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Above: in November of last year, I presented a sold-out dinner at Roma in Houston featuring the wines of Alicia Lini (standing).
It’s with deep sadness that I share the news: Roma, the Houston restaurant where I ran the website, e-letter, and social media for nearly five years; where I helped the owner rebrand his business; where I ran weekly virtual wine dinners during the lockdowns; and where I wrote the wine list since May of last year, is no longer my client.
The reason? The new chef, Kevin Bryant, doesn’t believe my marketing skills are up to snuff. Evidently he and his wife are marketing geniuses. Five years down the drain. Just like that. All because of a pig-headed chef who thinks that chicken liver mousse passes for a bona fide topping on crostini toscani.
It was clear from the start that he wanted me out and he wanted his wife in. She’s a high-powered publicist with a who’s who of leading Houston restaurateurs in her portfolio. At least that’s what she and her husband think.
Honestly, I wasn’t really interested in working with a chef who believes “steak tartare” is an Italian dish. (All the previous chefs I worked with there were Italian and had cooked and trained in Italy.)
The thing I’ll miss is the incredible community we built through the weekly virtual wine dinners I ran for nearly two years. It’s hard to believe now but we must have presented roughly 100 Zoom events, often with an Italian winemaker participating on the other side of the Atlantic. It was one of the most compelling and rewarding experiences in my career in wine. So many of my now ex-guests have told me that those events were what kept them sane during isolation. It was a virtual supper club where people forged connections and friendships. I’ll never forget the night that a prominent Houston doctor, the wife of a noted Houston wine blogger, began helping people get vaccine appointments in the early days of availability.
No regrets, coyote. The restaurant business is always full of drama and microcephalic players like “the Kevin,” our family’s apt nickname for him. And this wasn’t my first rodeo, as we say in Texas.
Addio Roma. You really broke my heart.
Sad to hear. I know the feeling well; I ran an ad agency for 30+ years, and every time a new VP of Marketing came in, I knew that he would want ‘his guys.’ People plan, G_d laughs.
Thanks for the solidarity, brother. I couldn’t believe that the owner brushed me aside like that after all I did for him.
I’m shocked. And disappointed, to say the least, but I’m looking forward to your next chapter.
One door closes and another one opens. Keep the faith.
Oh, Jeremy, this sucks! We only began eating from Roma because of you. The food isn’t as good since the previous chef left. There are plenty of other Italian restaurants in town. We won’t be returning to Roma!
Sorry to read this, Jeremy. Roma was where we finally met you after years of knowing about you from Mark.
You’re right; it’s too bad the owner didn’t have your back.
Well, we do!! We look forward to seeing where you land, amongst all your other adventures.
Take care brother. We’ll see you soon.
Abbracci, amico mio.
Jeremy, that’s a shame. The list of winemakers that you were bringing in was truly impressive and the restaurant’s local profile rose accordingly. Good luck going forward.
That’s a tough pill to swallow. Been there a couple of times in my career. I’ve learn the best thing to do is swallow another pill, your pride, and wish them the best of luck. In the meantime you built up a fantastic following. It will pay off in the end.
What a shame, just when business may be returning to normal.
Darn, a bummer indeed. I earmarked Roma for dinner as I was going to stay in Houston one short night. Now I’ll just pass through or change my routing.
You and Roma made our Thursday night lockdowns more than palatable. Keep up the good work of converting people to Italian wines. Therese and I wish you the best.