Paulie’s Counter Culture – Muhammad Jafari

Muhammad and his family moved to the United States in 1990 when he was five-years-old. After about six months staying with family already living in Hartford, Connecticut and Boston, they finally settled into Inner Loop Houston where he has lived ever since, including long stints in Montrose.


Growing up in diverse and multicultural Houston, especially in a first generation Pakistani-American family, majorly shaped the sort of cultural and culinary palate he began to appreciate at a young age by having to know how to live in and embody multiple cultures at once. This molded a strong belief that a wide range of experience and input only serves to heighten our sense of belonging and larger purpose in this city that has thrived on this principle. He has always noted that aside from the delicious food made with high quality ingredients and passion, Paulie’s high standing as an institute of Montrose and the Greater Houston area also stems from its down-to-earth and welcoming nature that has been fostered and cultivated over the years through attentiveness and humility and a sense of purpose. It is because of all these aspects and more that he says he takes it as a point of pride to be a staff member.

Muhammad attended middle school at Lanier, directly across the street from Paulie’s at the time the restaurant first opened, where he met fellow students and teachers who would first begin to give him his first opportunities to play live music. He went on to attend Lamar High School where his love of music grew and grew and he began to play more and more with bands of his own, as well as the jazz band where he learned a lot about the ethic of what it means to think about and play music on a deeper and more nuanced level. An active musician still, he now plays with stalwarts of the Houston music community the Free Radicals, as well as Bayou City Funk and all sorts of other combos and styles.

Always the descriptivist and rarely the prescriptivist, Muhammad has always held a deep passion for the development of cultures on the micro and macro scale. He has always found the study of deeper influences of creative endeavors in communities to be a fascinating look into their identities. A place like Paulie’s for Muhammad is the perfect example of learning from and commemorating the tradition but always thinking ahead to new paradigms. He enjoys talking to the old-school regulars about their experiences over the years with the business and the neighborhood, and finds it powerful that there is such a strong institutional memory in the Houston Italian culinary tradition. For him, it reflects the same feeling of importance that the Pakistani culture he grew up in gives to the proverbial “table” and the food and the hands that make it and enjoy it.

About pauliepetro

Restaurateur, Connector, and Food & Beverage community supporter View all posts by pauliepetro

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