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FACETS Your Door to Houston

The Partnership’s Renaissance Man

JENSEN S HEN Volume 2 – Winter 2017

Kicking It Downtown: AVENIDA HOUSTON Greater Houston Partnership


L EA D ERSH IP PERSPECTI VE

Facets is a quarterly, employee-run magazine published by the Greater Houston Partnership. No part of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Editor in Chief

CONTENTS 4

Chase Kronzer and Mallika Reddy share their thoughts on what makes Houston a great global city.

Lilyanne McClean

Creative Director Sandra Pham

Project Manager

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Damjana Alverson

Staff Writers Sophia Guevara Laura Niles Javier Vargas Ashley White

Graphic Design

Came and Stayed vs. Born and Raised

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Hou’s Asking?

International cuisine and foreign leaders, oh my!

Jensen Shen

ON THE COVER

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Avenida Houston Transformation

Leadership Perspective Partnership Senior Vice President of Research, Patrick Jankowski, discusses Super Bowl’s impact on the City Have ideas or comments? Email us: Facets@houston.org Partnership Tower 701 Avenida de las Americas, Suite 900 Houston, TX 77010

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The city is Super Bowl ready.

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• The average attendance at a Texans home game was 71,769 in the 2015 season. That’s like the population of Missouri City or New Braunfels attending a typical Texans game. • For Super Bowl LI, 150,000 out-of-town visitors are expected to come to Houston, and 1 million people are projected to attend some component of the Super Bowl experience over the 10-day period.

• 84,000 hotel rooms will be open to accommodate the influx of travelers in the Houston area, up from around 44,000 in 2004, the last time Houston hosted the game.

Food and Fun Around 701

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Football, like most sports, generates volumes of statistics – number of first downs, net rushing yards, total sacks, fumbles lost, yards penalized, third down conversions, time of possession, quarterback ratings and so forth. As an economist, my job is to interpret and present data. Here’s my analysis of some key Texans and Super Bowl LI stats.

• NRG Park has approximately 26,000 parking spaces. With two pre-season and eight regular season home games, approximately 260,000 vehicles pass through the gates during the season.

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Photography by Theus Gyamfi

Partnership Senior Vice President of Research, Patrick Jankowski, discusses Super Bowl’s impact on the City

Talents as diverse as the economic sectors he influences.

Suzanne Morgan Marc Keosayian

Jensen Shen

SU P E R BOWL BY T H E N U MBE RS

Passport to Houston

The city’s best international gems.

• 23 miles of light rail connect NRG Stadium to Downtown and other areas of Houston, making it easier for attendees to reach the game and other festivities.

• 1,000 rooms neighbor Partnership Tower at the Marriott Marquis. The hotel will be the NFL’s headquarter hotel for the game. • Avenida Houston, the new pedestrian promenade, boasts 97,000 square feet in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center that with Discovery Green park will be the center of Super Bowl Live. It will feature new restaurants, public art and performances. In a true team effort, Houston will show its pride as it hosts Super Bowl events all over the city. The Partnership will have tremendous momentum to highlight all that this great global city has to offer: opportunity, innovation and a fantastic quality of life.

Patrick Jankowski

Senior Vice President, Research

INSIDE THIS ISSUE FACETS | 3


by Sandra Pham

Mallika Reddy

Chase Kronzer

IT AND APPLICATIONS MANAGER

PUBLIC POLICY MANAGER

CAME AND STAYED

BORN AND RAISED

Mallika comes to Houston from Hyderabad, India, where she was born and raised. She lived in India until she completed her bachelor’s degree in 2006. She later moved to freezing Michigan to pursue her master’s degree in computer science from Oakland University. She briefly worked in the less cold Washington, D.C. before eventually making Houston her home, where she felt she found the perfect climate and the crawfish was hard to beat! She now lives with her loving husband, Raj; 4-month-old daughter, Myra; and happy golden doodle, Jai. A self-proclaimed foodie and chef, Mallika is always trying new dishes and coming up with new and interesting recipes for her friends and family. Houston offers limitless options when it comes to shopping for various ingredients.

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Chase was born and raised inside the loop of Houston. There is no one with deeper roots to the city than Chase. He grew up playing baseball and has fond memories of going to the Astrodome, where he was lucky enough to play a game. You can bet he is a die-hard Astros and Texans fan. He also met his wife, Anna, in his 7th grade math class at Pershing Middle school. The rest − as they say − was history. Although life has taken Chase and Anna all over the world to Miami, Spain and Washington, D.C., they always felt like Houston was home. When it came time to raise a family, they wanted their 3-year-old son, Caden, to be close to his cousins and to share similar childhood experiences as Chase. Now he is excited to share Houston’s growth and diversity as he raises his family.

Mallika Reddy

Chase Kronzer

What Houston celebrity would you take out for international cuisine and where? The one and only Queen B aka Beyoncé. She would teach me the ‘Single Ladies’ dance over a nice tikka masala at my favorite authentic Indian restaurant, Biryani Pot, on Westheimer.

What Houston celebrity would you take out for international cuisine and where? One of the Killer B’s – Craig Biggio. I love Greek food, so we would grab a bite at Helen Greek Food and Wine in Rice village and talk about how we can get the Killer B’s together again for one last run at the National Championship.

Do you speak another language? I speak 3 South Indian languages: Hindi, Telugu and Kannada. I grew up in India and every state in India has its own language. Telugu was spoken at home and it’s majorly spoken in the state of Telangana. Kannada is the cousin of Telugu, and I was able to pick it up pretty quickly during my undergraduate years. As Hindi is the national language in India, it was mandatory for me to learn that. Here are some helpful phrases: Hindi – Can I get a day off? Mujhe ek din chutti mil sakhthi hai kya? Telugu: Houston is a great place to live in. Houston undadaniki oka goppa pradesam. Kannada: Did you have lunch? Oota ayitha? Where is the best place you have traveled to? Tanzania, Africa. Raj and I spent about a week on a safari in the summer of 2012; it was amazing to see the wild animals in their natural habit. I’ve seen so many safaris on TV, but nothing compares to seeing them in front of you. We also enjoyed being cut off from all kinds of technology, and we stayed in a beautiful resort. Also, the locals are incredibly friendly. What should people know about Houston? If you stumbled across a place with great people, tasty food and amazing music, you are in Houston! There is no other place that you can find such diversity in these areas. It is a welcoming place for everyone. If you were to describe Houston as a dish, what would it be? New York strip steak. Everything is bigger in Texas!

Do you speak another language? Yo hablo Español. I speak Spanish. Being in Texas, it was inevitable to pick it up through my education, and I lived in Mexico for a short summer in high school. I also minored in Spanish in college and lived in Miami, where I also worked part time for a Spanish language ad agency. Then I lived in Granada, Spain for a semester. Where is the best place you have traveled to? It’s a toss up between Spain and Vietnam. Anna and I lived in Southern Spain for 5 months. We loved the culture, language, food, music, people, history and climate. We spent our honeymoon in Vietnam, where Anna’s family is from. It is a special place and so different than most things here at home. I like everything there, minus the music. Fun fact: I can say about 25 Vietnamese words. What should people know about Houston? Houston is a robust city with extremely diverse cultures and ways of life, but it is a city of pockets. It does take some effort, time, and sometimes a sense of adventure to travel to the different pockets, but it is a must. If you never leave your own pocket, you will miss out on so much that the city has to offer. If you were to describe Houston as a dish, what would it be? Paella. It was perfected along the coast through a rich history of mixed cultures. It can take some time to develop, pulling together at times from both the land and sea, but once it comes together, it is typically large, ever-pleasing, and enjoyed by all. Houston, much like paella, is “a feast for the senses. A festival of sights, sounds, and colors.”

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HOU’S ASKING?

What foreign leader do you most want to visit Houston? Queen Elizabeth II of England

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet

by Ashley White Illustrations by Marc Keosayian

Josh Pherigo

What’s your favorite international restaurant or cuisine found in Houston?

Mercedes Santos-Garay

Describe Houston in one word or phrase from your native (or a foreign) language.

Peli Peli. It’s South African and American fusion.

Peking Cuisine is the best for Chinese food. They’re known for their traditional Peking duck.

Vietnamese without a doubt. Tan Tan on Bellaire and Pho Saigon in Midtown are two of my favorites.

In Spanish, we say “mixto pero no revuelto” meaning mixed but not stirred

Tara Dennis

Carlos Guzman

Jon Nordby

Stephanie Brooks

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Jordan McPhail

家 (jiā) meaning home or family in Chinese

Jenny Philip

I’ll share an Urdu word for fun: Zabardast meaning fantastic, great, or wonderful

Nadia Valliani

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JENSEN SHEN by Laura Niles | Photography by Theus Gyamfi

There is just one moon and one golden sun, and the smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all.

Though these are the lyrics of a storied theme park ride, they are equally fitting for the life of the Partnership’s own Jensen Shen, director of international business in Asia, Australia and Oceania. Jensen has never met a stranger, a trait which is integral to his success in promoting trade and foreign direct investment in Houston.

Jensen with his niece, Janie Yao, director and co-founder of Dance of Asian America.

A renaissance man in the truest sense, Jensen has secured several different degrees throughout his career and taken many twists and turns along the way. Jensen speaks not only many different dialects of Chinese, but also English, German, French, and Japanese. Additionally, he understands many cultural customs necessary to conduct international business. He believes his current position in economic development is ideal to employ his myriad areas of expertise.

In Houston, we are very lucky to be so diversified.

“It’s good for me to be in economic development because I understand the energy sector, and I know the medical field,” explains Jensen. “And in Houston,

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we are very lucky to be so diversified. When I talk to people from different industries and different countries, I sound like an expert. They feel they’ve met the right person because I can be a technical advisor for so many disciplines.” Born to a mother who was a doctor and a father who was a famous business leader, Jensen began his life in Shanghai, one of the fastest developing cities in the world. Jensen was a dedicated scholar and attended Fudan University, similar to the U.S.’s Harvard University, to receive a bachelor’s degree in atomic energy. Following graduation, China experienced a cultural revolution, making it difficult to continue academic study or find work in urban areas of the country. Eventually, Jensen found work with the state, launching two high-tech products: polycrystalline silicon crystals and large electrolytic capacitors. Jensen went on to work as a technical advisor for eight different manufacturers, and then decided it was time to develop his knowledge by attending

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Jensen with Kenneth Li, Chairman of Southwest District Houston; Dezhong Ding, owner of Sarah Place restaurant; Koji Okina, TV host, Southern News.

Traditional Shanghainese dishes at Sarah Place.

dental graduate school in Shanghai as one of only 92 students without a medical background. Upon completion, he specialized in biomedical materials such as artificial heart, bone and teeth. Having such a specialized knowledge of materials development and an additional background in medicine, Jensen journeyed to the U.S. in 1984 to study chemistry at the University of Houston. While earning yet another degree, he conducted research in pharmaceuticals that target cancer. But his career path took a sharp turn once more following

an injury from a chemical reaction in the lab, which led Jensen into his current and highly successful career of promoting economic development in greater Houston.

Now, we don’t just have Chinese, but also Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Indian and others who all come together to achieve success.

During his five years with Governor Perry’s office, Jensen received many accolades and was recognized by both Texas Governor Perry and Secretary of State Roger Williams for his achievement in economic development. Now at the Partnership, his primary focus is to recruit Asian companies to locate their North American headquarters to Houston. Jensen has been instrumental in recruiting companies like Nexen, a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Sinopec, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Daikin Industries, Inc. and ANA, to name a few.

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When Jensen is asked what his secret weapon is to convince so many foreign companies to invest in Houston, he simply says, “we have great diversity in Houston.” He divulges further and attributes the growth of Houston’s Asiatown, on the southwest side of Houston, to his success. What is now one of the nation’s largest international districts was once only one Asian grocery store years ago.

from them, because so many of these executives choose to come to Houston. My attitude is that when you teach people, you are also learning. This makes me very happy with my job. Every day I learn something from those I interact with while doing my job.”

“Now, we don’t just have Chinese, but also Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Indian and others who all come together to achieve success,” Jensen states about Asiatown’s ethnic makeup. He feels that Houston is a truly international city, and he has a sense of pride in helping to build it over his last 32 years as a Texan.

Every day I learn something from those I interact with while doing my job.

In addition to Houston’s great diversity, Jensen gleans a great deal of knowledge and expertise from his colleagues, which he says aids him further in his promotion of Houston across the globe. He feels that the Partnership has a great team to give him extra confidence in dealing with clients. “I’m not boring when I talk to international investors, but I’m also teaching them how to invest in Houston,” Jensen says, chuckling to himself. Then, with a more serious tone, “But, I’m also learning

Like many Houstonians, Jensen delights in the variety of culinary wonders in Houston, though none more than those he experiences in Asiatown. And it quickly becomes clear just how well known Jensen is within his community while a few Partnership staff members dine with him at his favorite restaurant, Sarah Place, a traditional Shanghainese restaurant famous for their soup dumplings. It is a place he frequents with his family and even takes foreign delegates to for business meetings.

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For purposes of this story, Jensen kindly coordinated a luncheon at Sarah Place to showcase his favorite dishes. As each dish is specially presented by the restaurant owner and his good friend, Dezhong Ding, Jensen provides a short anecdote. At times he is nostalgic, then he shifts to his focus on preserving Shanghainese culture.

was easy to see that Jensen is highly respected in the community. When asked if he was homesick for Shanghai, Jensen replied, “No. Houston is my home. I have friends and family here. Houston has everything I need.” He expressed his appreciation for the unlimited opportunities he has experienced in the U.S. Specifically, he enjoys the many freedoms other Americans appreciate, including pursuing his dreams and speaking freely. He also enjoys the friendly nature of Houstonians and Texans in general.

Houston is my home. I have friends and family here. Houston has everything I need.

As a man with such a varied career path, it came as no shock that Jensen likes to keep busy outside of work. His hobbies include classical sword dance, having won many awards during his time in college in Shanghai, taiji (tai chi), swimming and table tennis. He notes that his sister is probably more wellknown in Houston than he is, because she runs the largest Chinese dance school in Texas, Mitsi Dancing School. The dance troupe even competed on season eight of America’s Got Talent.

Jensen enjoys taiji, Chinese classical and folk dance, ballet and Texas Contra dance.

Over the years, Jensen has built a life in his community creating friends and business partners alike. During the lunch, it was hard not to be interrupted, as it seemed Jensen knew every patron that walked through the door, including Kenneth Li, the southwest district chairman, and Koji Okina, a tv host with Southern News. They greeted Jensen, and he waved back with a knowing smile. They chatted briefly as the lunch came to an end, but it

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Jensen has a wife and a son in Houston. His son, a graduate of Rice University with both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA, works in finance within the energy sector. His wife, a dedicated Buddhist, provided him with the beads he wears upon his wrist. These beads symbolize protection from harm, but in return, also protect the self from harming others. This seems a great symbol of the harmonious relationship Jensen has with the world around him. Working with others and learning from those he works with, Jensen builds his network, his knowledge and his city, diversifying not only his own interests, but the community around him.

Food and Fun Around 701 by Javier Vargas

Biggio’s Biggio’s is a sports bar like no other. With unparalleled multimedia options, private rooms and an extensive food and beverage menu, you will experience a very recognizable yet unique eating and drinking experience. The two-story venue features a large and ever-changing selection of local draft beer, crafted cocktails, and quality Texas ingredients prepared in expert and unexpected ways. The rows of theater-style seating in front of two massive screens in the bar’s main room are a comfortable and unique way to catch the game!

McAlister’s Deli McAlister’s Deli is known for its sandwiches, stuffed baked potatoes, salads, desserts and famous sweet tea. The deli is sure to be a fast-casual hit for those working in the east side of downtown, as well as the many visitors attending conventions at the GRB. In addition to their dine-in and take-out services, McAlister’s will offer full catering services to businesses in the downtown area.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen serves up the freshest seafood and Louisianastyle favorites complemented by a carefully designed specialty drink menu, and finished off with homemade, delectable desserts. The restaurant will be located on the southwest corner of the convention center, and is the largest restaurant space announced for this project. Although not a new concept, the popular Cajun seafood brand in the Pappas Restaurants portfolio is sure to be a hit.

Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ Built adjacent to its very own smokehouse, Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ delivers flavors that combine smokehousemade sauce and spices. You can expect 30 years of experience in Southern-styled BBQ with a modern flare, featured in an upscale and contemporary atmosphere.

Walker Street Kitchen Walker Street Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving Texas countryside-inspired fare with a healthy twist. The airy restaurant combines culinary refinement with the comforts of simplicity, showcasing the authenticity of farm fresh ingredients.

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Avenida Houston Transformation by Javier Vargas

The newly dubbed Avenida Houston, fully outfitted as the city’s newest dining, entertainment and arts district, is set to become the epicenter for everything Super Bowl. We met with Chief Development Officer at Houston First, Peter McStravick, to learn more about the exciting development.

How has art and entertainment shaped the development of Avenida, and what role will it play upon its completion? Art and entertainment were important components in the design of the overall transformation of the GRB. Early on we identified two large public art installations – one inside and one outside – as well as several smaller installations that were part of the Houston Infusion project – infusing the GRB with art from local artists as well as showcasing local destinations and attractions. The large interior art installation, Soaring in the Clouds by Ed Wilson, is now suspended in the new atrium of the GRB and

highlighted by LED theatrical lights that can be viewed both from the interior as well as the exterior. The large exterior art installation, Wings over Water by Joe O’Connell and Creative Machines, is a kinetic sculpture that is choreographed/synchronized with Fountain of the Americas and LEDs embedded in the surrounding pavers. The art installations play an important role in showcasing local talent as well as providing visually attractive and stimulating features/attractions that reinforce the natural beauty and movement of our region and provide focal points to reflect on the beauty in and around Discovery Green.

RESTAURATEUR SPOTLIGHT TILMAN FERTITTA | GROTTO DOWNTOWN What makes Houston such an amazing place to live, work and build a business? It’s the city’s can-do attitude. So much is possible here and that’s reflected in all parts of our culture. Houston has long been a great place to live, work and play and the amenities are growing all the time. From Buffalo Bayou Park to what we’re building at Avenida Houston—the city offers so much to those looking for fun, interactive experiences. Discovery Green, GRB, and the Hilton have been around prior to any construction started on Avenida Houston. Can you walk us through the decision to further develop the area and make it a unique destination for Houstonians and visitors alike? The decision was based on input from meeting planners, guests and visitors collected over a five-year period. Research indicated that there were insufficient hotel rooms within walking distance as well as a lack of destination appeal. With this information, and input from other studies including the Livable Center Study for Downtown and East Downtown Houston, GRB 2025 (the 2011 GRB Master Plan), and an Urban Land Institute Technical Advisory Panel report it was determined that a new convention center hotel should be developed, as well as new retail – food

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and beverage establishments – which necessitated the creation of the Downtown Living Initiative. The Initiative was created and approved by the City of Houston to incentivize residential development in downtown. The studies also confirmed that the proximity of Discovery Green to the GRB as well as the unencumbered views of downtown from the GRB were strong attributes for selling groups and conventions. Discovery Green provided convention goers the ability to share/participate in the City’s fabric of life, by walking across the street. The sidewalk in front of the GRB was expanded to allow for a much more pedestrian friendly area. How important was the issue of walkability in the planning of this development? Walkability was a very important issue discussed and addressed in the design process. Traffic tends to go faster on wider streets, so there was a conscious effort to narrow the street, not just to slow down traffic, but to also create a shorter – and safer – route to cross the street. The Plaza is a very important component of the project: it provides a gathering spot with hardscape for meetings and conventions that want to be outdoors, and it also provides an alternative space for Discovery Green – which has a greater demand than was originally planned.

As one of Houston’s most exciting entrepreneurial stories, Landry’s Inc. has ties to Houston that can be traced back to a small Gulf seafood restaurant in Katy, Texas. They have since become a thriving and globally-recognized restaurant and entertainment brand. “We’ve come a long way since 1980,” says Tilman Fertitta, Chairman and CEO. “Landry’s will continue to grow in this great city. As Houston has transformed, so has Landry’s.” While the company has a host of concepts flourishing around the nation and the world, Fertitta’s heart remains in Houston: “The city of Houston sells itself. Just look at the success of [the] company and you’ll see that Houston is a great place to do business.” It can be tough to stay competitive in the restaurant industry, especially with Houston having one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the country. Yet, Landry’s has continued to evolve by staying on top of new trends. “Over the years, we have continued to build strong relationships with our customers and focus on serving chef-created dishes and offering memorable dining experiences;” says Fertitta, “which is crucial in staying competitive amongst the ever-growing restaurant industry.” With the recent opening of Grotto Downtown in early January, Fertitta joined the list of other wellknown Houston restaurateurs that are transforming the Avenida Houston area. This new concept is unlike any of the other locations. The restaurant’s look very much mirrors its urban location with a rustic, warehouse-style interior evoking a hip, yet casual social setting. Apart from a great atmosphere, Grotto Downtown features a dynamic menu of vibrant Italian flavors and fresh creations. “There are a lot of surprises in comparison to our existing Grotto locations.” Fertitta says, “The antipast-formaggisalumi boards are exciting—a must try!” Guests can expect some of the traditional dishes Grotto Ristorante is known for in addition to small and shareable plates, house made pizzas and a great happy hour with ample bar and patio seating in the George R. Brown’s new walkable plaza. For anyone working in the area, they also offer a fantastic two-course “Business Lunch” for $15. 1001 AVENIDA DE LAS AMERICAS | GROTTORESTAURANTS.COM

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For many visitors, the Discovery Green and convention district area might be the only glimpse of Houston they get. What image of Houston do you hope visitors will walk away with? And how do you hope to leave a lasting, positive impression that will encourage them to return? That really is the beauty of what we’re doing. Because you’re right, some visitors will only see this area when they come for a convention or a quick trip. So how do we leave them with something meaningful? That’s why we wanted restaurants that reflect the cuisine of our region. We are incorporating five restaurants into the GRB and the

RESTAURATEUR SPOTLIGHT HUGO ORTEGA | XOCHI

Tracy Vaught and Hugo Ortega are the dynamic duo behind H Town Restaurant Group. Their humble beginnings can be traced back to 1983 when Tracy decided to forgo a career as a geologist and opened her first restaurant—Backstreet Café. It was there that she met Mexican-born Hugo Ortega, now one of Houston’s most acclaimed chefs. The couple now runs three of the most successful restaurants in the city (Backstreet Café, Hugo’s and Caracol) and are set to open Xochi, nestled on ground floor of the highly-anticipated downtown Marriott Marquis. When asked to comment on what has allowed their restaurant concepts to stay competitive and continue to thrive over the years, Ortega answered, “there is a very curious and knowledgeable eating public in Houston. They are open to accepting new ways of looking at food. They encourage restaurateurs not to dumb down their menus but to put it all out there.” While Caracol serves coastal Mexican Cuisine and Hugo’s features regional Mexican dishes, Xochi promises to celebrate the food and drink of the indigenous Mexican state Oaxaca—which Ortega suggest is Mexico’s culinary glory. Houston has one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the country, and Ortega agrees, “Houston is an open society; people of all kinds are welcome at every level. People feel like anything is possible here.” For a chef, this means the creative opportunities are endless. Xochi, which means “to bloom or catch fire,” hints at the fact that Ortega’s world renown team will let their creativity do the talking. What he wants most of all is for visitors to “feel a great big Houston welcome and have unique experiences that they can’t have anywhere else.” Oaxaca is situated in the Mexican region most associated with mole, but Xochi plans to offer much more than a daily variety of moles. You can except made-from-scratch classic street food, and even edible insects! The Marriott Marquis opened at the end of December, and Xochi expects to open its doors just in time for Super Bowl! 1777 WALKER ST. | XOCHIHOUSTON.COM

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adjacent Partnership Tower that include flavors as diverse as Cajun seafood, barbecue and Caribbean fusion. We also wanted art that gave a sense of place. And we will be operating a visitor information center in the grand lobby of the GRB that will educate people about the various attractions and things to do in town. The hope is that what we’re creating invites people to explore the broader area during their visit or want to come back to do that. What was the process like for deciding what new restaurants would call Avenida Houston home? And how will their arrival ensure a diverse culinary experience for Houstonians and visitors alike? With the restaurants we wanted to reflect the diversity of the culinary experience in Houston. TexMex was already being offered with Pappasito’s at the Hilton and we worked with the folks at the new Marriott Marquis to ensure we weren’t tapping into the kinds of flavors they were going to be offering with their multiple in-house concepts. We put out a call for proposals in 2015 and, with the help of our partners at Wulfe & Co., narrowed the list based on the proven nature of the operators and the mix of flavors we were seeking. In the end, we executed

leases with five concepts that offer a diversity of cuisine at a broad price point. We believe these new concepts, coupled with what already exists in Discovery Green and the Hilton and what’s coming in the new Marriott Marquis, will create a restaurant “district” in this part of Downtown. People will be able to come to Avenida Houston and find a great meal, no matter what they’re craving. We believe this will become a destination for those looking for dining and entertainment and will be a complement to Discovery Green, Minute Maid, Toyota Center and the rest of the offerings surrounding us.

RESTAURATEUR SPOTLIGHT ANN-MARIE TCHOLAKIAN | PHOENICIA

If you are looking for a delicious spot downtown with a variety of gourmet foods and beverages from around the globe, look no further than Phoenicia Specialty Foods. This downtown location opened five years ago and offers cuisine from over 50 countries. “This location was an opportunity to be part of the growth and diversity of Houston. It was a beautiful fit for our family business. We thrive on providing international goods that we think represent Houston’s diversity well,” said Ann-Marie Tcholakian, Owner/Manager of Phoenicia Specialty Foods. The Tcholakian family opened their business over 30 years ago on the west side of town. Originally a small deli shop, the business has grown into a successful market with two locations in Houston. With Super Bowl just around the corner, Ann-Marie has been busy preparing for the estimated million visitors who will attend the NFL Experience downtown. She believes that the big game will have a positive impact on Houston. “It will mean a lot for the community. It will help us showcase to the nation and the world what Houston has to offer. We’re a big city with a big heart.” 1001 AUSTIN ST. | PHOENICIAFOODS.COM

by Damjana Alverson

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ASIA by Sandra Pham

to HOUSTON

Illustrations by Andrew Moliski

CHINA AND VIETNAM Hong-Kong City Mall – Located in the heart of Chinatown, the mall is filled with shops and restaurants from various Asian cultures. 11205 Bellaire Blvd hkcitymall.com

INDIA Sari Sapne – Saris are women’s draped dresses from the Indian subcontinent often worn at weddings. Sari Sapne is rated as one of the best sari shops in Houston.

SOUTH AMERICA PAKISTAN Himalaya – Himalaya has won several awards for their authentic Indian and Pakistani cuisine. 6652 S.W. Freeway himalayarestauranthouston.com INDIA

Sardar Patel Stadium – Home to the Houston Indian Cricket Club, the stadium offers opportunities to watch some of the best cricket games. 18700 W. Bellfort Ave. hicccricket.com

5651 Hillcroft St.

B RAZIL Carnival Houston – This is a 4 -day event complete with a costume ball, paint party, street parade and festival. Inspired by the Brazilian Carnival held in Rio de Janiero, the event is a hybrid of diverse cultural traditions with a Houston twist.

COLOM B IA The Colombian Folkloric Ballet – The Colombian Folkloric Ballet is an organization focused on promoting Colombian culture through performances and cultural programs, which are scheduled all around the greater Houston area.

carnivalhouston.com

cfb-usa.org

PER U The Lemon Tree – Try Peruvian staples such as ceviche and lomo saltado. Be sure to wash it down with a chicha morada made from purple corn. 12591 Whittington Dr. thelemontreehouston.com

AFRICA ETHIOPIA Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge – As one of the only Ethiopian restaurants in the city, this familyowned lounge offers dishes such as Yedoro Watt and Kik Alitcha.

EUROPE S OUTH AFRIC A Springbok – With a SouthAfrican inspired menu, this is the place to try new dishes and catch a game of rugby.

B ELG IUM Cafe Brussels – Café Brussels offers an endless selection of Belgian beer and mussels. Don’t forget your fries and mayo!

711 Main St. springbokhouston.com

1718 houston ave cafebrusselshouston.com

6800 Southwest Freeway lucyhouston.com

OCEANIA Back in October 2016, on his CNN show, Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain shared with the world what most Houstonians already know about Houston− it is the most multicultural city in the country. Bourdain also commented, Houston is really going to surprise people…How diverse of a city Houston is, how interesting the food is, and how welcoming to immigrants and refugees from all over the world the city of Houston is. With 1 in every 4 residents being foreign born and more than 145 languages being spoken here, Houston is a global city with never-ending opportunities to experience new cultures with just a city passport. We have collected just some of the City’s international gems. Share your favorite international experiences, tag us on Instagram @ghpartnership or email us at facets@houston.org!

18 | GREATER HOUSTON PARTNERSHIP

AUSTR AL IA Australia week – An annual event founded by the Australian American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) of Houston to celebrate the culture and trade relationship with the U.S. AACC is also a member of the Greater Houston Partnership. 1300 McGowen St. Suite 120 aacc-houston.org

NORTH AMERICA CANADA Maple Leaf Pub – Oh, Canada! Hockey fans rejoice as this Canadian bar located in Midtown offers plenty of screens and suds to catch a game. 514 Elgin St themapleleafpub.com

MEXICO El Bolillo Bakery – Houston is also home to some of the best Mexican bakeries in the nation. El Bolillo boasts the city’s best and most varied breads and tres leches.

FR ANCE Le Mistral – Awarded as Houston’s best French Restaurant year after year, this upscale eatery offers delicious dishes like duck confit and snails. 1400 Eldridge Parkway lemistralhouston.com

R USS IA Russian General Store – The store sells unique and hard to find Russian grocery items from chocolates to cheeses. They also sell Matrioshkas nesting dolls, a staple for Russian culture.

S PAIN Andalucia Tapas Restaurant and Bar – Not only does Andalucia offer yummy tapas, but every Friday and Saturday get transported to Spain for a flamenco show. Flamenco is a traditional Spanish performance consisting of singing, dancing and guitar playing. 1204 Caroline St. #161 andaluciatapas.com

G REECE Greek Fest – This 50-yearold festival was founded by Greek immigrants to preserve and celebrate Greek culture. Today, the fall celebration includes live music and traditional dances, shops, food and wine. 3511 Yoakum Blvd. greekfestival.org

9629 Hillcroft Ave. russiangeneralstore.com

2421 South Wayside Dr. elbolillo.com

FACETS | 19


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