his cooking could provide, which further fueled his curiosity and quest for culinary growth. Says Briggs, “It’s truly a blessing when your work can also be your passion. Part of the reason I named it Briggs TRUE. It really comes from the heart.”
For More Information, contact 832-788-7071/michael@ briggstrue.com or visit www.briggstrue.com.
“IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO BE GOOD, YOU HAVE TO BE ONE OF THE BEST TO TRULY STAND OUT AMONGST A CROWDED SHELF OF HOT SAUCE AND SEASONINGS.”
DINE // TEXAS • HOUSTON
CLEMENS’ KATCH 22 HAS A PLEASANT ATMOSPHERE, AN IDEAL LOCATION AND A DEPENDABLE KITCHEN.
A HOMERUN FOR HOUSTON’S MIDTOWN Clemens’ Katch 22 Restaurant and Bar attracts fans, foodies and fun lovers who come for the food and stay for the game. By: DOUG HARRIS
WHEN KORY CLEMENS traded his batting helmet for a chef’s toque, no one was more surprised than his parents: seven-time Cy Young Award winner and MLB legend Roger Clemens and his wife, fashion designer and charity activist Debbie Clemens. “No one is more delighted than I am that my son has become a chef,” Debbie Clemens gushes. “I knew he was creative, and I always hoped he might go to art school, but his love for cooking was a secret to us.” After a series of high school sports injuries and subsequent surgeries cut his athletic career short, Kory Clemens completed his studies at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin and then fulfilled an internship with Edd Hendee’s Taste of Texas restaurant in Houston. He eventually found his way to the Ragin’ Cajun restaurant kitchen, honing his skills with the Mandola family. Today, a new collaboration with the
management and operations teams of Cullen’s Restaurant and Catering by Cullen’s finds Clemens the proprietor and executive chef at Clemens’ Katch 22 Restaurant and Bar, located at 700 Durham Drive in Houston. This new venture showcases not only Clemens’ culinary talents, but a selection of classic American favorites adapted from the menu at Cullen’s, the award-winning Clear Lake area restaurant that recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. With the assistance of Houston hospitality veteran and Cullen’s GM Ryan Roberts, Cullen’s owners Kevin and Sandra Munz are turning Clemens’ Katch 22 into a popular Midtown eatery and happy hour destination. “We’ve taken several of Kory’s signature dishes and married them with some favorites from our menu at Cullen’s,” Kevin Munz says. “People are enthusiastic about the selection, the flavors and the prices we can now offer. The menu includes a fabulous Boston
lobster roll, a steakhouse salad and the ultimate chicken-fried steak. There’s something here for sports fans, couples and families and for many of the folks in the neighborhood. It’s a short walk.” Equipped with a patio, a comfortable bar and lounge area, a casual dining room and a private seating area, Clemens’ Katch 22 is suitable for weekend brunches, business lunches, afternoon wind-downs and family dinners. An array of flat-screen TVs puts the biggest games within easy view of patrons, and the kitchen’s offerings range from steaks, seafood and burgers to soups, gumbos and salads. An ample selection of wines and specialty cocktails and a tempting array of appetizers give the lounge and dining room equal appeal, and daily specials, both from the kitchen and the bar, make for an affordable outing. “As a chef, Kory has come a long way in a very short time,” says Roberts, who now divides his time between Clemens’
Katch 22, Cullen’s and the Catering by Cullen’s operation. “His bacon-wrapped quail bites got rave reviews at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Best Bites competition, and our customers are asking for them at lunch, dinner and happy hour. Everybody who tries them loves them.” Since the Cullen’s/Clemens arrangement took effect in January 2014, the Durham Drive restaurant has seen steady growth, as fans, foodies and fun lovers alike have discovered its pleasant atmosphere, ideal location and dependable kitchen. “People come for the food and stay for the game,” Munz says with a smile. “Once they’re comfortable, well fed and properly taken care of, nobody wants to leave.” Well, you can’t blame them for that.
For more information on Clemens’ Katch 22 Restaurant and Bar, visit www.katch22houston.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // DINE
DELICIOUSLY DIFFERENT Cuchara Mexican Bistro: maintaining authenticity while bringing flavors of innovation to the culture and cuisine of Central Mexico By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
CUCHARA MEXICAN BISTRO, located in Houston’s Montrose area, is an authentic Mexico City bistro that opened its doors on Sept. 15, 2012, in a dual celebration of new beginnings coinciding with Mexico’s Independence Day. Cuchara, Spanish for “spoon,” occupies a refurbished 1940s brick building (formerly the Hyde Park Supermarket) at the corner of Fairview and Taft. The restaurant was conceived by owners Ana Beaven and Charlie McDaniel. The new design has a modern, minimalist theme that takes full advantage of the structure’s extensive storefront, high glass transoms and tall ceilings characteristic of 1940s retail development. New smooth plaster walls in warm earth tones provide a calm and defined space and form a backdrop to the jolts of color found in the establishment’s rainbow-hued collection of cookware, plates and bowls observed both in the open kitchen and tableside. A collection of eye-catching murals by Mexico City artist Cecilia Beaven are presented throughout the interior, with the most recent addition created on an outside wall of the patio area. A chaotic maze of cars, 64
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roads and landmarks depicts the high energy of Mexico City on the largest mural, which runs the entire length of the dining room. Drinkers stylized in a ceiling mural look down at people sipping cocktails at the bar. A third interior mural that surrounds the opening into the kitchen is of an open-air market displaying the ingredients that come straight from farms to the tables in unique ceramic and cast-iron pots and pans in vivid colors. Muralist Cecilia Beaven, the sister of owner Ana
Beaven, also created the art and animated animal icons sprinkled liberally and playfully throughout Cuchara’s airy interiors divided equally in dining and bar. Ana Beaven explains her restaurant’s commitment to art: “I daresay that we are the only restaurant with a fulltime artist on our staff. We create a very visual marketing campaign in everything we do.” A successful restaurant is equal parts inspiration and management perspiration. Cuchara was created with equal and healthy portions of each. Beaven, a neophyte in restaurant operation, brings strong experience in the culinary fare of Mexico City, being born and raised in the vibrant, urban environment. She has infused the menu with dishes from family recipes and other selections from her youth spiced with a flavor of innovation and creativity while remaining true to their authentic character. Maintaining authenticity is at the heart of Cuchara in every way, from its culturally important art through its ingredients, recipes and presentation, as well as a kitchen staffed exclusively by Mexican women who share their lifetimes of skills, experience and loving care in each creation they meticulously prepare. Proud of her kitchen team’s abilities and experience, Beaven declares that, “We are the only kitchen in town run exclusively by Mexican women.” Cuchara’s cuisine exhibits the same qualities of their customers’ grandmothers’ recipes that they all cherished in their childhood. It’s familiar, yet in many dishes, adjusted with a flavorful twist. McDaniel, the co-owner, provides valuable business management acumen to the success of the operation,
CUCHARA IS THE ONLY KITCHEN IN TOWN THAT IS RUN EXCLUSIVELY BY MEXICAN WOMEN.
complementing Cuchara’s creative and culinary components to maintain a harmony of success throughout the bistro’s operations and activities. Blending their varied skills, Beaven and McDaniel regularly work to ensure their restaurant’s desired standards are met on a daily basis.
In maintaining its strong ties to the culture and cuisine of Central Mexico, Cuchara celebrates every major holiday of Mexico, including Sept. 15, which marks Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule, Day of the Dead on Nov. 2, the Mexican Revolution on Nov. 20, Day of the Three Kings on Jan. 6 and the religious holiday, Dia de la Candelaria, on Feb. 2, to name just a few. Cuchara is truly equal parts restaurant and bar, as both have their own following and both are notable in their own right. Featuring a full bar with six different agave house specialty cocktails as part of the bar menu created by Chris Frankel (formerly of Houston’s popular Anvil Bar & Refuge) and a daily happy hour
with appetizer and drink specials from 5 to 8 p.m. makes Cuchara a popular decompression destination after a challenging workday. Crowd tequila-based favorites include Charlie’s Devil, an intriguing blend of blackberry, cucumber, lemon juice and ginger beer, and the Paloma, a blend of fresh limejuice, chamoy and both grapefruit juice and grapefruit soda for a crisp, citrus finish. Try one with the fresh chicharrones and salsa or the tacos chelo, crispy potato and spicy green sauce tacos accented with onion and creamy cotija cheese. Cuchara is open six days a week for lunch and dinner, as well as Saturday and Sunday for brunch starting at 11 a.m. Lunchtime at Cuchara is held “comida corrida” style, with the mid-day meal served in several courses from a menu that changes weekly. Offerings are continuously updated for loyal customers on the restaurant’s website. Dinner favorites are highlighted by the mole verde, a green mole pork tenderloin stew that has proved to be a popular and a deliciously different dish compared to the traditional brown or red mole. The tender pork is complemented with rice, refried beans and a white corn puree, each served separately in brightly colored lidded pots reminiscent of those used in the public markets of Mexico City. Other dinner favorites include huachinango veracruzana, a Veracruz-styled red snapper topped with a rich tomato, onion and bell pepper sauce and served on top of a plantain and amaranth cake. Other delicious dinner dishes include selections with fresh shrimp tasajo, a thin beef fillet, chicken and the fully
authentic nopal, a grilled cactus paddle in dishes such as their mula de nopal and nopalitos appetizer. Every plate served to your table is presented as a small work of art, integral to the bistro’s exhibition of authentic Mexican art, its traditional Mexican kitchen culture and the resulting distinctive, delicious cuisine. Whether you have long loved traditional Mexican dishes or are feeling adventuresome in sampling their unique and favor-filled bounty for the first time, the restaurant and bar in Montrose known as Cuchara will more than meet your expectations and surprise you with their authentic offerings of traditional and creative adaptations of the culture and cuisine from the interiors and coasts of Mexico.
Cuchara Mexican Bistro is located at 214 Fairview St. at the corner of Fairview and Taft in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas. For more information, call 713-942-0000 or visit www.cuchararestaurant.com.
HOURS OF OPERATION: • 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday • Closed Monday • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday • 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // DINE
Eleven XI offers a taste from the southern shores By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
A YEAR AGO, Eleven XI opened their doors in the Montrose area of Houston. The award-winning restaurant and bar offers culinary delights and extraordinary drinks to satiate your thirst on so many levels. With a wonderful wine or a refreshing craft cocktail, guests can relax in the charming and comfortable surroundings, as they decide what to choose from the creative offerings on the menu. The setting is a vintage, two- story house, creating an ambiance that is elegant and earthy at the same time. Southern Coastal cuisine is highlighted from happy hour snacks to daily dinner dishes, and the late night bar bites are a tasty addition for the guests. Executive Chef Kevin Bryant has brought more than a decade of culinary experience to his role; he oversees the menu for all the delectable dining choices as well as the chef’s table and the private meeting and event space. Eleven XI has a wonderful philosophy that is followed by the entire staff; to never forget that they are there for the guests. “It’s our goal to bring the quality and experience of fine dining to a casually elegant setting without pretense and at an approachable price point,” explains managing partner and sommelier, Joe Welborn. Providing a vast array of delicious and 66
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simple, chef-driven fare that incorporates premium ingredients is only the beginning of the Eleven XI story. Add in a world-class cocktail selection, an excellent beer and wine program, plus the knowledgeable, yet unpretentious service, and Eleven XI has created an inviting restaurant and bar concept that Houstonians have welcomed since its inception. And they keep coming back for more! Serving a broad range of customers that run the gamut from neighbors who see Eleven XI as a home
“THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROJECT OF LOVE, FAMILY, PASSION AND INTEGRITY. THE SECOND ANY OF THOSE ARE IN QUESTION, IT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING ELSE.” away from home to the gastronome that is looking to treat friends, family and co-workers to a memorable meal or for those important meetings and special events, Eleven XI has Houston covered on the dining scene. The Southern Coastal cuisine that the restau-
An ideal capacity is around 70 guests. We can also accommodate lunch events in our main dining room.” Young professionals, corporate executives, hospitality industry peers and retired empty nesters from around the city and beyond come together in the din-
PHOTOS BY MP PHOTOGRAPHY
rant is known for is regional comfort food that draws from their proximity to the ocean. According to Chef Bryant, “While we have plenty to please meat lovers, we source the freshest seafood not only from the nearby Gulf Coast, but also from around the country.” Welborn details the selection of wines and cocktails and mouth-watering dining options that appear to be the favorites of the Eleven XI guests. “From our 300 plus selections and 2,000 bottles, the 1988 Fratelli Speri Amarone Della Valpolicella is an excellent choice. It is one of the godfathers of Amarone and is a wine that still has the power to go another 40 or 50 years. On the bar side, we are definitely lovers of whiskey and scotch and have one of the larger selections of both in the city. We adore single malt scotches from fantastic 12 year offerings like Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or all the way up to Glenlivet and Macallan 25.” Welborn explains that the Cherry Limeade cocktail is a signature and features Grey Goose Cherry Noir Vodka, acid phosphate and freshly squeezed lime juice topped with Topo Chico mineral water. Menu favorites include the daily oyster selection, Akaushi Meat Ballsfilled with jalapenos and Nueske’s bacon, Citrus Tea Brined Wild Game Hen –brined in Katz Honeybush Apricot tea, served oven roasted or whole fried, Apricot Flounder-whole crispy flounder with an apricot glaze, and Elk Tenderloin-topped with truffle butter and accompanied with olive oil-goat cheese whipped potatoes. The Peanut Butter Tower is an amazing dessert choice for those sweet tooth junkies; it has a creamy peanut butter filling and is textured with Valrhona chocolate. The Daily Fried Pie is also another choice that Houstonians leave room for after their meal is devoured with a fine appreciation for food at its finest. The patio is a major draw for the Eleven XI team, especially with the warmer months now upon the Lone Star State. Bryant adds, “It’s a lively and laid back spot to gather with friends and family. And it’s particularly popular for our Sunday brunch, when the challah French toast is not to be missed. While many guests order it to share, it usually never makes it past their plate.” Eleven XI has so many features to enjoy, and their incredibly eclectic and diverse customer base appreciates the amenities, the ambiance and first and foremost-the food. Welborn remarks, “We also provide a variety of catering options and have a dedicated, fullfloor event space with a separate bar and bathrooms.
ing room and on the patio for a great time. Eleven XI has definitely made a mark on Houston’s culinary map. Their goal is to maintain the momentum that continues to build since opening. Several key media outlets have selected Eleven XI as one of the city’s best new restaurants. Says Welborn, “We aim to keep experiences fresh and engaging for existing customers and are thrilled by new guests that continue to find us through social media, the press or word of mouth. Looking ahead, we hope to grow and diversify the company with new hospitality concepts and possibly expand the Eleven XI brand into other markets.” The restaurant name reinforces the contagious optimism for this venue, derived from 11:11, which the partners refer to as “the wishing hour.” So as the guests continue to enjoy their wishes, it is not surprising to see how well-loved and well-known Eleven XI has become in such a short time. As Welborn concludes, “This has always been a project of love, family, passion and integrity. The second any of those are in question, it’s time to do something else.” But there is no doubt that a question will ever surface; Eleven XI is a Houston favorite, and by observing their success, it will continue to be on the “must dine” list of Houstonians for many years to come.
Eleven XI is located at 607 W. Gray Street, Houston, TX, 77019. For More Information call 713-529-5881 or visit www.elevenxihouston.com. Facebook - ElevenXIHouston, Twitter ElevenXIHouston.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • HOUSTON // DINE
MARK’S AMERICAN CUISINE Romanticizing the Art of Dining By: HEATHER DANIELS
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
KNOWN AS A FIVE STAR RESTAURANT
throughout the Houston market, Mark’s American Cuisine has become a dining tradition amongst Houstonians and their out-of-town guests. With a romantic atmosphere and a dining experience to remember for years to come, the delicious offerings seem infinite and the customer service is second to none. Mark and Lisa Cox knew what they were doing back in 1997 when they decided to open their own restaurant and they continue to grow and explore different venues to satisfy all of their guests. In fact, to this day, many of the customers have dined at Mark’s on numerous occasions and plan to keep this dining tradition for a long time to come. Chef Mark Cox began cooking at the age of 15 in his hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia. His keen interest in cooking lead him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where he graduated at the top of his class. After an apprenticeship at The Greenbrier, a luxurious resort, Mark took a position on the opening team of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington D.C. Lisa Cox entered the hospitality industry as a part of the opening team of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington D.C. as well. During a management training program, Lisa met her husband, Mark, during her kitchen duty. Committed to transferring to the Four Seasons Houston Center property, where Lisa was assistant di-
rector of human resources, Mark visited her in Houston and moved to Texas. Upon his arrival, he accepted a position at Brennan’s of Houston. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to executive chef at the age of 25. After three years with Brennan’s, Chef Cox joined forces with Tony Vallone, with whom he created a new menu for the original Tony’s. He was promoted to corporate chef for the Vallone Restaurant Group for 11 years. Anxious to return to work after being a stay-athome, full-time mom to their son, Lisa suggested to Mark that they open their own restaurant. Together they worked on their business proposal and finding a location that would be a destination restaurant for Houston diners that offered a casual, comfortable neighborhood atmosphere. Lisa explains, “We found the perfect spot, a former church from the 1920s and we opened Mark’s American Cuisine on July 10, 1997. I handle the administrative, employee, promotional and back-of-the-house duties while Mark strives to create new and unique menu items every day.” In April of 2013, the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences named Mark’s American Cuisine a recipient of the International Star Diamond award, an award only bestowed on five star properties. In spite of these accolades, Chef Cox strives for perfection in his search for the finest, most fresh ingredients to offer his customers on every visit. And the rave reviews continue
each day from the regulars to the new guests that dine at Mark’s American Cuisine because of the stellar customer service and delectable dishes that Chef Mark prepares with “tender loving care.” What sets Mark’s American Cuisine apart from other fine Houston restaurants consists of the three most crucial aspects to any restaurant, ambiance, service and their food. “Instead of our restaurant building being constructed of glass and concrete and conveniently located in a strip mall, we are a destination restaurant. Our guests dine with us not just to eat, but to experience an entire evening where they may relax and forget the outside world through our ambiance, service and food.” Lisa continues, “The servers have worked at Mark’s for years and guests request specific servers when they dine here. We have very little turnover, if any at all because we treat our employees as well as we expect them to treat our guests.” The most important aspect of the restaurant is the food. The menu items are ever evolving to offer the
“OUR GUESTS DINE WITH US NOT JUST TO EAT, BUT TO EXPERIENCE AN ENTIRE EVENING WHERE THEY MAY RELAX AND FORGET THE OUTSIDE WORLD THROUGH OUR AMBIANCE, SERVICE AND FOOD.” freshest and most unique ingredients available. Chef Mark scours the market and brings in food items diners will not find at other Houston restaurants. “Our wine list changes twice weekly, and our Sommelier, Cathy Nguyen, will order wine requested by a guest even if it means consulting with private wine collectors.” According to Chef Mark, Mark’s American Cuisine is a forever favorite because of “our consistent quality of service and innovative dishes.” He continues, “Our Sommelier, Cathy Nguyen, blends a new wine for Mark’s every year called ‘1658’. While we have received many accolades, we never purposely set out to receive any awards. We are most appreciative of awards received, but we are constantly striving to improve and evolve.” Voted as Houston’s most romantic restaurant because of the intimate, cozy setting with a pristine view of the wine cellar, the soft lighting sets the stage for couples. Many couples choose Mark’s for a first date, a wedding proposal and subsequent wedding anniversary celebrations. While all the dishes prepared at Mark’s are divine, guest most favored dishes include: fire roasted oysters topped with crab, shrimp, lobster and fried oysters; venison tartar and torchon of foie gras served with a quail egg and grilled rye bread; Nantucket Cape scallop with butternut squash and sunchoke puree; seasonal soft shell crab with lump crab and shrimp risotto; walnut crusted rack of lamb with tandoori rubbed loin served with black and white lentils; Sous Vide veal porterhouse with champagne truffle risotto; fire roasted lobster with butternut squash puree and diver scallops, grilled shrimp and seasonal vegetables. With four menus, there is the Chef’s tasting menu consisting of eight courses which may be paired with wine, the pre fixe lunch menu –only $28.95 for three courses, the dinner menu and menu items verbally
described to the guests which include specialties of the day. Some of the scrumptious desserts are the blueberry and mascarpone tart with a graham cracker crust and blueberry muffin ice cream, warm chocolate cake (gluten free) served with German coconut, pecan icing and pecan brittle ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce, raspberry tart with a buttery flaky tender crust, fresh raspberries and Piedmont pistachio ice cream and seasonal strawberry shortcake. From the moment you sit down at Mark’s American Cuisine to the moment you have had at least a few bites of the dessert, the meal is defined as heavenly and the atmosphere is ideal. Add in all of the other specials-and it is easy to see why Mark’s American Cuisine continues to win awards as well as many fellow Texans’ hearts. Besides the exceptional dining experience, Mark’s has a strong involvement within the Houston community as well as in other states. Lisa donates between 15 to 20 gift certificates monthly to organizations to use in their silent auctions or as a raffle item. Many of the organizations they donate to are the same ones every year. Examples are non-profit organizations such as the arts-The Society for Performing Arts, The Houston Grand Opera, The Houston Ballet, The Houston Symphony, The Alley Theatre and Theatre Under the Stars. Donations go to medical research including St. Jude’s Medical Research Hospital, M.D. Anderson, St. Luke’s Heart Association, The Periwinkle Foundation, The American Heart Association, Crohn’s and Colitis Winter Ball, and Susan G. Komen Cure for Cancer. Donations are awarded to schools such as the University of St. Thomas Irish Studies’ gala, the Awty School (for international students), many public schools’ parent-teacher organizations and private schools’ galas. Mark’s also donates to many causes such as SIRE, which heals
patients through horseback riding, KICKSTART, Chuck Norris’s martial arts program for youngsters and the Human Rights Campaign which support the LGBT sector. Lisa also donates to fundraisers held in Chicago and Florida. Mark donates his personal time by participating in offsite fundraisers where he cooks for several hundred guests attending events benefiting the March of Dimes, Aid to Women of Domestic Abuse, and Share Our Strength whose funds go to the Houston Food Bank. Lisa adds, “We donate to several hundred organizations annually by contributing money, gift cards and by Mark cooking at these fundraising events. Those listed are just a few of the many we assist.” John Olson, a local resident of Houston, sums up the experience at Mark’s American Cuisine best. “I attended a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society recently and purchased a silent auction basket, donated by Mark that included a $100.00 gift card. My wife and I decided to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary at Mark’s and what a fabulous experience it turned out to be. Mario and the entire staff made everything perfect, the food was spectacular, and the ambiance was nothing short of amazing. I thank them for supporting cancer research and providing an incredible experience for my wife and I. They have earned customers for life and we will be back soon and often with the rest of the family.” Olson’s sentiments are shared by a plethora of Houstonians that rank Mark’s American Cuisine as both a landmark and an unforgettable tradition in the fine world of dining in Houston.
Mark’s American Cuisine is located at 1685 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX, 77006. For More Information, call 713-523-3800 or visit www.marks1658.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • RIO GRANDE VALLEY // DINE
La Pampa Argentinean Steakhouse brings a taste of Argentina to the Rio Grande Valley. By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
RAFAEL AND ANTONIO LOPEZ,
brothers and business partners, have come a long way from the days they spent during the summer visiting their grandparents in Spain. Their grandparents seemed to have sparked their keen interest in the restaurant business, as they were involved in the business of providing great food, beverages, sundries and dancing to the small town where they lived. Their father came to Mexico at the age of 18 and worked in restaurants as a server and an entertainer playing the accordion. It was there that the Lopez brothers learned much more about how to properly serve guests. More than a decade ago, the Lopez brothers opened their own restaurant in Mexico, and their instant success was rewarding. This is where the story takes a turn – how they relocated to Brownsville and McAllen, Texas. “Our friend and future business partner, Rafael Chacon, saw the need for a fine Argentinean steakhouse in Brownsville,” Rafael Lopez explains. He contacted me and invited us to join him in bringing an Argentinean steakhouse to the Rio Grande Valley.” Lopez was looking ahead to a brighter future, so he called his brother, Antonio, back from Spain to go to Brownsville and meet Chacon. From that day onward,
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
they have been working together with rave reviews from their clientele. The three partners spent a great deal of time in Argentina; “it was critically important to capture the essence of the authentic Argentinean dining experience, and we invested the time necessary to understand and embrace the culture of Argentina.” The Argentinean dining experience is something to be shared, enjoyed and remembered. And that is exactly what this entrepreneurial team has created with La Pampa Argentinean Steakhouse. At La Pampa, every meal is an event. “It is entertainment and fine food and an experience to be remembered,” Rafael says. Together, the three partners designed and built the first restaurant in Brownsville. From the largest architectural structure to the smallest details such as uniforms and lighting, there was nothing too small for them to be totally involved with. The result is a “labor of love” called La Pampa. “The concept that we have established for La Pampa is simple: top-quality food, great service and most important, a pleasant place that will take you to Argentina,” Rafael Lopez explains. “Our topquality food lets us serve real simple, but yet exquisite dishes by using only mes-
quite charcoal to complement the flavors of our steaks – doing it the Argentinean way.” Both brothers continue, “Most of our dishes allow you to share with someone else. A typical meal at La Pampa would be to start with some Argentinean-style empanadas de carne and a mozzarella caprese. Then you can share a parrillada or grilled beef tenderloin big enough for up to six people, not forgetting a great Argentinean wine to complement your experience.” The experience is a well-crafted blend of Argentina, Mexico and the United States where “all the elements come together to create the best experience possible.” La Pampa maintains an inviting, social environment where the focus is on the guests feeling welcome, at home and comfortable, and always having a great time. “People are happy and proud to bring their guests to La Pampa. It is something very unique and different in the Valley.” The pride taken by the staff in doing their job is also evident throughout La Pampa in Brownsville and McAllen. The high-quality food is unique, fresh and served without the need for seasoning, and the rich flavors of each dish are evident within seconds. The beverages represent the regions around Argentina and South America, consisting of a bold selection of wines and Clericot and Quilmes (Argentina’s favorite beer). With professional Latin-style service, the respectful, personalized and genuine staff make the experience even more magnificent than it already is. Going to La Pampa has been described as taking a mini-vacation to Argentina. “It gives each guest something to talk about, and they are excited to share this with their friends and family.” The servers uniformed in the style of Argentinean gauchos enhance the guest’s overall experience in a way that most guests find unique and very special. There is a family feel to the service. It says, “mi casa es su casa” – welcome to my home and enjoy being served by the family. Servers receive continuous training and education so they remain current and knowledgeable about their product. All owners provide a weekly focus for the staff so that all employees work together to best serve the clientele. It is a team effort that is truly like a close-knit family. “In these times, with this economic crisis, restaurant owners have to overcome obstacles by giving 110 percent,”
Rafael Lopez says. “La Pampa is a local business where our goals consist of giving only the best to our community. And we plan on doing so for a long time to come.” Antonio Lopez expresses his beliefs, as well: “We have always focused on giving a better service and quality in both our locations. In the specific case of Brownsville, we were pioneers in this type of restaurant. We have a really loyal clientele base that has led us to keep on going for nine years. We are truly grateful for their support.” As you enter La Pampa, you are immediately greeted by the aroma of the mesquite-fired grill. Everything in an Argentinean steakhouse centers on the grill and the chef preparing your steak to perfection. The design of La Pampa places the grill in full view of the dining room so that it becomes part of the dining entertainment. Every detail of the hand-formed cement patterns on the walls, the large wood-beamed ceiling, the hanging artifacts from around the La Pampa region of Argentina, the oversized wooden barrels above the bar, the wine storage displays and the Argentinean tango background music work together to create that authentic Argentinean dining experience. Their vision is to grow La Pampa and bring the Argentinean experience to other parts of Texas. And with the success rate of their two existing locations in the Rio Grande Valley, this is just the beginning of their story. As Rafael Lopez concludes, “We are located in a zone with unique traditions that two different cultures have created. We are a melting pot where the American and Mexican cultures have influence in every aspect of our lives.” Keeping this in mind, I wonder just where they are destined to enter Texas next. Wherever it may be, a mini-vacation sounds like the best deal of all.
For more information on La Pampa, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1655 Ruben Torres Blvd., Ste. 208 Brownsville, Texas 78521 956-504-5858
3300 N. McColl Road, Ste. “O” McAllen, Texas 78501 956-687-5857
The SUCCESS of your event is our main CONCERN BLACK TIE AFFAIRS CATERING, INC. Full-Service Catering Richard Ojeda, Owner • 210.854.9074 Debbie Gonzaba, Sales Director • 210.379.2137
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TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
“WE BUY EVERYTHING FRESH, AND WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT IS SEASONAL AND AVAILABLE.” of the obligatory administrative applications. In 2010, they hit pay dirt in the form of green cards and associated work visas, which they obtained through a U.S Government lottery. Having the necessary paperwork paved the way for a move across the Atlantic and the wholesale changes in lifestyle that came with it. Opening a restaurant was always their vision. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Caitline had recently graduated from the renowned Ferrandi School of Gastronomie in Paris, often referred to as the standard for gastronomie schools in France. “We also had owned a restaurant in Paris called Violine,” Sylvain said, “so we already knew something about the business.” What’s new at Saveurs (which is what most people are simply calling it these days)? “First of all, we are about to open an authentic Parisian bakery and pastry shop next-door at 207,” Sylvain said while showing me the space and the footprint of where the bread oven will eventually sit. “There, we are going to make real French bread, croissants, ‘petits pains au chocolat’ and crêpes. We are also going to be serving lunch.” Another item worth noting: Saveurs 209 is now going to be serving brunch on Sundays. “We hope the people of San Antonio will like what we are bringing to their city.”
First the Nykiel family brought us Saveurs 209. Now get ready for Boulangerie 207. By: OLIVIER J. BOURGOIN
IN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING about the name, the “207” and “209” reflect the restaurants’ addresses (207 and 209 Broadway). A lot has been written in a short amount of time about the Nykiel family since they opened their trendy French restaurant north of downtown nearly a year ago. The enterprising trio (father Sylvain, mother Sylvie and chef/daughter 72
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Caitline) has captivated the attention of foodies all over town. The buzz around the city has been about … well, everything – from the freshness and the quality of the ingredients they use and the authenticity of the recipes to the adept blending of tradition mixed with the adaptation of modern techniques at the hand of the young and creatively talented Chef Caitline. “Our menu changes regularly,” Sylvain said. “We buy everything fresh, and we take advantage of what is seasonal and available. Our fresh fish of the day at lunch, especially, has been very popular. I like to refer to it as an ‘evolutionary’ menu.” How the Nykiel family ended up in Texas is a story in itself. “For many years, we owned a chauffeured limousine service in Paris and many of our clients came from Texas,” Sylvain said. “One of them invited us to come for a vacation, and we loved it here. We could have gone to Dallas or Austin and we even considered California, but San Antonio felt like the right fit for us.” Following their visit to Texas in the late ‘90s, the family started to think seriously about moving. In 2008, they started to sell some of their assets and fill out all
Saveurs 209 and Boulangerie 207 are located at 209 and 207 Broadway, respectively. For more information, call 210-223-0209. Note: While NSIDE Texas officially adheres to AP style, certain exceptions were made in the editing of this article.
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TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // PROFILE
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
JASON DADY RESTAURANT GROUP An Endless Tradition of Excellence
PHOTOS BY MATT MOORE, THE ART OF MOORE
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
JASON DADY HAS CERTAINLY MADE HIS MARK ON THE DELECTABLE DINING SCENE IN SAN ANTONIO AND THERE IS NO STOPPING HIM FROM EXPANDING NEW DINING CONCEPTS IN THE ALAMO CITY. Owner and chef of The Jason Dady Restaurant Group, his magnificent menus are diverse and unique. The group includes Umai Mi Modern Asian Fare, Tre Trattoria in Alamo Heights, Tre Trattoria Downtown, Two Bros BBQ Market and the DUK Truck. This Spring, the newest addition-B & D Ice House will be opening to add to the dining delights Dady offers to San Antonio locals and guests from out of town that want to experience the finest in dining. A trailblazer both in the kitchen and as a restaurateur, Dady was enamored with the food and hospitality business as a young boy watching his grandparents run a small tavern “where customer service was the number one priority” and his other
grandfather was a master butcher who handed down his personal set of knives to Jason that he still uses to this day. With a history rich in the food and restaurant industry, Dady set out to follow in his grandparents footsteps and built his own restaurant empire. Dady has a Bachelor of Arts in restaurant, hotel and institutional management from Texas Tech University. He moved to San Francisco to further his culinary knowledge and attended the California Culinary Academy (CCA). After several years of perfecting his skills, Jason Dady moved to San Antonio and formed The Jason Dady Restaurant Group with concept restaurants that are fun, family oriented, and creative in both ambiance and culinary delights. Tre Trattoria in Alamo Heights opened in 2007 and to this day continues to be a local favorite. Jason Dady explains, “Tre is classic Northern Italian fare. We make the pasta from scratch every morning and this has become Tre Trattoria’s signature. What makes Tre unique is that we offer a family style entrée selection for two or four guests. We feel this encourages a more traditional Italian way of eating instead of the American version of an entrée and dessert. This concept keeps the conversations flowing and encourages sharing. The end result is a more dynamic table and a great dining experience.”
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
The great dining experience that Jason Dady is referring to was so successful that Tre Trattoria Downtown opened in 2009. Located on the first floor of the Fairmount Hotel, it is a charming destination in the center of downtown. And the continued popularity of Tre Trattoria in both locations brings both locals and tourists in to become a part of the Tre experience of family dining-Italian style. The same year (2009) Two Brothers BBQ Market opened to the public and continues to be a popular true style Texas barbecue experience. With award winning brisket, cherry glazed baby back ribs, meaty spare ribs, pork loin, turkey, chicken thighs, chopped beef and pulled pork and plenty of sensational side dishes, all of one’s barbeque cravings will be satisfied and then some. The restaurant has a huge shaded patio, a kid’s playground and sandbox, a bocce ball court and live music on weekends. Opened seven days a week, this barbecue haven has come to be known as a barbecue heaven in San Antonio. In 2010, The DUK Truck was introduced to San Antonio. Following the ever popular Food Trucks in the Austin market, Jason Dady recalls they had the opportunity to buy a truck and decided to go with their
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
instincts and enter the market with a new concept in Food Truck eating. The DUK Truck translates into “Dady’s Underground Kitchen.” Jason states, “We are not a theme truck. When the weather is nice, we are out there. The DUK Truck is fun and different and we are sharing what we like to eat with San Antonio.” Offering an ever evolving menu, the Tijuana Style DUK Tacos have been a winner ever since Jason started making the tacos. And it is apparent that whatever Jason cooks or experiments with in the kitchen turns out to be a menu that is constantly getting rave reviews. On those beautiful Texas days, the DUK Truck is always on the go and can only be tracked down by social media, another innovative concept that Dady’s growing list of fans adore. The newest addition to The Jason Dady Restaurant Group is Umai Mi-modern Asian fare. “We started playing around with Thai curry from scratch and it became a hobby of mine. We realized that we were onto something fun and cool and very different. A restaurant where you can order Thai curry and get a gin and tonic as well.” Once again, the Dady’s knew what they were doing and since opening on January 17, 2014, the San Antonio locals are quite happy with
the presentation. With bright, vibrant colors, hip-hop music and “old school” Kung Fu movies playing on the walls, this multi-sensory concept is a fun dining experience blending Thai and Chinese cooking into wonderful dishes. The great cocktail program is very different than other Asian restaurants and caters to the American way of dining out. The zesty and bold flavors with the unique Dady flair brings a new definition to Asian eateries. Now, Jason Dady is getting ready to open his next restaurant, B & D Ice House located at 1004 South Alamo, a Southtown institution since 1961. In 2010, owner Bruno D’Zanski who worked and kept bar at B & D for five decades stopped daily operations. Situated across from Southtown’s The Friendly Spot Ice House, Bruno befriended the owner, Steve Newman. Their friendship inspired Steve to reimagine B & D Ice House with the same soul that it had operated with for the last 50 years. He asked brothers Chef Jason Dady and Jake Dady to come on down to Southtown and brainstorm. The trio did just that and created a Texas themed barbecue and draft concept. B & D (barbecue and draft) Ice House will have Texas craft beer, Texas wine
WITH A HISTORY RICH IN THE FOOD AND RESTAURANT INDUSTRY, DADY HAS BUILT HIS OWN RESTAURANT EMPIRE.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
"WE ARE SHARING WHAT WE LIKE TO EAT WITH SAN ANTONIO." and pit barbecue. “It is super cool. The Southtown Ice House reminds me of my grandparent’s bar in Nebraska. We are keeping the soul of B &D Ice House. The memorabilia on the walls and all over the restaurant
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
are amazing. The neat location and ice house vibe that Bruno kept alive is phenomenal. He is giving us the opportunity to refresh it and we are humbled to honor Bruno with a new concept.” The menu offers Texas pit BBQ with slow smoked brisket, baby back ribs, chicken thighs, turkey and sausage plus signature sandwiches. On tap, there will be 18 Texas craft brews and wines. Opened for both lunch and dinner daily, this new restaurant concept will add to the charm of the location. “We are super stoked to make it to Southtown. Great Texas pit barbecue and the emerging Texas craft beer movement is a perfect fit. We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of such a great neighborhood and restaurant scene.” “Explore your Palate” is the philosophy of The Jason Dady Restaurant Group. Jason says, “It’s simple; we
want to offer dishes that taste good and are familiar. Yet at the same time, do it well and offer an array of menu items, special dinners, and unique concepts that keep you coming back!” With the concept of reliable meets unique, quality food, good ingredients, impeccable service, a great staff and always changing to meet the needs of the San Antonio market, there is no doubt that guests will keep on coming back to any one of the Jason Dady Restaurants for many years to come. Make that decades, one never knows what The Jason Dady Restaurant Group will open next.
For More Information, visit http:jasondady.com, Facebook: JasonDadyRestaurants, Twitter:@chefjasondady, Instagram:@jasondady.
DINE // TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO
THE SMOOTHEST IN THE STATE Hill Country peaches “enchant” with the new all-star peach vodka from Rebecca Creek Distillery. By: MICHELE KRIER
HILL COUNTRY PEACHES have now found their way into something a little more exciting than homemade jam. Rebecca Creek Distillery, known for its award-winning Enchanted Rock Vodka, has added a fruit-infused vodka with a true taste of the famous “fresh from the tree” Fredericksburg peaches to its popular spirits line. So pop that into your picnic basket! The new Enchanted Rock Peach Vodka joins an already award-winning family. Enchanted Rock Vodka won the Platinum Award, the top honor at the 2011 SIP International Spirit Competition. The following year, Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Spirit Whiskey, the first whiskey named after a woman, took home the gold medal in the 2012 Denver Spirits Competition and a gold medal in the SIP competition. Rebecca Creek Cofounders Steve Ison and Mike Cameron believe that creating fine spirits is truly an art form. And like any art form, it takes time and
REBECCA CREEK’S GRAIN-BASED, 80-PROOF VODKA WAS DESIGNED WITH SUSTAINABILITY IN MIND.
craftsmanship to produce a masterpiece. “We’re the first distillery ever built in South Texas,” Cameron says. “Our focus is on creating and crafting premium brands,” Ison adds. As the spirits family expands, so has the need for adding more space to the facility and for the growing popularity of its free tours and tasting room experience. And that’s great news for party planners. From small groups to large corporate events, Rebecca Creek Distillery is ideal for hosting a full range of private events. Located on 2-plus acres of the scenic Hill Country, Rebecca Creek Distillery offers free public tours for the whole family every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Drop-ins are welcome – no appointment necessary. NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
“It’s our goal to be the best, purest and smoothest Texas vodka whether you’re enjoying downtown city lights or Hill Country starry nights,” Cameron says. “Our new peach vodka is already getting rave reviews from vodka connoisseurs, bartenders and patrons as the smoothest Texas vodka,” Ison adds. And Enchanted Rock Vodka is proud to bear the official GO TEXAN stamp for supporting and promoting the state of Texas. Rebecca Creek’s grain-based, 80-proof vodka was designed with sustainability in mind. Green initiatives include an extensive water-recycling program and donating leftover grains to local farmers to use as livestock feed. Come learn about the traditional copper pot distillation process used to produce Enchanted Rock Vodka and Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Spirit Whiskey. You’ll see the biggest copper pot ever built by the 143-year-old Carl Distilleries. With a 750-gallon capacity, the still churns out 50,000 cases of spirits a year. Samples of each spirit are offered at the end of the short distillery tour. Thanks to a new law that went into effect last September, you can now tour, taste samples and buy Rebecca Creek gift shop items, including cool T-shirts, candles and souvenirs, and take home your favorite vodkas and whiskey. Limits apply. Rebecca Creek’s Peach Vodka, Enchanted Rock Vodka and Rebecca Creek Whiskey are available in six states: ❶ Texas ➋ New Mexico ➌ Oklahoma ➍ Colorado ➎ Nebraska ➏ Louisiana
Rebecca Creek Distillery is located just north of Loop 1604 off of 281 North at 26605 Bulverde Road, Ste. B, in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, call 830-714-4581 or email info@rebeccacreekdistillery. com.
ENCHANTED PEACH SMASH Ingredients: • 5 to 6 mint leaves • 4 strawberries cut into quarters • 2 ounces Enchanted Rock Peach Vodka • 1 ounce simple syrup • 1 ounce limejuice Instructions: Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add mint and strawberries and muddle. Pour in the Enchanted Rock Peach Vodka, simple syrup and limejuice. Shake and pour into a glass.
About Enchanted Rock Vodka Handcrafted in small batches with pure, naturally limestonefiltered water from Trinity Aquifer, Enchanted Rock Vodka and the new all-star peach vodka are artisan-produced, smoothfinished vodkas. According to Rebecca Creek Cofounder Steve Ison, this is the perfect foundation for vodka-based cocktails like the Bluebonnet and the new Peach Smash. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // PROFILE
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
10 YEARS OF DELICIOUS PIZZA SUCCESS
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL | Photography: ROBIN JERSTAD
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
FRALO’S IS CELEBRATING its tenth year anniversary this May and with their ever growing list of customers, the celebration is sure to be a success; just like the restaurant that Frank and Lori Hakspiel opened ten years ago. With their entrepreneurial spirit, delicious pizzas and unique setting, Fralo’s has come to be known as “a relaxing gathering place away from home.” Having come from entrepreneurial families, Lori and Frank eased into the fascinating beginning of Fralo’s. It must have been a combination of environment and genetics; Lori’s mother and dad started the well-respected electrical contracting business-Bexar Electric back in 1962. Frank’s father was a coffee grower and small bakery owner from Columbia. “You can see his influence in our crust, my mom has been making our dough since we opened” explains Frank. Motivated, energetic, and customer-centric, this dynamic duo has made Fralo’s a favorite in Leon Springs and the surrounding areas. After experiencing their scrumptious offerings and their unique ambiance, it is easy to see why Fralo’s is a place to go to have fun with family and friends. Lori details how Fralo’s was born; “I moved to Leon Springs in 1999 right after I finished my masters in finance at UTSA. Frank was in the Navy and owned his own business-‘Frank & Co’-a coffee shop and he later acquired the pizza shop next door. He broke his neck, left the Navy and ultimately lost both of the businesses during his rehabilitation time.” Lori and Frank met in January of 2002, were married in October of 2003 and began Fralo’s in January 2004. “While we were dating, Frank and I used to say if we could only have a portion of the business Dominos pizza had in Leon Springs, we would be set. I never anticipated that we would actually start a full service pizza restaurant.” Frank was encouraged by his friend Bobby to reopen his pizza shop in the run down building at the exit of 551 in the heart of Leon Springs, now the home for Fralo’s. “I was in Houston for one week for training at the corporate office of my suit job and when I returned with our new puppy named Fralo, Frank had signed the lease. I have to admit, I was furious! The place was in horrible condition and he had no business plan. Frank kept reassuring me that we would be fine.” Lori laughs. They were more than fine; they began to re-construct Fralo’s one day at a time with help from family and friends. Trying to solidify plans quickly, in May Frank surprised Lori again. He told her that he ordered food for a friend’s birthday and later confessed that he had ordered enough inventory to open the restaurant. With no sign, logos, or name, they spray painted ‘Can you Top it’ on plywood above the front porch. “Our first customers thought we were opening an ice cream shop or selling baked potatoes. We began to think of names like ‘Pizza on the Patio’ and jokingly said ‘Fralo’s’ sounds Italian. A few days later, we spray painted the
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
phone number on top of the roof and opened our doors as Fralo’s.” Their first menu allowed the customer to check off the toppings they desired. Within a few weeks, Lori had to quit her job and help Frank at the restaurant. Fralo’s is explained by Gabriella Montemayor, an employee at Fralo’s. “Fralo’s is different from any other restaurant because its owners, employees, and customers are unique. It has that small town feel you read about, but never experience. The food is amazing; Italians have said it’s the best they have had outside of Italy. And the atmosphere is relaxing for everyone.” Frank says, “We understand the success of our business depends on the quality of food we serve and the quality of the food we serve depends on the quality of the ingredients we use. We know we cannot make good wine with bad grapes. Fralo’s strives to produce the best tasting Italian comfort food possible. Nothing gets in the way of our relentless drive for perfection.” It is quite obvious due to the popularity of dining at Fralo’s that the #1 mission has been accomplished along with several other missions on Frank and Lori’s list. Lori gives a great deal of credit to their customers throughout their journey. “As a true ‘mom and pop’, we have struggled and we have had our victories. Our customers have been there with us every step of the way. We share our lives with them and have been transparent from day one. I believe this vulnerability is appealing to our clients; we became a part of their lives. Fralo’s literally was our home for years and we wanted and continue to want people to feel as if they are at home. We feel incredibly blessed to have been welcomed into the lives of many of our customers.” The “Art of Pizza” at Fralo’s is relished by many of their regulars and new customers that hear about
changing, giving our guests something new to experience each time they visit. We encourage local artists to display and sell their art from our walls with no fees attached. Over the years, we have lost walls as we continue to expand. Hopefully one day we will be given the opportunity to expand our building to include gallery quality fixtures and lighting to display art from artists throughout the city.” Both Frank and Lori feel that the Fralo’s Sampler is the best way to introduce first time customers to Fralo’s signature pizzas. It gives the customers the chance to try four different signature pizzas of their choice and has introduced new favorites to many people. Shauna Stephens, an employee says, “The most popular pizzas are those that have been created by employees and the owners. If local chain pizza is what you are accustomed to ordering, then you don’t know what pizza is all about. Every pizza at Fralo’s is made to order and with so much love. ‘The Pozzi’ was created by Craig Pozzi one of our first employees. It has round new potatoes on it. ‘The Little Hottie’ is just like it sounds. ‘What the Duck’ is out of this world with flavor and spice. ‘The Nutty Chicken’ has a wonderful
de Gallo’ is back on the menu by popular demand. Yet while Fralo’s may be well known for their pizzas, the starters, salads and pasta dishes are prepared to order. Savory and delicious, Lori explains that they are focusing a great deal of their time on pastas. “With help from our friend Chef Luca DelLa Casa, our goal is that our pastas bring in guests as often as our pizzas. We would like to provide house made fresh pasta dishes and are currently working with several local chefs to improve our kitchen to allow this preparation to operate more smoothly on busy weekends.” And last but not least, the desserts are heavenly. One of the added values is BYOB. As employee Gabriella Montemayor says, “Customers love to bring their own wine. It enhances the experience for them, knowing that they can drink their favorite wine from home. We also have a lot of beer drinkers; we have some great selections that even beer bars don’t have.” Shauna Stephens adds, “The fact that Fralo’s has 20 craft beers on draft and you can listen to live music or watch football and basketball games on the 18’ outdoor screen is incredible.” People make Fralo’s an experience; they plan for their evening at Fralo’s just like a family plans to go to the park on a Sunday afternoon. Frank and Lori encourage the fun nature of being a destination for their customers and not just a restaurant. And they have far surpassed their expectations. “We are not in the business of saying no to people and want everyone to feel comfortable. BYOB is also something that gives us the opportunity to see from our customers what they would like to drink. If a customer enjoys a nice bottle of wine while they wait for their pizza, it may be possible to provide them with this wine on their return visit at a very fair price so they don’t feel the need to bring their own the next time. That is our ultimate goal.” The Hill Country ambience is appreciated by all. While Fralo’s has a few table indoors, most people come for the outdoor experience. “Hanging out with
“ IF LOCAL CHAIN PIZZA IS WHAT YOU ARE ACCUSTOMED TO ORDERING, THEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT PIZZA IS ALL ABOUT.” this novel restaurant from their friends, family and co-workers. “We want our customers to be creative and artistic when they make their pizza. We do not want to limit them; we try our best to always say yes, we can do that for you!” Lori adds, “There are endless combinations of toppings that customers can select from in order to create their own pizzas. We imagined a painter’s pallet of options. We also imagined the art work on our walls inside the restaurant constantly
blend of creamy basil pesto sauce. To top it all –‘The Grant’s Pear’ pizza is a mouthwatering favorite with caramelized pears and tasty prosciutto, named after Frank and Lori’s 3 year old son.” Apparently, everyone has a favorite or favorites at Fralo’s. The team likes to take well-known comfort food and turn them into great pizzas. The coconut shrimp appetizer that everyone loves is known as ‘Baja Shrimp Pizza’ and a San Antonio favorite-‘Pizza
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
your friends and family under tons of trees with a bottle of wine and a cool breeze is the Fralo’s way,” explains one of the employees. As you exit the highway and pull onto the gravel parking lot and walk across the gravel patio to your table, you are well aware that Fralo’s is an out of the ordinary dining experience. There is something very comfortable about Fralo’s and many customers say that they feel at peace when they come here. “We have etched into our minds memories of customers that have come here in Tuxedos and we have customers that have come here in their hair rollers. I think people enjoy knowing that they can come to Fralo’s after a nice evening on the town to visit friends over a glass of wine or they can come to Fralo’s having just left their first championship soccer game. We’ve had fundraisers, rehearsal
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
dinners and even weddings in the parking lot. We welcome everyone and wish to meet every customer’s expectations.” Live music at least four nights a week year round, most of the musicians are local but Fralo’s has had touring musicians as well. Fralo’s has always been a bit of a melting pot for musicians but Frank and Lori encourage musicians of all genres to play their tunes. Currently, Lori has musicians from Australia, Austin, Nashville, Boston, California, Arizona and parts of Europe booked. Can the Fralo’s experience get any better? Pet friendly, not only do they allow dogs of all sizes, but Fralo’s hosts adoption events and they welcome rescue groups for events as well. As they celebrate 10 years of business, Lori states, “We know everything comes with time and we have
been blessed. Opportunities continue to present themselves and we will continue to pray that God leads our decisions and gives us wisdom and direction. We cannot do anything without His provision.” Frank and Lori add, “Fralo’s is so much a part of who we are that we would not wish it to be any other way.” And neither would fellow Texans; there is no place quite like Fralo’s to enjoy the wonders of life in more ways than ever thought possible.
Fralo’s is located at 23651 IH 10 West, San Antonio, TX. 78257. For more information call 210-698-6616 or follow on Facebook at FralosPizza and Twitter @Fralos.
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TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
ALDINO AT THE VINEYARD A San Antonio Tradition By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
DEPENDING ON WHO you speak to in the Alamo City, Aldino at the Vineyard is known to be one of the city’s favorites, while others find it to be a “hidden jewel” after discovering this Northern Italian restaurant that is going on its third decade of serving delicious dishes to the city’s residents. Ed Moghimi, proprietor and a man that wears many hats at Aldino’s, is devoted to the endless list of guests that frequent the restaurant throughout the year. “We have been serving San Antonio for over 22 years now and have served several generations. We want to continue to make the Aldino’s experience one of the finest for all generations. From the kids to the parents to the grandparents, we are always ready to accommodate each and every one of our customers.” And since many of the guests keep coming back for more, it is clear that this is just what Aldino at the Vineyard is doing for all of the diners that choose to eat here. “We always keep our guests at the forefront of our latest creations and keep an opened mind to any of their suggestions. At Aldino’s, we evolve with our clients.” Since 1992, when Aldino’s first opened their doors to the public, rave reviews and 5 star ratings have been given to this well deserving restaurant. For the first ten years, Aldino’s was located at 410 and Blanco and with the city’s growth, they decided to relocate to the ever so popular location of 1604 and Blanco in 2002. Affiliated with the legendary Aldo’s in San Antonio, Aldino’s has proven to be in a class of its own. The Northern Italian dining experience is par excellence and the comfortable setting with affordable prices is hard to beat. In fact, Aldino’s is one of those restaurants that once you find 86
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“WE TRIED TO BRING A LITTLE PIECE OF ITALY TO SAN ANTONIO.” it, you become a loyal patron for years and then some. The concept of Aldino’s food is Northern Italian rustic Tuscan region cuisine. “Rustic style talks of fresh and nutritional, wholesome and simple ingredients,” explains Moghimi. “We are all about serving dishes that are made from scratch and free of preservatives and additives. Pastas, dressings, sauces, desserts and everything we serve on the menu is made right here on our premises.” From the magnificent antipasti dishes to begin the experience of Aldino’s to the fresh array of salads, pizzas made from scratch, a plethora of pastas, fresh seafood, fowl, meats and desserts are only a glimpse into what Aldino’s favorites are amongst the locals in San Antonio. Scampi Aldino, calamari, Carpaccio di Manzo and bruschetta are some of the favorite appetizers. To name more of the San Antonio favorites-Caprese di Buffalo and Aldino salad and staggioni with avocado, crab meat and mango vinaigrette, Fiesta and Johnny’s Pizza, Pasta Ole and Pasta Bella Dona-vegetarian are just a few of the delectable dishes that are in high demand. Veal and spinach raviolis with pesto cream, chicken gorgonzola, Salmon Granchio, Pescatore and Lamb Osso Bucco to name a few more of the favorites served at Aldino’s. As a matter of fact, it is a “must” to view the menu and experience the warm ambiance of Aldino’s, and enjoy the dining experience. From generation to generation, Aldino’s is a San Antonio favorite restaurant. The atmosphere at Aldino’s is inspired from the ruins of Pompeii and old world Roman architectural flavors like Michelangelo’s Creation and the Sistine Chapel. “We tried to bring a little piece of Italy to
San Antonio. The broken columns and a combination of Tuscan colors, Mahogany bar tops, counters and wood furniture creates a warm and welcoming ambiance for all ages to enjoy.” The patio which can seat up to 70, is Al fresco Tuscan Gardens with statues presenting the four seasons of the year. Brunch is now served at Aldino’s on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with the regular lunch menu. Enjoy a brunch on the patio; it is the season to be outside and enjoy the Texas weather. Happy hour is served from 4p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. “We realize that today’s market is well traveled, well exposed and well educated about nutrition. Our mission is to take all of this into consideration when we serve every table. My message to the staff is to be informative and educated about all of our products and at the same time, listen to every suggestion and comment and try to accommodate any dietary needs and special requests. To my culinary staff, I encourage them to keep updated and educated with the trends of Italian cuisines and carefully create recipes that are exciting, unique and suitable to today’s market. And most of all, we are here to provide our patrons with a comfortable, unique dining experience for many years to come.”
Aldino at the Vineyard is located at 1203 NW Loop 1604 at Blanco Rd. For More Information, call 210-3400000 or visit www.aldinos.com.
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TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
FLAVORS TO SAVOR
From a night out to a great getaway, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa has your culinary needs covered. SPECIAL TO NSIDE
GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL doesn’t have to mean packing your bags – it could simply mean taking the time to enjoy a fabulous meal in a fantastic setting, nourishing both your body and your soul. Whether you’re looking to simply enjoy a meal out or an unparalleled staycation, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa offers an array of dining options sure to please. Thinking hotel food isn’t for you? One glance at 88
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the options available at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country will change your mind. From hot dogs to antelope and everything in between, the resort features food “thoughtfully sourced; carefully served.” The principal is Hyatt’s industry-leading effort to provide food and beverages that are good for people, for the planet and for the community. The philosophy includes sourcing and serving meat without supplemental growth hormones or antibiotics, cage-free eggs, sustainable seafood and fresh, local ingredients. “Thoughtfully sourced; carefully served” also provides inspiration for Executive Chef James Draper, who oversees every aspect of the skilled kitchens and culinary staff at the resort that just marked 20 years of providing relaxed, refined service. “We focus on fresh, local, in-season options, working with our local growers to provide our guests the freshest ingredients possible,” Draper explains. “And our chef’s garden allows us to source most of our herbs and some of our side dishes onsite, meaning the food is prepared and served within hours of being harvested.” The jewel of Hyatt Hill Country’s culinary crown is the fine dining of Antlers Lodge, crowned by its namesake: an impressive chandelier created from 500 sets of naturally shed antlers that serves as the focal point
of the room. Featuring an open kitchen, elegant wood furnishings and an inviting fireplace that gives the spacious dining room the feel of an upscale lodge with beautifully set tables positioned to give each an air of privacy, the restaurant’s menu includes exquisitely prepared steaks, game, seafood and poultry complemented by seasonal harvests and regional flavors. Draper’s culinary team works together, brainstorming to create new offerings. Innovative twists on traditional Texas fare serve as the basis of the Antlers menu, which changes seasonally. “We also feature nightly specials, including whatever we’ve harvested from the garden that day, so we have something different on the menu almost every night,” Draper explains. “And the wine menu is exquisite. I truly believe
HYATT PROVIDES FOOD AND BEVERAGES THAT ARE GOOD FOR PEOPLE, FOR THE PLANET AND FOR THE COMMUNITY.
that Antlers is on par with any fine dining option in San Antonio.” Paired with the resort’s authentic hospitality, Antlers is the place to wine and dine a new client over perfectly prepared entrées such as bison tenderloin and venison, or to enjoy a romantic dinner for two, complete with decadent desserts. The resort’s dining options also include Springhouse Café, a family-friendly restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside terrific views of the resort’s garden and pool areas, as well as Cactus Oak Tavern, located in the Hill Country Golf Club, featuring traditional 19th-hole fare such as cheeseburgers and grilled chicken breast sandwiches. An additional dining choice onsite includes Charlie’s Long Bar, a traditional Texas-style saloon with a masterfully crafted, 56-foot-long, copper-topped bar. And resort guests can also enjoy poolside dining at Vince’s Watering Hole and Papa Ed’s Pool Bar & Grill, where plump hot dogs, Texas-sized nachos, chilled salads and cool, refreshing smoothies, sodas and cocktails are offered.
Antlers Lodge is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Visit www.opentable.com for availability. And for more information on Hyatt Regency Hill Country’s dining options, visit www.hillcountry.hyatt.com or call 210-647-1234.
Restaurant - Bar HOURS OF OPERATION
MON – THURS: 11AM-10PM FRI – SAT: 11AM -11PM SUN: 12PM – 9PM FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.SPEISENS.COM
7115 Blanco Road #110 ❖ San Antonio, Texas 78216 ❖ 210.541.8911
TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
DURING HIS LEISURELY TRAVELS throughout the UK, Allen Tharp enjoyed visiting the pubs to partake of a few pints and strike up a chat with the locals. He also admired the handmade wood décor and etched glass of the interiors, and the cheerful spirit of soccer fans who rooted for their hometown teams. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring a bit of European charm back to San Antonio’ because we didn’t have a lot of that here,” said Tharp, founder and CEO of Allen Tharp LLC. So, in December 2004, the restaurateur opened his first Lion & Rose British Restaurant and Pub in Alamo
“I THINK PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY’RE AT THEIR BUDDY’S HOUSE HAVING A GREAT TIME.”
THE SOUTHERN BRIT Restaurateur serves San Antonio a selection of British and southern home fare By: RUDY ARISPE
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Heights. It has since been followed by locations in Stone Oak, The Forum and Park North. A fifth pub is scheduled to open at The Rim in late 2014. Walk into any Lion & Rose restaurant, and you’ll find San Antonians and international visitors alike relishing authentic British fare: Fish and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, and Bangers and Mash served by a kilt-clad staff in red-and-black tartan. And then there’s a whole selection of ice- cold draught beers, ales, stouts and lagers to throw back with a clink of your mug and a “Cheers, mate!” with a friend or two. “We were a hit when we opened, and people have enjoyed coming here ever since,” Tharp said. “I think people feel like they’re at their buddy’s house having a great time in a casual but beautiful atmosphere with cold beer and great food.” The company’s big, red, Bristol Double Decker bus has become a rolling symbol of The Lion & Rose, when it takes to the streets of San Antonio, most often ferrying party revelers who hop on board for a night of fun. Built in 1962, the British-made bus has traveled across the pond by boat into the Alamo City. “We were looking for a bus because we wanted to have a rolling billboard, and we thought it would be unique and a real attention-getter,” Tharp said. “Now we rent it out for weddings, quinceañeras, bachelor parties and bar mitzvahs.” As CEO, Tharp oversees all design, operational and financial aspects of the company. “I love creating something new and taking that concept and improving it. You never finish modifying your concept,” he said. The Lion & Rose also provides catering at many wedding venues in the city and surrounding areas. Their dedicated event planners, award-winning culinary team and event staff works with clients to create the perfect menu from Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken to Lamb Pops. As if his hands aren’t already full with his Lion &
Rose establishments, Tharp is pulling double duty – and having fun along the way – as owner in the Golden Chick chain of restaurants throughout the San Antonio DMA to New Braunfels and the Rio Grande border. Golden Chick is known for its Original Golden Tenders, Golden Fried Chicken, Golden Roast Chicken, Southern Fried Catfish, salads and sides. As part of his plans for expansion, construction began in February for an eighth location at 22002 US Highway 281 near TPC Parkway. The 2,300-square-foot store is expected to open in June and will employ a staff of 50. In April, Tharp opened a flagship unit in Shanghai, China. “Our intention was to take The Lion & Rose to China, but we realized the chicken concept is huge in Asia,” Tharp said. Citing the differences between the franchise and its competitors, Chris Royter, Golden Chick district manager, singles out the Gold Roast Chicken, a highprotein, low-carb meal popular with those seeking healthy food choices. “We put a dry rub on it and let it marinade overnight before we roast it. We cook it in a special oven so that it’s moist and juicy,” Royter said. “We also serve Southern Fried Catfish that the others don’t, as well as free soft-serve ice cream for all of our guests who come in to dine.” While The Lion & Rose and Golden Chick restaurants continue to thrive and expand, Tharp is grateful for the community’s support of his culinary ventures. In turn, Tharp has made a point to give back to the community. This includes hosting a quarterly dinner at The Lion & Rose for about 40-50 wounded warriors from Fort Sam Houston, as well as an annual party for the Blind Golfers Association, to name a few. As an official sponsor of the San Antonio Scorpions, Tharp’s staff also arranges to have international refugees, ages 11 to 13, who have fled their countries because of war, shuttled to soccer games or to a soccer field, so that they can enjoy some fun and exercise among new friends. Meanwhile, if the Midland-Odessa native wasn’t in the food service industry, Tharp might have had a career in a courtroom, and never would have introduced a bit of Britain to the Alamo City. “I planned to go to law school and be an attorney,” he said, “but I got sidetracked. I’m glad I did.”
For more information, visit www.thelionandrose.com or www.goldenchick.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
THE HEALTHY SIDE OF MEXICO
Paloma Blanca serves fresh flavor By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
PALOMA BLANCA MEXICAN CUISINE serves authentic and, in many cases, healthy, Mexican dishes, which may come as a surprise to those who think “Mexican food” and “healthy” can never be in the same sentence. “For example, we only use vegetable oil; we never use lard,” explains Nelly Mendoza, vice president and general manager. “All the products that we use are first quality. We make everything from scratch and never use any shortcuts on anything we make. Every meal that you get here is always fresh. We also believe that real Mexican food does not have to be greasy. Our mission is to change people’s perception that Mexican food is not healthy.” In fact, the way Paloma Blanca offers a variety of soups and salads, baked chile relleno, cervichi, shrimp cocktail and other healthy choices is a reflection of their emphasis on healthy choices for a healthy lifestyle. They created a gluten-free menu and a Paleo menu for those people with dietary restrictions. The Paloma menu has a vast array of delectable dining options that are mouthwatering and, at the same time, healthy. Focusing on providing guests with great food and a great experience in a beautiful and clean environment is certainly worthy of five stars. Add to that their belief in following the Golden Rule – “we strive to treat others the way we want to be treated” – and one can see why customers have appreciated Paloma Blanca for 16 years and counting. “We know a lot of our customers by name, and we want them to feel at home when they are here,” Mendoza says. “We also strongly support the community because we believe in giving back; I believe that our customers appreciate that.” The most popular dish is the Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, topped with a green tomatillo sauce and served with Spanish rice, borracho beans and guaca-
mole. It is a “must have” dish. The Esmeralda salad is a popular dish for lunch made with baby spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, poblano peppers, cilantro and tortilla strips mixed on a lime-cilantro dressing and topped with queso fresco. Another favorite is the Taco al Pastor, a marinated, shaved pork served in a small corn tortilla and topped with pineapple, onions, cilantro, lime juice and Paloma’s salsa de la senora. The Ceviche de el Mar is a delicious dish featuring tilapia cooked in lime juice and mixed with fresh red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapenos, olive oil and salt, served with avocado slices and crackers. The dish coined, “perfect for a rainy day,” is the Caldito de Pollo – pieces of chicken breast, Spanish rice, potatoes, carrots, avocado and cilantro all mixed in a chicken broth. Each dish prepared at this wonderful Mexican restaurant is as scrumptious as it sounds. People absolutely love eating their food and enjoying their drinks on the large patio adorned with flowers, palm trees and two beautiful fountains. Upon entering the restaurant, there are very comfortable couches and a warm fireplace. The hacienda-style restaurant is warm and inviting both indoors and outside. There are three private rooms. Salon el Jardin is a very private room next to the bar. This is great for meetings, presentations or a quiet dinner. Salon la Fuente has a fountain on the wall and a small patio. And Salon Vela used to be a wine bar, so the look is a bit modern with candelabras, a cork floor with a builtin bar and a patio. Any of these rooms is perfect for rehearsal dinners, weddings, baby showers, birthdays and graduations. Paloma Blanca also has a drive-thru lane in the back. A popular option, guests just need to call and place the order, and within 20 or 30 minutes, the food is prepared and the wait staff brings the food to the cars. With a guitar player from Spain playing at the restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the mood is further enhanced and guests enjoy the overall ambiance, the entertainment and most importantly, the food. Great margaritas are not to be forgotten, and the meal and drinks are certainly authentic Mexican – who could ask for anything more? When asked how he got into the restaurant business, President and Majority Owner Richard Peacock Jr. typically says half-jokingly that it was due to a “momentary lapse of reason.” However, in the 16 years since Paloma Blanca opened, he has grown to really enjoy the business and its many facets. “I have always felt that I didn’t go looking for Paloma Blanca – it sort of found me,” he says. “Each of the original investors that came together to create Paloma just thought this would be a nice little investment, myself included. I never imagined back then that it would end up being something at the core of my business life.”
AT PALOMA BLANCA, THEY FOCUS ON PROVIDING GUESTS WITH GREAT FOOD AND A GREAT EXPERIENCE IN A BEAUTIFUL AND CLEAN ENVIRONMENT. Voted the “highest-rated Mexican restaurant in San Antonio” by Zagat voters in 2012 and 2013, Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine is a sure winner in the Alamo City. One of the many benefits Peacock identifies with is “working with so many fun, hardworking people, many of whom have been with us for many years, beginning with our general manager, Nelly. She, along with the rest of our staff, really makes the restaurant what it is. I sometimes feel that my main job is to just show up and try not to take credit for their great efforts.” One of the other benefits has been the ability to leverage the restaurant for worthwhile causes. “By having Paloma, we have the ability to encourage and hopefully help a lot of worthwhile causes, with our priority being children’s charities. It’s gratifying to know that we can help these great causes even if it is in a small way.” Looking ahead, Mendoza says, “We want to introduce San Antonio to some very authentic new dishes and also add new margarita flavors. We are always working on improving the look of the restaurant, the training and the way we do things and operate. This is a very difficult business, and I feel like we learn something new almost every day. Our long-term goal is keeping Paloma Blanca successful and also opening one or many more Paloma Blancas.” Whatever the team at Paloma Blanca does is sure to be a winner. They have proven this for the last 16 years, and they will continue to meet customer expectations and reap the rewards with San Antonio.
Paloma Blanca is located at 5800 Broadway in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, call 210-8226151 or visit www.palomablanca.net. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
TEXAS • SAN ANTONIO // DINE
THE 22-ACRE PEARL SITE IS HOME TO THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA, SAN ANTONIO AND THE YEAR-ROUND PEARL FARMERS MARKET.
of Pearl. Guests watch celebrity chefs and high school teams go head-to-head to create the most impressive paella right before your eyes.
Tamales – Held on the First Saturday of December
CULTURED CUISINE Pearl, a South Texas culinary gem
By: JENNIFER PUCCI STARR
Arcade Midtown Kitchen
PEARL, located north of downtown San Antonio, provides a unique experience as a top culinary and cultural destination. The mixed-use space features retail, dining, picturesque green spaces and paseos, a riverside amphitheater, and the third campus of the Culinary Institute of America. As a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, Pearl reflects a vivid past while embracing the future with LEED-certified complexes mixed with historic architecture. The 22-acre Pearl site is home to the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio and the year-round Pearl Farmers Market. Pearl restaurants include Il Sogno Italian Osteria and the Sandbar Fish House and Market, both by CIA graduate and James Beard Award-nominated chef Andrew Weissman; La Gloria Ice House by CIA graduate chef Johnny Hernandez; NAO New World Flavors, from The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio featuring Executive Chef Geronimo Lopez; Blue Box Bar featuring craft cocktails from Olaf Harmel; The Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden; The Granary ‘Cue and Brew from chef Tim Rattray; Arcade Midtown Kitchen from Chef Jesse Perez; Cured from Chef Steve McHugh; Local Coffee; Green Vegetarian Cuisine and One Lucky Duck Juice & Takeaway. Pearl is also known for its shops, including the Melissa Guerra Latin American kitchen store, the Twig Book Shop, The Tiny Finch, Adelante Boutique, Ten Thousand Villages, LeeLee Shoes, Dos Carolinas, Leighelena, The Synergy Studio and Bike World. Office tenants at Pearl include the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber, the Na94
The Annual Tamales! Holiday Festival began in December 2010 as an event centered around San Antonio Tradition with tamales, culture, music and fun for the whole family. With more than 30 different tamales vendors, San Antonio’s Culinary Institute of America demonstrations, a special holiday Mercado de Comida and the annual River of Lights celebration, Tamales! is a celebration of family, food and food that so many San Antonians associate with the holidays.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
ture Conservancy, San Antonio Area Foundation, RBC Securities, the CE Group, WestEast Design Group, KGB Texas and other creative firms. The Can Plant offers urban contemporary apartments with a place in history. Event space includes the Pearl Stable, the Pearl Studio and the Pearl Park, a community gathering space, which includes amphitheater seating over-looking a stage alongside the San Antonio River Walk.
➻ EVENTS Pearl Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday morning www.pearlfarmersmarket.com With a strong commitment to food excellence, Pearl is host to a producers only farmers market. All Pearl Farmers Market vendors are located within 150-mile radius of San Antonio, Texas, providing fresh, local, and seasonal products that they themselves planted, raised, and harvested. Come meet your local food producers!
303 Pearl Pkwy., Ste. 111 / www.arcadesatx.com Arcade Midtown Kitchen is a modern Americana restaurant combining renowned Executive Chef Jesse Perez’s Latin influences with his skillfully crafted Americana menu. Recently listed as one of the top 40 new restaurants of 2013 by Eater, the 3,100-square foot restaurant turns the lab building into what will quickly become the newest culinary hot spot in the ever-evolving Pearl complex. Arcade Midtown Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and will feature dishes inspired by Chef Perez’ Southwestern roots and commitment to local and seasonal fare. Chef Perez is putting a new spin on classic dishes using the highest quality of food and ingredients with menu items ranging from snacks and flatbreads to steaks and fish entrees. Guests can enjoy a full bar complete with an extensive wine list and tantalizing cocktail menu including vintage and modern concoctions from bartender Christopher Ware.
Blue Box 312 Pearl Parkway / www.blueboxatpearl.com From Stephen Mahoney comes Pearl’s first bar, Blue Box which opened in May 2012. The cocktail menu features drinks hand-crafted by an in-house mixologist and offers a modern approach to drinks and design.
Paella – Held annually in April
When the quintessential dish of Spain and culinary all-stars from across the country and Mexico come together, you know it’s time for the Corona Paella Challenge hosted by Chef Johnny Hernandez. Guests join fellow foodies for an afternoon of food, live entertainment, wines from Spain and sangria on the grounds
312 Pearl Parkway, Building 3 www.boilerhousesa.com Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden is situated in an approximately 6,000 square feet of restaurant space along with an expansive outdoor patio, many of the building’s significant architectural features have been
preserved and incorporated into the design of the restaurant. Executive Chef James Moore’s menu will focus on Texas ranch-style grilling with wild game, seafood and the freshest local ingredients available. These delicacies will be paired with a wide variety of wines from around the world, live music and a casual yet energetic atmosphere.
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306 Pearl Parkway / www.curedatpearl.com Chef Steve McHugh’s new restaurant, Cured, makes use of the purest regional ingredients, paired with organic methods and is built on a foundation of lovingly hand-crafted cured foods, from charcuterie to pickles. The restaurant’s renovated historical building, built in 1904 as Pearl’s Administration Building which included the president’s office, embodies the perfect blend of contemporary and historical atmosphere.
Il Sogno Osteria
602 Avenue A / www.thegranarysa.com The Granary Cue and Brew showcases a menu of traditional central Texas Barbecue, while introducing diners to various barbecue traditions and flavors from throughout the world in the form of exquisitely composed dishes that employ the universal techniques of cooking with smoke and live fire. Owned by brothers Tim Rattray, Head Chef, and Alex Rattray, Master Brewer, The Granary will take barbecue and beer to a whole new level in San Antonio.
200 East Grayson Street, Suite 100 / (210) 223-3900 Il Sogno, a five-star Italian cafe, features Italian fare found in the trattorias and osterias of Rome and Florence. Renowned chef Andrew Weissman opened the restaurant, located in the historic Pearl Brewery, in 2009. The menu features a range of Italian classics from espresso drinks, yogurt with muslix, and coddled eggs for breakfast to pizzas, salads and entrees such as pan-seared halibut and homemade ravioli for lunch or dinner.
Green Vegetarian Cuisine
La Gloria Ice House
200 E. Grayson Street, Ste. 120 www.greensanantonio.com Green Vegetarian Cuisine means more than just being San Antonio’s only 100% Kosher Vegetarian restaurant, it also stands for the way Green does business. Green’s mission is to serve delicious and affordable vegetarian comfort food to their diverse and growing community of customers. They strive to provide a wide range of options for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike in order to promote healthier choices in a fast-food world. Their goal is to occupy a smaller footprint and be a more sustainable restaurant while still serving delicious food everyone can enjoy! What they have done: re-purposed restaurant equipment from refrigerators to booths/tables, used biodegradable packaging when possible, recycle all of their cardboard, use fair trade organic coffee, use free range eggs, and grow as much of their own vegetables as they can. Green committed to being a part of San Antonio’s transition from one of the fattest cities to one of the fittest cities and they are doing it deliciously!
100 East Grayson Street / www.lagloriaicehouse.com (210) 267-9040 La Gloria Ice House is situated on the grounds of the historic Pearl Brewery and opened in May 2010. The menu is filled with the heavenly flavors ordinarily found only among the street vendors, taquerias, and kitchens of interior Mexico.
Local Coffee 302 Pearl Parkway, Suite 118 / www.localcoffeesa.com Local Coffee is a San Antonio original, fiercely focused on making the best cup of coffee in town. Local Coffee’s obsession extends to perfecting the art and science of brewing and using the finest beans we can get. Local Coffee’s items include espresso, slow pour and decaf drinks. The coffee shop continues to be a multi-roaster shop that works with some of the top national roasters.
NAO (New World American Flavors) 312 Pearl Parkway, Suite 2104 www.naorestaurant.com The student-staffed restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, NAO is a culinary tapestry of Latin ingredients, traditions, and culture. A spectacular showcase for flavors of the New World, NAO’s menu features Latin American dishes rooted in tradition and creatively reinterpreted using new perspectives, ingredients, and techniques.
One Lucky Duck Juice Bar and Takeaway 303 Pearl Parkway, Suite 109 www.oneluckyducktx.com One Lucky Duck Juice Bar and Takeaway strives to make food that is not only good for you but that tastes
good too. One Lucky Duck Juice Bar and Takeaway San Antonio is t he first location outside of New York City and offers pressed and made-to-order juices, shakes and salads as well as various other chef driven menu items from Pure Food and Wine in NYC. Guests will be delighted by the health and delicious options at One Lucky Duck including vegan cookies, macaroons, granola and nut bars, as well as juice and Not-Just-Juice cleansing options. One Lucky Duck works to find the very best of what’s out there in clean, natural, and environmentally sound ingredients, products, packaging, and practices.
Sandbar Fish House & Market 200 East Grayson Street, Suite 117 www.sandbarsa.com / (210) 222-2426 Sandbar Fish House & Market is an upscale oyster bar from Andrew Weissman, located on the west side of the Full Goods Building at the Pearl Brewery. The menu features impeccable sashimi, seviches and more-indulgent choices, like silky lobster bisque, tuna and avocado-based Chip & Dip, lobster rolls with avocado, crab sandwiches, hearty clam chowder and even a whole fried fish. Sandbar also offers an exceptional wine list and fine beers on tap.
➻ THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA Centrally located in the heart of the American Southwest, the CIA San Antonio is a welcoming community of students, instructors, and alumni who have a deep commitment to the culinary arts and a kinship with those who practice them. The CIA has been a trusted leader in providing outstanding culinary education since 1946, and now the college is offering its proven culinary arts Associate Degree program and a new Latin Cuisines Certificate program in San Antonio. Set among restored 19th century buildings once part of the Pearl brewery, the CIA San Antonio campus is as diverse at the culinary world itself. The CIA classrooms and kitchens are state-of-the-art and dedicated to real-world experiences, creating an ideal setting for learning.
For more information visit www.atpearl.com. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
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CONTINUING YOUR FINANCIAL JOURNEY Amplify Credit Union offers five tips for improving your finances during the summer. SPECIAL TO NSIDE
Start at the beginning. It’s crucial to start with a brutally honest look at where you are now, financially. Make a comprehensive list of what you own (your assets) and what you owe (your liabilities). Subtract your liabilities from your assets, and you’ll have your current net worth.
Cash in, cash out. Next, track your income and expenses. If the amount of cash coming in each month exceeds your expenses, you can start saving, paying down debt and investing. If you’re in the red, it’s time to look for places to cut back. You might think you “need” cable television, for example – but when you multiply the monthly cost times 12, you may be shocked at its annual cost. Would those funds serve you better in a savings account or invested in your retirement account?
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
Pay yourself first. Although not very original, it works. Treat your monthly savings like a bill you owe a creditor and don’t miss a payment – to yourself and a more secure future.
Chip away at your debt. Growing the “assets” side of your net worth is just one part of the equation. The other is reducing your liabilities. Choose a plan of attack and stick to it. You may want to work at paying off the debt that carries the highest interest rate first. Some people prefer to pay off their smallest debt first because it gives them a feeling of accomplishment that helps them stay motivated.
Take advantage of expert help. Most experts recommend keeping a certain amount of money in an account that can be easily accessed in case of an emergency – for example, a savings account or a money market account. Amplify can work with you to determine which option might work best for you. If you have funds to invest beyond your savings, it’s a good idea to consult a financial adviser who can help you choose investments that are in line with your risk tolerance and that will help you achieve your financial goals. Most financial advisers, including those at Amplify Wealth Management, offer a complimentary
IF YOU’RE IN THE RED, IT’S TIME TO LOOK FOR PLACES TO CUT BACK. initial consultation. This helps you find someone you feel comfortable with to guide you on your financial journey.
For more information, visit www.goamplify.com
ABOUT AMPLIFY CREDIT UNION
With more than $650 million in assets and over 45,000 members, Amplify Credit Union is open to everyone living or working in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties. Its innovative programs include leading-edge bank technology services, café-style, Wi-Fi enabled branches and account management professionals (AMPs) who are trained and empowered to help members with all of their banking needs.
DURING THE SUMMER, businesses tend to use the downtime as an opportunity to work on their businesses – updating old marketing materials, fixing that hole in the wall, budgeting for the next year, etc. As owners focus on their business’ finances, they often forget about their own. This summer, take some time to improve your net worth. Here are some tips provided by Austin-based Amplify Credit Union that can help you do just that.
AUSTIN // ARTS
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST Thousands converge in the Capital City
EVERY SPRING, Austin, Texas becomes an epicenter for technology, film, and music. This year sports was added to the conference and festival known as South by Southwest or more commonly recognized by its acronym SXSW. People from all over the world, converge onto the downtown Austin area to take advantage of networking with others in their field, catching film releases, hearing industry leaders talk about cutting edge trends, and catching great music in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” This year the music portion of SXSW did not disappoint and was filled with major artists playing and making appearances all over the city. Artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lady GaGa, and Justin Bieber all made their presence felt in Austin during SXSW. There 100
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
ONLY DURING SXSW CAN YOU GO FROM REGGAE TO TEXAS ROCK BY SIMPLY CROSSING THE STREET. were also some up and coming artists such as Aloe Blacc and Jeremy Messersmith who are making their impact felt in the music world as well. The variety of music genres would please any music lover’s ears and the venue sizes all over the city gave attendees an intimate listening experience wherever they caught a show. Only during SXSW can you go from the reggae sounds of Bermuda with Collie Buddz, to the Texas rock music of Los Lonely Boys by
simply crossing the street on a sunny day in downtown Austin. This year a new event during SXSW filled with major musical headliners was added. The iTunes Music Festival sponsored by Apple took place at the ACL Live Moody Theater. It was easy to rock out with Coldplay and Imagine Dragons on the opening night or bounce to the beat with Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q on the second. The variety and big names kept com-
ing with Soundgarden on the third, followed by dancing with someone special to the sounds of Pitbull and ZEDD on the fourth. Not to be out done, the final night was filled with singing along to country music played by Keith Urban, and country legend Willie Nelson, whose opening act was Texas’ own Mickey Guyton. The film portion of SXSW had its own fair share of celebrity sightings, and major movie premiers. With Kristen Bell and costars in town together, they were promoting the new Veronica Mars movie. While that was happening two other famous co-stars Zac Effron and Seth Rogan had an opportunity to launch the premiere of Neighbors and chat in front of fans during a panel session at a local bar. Even Jason Bateman was here for his new movie Bad Words which he stars in and directed. Speaking in various panel sessions were television and film stars Kevin Bacon, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn and Seth Myers. Austin’s own Mike Judge’s new sitcom “Silicon Valley” won the Audience Award in the Episodic category, a new section which focuses on new TV shows. Not related to the film portion, but a major event happening during SXSW related to television was the taping of the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show at The Long Center. Jimmy had a stage background set up with signs highlighting some of the best places to visit in Austin and his guests for the week were nothing shy of the great talent that his show attracts. A star studded lineup included Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogan, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Ray, Lil’ Wayne, Robert Duval, Governor Rick Perry, and Willie Nelson to name a few. Everyone who attended the live taping of the show was fully entertained by Jimmy and his usual in show skits but with an Austin flavored twist.
For more information, www.sxsw.com
LADY GAGA, EVERETT COLLECTION/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
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AUSTIN // TRAVEL
WHERE NOSTALGIA MEETS MODERN Lone Star Court: a modern spin on the motor courts of yesteryear By: AMY TRENCH
IF YOU’VE BEEN NOSTALGIC for the bygone days when travel was a true adventure, set your sights on a stay at Lone Star Court. Touted as “authentic Americana,” Lone Star Court has an aesthetic that’s authentically Austin and Texas Hill Country from the furniture in the rooms to the unique outdoor environment. Lone Star Court has 123 retro-inspired guest rooms with high-tech amenities. True to Austin, the hotel features live music by an outdoor fire pit, a dipping pool reminiscent of Hill Country swimming holes and an onsite food trailer court featuring its own signature food truck, the Feed Store, and other local favorite trailers on a rotating basis. Lone Star Court’s restaurant, the Water Trough, has a Texas-centric menu and a full bar featuring signature cocktail, “The Chill Cowboy.” “We believe that Lone Star Court is the most exciting new concept in the hotel industry,” says Doyle Graham Jr., president of Valencia Group. “Lone Star Court is a 21st-century reinterpretation of the nostalgic motor court which, at the same time, captures the essence of Austin and the Texas Hill Country. It’s a oneof-a-kind place – totally unique to Texas’ capitol city.” During the early days of auto tourism beginning in the mid-1940s, roadside campsites led entrepreneurs to create quaint, cabin-like places for travelers to stay. Simple cottage camps began to evolve into more sophisticated full-service motor courts, and the number of motels in America tripled to more than 60,000 by the 1960s. The new, more modern motor courts along great American highways featured “air cooled by refrigeration,” television, coin-operated radios, tiled bathrooms, 102
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
easy chairs and “perfect sleeper” mattresses. After decades of booming business, mom-and-pop motels began to disappear in 1956 with the Federal-Aid Highway Act that funded construction of the interstate highway system. With little means to move their facilities or reroute traffic, these gems of the road gave way to corporate chains staking their claims along the new highways. Lone Star Court will take visitors back to the heyday of the court experience, where guests can discover an era of authentic Americana along with modern amenities and the excitement of Austin. For the perfect meeting or event, Lone Star Court offers approximately 2,000 square feet of interior meeting space, a 1,600-square-foot outdoor covered pavilion and an adjacent open-air lawn that adds 1,800 square feet to the total available meeting space. Lone Star Court was created by Valencia Group, a Houston-based company known for its luxury independent Hotel Valencias in San Antonio and San Jose, Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE in Houston and Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.
LONE STAR COURT HAS BEEN TOUTED AS “AUTHENTIC AMERICANA.” The architect for Lone Star Court is RTKL Associates of Dallas, led by Jim Suggs, who was part of the design team for Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio and Hotel Valencia Santana Row in San Jose. The designer for Lone Star Court is Lauren Rottet of Houston-based Rottet Studio, and the landscape architect is Christine Ten Eyck of Austin-based Ten Eyck Landscape Architects.
Go see why Lone Star Court is simply the best and coolest among hotels in Austin. Call 1-866-842-0100 or visit www.lonestarcourt.com.
SAN ANTONIO ALAMO, NATALIA BRATSLAVSKY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
THE RIGHT THING TO DO How to maintain a safe workplace in six simple steps By: JACK VAUGHAN, ED KARDAUSKAS AND MARIO A. BARRERA
WE ARE ALL TOO AWARE of the horrific “mass shootings” that occur today in our workplaces, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. If they seem to be becoming more frequent, there’s good evidence that they are. In January, the FBI released a study confirming that “active shooter” events have actually tripled in the past few years. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have responded strongly to these events. Many schools have, as well, with new training programs, emergency alert systems and, in some cases, armed staff. In contrast, most employers have done little or nothing to prepare their employees; many have nothing more than a brief policy statement in their employee manual in place that prohibits violence in the workplace. This needs to change. The benefits of active shooter survival training extend beyond the workplace. These incidents often occur in public places. Trained employees are prepared to act whenever and wherever an incident occurs. If that’s not enough reason to train, consider liability. Employers have a statutory duty of care to maintain a safe workplace. The increasing frequency of active shooter incidents should put this risk on a company’s radar. Failing to take basic preventive measures can lead to large punitive damages when people are killed or injured during an incident. This is why the vast majority of post-active shooter incident lawsuits are settled rather than brought to trial. It is easy for executives to dismiss the risk as so small that it’s not worth addressing. That risk was also small in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., before the tragedies that happened there. The hard reality is that the impact of these events is so catastrophic that an employer’s failure to prepare for the possibility of occurrence is neither reasonable nor responsible. Some employers fail to act because they believe the actions taught in active shooter response training are obvious and their people will “figure things out as they go.” What they fail to understand that most people cannot and do not think quickly and effectively under life-threatening circumstances. To help employers get started in the right direction, here are six very specific and practical steps employers can take to protect their people and their business: 1
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Prior training is the most critical factor in
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
SAN ANTONIO FEATURE
whether an individual will respond properly to an incident. When potential emergencies are analyzed ahead of time and the best responses are identified and practiced, a “what to do for this emergency” plan is created in memory. A trained person wastes no time and immediately takes effective action. This often makes the difference between those who live and those who die in survivable situations. The vast majority of law enforcement agencies currently endorse the “run, hide, fight” response protocol. If the location of the shooter is known and there is a clear path of escape, the best option is usually to exit the premises (run). In high-rises and in other situations where a clear escape path is not available, the best option is often to take shelter (hide). Experts recommend locking and barricading doors, turning out lights, silencing phones and taking cover behind objects that are solid enough to stop bullets if these materials are available. As a last resort, people caught in such an incident may need to subdue the shooter with force (fight). Training emphasizes teamwork, improvised weapons and the element of surprise to increase the chances that such an attempt will succeed. Active shooter drills can reinforce these lessons with physical participation, which is far more effective than just a verbal review of a procedure.
2 EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS An employer should implement an emergency notification system to immediately deliver accurate information about an emergency to all employees. With today’s technology, there are many choices available. Options include a public address system announcement, a “blast” email prepared in advance, a blast voice message to all workstations and cell phones and the automated activation of the intercom function on speakerphones throughout the office. Time is critical for any of these methods to work. If a broadcast can’t be completed within a couple of minutes after initiation, it will serve as little more than a post-event news notification.
3 FACILITY SECURITY A professional review of the physical facility can identify improvements that can deter or limit the effects of an active shooter. Access control is critical, and the general public should be restricted to those areas where it is a business necessity. Locks on interior doors can make them more effective barriers. When designing new office space, a security review can identify additional design features that improve safety.
4 E NHANCED TRAINING FOR RECEPTIONISTS Receptionists should be prepared to quickly communicate the presence of suspicious or potentially hostile visitors, and they should have a readily accessible retreat route to a safe area. A panic button is helpful, but only if it notifies someone who is remote
from the reception area and able to take immediate action.
5 COORDINATION WITH THIRD PARTIES Open lines of communication with other building tenants, the building manager, onsite security personnel and others must be an integral part of any security plan. Regularly reviewing plans with the right stakeholders can ensure a better-coordinated response.
LOCAL. DEPENDABLE. QUALITY.
6 WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PROGRAMS Comprehensive workplace violence prevention, intervention and response programs can limit workplace violence in all forms. They should include training for all employees on detecting and reporting problematic employee behavior in the workplace, as well as domestic violence that may affect employees. The best currently available roadmap for a comprehensive workplace violence program is the national standard for workplace violence prevention, intervention and response published by ASIS International in 2011. For employers who are ready to take these steps, ample resources exist. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a wealth of information, products and resources to train and educate both law enforcement and the public about active shooter awareness, incident response and workplace violence prevention on its website. The DHS also offers free courses, materials and workshops to better prepare businesses and raise awareness of behaviors that may represent pre-incident indicators. The FBI maintains an “active shooter and mass casualty incidents” webpage with additional resources. Some consultancies offer company-specific guidance and training, as well. The City of Houston has been particularly active in educating its businesses and citizens on how to survive an active shooter event. The city’s public service training video dramatizes an active shooter incident in the workplace and uses the scenario to illustrate proven tactics for surviving an event of this type. In addition, the Houston Police Department makes a highly trained speaker available to citizens and businesses in the city free of charge. The presentation is called “Surviving An Active Shooter.” Interested parties can make arrangements to have it delivered in their workplaces through the agency’s public affairs department. Employers need to take the risk of an active shooter incident seriously. It is not difficult; resources are available at little or no cost; and it is the right thing to do.
Jack Vaughan is senior executive advisor, and Ed Kardauskas is a senior security consultant with Control Risks, a global risk consultancy. Mario Barrera is a partner with the international law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright. Note: References are available upon request.
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SAN ANTONIO // FEATURE
FROM BEHIND THE BAR A barman’s thoughts on shots, shooters and enjoying your drinks By: OLAF HARMEL
PATRONS FREQUENTLY enter the cocktail bar and ask for some kind of shot or shooter, and it’s gotten to the point where I cannot resist issuing forth a few opinions on what I often hear. “I want a shot of top-shelf tequila with salt and lime.”
YOU SHOULD ENJOY YOUR DRINKS AS YOU WOULD AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION.
giovanni, the famed New Orleans barman, poured a 34-layered Pousse-Café, deftly stacking each ingredient. Honestly, I can’t imagine it tasting any way other than incredibly sweet, but the execution and visual appeal can be as memorable as the occasional coif – even when served significantly less elaborate.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
“What kind of specialty shots do you have?” God bless. This kind of “shot” is one that escapes my grasp; it’s basically a mixed drink split however many ways into shot glasses. So instead of toasting with the sip of a cocktail, all imbibers hastily gulp down their portion from a jigger. Vegas Bombs, Starfuckers and all kinds of other energy drink- and liquorladen poppers named after wild sexual fantasies fall into this category, as well. Steady intake of these usually leads to one inevitable end: premature inebriation. On the other hand, the Angel’s Tip, the B-52 and the historically famous Pousse-Café are great examples of the layered, deconstructed variety of shooter. Not only are these legitimate, but they can be masterfully created by experienced bartenders. Nick Castro-
Absolutely. There are many brews and whiskeys (or other spirits) whose flavors greatly complement each other. Also, the beer and shot don’t have to be slammed all at once like a Boilermaker; they can both be sipped separately. I consider the cocktail bar similar to a gourmet restaurant. Surely you wouldn’t aggressively gorge yourself with crab cakes from your favorite chef. By all means, have a drink – have several. But certainly enjoy them as you would an interesting conversation. Finally, as for all of you fellow bartenders, who I dearly love, who delight in taking ceremonial shots of Fernet Branca, let me just say: Well … no comment.
Olaf Harmel is a barman at The Blue Box in San Antonio, Texas.
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“Can I have a beer and a shot of whiskey?” Really? I don’t have a problem serving anyone a fine tequila, but any good Blanco or Anejo served with salt and lime will certainly not bring out its fine flavors. Furthermore, what is the purpose behind downing an entire one-and-a-half-ounce portion of this delicate spirit in one swallow when it’s clearly not for the sake of enjoying the flavor? Well, it typically doesn’t take long for the imbiber to order another one soon after. So it’s as F. Scott Fitzgerald once quipped: “You take the first drink, the drink takes another drink and then the drink takes you.” Only the whole process is reduced to 20 minutes. However, drinking tequila straight or with a hint of pure water is quite delicious, especially when sipped lightly chilled or at room temperature like a Cognac or neat Scotch. I am grateful to have gently swayed patrons to enjoy great, delicate tequilas.
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SAN ANTONIO // LEGAL
Know your economical alternatives to probate for smaller estates. By: CHRISTOPHER HERNANDEZ
IT IS COMMON that a potential client calls my office with a situation where a loved one passed away without a will and the size of the estate does not justify the expense of an heirship determination and probate. Fortunately, the Texas Estates Code has given these families two excellent options for collecting and distributing their loved one’s property in a cost-effective manner. The preferred option is usually to file a small estate affidavit with the court. This is an affidavit listing the assets and debts of the estate, along with the signatures of all heirs and two disinterested persons. Once
approved by a judge, this affidavit allows the heirs to collect and sell all estate property. In order to qualify for a small estate affidavit, the person must have died without a will, and the estate, excluding homestead and exempt property, cannot be worth more than $50,000. The $50,000 limit is only for nonexempt estate property. Therefore, the decedent’s personal wealth at the time of death does not need to be under $50,000. Assets such as homestead, moneys in accounts with payable on death beneficiary designations, one motor vehicle for every person in the household who has a
Christopher Hernandez practices at the J. Guerra Law Firm in the areas of probate, estate planning, estate litigation and guardianships throughout Texas. For more information, call the J. Guerra Law Firm at 210-366-4529.
valid driver’s license, $60,000 of household furnishings and some other items do not count toward the $50,000 limit. It has even been the case that people who were millionaires have had estates that qualified for small estate affidavits. The second option is an affidavit of heirship. This is an affidavit concerning the identity of the heirs that is filed in the real property records. The small estate affidavit is usually preferable because it is a judicial determination that third parties can rely on, and it allows the heirs to collect estate property. If an affidavit of heirship has not been on file for five years, a title company cannot rely on it; therefore, title insurance can be considerably more expensive if you sell the property within five years. However, if it is impossible to get all of the heirs to sign the small estate affidavit or the estate does not qualify, then the affidavit of heirship can be the only economical option available. For families not planning on selling the property soon, an affidavit of heirship may not be a bad option. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has also anticipated similar situations and published Form 1310. This form allows a person to claim a refund from the IRS on behalf of a deceased taxpayer if they will distribute
IF AN AFFIDAVIT OF HEIRSHIP HAS NOT BEEN ON FILE FOR FIVE YEARS, A TITLE COMPANY CANNOT RELY ON IT. the refund according to the state intestacy laws. There are a few other options available in addition to these options; however, these are the most commonly used. All of the alternatives have their own advantages and disadvantages, so the choice you make will depend on your individual situation.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
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NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
GOAL! Central Catholic Varsity Soccer Team Scores a Huge Victory
By: JODY JOSEPH MARMEL | Photography: MANUEL SERRATA
HE CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER TEAM
went into the season determined to win the State Championship. Preparing before the soccer season even started by working out and practicing often, these fine young men set out to win the victory for their beloved high school. Daniel Fleming, the team Captain, Left Back Defender and a senior at CCHS was one of the several players that were instrumental in winning the TAPPS Division 1 Men’s State Championship. It just so happen that this is the team’s fourth TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) title in the last eight seasons. Being the team captain is a title to be proud of and Fleming wore it well. He explains his athletic history which started early in life. Being the fifth child of seven, Daniel says, “Growing up in a large family is a huge reason for my athleticism since competition was always present in my house. I attended St. Pius X Catholic School for ten years and was active in all the main sports as well as gymnastics, piano and guitar outside of school. In middle school, I continued to play six sports year around, but my main focuses were soccer and baseball.” In seventh grade, Fleming began to train with Shay Wilson at the Concord Athletic Club. For the past six years, he has been working with Shay and Daniel believes that she is the main reason he has become the athlete he is now. “Shay is by far the best trainer for athletes wanting to increase size, quickness, and strength. She has been a huge role model for me on and off the arena of sports. I give my family a lot of that credit too since we grew up so close; they have been very important to my success in sports and I appreciate every moment they offer to support me.” Daniel Hebert, Center Back for the Central Catholic Varsity Soccer Team and avid soccer player played almost every sport he could throughout the years he attended Holy Spirit Catholic School. “I enjoyed one sport more than the others though and that was soccer. I enjoyed soccer more than the other sports I played because it was never boring. When playing the game, I was always moving around and engaged. In 2010, it was time for me to graduate from middle school and pick a high school to attend. I chose Central Catholic because I wanted to play for their soccer team which just came off winning three state titles. Four MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
years later, I am a Senior and getting ready for college.” Hebert is proud that the soccer team scored another State Title for CCHS, a day he surely will never forget. Center midfielders, Christian Medina along with fellow senior Nathan Cantu and freshman Diego Gonzalez played a crucial role in the team’s strategy. Medina says, “We are literally in the middle of everything that is going on. Our main purpose as center midfielders is to distribute the ball along the field to our attacking players.” And the trio obviously got the job done and did it well. The goalkeeper, Rob Henry explains how he trained a lot of extra hours this year in order to become the best goalkeeper he could be for his team at state. “I believe my teammates saw this and I was able to give them a sense of comfort by protecting the goal.” Justin Rodriguez, right mid-fielder says, “I was able to bring a great amount of speed to our flanks.” All players agreed that the contributing factors to their “big win” were the team’s dedication to train relentlessly starting two weeks after their loss last season, their amazing coaches and their dedicated athletic trainer. “We came together and decided to train last spring, all summer and this fall to better ourselves and not stop until we were hoisting the state title. Our head coach, Coach Edward Cartee, is the assistant men’s coach at Trinity University. He is a class “A” certified coach. Throughout the past two seasons, he has treated, respected, and trained us as collegiate athletes holding us to the highest standards. His practices forced us to strive for perfection
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
and we were never satisfied with our current level of play,” details Fleming. The teammates also give a great deal of credit to the assistant coach, Gill Gomez. “He has been in the program many years and this is his third state title as an assistant coach. He is energetic, exciting and has a huge passion for the game of soccer. He is a great man to have on the field and always lightens the mood and relieves the stress. All in all, our coaches are the reason that we were able to have a higher skill than other teams and were especially responsible for our fitness level to outlast all of the other teams.” Central Catholic Varsity Soccer Team’s mascot is the Button. Interestingly, St. Mary’s University is also a Marianist school and CCHS is “sort of” considered to be their high school. Their mascot is the rattler; “So with our team being a button it is similar to a little snake or little rattler.” The team philosophy is perhaps one that should be carried out throughout life. All players are responsible for their attitude, concentration and effort, better known as ACE. Each person’s ACE must be 100 percent during practices and games. “We strive to create a culture of affirmation. This means that we always focus on positive encouragement and we understand as a team that more important than the will to win, is the will to prepare. Last but certainly not least, our team believed in a mantra of ‘Why Not Us’. This was our answer whenever people questioned our capability of returning to the State tournament two years in a row and leaving victorious. It was our way of
humbly answering anybody who doubted us. If there was a group of guys that could come together with an inseparable bond, tenacious attitude, and a common goal that were willing to stop at no cost, who better than us? After our Championship game, that question was laid to rest when together, we showed the State of Texas that we are the best. It is Us. We wore this mantra on our chests, under our jerseys and on the back of our cleats all season; we all believed in it and each other.” And how exactly did these team players feel right after the win? Fleming says, “When we won, it was nothing but excitement and relief. It was amazing knowing that after four years of training, we earned
the ultimate reward, a State Title. All the pain in my knees were no more as the adrenaline and happiness kicked in. I first ran to the stands and jumped the stand into my dad’s arms where my family was celebrating. I then shared the win with the other players and bell boys. We are a team and we won this together. I shared a big hug with our trainer, Mark Ruiz, because I know that without him, myself and many other players dealing with injuries would not have been able to play without his constant treatments. When we finally had the trophy back, I felt the heartbreak of the past three seasons wash away.” Hebert states, “I was obviously happy and excited. But, I was more relieved than anything because every one of us put in so much work and we definitely deserved to win that title. It was almost destiny that we were going to win because in the four playoff games we played, in order to win the title, we went into extra-time three times. Ultimately, all the hard work paid off. We simply outworked the other teams not only in the games but in practice.” “When junior Blaise Steele netted the winning penalty kick, I was simply elated. All the hard work had paid off and the past 11 months was all worth it. I cannot even begin to explain my love for my team because we have been through so much together,” says Christian Medina. “Something truly great about Central Catholic is the sense of brotherhood you feel throughout the halls and the bond between this team is even greater. I am glad that I have spent the two best years of my life with these guys at my side. Anything short of a championship would have been a disappointment for us. As crazy as it sounds, I felt like I was in a movie throughout the playoff run. It featured drama, celebration, comedy, and most importantly the inspirational pre-game speech from the team captain, Daniel Fleming. I mean you only see a state championship sudden death penalty shoot-out under the stadium lights in the pouring rain with screaming fans packed in the stands in the movies!” “The first feeling I had when we won was pure joy,” adds Justin Rodriguez. “It was the most amazing feeling. Everything about that moment felt right. We knew as a team, that we deserved to win State and that is exactly what we did. I know it was extra special for us seniors. It was the perfect ending for our senior year.” “I was beyond happy when we won,” says Rob Henry. “It felt so good winning, knowing that we came so close the year before. We deserved to win because as soon as we lost a year ago, we got straight back to practicing because we were determined to win this year.” These young men are getting ready to graduate and move on to college in a few months with plans for the future. Some will pursue playing soccer in college while others will play soccer in their free time. Each one of the seniors interviewed embrace the sense of brotherhood that Central Catholic has given them throughout their years. “The most important lesson that CCHS has taught me is whatever I pursue in life, to always have God in your plans and to never give less than your best. Because of the community here at school, I have also learned that I can never accomplish anything completely on my own, but with the help and support of others.” -Daniel Fleming
“SOMETHING TRULY GREAT ABOUT CENTRAL CATHOLIC IS THE SENSE OF BROTHERHOOD YOU FEEL THROUGHOUT THE HALLS AND THE BOND BETWEEN THIS TEAM IS EVEN GREATER.” “Central Catholic means a lot to me. It is more than just a place where I go to learn every day. At Central, I have met friends that I will have lifelong relationships with. I have also learned many different life lessons outside of the classroom. For example, the importance of hard work, persistence, and character. The main lesson I’ve learned while at Central is how a small school like Central can unite 500 plus people and create that brotherhood that lasts a lifetime.” –Daniel Hebert “CCHS has taught me things that far exceed the limits of a classroom. Attending Central Catholic was the greatest decision I ever made and I wouldn’t change a single thing. The most important lesson Central Catholic has taught me is that community is important. Without community, a person is nothing. Central has helped me grow in a multitude of ways and I couldn’t have done so without the support of the
Central Catholic community. Ultimately, the greatest lesson I have learned at Central is that in order for a man to live for himself, he must first live for others.”Christian Medina “Central Catholic has taught me discipline and brotherhood. This is something that I will never forget; the sense of community is a lesson for life.” –Rob Henry “Central Catholic has meant the world to me. It has helped me develop into the young man I am today. Central has pushed me academically to the best of my ability. I truly feel prepared for college. The friends I have made here are for a lifetime. They are the best supporting cast I could ever ask for.”-Justin Rodriguez
For more information, visit www.cchs-satx.org. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
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SAN ANTONIO // NONPROFIT
“OUR DOWNTOWN NEEDED THOSE THEATERS. EVERYONE DESERVED TO ENJOY THEIR BEAUTY AND HISTORY.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE MARQUEE The namesake of the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre and her commitment to San Antonio SPECIAL TO NSIDE
THE MCCOMBS NAME is certainly well-known in San Antonio—from being the former owners of the beloved San Antonio Spurs to any number of business and charitable ventures, B.J. “Red” McCombs and his wife Charline are part of the fabric of the Alamo City. And of course, anyone who enjoys drama, romance, comedy and music knows the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, but what few probably know is the humble, gracious, caring woman behind the name. “Charline is so gracious and unassuming and has such a natural way with people that working with her on any project is a joy, but having her be a part of Las Casas Foundation has been a true gift,” explains Jocelyn “Joci” Straus, founding chairperson of Las Casas Foundation with her husband Joe Straus, chair of the Las Casas Foundation Gala honoring Charline in May. “Her support has gone far beyond the theater renovations. She’s been a part of our efforts since the beginning and truly understands the importance of helping San Antonio’s performing arts community.” Once the renovation efforts were complete, McCombs gave her time and expertise to help develop the Las Casas Performing Arts Scholarship Competition, the 116
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
annual scholarship program hosted by Las Casas Foundation to recognize talented high school seniors and award scholarship funds to help them climb the ladder to success in the performing arts. Since its inception in 2009, the scholarship competition has awarded $385,000 in scholarship money in the disciplines of theatre acting, musical theatre singing and dancing. This year’s $100,000 scholarship total, a first for Las Casas Foundation, is in honor of the Empire Theatre’s centennial and will bring the total amount of scholarship funds distributed through the competition to $485,000. Perhaps no one understands Charline better than her three daughters, all of whom live in San Antonio. The family is extremely close, sharing holidays, vacations and weekly meals. “We like to eat!” says Charline, and her children will tell you that one of her secret talents is her amazing abilities in the kitchen. “Las Casas Foundation is one of her true joys,” explains daughter Connie McNab. “The theater effort was important to her because of her love of San Antonio. She wanted to share the theater with the city. But she has such a passion for the foundation’s educational focus and scholarships—helping young people achieve their
dreams means so much to mom, her favorite night of the year is the scholarship competition and having it at the Empire is special for her. We hear about it all year long!” “She really cares about each of those students. It’s an extension of how much of a people person mom is— she connects with everyone she meets in a genuine way and wants to really know them. She cheers for those students and wants to see them succeed,” says McNab. “She gives to anyone that she becomes involved with, sharing both her heart and her time. And she goes all out, recruiting family, friends, people she doesn’t know, to support whatever cause. You can’t say no because you can see her passion and love,” says daughter Marsha Shields. “She believes in investing in people with her time and energy and she multiplies her impact by how she does things. No matter what you do with my mom, you walk away feeling restored and valued, you’ve learned something and you’re motivated to go share that with someone else.” “When my parents support something, they make a personal investment along with the financial investment. They give a portion of their life to a cause, getting in, shaping and guiding to elevate the effort. Giving of themselves, sharing their experience and wisdom, is invaluable. That’s a ripple effect that keeps going and going,” explains Shields. Daughter Lynda McCombs agrees with her sisters. “Mom supports a number of causes, but Las Casas is definitely her number one. The human side of everything Las Casas does—the educational programs and the scholarships—really touches her heart. And when she becomes dedicated to a cause, she doesn’t just give half of herself, she gives her all. She doesn’t just want to sign a check, she wants to do the work needed to help that cause succeed.” Las Casas Foundation certainly has benefitted from Charline’s commitment. “Charline’s efforts on Las Casas’ behalf reflect her recognition of the value of the past while promoting the future—she and Red ensured that the Empire Theatre would be here for generations to come, and by supporting the scholarship program, she’s working to fill that future with talent,” says Kaye Lenox, CEO of Las Casas Foundation. “Her energy, enthusiasm and passion for the scholarship program are infectious. The theatre and the careers and futures of these talented students, both on and off the stage, are a testament to Charline’s commitment to the promise of the future.” Q: How did you get involved with Las Casas Foundation? A: Nothing had really started yet and I was asked to host a reception to introduce some people to the
renovation project. Next thing I knew, I was a part of it all. Working with Joci and her energy and passion for the Majestic was fun—she’s so wonderful! There was so much to do, but Joci made it all work and her commitment drew us all in. When I look back on it all now, it’s hard to believe it was that long ago and I haven’t been able to walk away from Las Casas. I guess I’m a lifetime board member! But what Las Casas does for San Antonio is so important—it’s an honor to be involved with such a terrific group. Joci is such a force—a very loving, quiet force. She does so much and everything she does she does well. She’s a dear friend and I’m grateful to have had the chance to be a part of Las Casas with her. Q: Tell us about the Empire before the renovation. A: It was so sad. Of course, everything started with the Majestic, but to really put it all in context you have to understand what that part of downtown was like at the time. That once beautiful part of downtown wasn’t beautiful anymore and both theaters were in such bad shape. It hadn’t been used in so long: the ceiling was falling in, there were dead animals and birds that had made their way inside and trash was everywhere. But as bad as it was, you could see the promise that was there. You just knew it could be good again. It could be a theater for San Antonio to enjoy, bringing people downtown again. Everyone who was involved dug in because we could see that promise—so many people were interested in what Las Casas was doing and wanted to help make it happen. We all wanted to see it succeed for the city. Q: What memories do you have of the theaters and downtown San Antonio? A: I remember the Majestic very well. I grew up in Corpus Christi and we would visit San Antonio in the summer time. I remember going downtown and how exciting it was, so full of people and so busy! It was the big city for me. Joske’s was the place to go and riding the escalator there was such fun. Then there was Frost Bros., right on Houston Street. We’d shop and go to movies at the theaters downtown. I have a picture with one of my friends in front of the Majestic. Such good memories! It was a beautiful theater—such a fun experience to see a movie there. And now that beauty is back for everyone to enjoy again. I wish I could say that I remember going to the Empire, but of course, it wasn’t as memorable then as it is today. Since everything was white-washed af-
ter the flood, we really didn’t appreciate the treasure that it is until we discovered its beauty under all of that white paint. To think that all of that could have been torn down and never appreciated again is sad. Q: What inspired you and Red to help Las Casas Foundation finish the Empire’s renovation? A: We truly believed in what Las Casas was doing. Bringing the Majestic and the Empire back to life was so important for San Antonio. Our downtown needed those theaters. Everyone deserved to enjoy their beauty and history. We’d been a part of what Las Casas was doing from the beginning and were so proud of the Majestic effort, but of course, the work wasn’t done. The Empire effort was made more difficult when we discovered the true beauty that needed to be restored. Who knew that gorgeous paint and gold leafing was hidden beneath all of that paint?? It was so much fun to watch the theater come back to life. Since the work was done in stages, you could see what it was and what it was going to be at the same time. It was exciting to see it evolve. Everyone had been so generous and supportive of Las Casas, but to finish the Empire, the foundation needed additional financial support. We were blessed to be in the position to provide that support and help Las Casas finish the effort. God has truly blessed us. Being able to share those blessings is another blessing for us. Q: What keeps you involved with Las Casas Foundation? A: The people involved and their passion. It’s truly the greatest group of people to be associated with and seeing the result of their efforts gives you such a sense of accomplishment. It’s such a thrill to see these beautiful theaters today, packed with people enjoying themselves, and to know you had a tiny part in that being done. I love to hear “I’d forgotten how beautiful it is,” when people are at the theatre—it’s proof that people appreciate these theaters and what they mean to our city. Through the dedication of so many fabulous volunteers, Las Casas put San Antonio back on the map as far as performing arts are concerned and we’re all enjoying the fruits of that effort. And now, to see the students who participate in the scholarship competition is inspiring. Their talent is inspiring. Las Casas has brought so much to the people in San Antonio and these young students will continue that. Watching
them perform and share their talents— and see the promise of what’s ahead for them—is a thrill. It’s fun to see where they go, what they’re doing and how they’re progressing. On stages here in San Antonio and around the world—Las Casas is helping to make that happen. Scholarships in the performing arts are so rare, but Las Casas makes sure that these talented teens get the support they need to pursue their dreams. Q: Have you ever dreamed of performing? A: Oh heavens, no. But I did perform on stage once. I was about 12 and I thought I could sing. No idea where I got that idea. My grandmother, who raised me, was very musical and taught piano, but I had no interest in playing. Every Saturday, there was a talent contest at a local theater and I signed up. I never was a very adventurous person, but I was going to have my day on the stage. A neighbor helped me prepare a song and I walked up to the theater by myself. I took the stage, sang my song and the theater was totally quiet. I was so embarrassed! I haven’t shared that story with anyone before, but I guess my secret is out now. I love theater, I love performing arts, but I’ll stay off the stage. Q: You and Red have been recognized by several local, state and national programs for your philanthropy and service. What inspires you and Red to give and volunteer your time? A: We believe in doing what you can to help others. It’s something we’re called to do. It comes from love—passion and love for the city of San Antonio. We’ve been very lucky and this community has done so much for our family. We need to give back. God has blessed us
and we’re doing what he would want us to do, share those blessings with others. When a cause touches my heart, I want to help. And through our family foundation, our children and grandchildren are also involved. We want to foster giving in another generation and hope that everyone, not just our family, but everyone in San Antonio, realizes how important it is to support causes you care about. We can all make a difference.
Charline McCombs will be honored by Las Casas Foundation at its annual gala on May 21. For more information, contact Las Casas at 210-223-4343, or visit online at www.lascasasfoundation.org.
ABOUT LAS CASAS FOUNDATION
Funded through Foundation memberships, the generous support of donors, corporations and grants, Las Casas Foundation is dedicated to the development of the performing arts through education and scholarships, as well as the restoration and preservation of historic theatres. The Foundation hosts the annual Las Casas Performing Arts Scholarship Competition and offers a variety of educational initiatives and efforts to nurture and grow the performing arts. Recipient of the 2013 National Arts Star Award from the American Foundation For Arts Education in recognition of Las Casas Foundation’s significant impact on arts education, the Foundation has awarded $385,000 in scholarship funds to deserving students in the field of performing arts since 2009 and plans to award another $100,000 in 2014. For more information, visit www.lascasasfoundation.org. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
SAN ANTONIO // NONPROFIT
MOST PEOPLE choose to serve on a charity’s board because they are inspired by a person – not so with Andrew Greller, DVM. In his case, it was a golden retriever puppy named Eli that moved him to serve on the board of Guide Dogs of Texas, based in San Antonio. Greller is a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist who specializes in eye care for
“MY LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE THAT SPECIAL MEETING WITH ELI.”
A PERFECT PAIR
Dedicated board member Dr. Andrew Greller chairs the 2014 Guide Dogs of Texas Golf Classic – and you can bet his dog, Eli, will be in attendance. By: CHRIS CARMONA
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
animals. As the practice owner of South Texas Veterinary Ophthalmology, he has treated the vision needs of animals of all shapes and sizes, from a 3,000-pound white rhinoceros to a 30-gram mouse. In his career, he has treated and examined more than 10,000 pets and has performed more than 2,500 eye surgeries. More than three years ago, Greller was examining Eli when he discovered the 3-monthold puppy had a cataract – a common cause of vision impairment in dogs and other species. However, this ailment had particularly significant repercussions because it disqualified the pup from continuing his training as a guide dog, and now, he not only needed continued eye care, but also a home. Luckily for both parties, it qualified him for a wonderful, fun new life – in the Greller household. “I wasn’t sure how my idea of adopting Eli would be received since my wife was more attracted to small inside dogs, so I brought Eli home for a ‘site visit.’ Within an hour, Eli had wormed his way into her heart – as he had done with mine. Now he is just another member of the family … only smarter,” Greller jokes. In honor of Eli, Greller now donates his time and services to Guide Dogs of Texas, which provides quality guide dogs for Texans who are visually impaired. Besides giving free eye exams for the guide dog pups annually, he now serves on the board of directors, and this spring, he is leading the efforts as chairman for the 2014 Guide Dogs of Texas Golf Classic fundraiser on May 18 at Canyon Springs Golf Club. “We are planning to throw one heck of an event,” Greller says. “You can expect guide
THE GUIDE DOGS OF TEXAS GOLF CLASSIC The Guide Dogs of Texas Golf Classic will take place on Sunday, May 18, at Canyon Springs Golf Club with 8 a.m. tee time. Sponsorships are available, and players will receive breakfast, drinks and snacks on the course, a generous buffet lunch, a goody bag, green fees and a cart. Proceeds from the tournament will fund the programs and services of Guide Dogs of Texas, the only guide dog school in the state and one of only 11 certified guide dog schools in the United States. Guide Dogs of Texas provides quality guide dogs for Texans who are visually impaired to increase their freedom, mobility and independence.
dogs and puppies walking the course, blind golfers, blind golfing contests, amazing catering, some bigname players, a silent auction and much more. And of course, I am bringing Eli to the tournament so I can tell his story to help encourage players to think about becoming volunteer puppy raisers or weekend boarders, or re-homing a retired guide dog.” Those who don’t play golf can support the tournament through its online auction, which runs May 1 through 27. Greller feels very fortunate that his path crossed with Eli’s three years ago. “My life has never been the same since that special meeting,” he says. “Not only is Eli a best friend to me, my wife and our kids, but he has made me a better veterinary ophthalmologist. I can totally relate to my clients whose pets are going blind and often will introduce them to Eli, who has a great quality of life despite not seeing from one eye. That gives them much relief and hope.” Guide Dogs of Texas is also fortunate that Eli met Greller. As chairman of the board, I can attest that Greller has been a dedicated and energetic board member for us. Even with his incredibly busy professional and personal schedule, he is finding time to take this tournament to a new level. Loving animals is a prerequisite for the veterinary profession, but for Greller, it is more than part of the job – it is a way of life, with Eli by his side.
Chris Carmona is the chairman of the board for Guide Dogs of Texas. Visit https://guidedogsoftexas. org for more information on the organization, the tournament or the online auction.
MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
SAN ANTONIO // NONPROFIT
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES The Impact of Alvin Loewenberg and Morningside Ministries SPECIAL TO NSIDE
FROM THE DAY we begin our treks, many of us have our eyes set on certain professions to attain in order to follow our personal legend. Alvin Loewenberg found his professional path by accident. He needed a job and was about to get married. In his job search, he came across a position for caring for elderly adults with a home health agency. He interviewed, was offered the position and accepted it. As he acclimated himself to his role, Loewenberg discovered his passion for supporting the well-being of the elderly community, what he also refers to as “the forgotten generation.” It was a good fit for Loewenberg. He had spent much time around older adults growing up, as his father was an older-thantypical age for a parent. “Growing up, I was around older adults, and I developed an affinity and real love for the older adult population,” said Loewenberg. “Even though it was fate that guided me into this profession, it was a natural kinship for me.” Today, he is the President and CEO of Morningside Ministries in San Antonio. He has served as a steward and a leader in the industry for the past 35 years and as president of Morningside Ministries for the past 120
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
23. He has and continues to support the well-being of older adults and passionately pursues the provision of opportunity for San Antonio’s senior community. “There is so much need out there, and there isn’t a lot being done for older adults. It’s a forgotten period of life, and I have a passion for making their lives better,” said Loewenberg. “The last years of life should be just as positive, productive, beneficial and meaningful as the earlier years of life. We need to stress the importance of the latter years just like we stress the importance of early childhood education, high school, college, young adulthood and midlife.” Loewenberg has been at the forefront of the development and growth of numerous Morningside Ministries retirement communities across San Antonio including The Manor, The Meadows, Chandler Estate, Menger Springs and now, the expansion at The Overlook at Menger Springs in Boerne. Morningside Ministries recently broke ground on April 1 on a $42 million expansion to enhance the property and provide more opportunity for residents with The Overlook, a 68 unit independent living apartment building and a new three story assisted living building. The project is expected to take approximately 16 months.
“THE LAST YEARS OF LIFE SHOULD BE JUST AS POSITIVE, PRODUCTIVE, BENEFICIAL AND MEANINGFUL AS THE EARLIER YEARS OF LIFE.” Housing and services available at The Overlook and other Morningside Communities include independent living apartments and cottages, residences for individuals needing assistance with daily activities (assisted living), memory care, skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. Grant Warner, of D2 Architecture is the lead architect on the project. Warner knows the importance of continuing to support San Antonio’s community of older adults. Statistics have shown that Texas will have
the fourth highest numbers of seniors in the United States by 2020. Warner has a unique connection to the project and to the local community. “This project has a special place in my heart since both my parents grew up and started their lives together in San Antonio,” said Warner. “My family spent a lot of time visiting San Antonio when I was growing up, and I remember being struck, even as a boy, by the beautiful architecture and landscapes of San Antonio. The Spanish Governor’s Palace downtown has had a direct impact on the design of the new Bistro [the supplemental dining facility] and its ‘outdoor room’ concept at The Overlook at Menger Springs.” This is the largest expansion that Morningside Ministries has ever planned, and The Overlook at Menger Springs will add greatly to the campus which is Boerne’s only continuing care retirement community. In addition to The Overlook and the new assisted living building, a new bistro and community area open to the public will also be added. “The expansion will allow people to stay where they are and stay close to home. We will be giving more people more options,” said Loewenberg. “The current situation is bright, and the future looks even brighter.” One of Loewenberg’s favorite elements of the expansion is the new community room. Because the San Antonio and Boerne communities have been supportive of the Morningside Ministries community, Loewenberg feels that the return of that support is important. The community room will be open to residents, but also to organizations and companies in the Boerne and San Antonio area to use for meeting and gathering space. Loewenberg is committed not only to serving the communities, but also to continuing to hold strong to the mission and ministry of a company he has been leading for over two decades. “Our ministry is to serve people and there are people here to be served and a growing number of people who will need to be served. It just makes sense to do that. We have invested in the property, and if we can provide the services that people need, that’s what we’re here for - that’s our calling, and that’s our mission.” There is true beauty in the way that the architects made this project an immersion, or what the firm refers to as one of its “sleepover projects.” They act as residents in senior living communities for 24 hours to try and better understand the dynamics of each unique community. “Jesse Rodriguez and I stayed at Menger Springs for two of these immersive experiences. Jesse stayed in Cibolo House, and I stayed in Menger House on a date, which happened to be Fat Tuesday,” said Warner. “ I participated in several activities including a fantastic Cajun buffet and Mardi Gras party in the lobby. I attended an iPad users class and a crochet club meeting, dined and visited with residents and staff, fed some deer and worked as an activities aid, learning about how much work it takes to keep activities rolling throughout the day.” The purpose of the immersion was to experientially learn and understand a day in the life of the residents and truly take hold of what they want by learning about the members of the community and how they want to be served.
ABOUT MORNINGSIDE MINISTRIES Morningside Ministries is San Antonio’s oldest and largest not-for profit, faith-based, senior care organization dedicated with the specific mission of “Caring For Those Who Cared For Us.” Morningside Ministries has served the San Antonio community since 1961 with Morningside Ministries at the Meadows, Morningside Ministries at The Manor, Morningside Ministries at Chandler Estate and Morningside Ministries at Menger Springs. Today we continue to serve over 800 residents in retirement, assisted living, nursing and memory care.
The actions that the architecture team has taken are in perfect step with the permeating aura of service throughout the Morningside Ministries communities. It’s one that Loewenberg has emphasized in the past, present and hopes to continue to see resonating in the comfort of homes on the Morningside Ministries properties for years and years to come. Both his words and actions demonstrate his care for the community of older adults around the city and across the nation. He works on significant legislative issues with groups of leaders making a push to progress the best quality and opportunity for life for our elderly individuals and make a positive impact on their lives. “Growing older is a positive thing. We’re living longer and hopefully living better,” said Loewenberg. “The general public still doesn’t have a positive image or positive feelings about growing older. Through our services, we want people to understand that aging is a positive thing.” Morningside Ministries regularly receives calls on from people who do not have intentions on living with us or using one of the company’s products. They just call seeking answers.
“I hope that we’ll always remain at the forefront of people’s mind of a company who can answer questions for those individuals seeking answers about caring for our older adults.” Loewenberg and his team make valiant efforts to serve the entire human being when they come to make their home at any level of care. They offer the full continuum of care, and Loewenberg says that this is part of the beauty of the Menger Springs expansion. “More and more, people are living longer. It’s important to realize that you are more than likely going to live a long time,” said Loewenberg. “I hope that our residents and the community as a whole realize that life is good as we grow older. It gets even better.” Loewenberg’s words of wisdom should resonate with people young and old as they look forward to the years they have left to live. “At 65 or 70, make a decision about what you have always wanted to do in the last chapters of your life, and do it. Remove the fear, enjoy your years, and make the best of them.”
For more information, visit www.mmliving.org. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
SAN ANTONIO // NONPROFIT
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
The third annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference presents $100,000 to HeartGift San Antonio and ChildSafe. SPECIAL TO NSIDE
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
MARK BOHANAN, owner and executive chef of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood and creator of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, presented a check for $100,000 to HeartGift San Antonio and ChildSafe to support their missions, both of which center on saving the lives of children. This donation would not have been possible without San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2014, a four-day event offering education and celebration of craft cocktails and spirits, held in downtown San Antonio from Jan. 16 to 19, 2014. The donation presentation took place on Wednesday, March 19, at 2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, a partner of San Antonio Cocktail Conference. “The third annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference proved to be even more successful than we could have anticipated,” Bohanan said. “It’s incredible to see the generous support of our community partners and friends. The contributions of everyone, including our presenters and attendees, are the true backbone of this event and we simply could not have come this far without their continued support. This donation is especially meaningful, as it allows two organizations to provide their services to children in need – a cause that is so near and dear to my heart. It is with great joy that we present this check today.” Bohanan was joined by Charlie Deacon, chairman of the board of HeartGift San Antonio, and Kim Abernethy, president and CEO of ChildSafe.
“THE THIRD ANNUAL SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE PROVED TO BE EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN WE COULD HAVE ANTICIPATED.”
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SAN ANTONIO // ARTS
SHANNON CRIDER: THE BALLAD OF POLYNICES French & Michigan Gallery presents its first solo exhibition By: CELESTE WACKENHUT
THIS MAY, French & Michigan Gallery presents its first solo exhibition Shannon Crider: The Ballad of Polynices. Crider is well known in San Antonio for her particular technique in which she uses found cut paper to create intricate figurative collages. Originally trained as a painter, Crider approaches paper in the same manner as paint. She developed her signature technique in her final year of undergraduate education, which takes some artists years to establish.
ALWAYS LOOKING FOR CHALLENGES, CRIDER PUSHES HERSELF TO GO BIGGER. Crider’s early portraits consist of one to two sitters, and typically take around 200 hours each to complete. Always looking for challenges, Crider pushes herself to go bigger. In her largest piece to date, with a new record of 400 hours of work, Crider pulls inspiration from the timeless Sophocles story Antigone. After months of preparation and research, Crider set the scene with her models. Several shots were taken of Antigone peering toward the fallen Polynices. Following, Crider pieced together her photographs to create the balanced composition. With her layout drafted, Crider started the meticulous process of layering countless bits of paper from used books, craft paper, and artist postcards. She began with Polynices, placing him at the forefront of the work, moving through to the figure of Antigone in the shadows. The final touch was left to the stars, the subject given the most surface area on the canvas. Crider’s interpretation of color not only allows for beautiful details to pop throughout the figures’ characteristics, but also to weave the key element of the universe and galaxies throughout the entire piece. The particular moment in the story when Antigone comes upon the dead body of her brother Polynices is technically never presented on stage of Sophocles, but is alluded to in the script. By choosing this instance to depict, Crider emphasizes her message. The work, entitled The Ballad of Polynices, explores heroism, family values, politics, and death in correlation to the body, matter, and stars. In addition to layers of paper, the piece is layered with meaning, emphasizing how the story of Antigone and Polynices echoes the story of the human condition and our place in the universe both in life and death. For her first solo exhibition in San Antonio, Crider uses the opportunity to look back at her extensive research and explore the process of her technique. With that, she creates studies of her characters, composition, and additional subjects, such as the grave and stars to support the larger work.
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
To compliment the show, French & Michigan presents its first exhibition catalogue with a curatorial essay, interview with the artist, and full color images of the artwork, all of which is written and designed completely in house. Shannon Crider was recently accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a Master of Fine Arts in Studio: Printmedia. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from Oklahoma City University in 2008, and has exhibited extensively throughout Oklahoma and Texas, including the 2013 Texas Biennial held at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, San Antonio. She has worked in art education, in addition to giving workshops and lectures at a variety of institutions. Shannon Crider is represented by French & Michigan Gallery. French & Michigan Gallery recently opened in fall 2013 as an extension of the local multidisciplinary design studio French & Michigan. The Gallery is dedicated to cultivating and furthering the individual careers of their artists
through resources, exhibitions, and publications made possible by the studio. Through programs and events, the Gallery engages with the community and advocates for the benefit of supporting and collecting artwork. In addition to Shannon Crider, French & Michigan Gallery currently represents Larry Graeber, Soomin Jung, Jaelah Kuehmichel, LanĂŠ Pittard, Lisa Qualls, Gary Schott, Sarah Sudhoff, John Swanger, Cornelia Swann, Kristina VandeWalle, and Sandy Whitby.
Shannon Crider: The Ballad of Polynices is available for private viewing through May 31. For more information, to make an appointment, or to purchase a catalogue, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Celeste Wackenhut is the Curator at French & Michigan Gallery. Previously, Wackenhut was with the McNay Art Museum, assisting with exhibitions such as New Image Sculpture, Estampas de la Raza, as well as organizing Cake Walk Unveiled: Contemporary Artists Respond to the Past. Wackenhut received a B.A. from Sweet Briar College, Virginia, and an M.S. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. MAY.JUNE 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS
SAN ANTONIO // ENRICHMENT
17 YEARS LATER… San Antonio-based women’s prayer going strong By: TERRI ALEXANDER AND JOAN COURTNEY
WHAT CAN BRING A PERSON
who believed that Jesus Christ was merely a good man or a prophet to change her mind and choose to believe that He is actually the Son of God? What can mold that same person into a leadership role in mobilizing, equipping, and encouraging Christian women of all ages, cultures, and denominations to unite to pray for a spiritual awakening in their city and nation? Joan Courtney, founder and president of Women’s Prayer International, knows from personal experience that the answer is PRAYER. Victory through despair… In July 1980, an automobile collision with a train left Joan with little chance of survival. Suffering broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a crushed skull, she was completely unconscious for three days and spent seven days in intensive care. The neurosurgeon eventually sent her home, telling her husband, “Time will tell how much she will recover and if she will regain her short term memory.” She did recover, and she did regain her memory. When her husband told her all the supernatural events that occurred one after the other, from the
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
moment the train hit the car, she realized how much God had intervened in her life that day. For months, she would encounter strangers who told her how they had been praying for her from the moment they heard about the accident. The doctors even admitted some ‘greater power’ was involved in her recovery. The “greater power”...Even though she grew up in a Christian home, by the time she had entered the work force at the age of 18, she had forgotten about God. All the while her family had been praying for her, but she had gone through two divorces before she married her husband of 36 years, Jerry
Bond, in Houston, Texas in 1971. At that point, she came to the conclusion that she had been “doing something wrong” and for the first time wanted to “be a better person.” Five years later Jerry was offered a great job opportunity that took Joan and their son, Darren, to San Antonio. There, Joan felt settled, with a new home, financial security, and a healthy family. But she still wanted more, not knowing what she truly needed. One day a neighbor invited her to an inhome Stonecroft Bible Study. “Through that, God started ‘wooing’ me,” she says. “I saw something in these women that I knew I needed and wanted.” One evening she asked one of the women what was so special about her. The lady replied, “Well, it’s not me—it’s Jesus in me. Have you ever prayed to receive Jesus?” Joan’s eyes still well up with tears when she thinks about that moment. She went home and prayed, “God, if Jesus is who You say He is, if the Bible is true, if He really is Your Son, I want to believe!” Suddenly the Scriptures she had learned while growing up in a Baptist church came flooding back into her memory. “For the first time I knew I was a sinner before a Holy God. And yes, Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the God! When I prayed, it was like an enormous burden was lifted, that I didn’t even know I had.” When Joan called her friend to tell her, her friend confessed, “Well, we’ve been praying for you to do just that.” Her next statement would also impact Joan’s life: “Just as you prayed to receive Jesus in your heart, pray about everything!” Since taking that advice to heart, Joan’s life has never been the same. She smiles, “I have learned that God awaits to hear the prayers of His children and answers them for our ultimate good and His glory.”
God Uses Everything in Our Lives… Joan believes that God’s design for her life began even before she was in her mother’s womb. “God was equipping me to start WPI and serve as their president through every volunteer and professional position I have ever held,” she now realizes. Through the years she had worked as a full charge bookkeeper, office manager, owner and manager of a residential real estate company, and a residential mortgage loan officer. Because of her own experience of being totally healed, Joan also served as a part-time certified volunteer chaplain at University Hospital for 12 years. She found joy in praying for patients and then seeing God bring comfort and healing countless times in the emergency room. Joan learned firsthand the value of relying completely on Him. The Birthing of Women’s Prayer International…In 1996 Joan was serving as her church’s women’s prayer chairman, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was planning a South Texas crusade for the following year. Joan was asked to be the coordinator of the Women’s Prayer Committee. She recruited and formed 28 groups of women representing various churches to meet in their neighborhoods and pray for the crusade. “It was life-changing for me!” she exclaims. More than 20,000 of those in attendance committed to the start of a new walk with God. Joan and some members of the Women’s Prayer Committee wanted to spend the next year “praying for them and for our city and nation.” As she told a local newspaper reporter, “We can’t stop praying because the crusade is over. This is just the beginning!” And it was. What began in 1997 as the Women’s Prayer Committee for the South Texas Billy Graham Crusade has grown 17 years later into Women’s Prayer International. Currently 21 neigh-
“God drew me to WPI by realizing the power that is released over our city as a result of women praying in one accord as we unite in different homes across the city interceding for the same specific needs.” -Janie Chapa, Jubilee Outreach, San Antonio, TX
Set the bar for us. Nice and high. We expect you to have expectations. No problem with that. You have worked hard for what you’ve got. We’ve done the same. Now’s the time to try building it bigger. Stronger. Together.
® borhood prayer groups meet monthly in the San Antonio area alone. They represent a cross-section of denominations—Protestant and Catholic, charismatic and non-charismatic, multi-cultural, and multi-generational. There are also pockets in Arkansas, Kentucky, New York and Puerto Rico and even as far away as Tokyo and Hong Kong. “We’ve been told there’s no one like us, because our purpose is prayer,” Joan states. “In our groups, we save the last ten minutes for the attendees’ personal requests. The bonding through prayer is tremendous and creates close friendships.” Don’t give up praying…“We pray over specific topics: ‘Churches and Ministers,’ ‘Families,’ ‘Business,’ ‘Government and Military,’ and ‘Education.’ Every topic we cover in prayer will affect the world we pass on to our children and grandchildren. Through our prayers, God is ultimately transforming our city and nation by changing individuals’ hearts to live for Christ. Imagine a city where all the porn shops and strip clubs are shut down because the owners have come to Christ, where parents aren’t so afraid of discovering their children have overdosed on drugs because the drug dealers have had their lives changed by an experience with God. It would be a city that you would like to live in. Now think about what would happen in our cities and nation without His people praying.” Joan believes there are always signs that prayers are being answered. “We’ve seen a transformation of our own lives, and we believe it has a domino effect on others around us.” A personal example was her husband Jerry (now deceased). “I prayed for him for 30 years. God had been working on his heart all that time. He surrendered his life to Christ six months before he passed away in February 2007. It was 30 years to the month when I received Christ. God hears and answers prayer!” In January of this year, Joan celebrated her five-year anniversary of a new marriage with retired Sgt. Major LC Courtney. She rejoices in God bringing him into her life and for her blended family of three grown children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandson. “We don’t know the future, but we can call upon the ONE who holds the future…With so much in disarray in our city and nation, there is a deep concern about the spiritual climate of our city, nation, and world. It seems to be especially on women’s hearts and minds,” Joan says. “Many ask, ‘Is there hope for America? Is there hope for the world?’ And God’s answer is yes, there is hope! I am more excited today in serving as the president of WPI than when it first started 17 years ago. “Revival historians such as Edwin Orr have told us that there has never been a spiritual awakening or revival in any country or locality that did not begin with Christians uniting to pray across the boundaries that had separated them. Please join in praying with us and consider attending our ONE IN THE SPIRIT Celebration Weekend on September 19-20.”
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SAN ANTONIO // ENRICHMENT
LEADERS OPEN DOORS, PART II Elevating and transforming the team, the company and the culture By: DOUGLAS S. CAIN
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / MAY.JUNE 2014
best student at Lake University and I predict great things for her. Always look for the outsiders in your organization. Those outsiders just might be the ones who make the difference and who, in most cases, give you your greatest satisfaction as a leader. Of course, the ultimate outsider is the leader. I’m not looking for sympathy, but I can tell you the old adage, “It’s lonely at the top,” is the truest statement ever written. There is no one to keep you to the schedule you hold as the standard, and you look at your own work and constantly go back to it and modify it. It’s tough, but if you go through a personal transformation like I did, ask for help. Holding others accountable for holding you accountable makes it easier. Bill Treasurer, author of “Leaders Open Doors,” listed a number of steps to take to get to your own personal transformation:
“IF YOUR ACTIONS INSPIRE OTHERS TO DREAM MORE, LEARN MORE, DO MORE AND BECOME MORE, YOU ARE A LEADER.” – JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
outsider. But we continued to move her around the company. When we finally got her just the manager she could admire and respect, she became the “A” player I always thought she was. She is, in fact, the
1Get a mentor inside the company and a coach outside the company. 2Get a brutally honest 360-degree feedback process. 3Do regular service work. 4Take a yearly retreat. 5Change yourself (get a personal trainer, buy new clothes, get a new hairstyle, etc.). The point is: If you want to be a leader to everyone at the office, you need to be a leader to yourself outside of the office first. I will close this column with a very poignant thought. When you decide to hire someone, you are doing significantly more than just trading time for money with that person. You are, in essence, taking responsibility for the care and growth of that person, much like the father of the bride symbolically hands over the responsibility of her care to the groom. Simon Sinek, author of “Leaders Eat Last,” put it so succinctly: “Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.” Wow. If that does not shift your paradigm as to your responsibility in your company, I don’t know what will. My final article on leadership will address the concept, “Why can’t everyone be a leader?” Until next time.
BUSINESSMAN LOOKING AT OPEN DOOR, 4MAX/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
AS MENTIONED in my article in the last issue, open-door leaders uplift us. But what does that mean to an organization? Can you measure it? How do you spot it? I look to see if I am transforming the company, the divisions (or teams, as I like to call them) and each person in the company. I feel you can measure it. You may not be able to measure it by the inch or pound, but it is a transformation you can sense, just like you can measure the power of the wind without actually seeing it. No matter how you can measure it, however, you are responsible for transforming the team, the company and the culture. And unlike transforming oneself (like my own Damascus Road experience … that’s another story!), transforming an organization is something that comes by the inch, day by day, by repeating one good behavior after another. Sometimes it takes the repetition of an event to keep you on track. I have found with our corporate staff development program, Lake University, that my own transformation is reinforced with each class I have to prepare for. Each presentation and each reading makes me more dedicated not only to the success of the program, but to each employee’s enrichment. All of this is to provide Lake Truck Lines and Lake Oilfield Services with their next group of leaders. I am known for taking all employees, from drivers and office staff to the highest levels of management, for a long walk on the property. This is when I give them “the talk.” It allows me to share not only the vision and mission of Lake Truck Lines and Lake Oilfield Services, but also how the five corporate core values fit. But in the end, this talk allows me to better understand my employees, with the goal of making them the next generation of leaders in the company. I have spent the last year learning the “Rockefeller habits” and incorporating them in our daily business model. One of the things I have enjoyed most is getting the “right people on the right seats on the bus.” Sometimes you have an employee whom you seem to fail to lead in the direction the company is going no matter what you do. That was the case with one of our employees. For the past two years, she was a “C” player, and we questioned many times whether we could find the right seat for her. She was, as could be described, an
Douglas Sterling Cain is the president and CEO of Lake Truck Lines and Lake Oilfield Services. For more information, visit www.laketrucklines. com.