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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.