Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.

Paulie’s Counter-Culture

I am really impressed and happy about how well our counter-service restaurant has been received in our neighborhood. It has proven to have stability and longevity, as we are celebrating 16 years this April.

It hasn’t always been easy gaining respect from patrons for our hard-working Baristas multi-tasking while on their feet behind a counter. There seems to be a stigma about people behind a counter serving food and beverage. I am picky on who works with us in this restaurant family. And after years of training and sourcing, we have a very talented bunch of working Baristas behind our counter. I realize it is difficult to get to know them in the short time you are conversing about a transaction, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share these stories with you all.

I am calling this Paulie’s Counter-Culture. Our counter-culture focusing on the fact hard-working, talented people work behind counters as well.

I will release a story of each Barista once a week, so you all have a chance to really know these guys and their talents, besides being diligent, responsible employees. The stories will be released on Paulie’s blog, We will share that link on Twitter (@pauliepetro) and Facebook (Paulie’s Restaurant) each week.

First one coming next week.

Say hello to them next time you are in!