Author Archives: pauliepetro

About pauliepetro

Restaurateur, Connector, and Food & Beverage community supporter

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Dean Borgerding

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.

Last, but certainly not least, I bring you the DEAN.


Dean has resided in Houston off and on since 1998. Before that, he spent most of his life overseas due to his father’s job in the oil business. After completing high school and a taste of college, he joined the Army as an active duty soldier for the next four years as an MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) crew-member. After receiving an honorable discharge, he moved back to Texas and re-enlisted with the Reserves as an MP (military police) for another three years. He began his food and beverage career at various establishments as well as continuing his higher education at the Art Institute of Houston for Computer Animation. After a couple of years, he transferred to the University of Houston to pursue a painting degree. Shortly after he transferred, he found out that he was having a child, well not him but his partner Jacki.

His food and beverage history began in a little coffee shop known as Kaldi’s. It doubled as a sandwich shop and the only non-commercial cafe in Huntsville, Texas.  Like many things in Huntsville, it no longer exists.

Fast forward a bit to a time of extra hot lattes, upside-down caramel macchiatos and burnt coffee. Dean spent two and a half years grinding that little, green siren’s beans. He took many things from that time, specifically how to expedite long lines and what not to do with an espresso machine.

The next stepping stone took the form of a small, off the beaten path cafe with religious undertones. Taft Street Coffee is where he first began meeting the people that would have lasting effects in regards to the type of Barista he would become. A coffee shop inside a church provided a well of interesting experiences, some good and others, not so much. In the end, the space worked it’s way into a lot of people’s lives.

Dean began his employment at Paulie’s in November 2011. His current position at Paulie’s is Beverage Director and Assistant Manager which makes him the individual who is responsible for Paulie’s tasty beer, wine and coffee selections.

While at Paulies, Dean was shortly employed at other well known Houston shops. He bartended and crafted coffee at Double Trouble in Midtown under the Robins. He was also part of the opening crew at Blacksmith which is housed in the old Mary’s location. These employment opportunities also added to his knowledge of coffee beverages.

Outside of Paulies, he spends time with his partner and daughter. Museums, Menil park, coffee shops and local restaurants are where they like to get into trouble. He is sometimes seen toting a digital Nikon or some other hipster approved film camera. If you find him at home, he will most likely be caught purging his internet history of online hat shopping, trying to cook and making sure his daughter doesn’t leave the nest with subpar musical taste. His love of coffee is only fully illustrated by the fact that every night he prays to his made-up African coffee god while holding a rosary he constructed out of coffee beans. “Praise be to Coffea Arabica and a thousand blessings on your espresso!”

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Rebecca Qian

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


Becca has one of the strongest work ethics I’ve seen at this restaurant, always ready for the next challenge! 


Rebecca Qian started with Paulie’s nearly two years ago. She is currently known as the “Cookie Monster” as she spends most of her time baking and helping customers plan their customized shortbread order. If you have placed an order for cookies in the past year, you have probably corresponded with her. She loves the challenge of exceeding customers’ expectations, no matter the theme, especially characters from the movie Frozen…

What attracted her originally to Paulie’s was the opportunity to learn coffee with Greenway Coffee.  She has come a long way from the day when the steam-wand was a foreign object. Her first goal was to win a community Latte Art Throw-down competitions. She has since accomplished that goal, in addition to becoming the 2014 Champion of the Paulie’s Latte Art Tournament.

Outside of work, Becca is a full-time post-bac student at University of Houston. She focuses on nutrition in hopes to obtain her Registered Dietician Certification. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Cognitive Studies and minor in Corporate Strategy and Chinese. Becca has worked in Research and Healthcare in Chapel Hill, Nashville and Philadelphia.  She stands by her dream to one day change the way people eat and see food.  She understands that the food and beverage industry has a huge impact on how people eat.  Right now she is learning all she can at Paulie’s and school.  She hopes to continue her studies at the VA hospital program to obtain her internship and Master’s in nutrition.

She has a great deal of restaurant experience for her age.  As much as she loves being in new cities meeting new people she finally felt at home in Houston.  She fell in love with the weather, people, and really just everyone at Paulie’s!

She has a slight obsession with Hello Kitty, elephants, sundresses, and Capoeira. A part of her will always believe that if she was given a really awesome cape and tiara she could save the world one day…with the help of delicious food!

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Rachel Tieken

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.

We are getting closer to the end now, only a few more left to learn.


Rachel is the natural artist in the group, with a great talent to freehand what most have to trace.  She is a very mature and responsible young woman, yet the youngest on our team.


Hailing from Shiner, Texas, Rachel Tieken joined the Paulie’s crew in March of 2013, 8 months after she moved down to Houston to be with her fiancé (now husband) and attend the art school at University of Houston. This is her first gig in the service industry; and she couldn’t imagine a better start. The smell of the quality coffee in the morning, the warm noise of the kitchen, and her coworkers have made working at Paulie’s much more than just a job.

Besides working at Paulie’s, she also creates chalk compositions for businesses and individuals around town with her steady hand and balanced eye. She spent one summer working for the Texas Department of Transportation, during which she was privileged to drive down and document every state road and countryside in a nine-county region.

When she is not behind the bar she paints and draws, crafts ceramic and textile objects, and wanders about outside admiring the colors and textures of Houston. She is proud to be a native Texan (and especially proud to be a native of Shiner), and forages plants from around her hometown to make naturally dyed fabrics. She also enjoys quilting–in the old-fashioned way–and sewing, wrapping presents, restoring antique furniture, and finding small beautiful objects. Her dense and wholesome food–especially her cakes–are in high demand, and usually high in butter content.

Walking around the countryside, gently exploring the sights and sounds, smells and tastes, of gravel roads and finding turtles after the rain, of ladybugs and all things that squirm and crawl and creep, of cactus and ferns and moss, of ripe dewberries and fried food, is the way that Rachel wants to spend her time. When she isn’t outside, just looking, she’s making something, or loving something that someone made by using it for what it was made for. She seeks to find the little human imperfections, the little mistakes and dirt in things, which makes everything alive and magical.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Jenna Cash

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


Jenna is a woman of many talents, and never afraid to get her hands dirty…The rumor is, Jenna is kin to Johnny Cash.


Jenna moved to Houston about two years ago from Brooklyn, New York with two Rubbermaid containers and a few guitars.  She was here for barely a week before answering a job ad and interviewing with Paul.  Paulie’s was her first real introduction to Houston, Texas.  She liked it so much she decided to stick around.

Jenna grew up in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, a small town three hours south of Chicago.  Jenna still grew up in the kitchen.  Her best friend’s father owned a small restaurant and catering business in her hometown, and the two young ladies started slinging hash browns at 6AM on weekends while helping with catering events.  In high school Jenna was hired at Panera Bread as a dishwasher.  After a year, and at 17, she became a manager.  She stayed with the company for 2 more years, and assisted in opening five additional locations.  While in New York, she started working at a small coffee shop called Gregory’s Coffee.  Although she had worked with coffee before, this was her first introduction to Specialty Coffee.  Just before leaving Brooklyn, she was managing a restaurant and bar in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan.

Restaurants make up a lot of Jenna’s history and back-story, but that only scratches the surface.  She is a trained massage therapist and worked as an LMT in the state of Illinois for nearly 2 years.  She was the youngest therapist with the fastest growing clientele in her area.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Business in 2010, while residing in Orlando, Florida.  After finishing college, she moved to New York City and interned with well-known photographer, Ron Rinaldi.

Jenna loves music.  Her childhood home was filled with it.  She remembers being little and singing by the piano with her mother.  She was competing in vocal competitions statewide at a young age.  In school she played the trumpet in jazz bands, concert bands, and marching bands.  If it had something to do with music, Jenna was probably there.  In her teenage years, she picked up the guitar and started writing her own music.  She still does.  When she isn’t busy working or playing guitar, Jenna enjoys baking, especially pies.

Jenna lives in Spring, Texas with her boyfriend. They run Kritikos Recording Studio.  Jenna is often running to meetings with artists, grabbing food for grungy recording bands, and breaking down contracts and agreements.  KRS is currently in the process of building a brand new recording studio to accommodate the growing business.



Paulie’s Counter Culture – Kevin Mathis

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.

This weeks’s subject is one of our most coffee focused baristas, and a bad-ass drummer…



Kevin started with Paulie’s in the Summer of 2012. He is a native Houstonian, born and raised in Cypress. Kevin was home-educated his whole life, graduating in 2009. In his high school years, he acquired his first job at Barnes and Noble Café where he cut his teeth in the service industry. There came his first taste of working behind the counter, and the craft of coffee. He began studying the art of coffee and fell in love with Houston specialty coffee shops. He was fascinated with the idea that coffee could be more than a hot, bitter, black beverage. Coffee can actually be prepared in a way that showcases the nuances and complexity of the beverage.

After high school, Kevin began pursuing a nursing degree at UT Austin. There he began working at Caffe Medici on Guadalupe, across from UT campus. Here he received his first in-depth training in preparing espresso. Kevin slung lattes for little over a year for the caffeine –crazed students of UT. Medici was a high volume shop doing hundreds of covers a day and it put his new skills to the test.

In the spring of 2012, Kevin moved back to his hometown. While in Houston, Kevin was introduced to Paulie’s through Greenway Coffee. Paulie’s gave Kevin the opportunity to continue to hone his barista skills while learning the ins-and-outs of food service. Kevin also took a second job at Blacksmith, and then Greenway Coffee to dial in his coffee skills. Working solely at Paulie’s now, Kevin greatly values everything learned through Blacksmith and Greenway.

When Kevin is not behind the counter he enjoys watching baseball, playing (and watching) golf and playing music. A drummer for eight years, he loves listening to and experiencing different genres of music. From classic country, 60’s psychedelic, garage, jazz, heavy-metal, and hip-hop. He also enjoys cooking and constantly trying new recipes at the house. He’s a beer-nerd, a bocce player, amateur carpenter and a jack-of-all-trades; a renaissance man if you will.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Cole Kirby

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


Our newest story comes from our newest employee, who is excelling quickly.



Cole grew up in a town of less than 1,200 people and graduated high school in a class of 34 students. Naturally, he moved from the rural community near Waco to Austin so he could attend one of the most diverse schools in the world: the University of Texas at Austin, “Hook ‘Em!” After three and a half years of stress, fun, growing, and possibly even some learning, Cole graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies in December of 2013.

During his final semester at UT, Cole was constantly pondering what would follow this college career. With a desire to eventually pastor and possibly plant a church, but not much desire to leave undergrad to enter into a seminary program, he found myself in between a rock and a hard place. Cole wanted excitement and training in doing pastoral ministry. On one particular weekend, he made the drive to Houston to visit a best friend from college. His friend lived in this really funky neighborhood called Montrose and was serving at a new church plant called Sojourn Montrose. Moreover, he was living with the pastor and his wife. As Cole met folks in the neighborhood and heard more about this church plant in the urban center of such a large and diverse city, he knew that this was the experience he needed moving forward.

So, in the first week of January 2014 Cole moved to Montrose to live in a stranger’s dining room, and two days later he began training at Paulie’s. Between the demands and excitements that come with being part of a new church in a neighborhood that is largely without churches, working a new job with an excellent team, and diving head first into the culture of Montrose, Cole seems to be right at home.

His interests and free time in Houston mostly revolve around seeing Sojourn Montrose, conveniently officed on Sundays in the loft directly above Paulie’s, reach their unique neighborhood in a way that is positive and transformative. Cole also love sports, most notably baseball. Through high school, he played 2nd base, centerfield, and shortstop. He also coached a high school summer league team for young men from Lanier High School in Austin.

Cole fills his days off with eating good food, reading good books, being around good people, and playing bad golf. He loves being a part of the Montrose culture not only by working in the food industry, but also through supporting local bars and restaurants.

“My hope is that in my time here in Houston, whether for two years or the rest of my life is that this would be a city not only known for its diversity and economic success, but also one known for setting an example in grace and truth. I truly count it as a blessing to work at Paulie’s and enjoy all of the spoils of being a new Houstonian.”

Great to have you buddy.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Carlo Magana

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


This week’s resume comes from one of Paulie’s most interesting and eclectic employees.



Carlo has been at Paulie’s for nearly two years. You may recognize him; he looks a little like the actor James Spader– just a little heavier and shorter. He is active in local theater and writes pulp noir novellas that are set in Houston. Unsurprisingly, he considers himself a bit of an artist. I think you will find most baristas nurture little dreams of culture.

Carlo has performed in more than ten shows at the University of Houston Downtown campus, four or so at the Houston Community college main campus and three for local community theaters. Personal highlights include Bottom in Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Michael Katurian in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillow Man.

Carlo recently won Best Actor award for his performance as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.

Currently, Carlo is beginning a run of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which he will be taking to the International Fringe Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In the mean time, he is also appearing with an improvisational theatre troupe called Her Majestys Players. He appears weekly, every Thursday night at the Alley Kat Bar and Lounge on Main street. The shows are free and energetic.

Carlo also enjoys writing. Two pieces have been published in literary journals and last year he self-published a pulp noir novella called In The Worst Way via An audio book version is in the works now. He hopes to have a follow up pair of novellas available before this summer.  

His noir novellas take place in Houston. He’s lived in Houston the vast majority of his life. Yes, he’s that annoying brat that is always defending his city. “I’ve always loved this dark, lonely metropolis. I like to say, If Austin is weird, then Houston is strange.”

That I think speaks well to himself. He’s a happy little bohemian pouring coffee turning all his regulars into characters.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Jon Revere

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


The third specimen is one of the US Military, which has instilled discipline and loyalty, Jon Revere.



Jon has been a part of the Paulies crew since August of 2013. He enjoys interacting with others and offers a sincere, friendly demeanor across the counter. Jon was born in Houston during the early 80s and grew up in Cypress. He comes from a family of four whom have been both influential and supportive of him through his endeavors.

Following high school, Jon began attending Sam Houston State University to further his education.  Debts grew and income became overshadowed which caused Jon to put education on hold to see a new perspective. In 2008, he signed on with the U.S. Army as a field artilleryman. Jon served three years in active service, and one of those years was spent in Afghanistan. He appreciates his time that was spent in service but is grateful it is concluded. In 2011, Jon was honorably discharged from active service and returned to his studies. In the summer of 2013, Jon obtained a BA in History from Sam Houston State University.

Jon brings forth a few experiences with coffee. While in Huntsville, Jon worked as a barista at a small coffee shop, which has since closed, but gave him an introduction to an espresso machine. While in active service, Jon experienced the existence of bad coffee, but noticed his peers seemed to drink it anyway.

During his spare time, Jon enjoys music. He particularly enjoys classic rock, rock, and classical. He also enjoys relaxing with a pleasant meal and a nice glass of wine. When the weather is bright, Jon can be seen on the golf course trying in earnest to improve his game. With friends he is known to try different restaurants, go to the movies, or just stay in and open a board game. Jon’s favorite hobby is going out to a country range and shoot sporting clays.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Dustin Curtis

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


Our second release is Dustin Curtis, proprietor of the “Steakhouse”.



The opportunity came to put the small town life behind in 2012, so in favor of spontaneity, Dustin packed up and set out to see what experiences and opportunities Houston held for him. He was born in Denison, Texas and lived in various small towns surrounding Lake Texoma. Dustin’s family lives in north Texas and southern Oklahoma. The only person he knew in Houston was his cousin Erik. Dustin found that Houston is filled with great people and with their help he discovered the best parts of the city and is proud to call Houston his home.

Dustin’s experience in the food and service industry goes back nine years when he got his first job bussing tables at a resort on Lake Texoma. Over the years, he moved up through the various jobs within the industry include bussing, waiting, bartending, and running the entire full service and delivery catering operation for Carino’s Italian restaurant. Before moving to Houston, Dustin was working everyday helping run the family liquor store in Madill, Oklahoma. Dustin got his first job in Houston at the Cheesecake Factory in the galleria waiting tables and quickly moved up to bartender. He held this job for a year until a friend, Patrick Dougherty, referred him to Paulie’s. Patrick believed that the quality food, neighborhood charm, and family atmosphere of the staff were a perfect fit. Dustin joined Paulie’s in January of 2013. Dustin now lives with two other Paulie’s employees, Carlo Magana and Kevin Mathis; in a house they have dubbed “The Steakhouse”. Dustin recommends his favorite dish, the Shrimp BLT with added avocado followed by the Nutella rocky road ice cream for dessert to any first time guest to Paulie’s.

Dustin resumed his studies after moving to Houston and attends the University of Houston-Downtown business school in pursuit of an accounting degree. He is set to graduate in spring of 2016. He hopes to apply these skills to helping develop new businesses and investing in people with great visions and ideas. Dustin’s main hobbies and passions are cooking and music. The guitar is his instrument of choice. He enjoys all types of music, but favors jazz, classic rock, and classic country. Dustin loves baseball and enjoys spending his free time at a MLB game, go Rangers!


Stay tuned to each week for a new resume.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Matthew Zaldivar

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week.  We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


My first subject is one of our longest running employees, Matthew Zaldivar:



Matt Z. or by his restaurant nickname “Micho” has been working at Paulies for over 2 years. Originally from Pasadena, California, Matthew moved to Houston in the summer of 2011. Matthew is married to his wife Amanda and has one daughter, Poppy who was born in August 2013. Matthew is a quarter Spanish, a quarter Mexican and half Cuban. He grew up in a loud Cuban family where love and food was the center focus. Micho is still a Lakers fan, but we don’t hold that against him.

Matthew is also the first person you work with as a new employee. He is head of training because of his patience and understanding. This isn’t the only job Matt’s had in the industry. He’s worked as Barista and cooked pasta in his previous occupations, so naturally Paulie’s was a perfect fit. Matthew also used to be an apprentice electrician and worked in the electrical trade for over 3 years. He’s certified to install solar panels and has had extensive training to work as an electrical lineman. You know those guys who work for Centerpoint that turn your power back on? Yes Matthew has climbed power poles and has worked around high voltage. Matthew also worked at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles for several years.

Matthew spends most of his free time with his wife and daughter either cooking at home or spending as much time outside. Matthew’s main hobby is music. He’s been playing the bass instrument for over 9 years and played in many bands and toured up and down the West Coast. He’s even played a couple of shows with the other musicians that Paulie’s employs, including Paul himself. He’s currently teaching himself Upright Bass and guitar. Matt’s favorite genres include Afro-Cuban, Classic Rock and Classic Country. Matt’s other interests include smoking cigars, gardening, running and learning about/drinking wine.

Stay tuned to each week for a new resume.


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