Paulie’s Counter Culture – Natalie Navi

Like so many others in Houston, Natalie has a special relationship to Paulie’s. However, how many people can say they first came to the restaurant during a hurricane?


Let’s back up and start from the beginning. Natalie grew up in North Carolina, surrounded by her loving family, friends, and a beautiful natural landscape. The obviously superior Carolina, it is surrounded by the wonders of nature on all sides: from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, Natalie couldn’t get enough of the outdoors. To this day, she spends every second that she can outside, swimming, hiking, and exploring.

However, when it came time for college, Natalie realized that she had another interest to pursue. Those of you who have met Natalie know instantaneously that she is just the right bubbly, smart personality to major in something that helps other people. So she went to Western Carolina and got her BSBA in marketing and sales. After graduating, she merged her love of beautiful things with her new marketing prowess and began to work in fashion. She worked as a personal stylist for womenswear at Neiman Marcus, followed by menswear at Nordstrom, then over to Free People.

Natalie realized she could do better with a more vibrant, fast-paced field. Thus began her journey in the hospitality field. She cut her teeth working as an event coordinator for three well-known hotel brands (Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton) and four different hotel properties in North Carolina.

She loved North Carolina, but growing up brought a sense of perspective — she had to try something new. Move out. So she moved to Texas. Houston, Texas to be exact.

Natalie visited Houston for the first time just a day before Hurricane Harvey hit. Her longtime friend Becca worked at some Italian restaurant, and had work to get done, so Natalie drove straight to the restaurant from the airport —wheelie suitcase and all — to spend some time before she and Becca could catch up. She sat down at one of the cozy two-tops and had a delicious glass of rosé until Becca came out to meet her. They had been friends for 20 years, but hadn’t seen each other in a decade, so they had a lot of catching up to do! Meeting in the lobby at Paulie’s was a special moment for both of them, a longtime Paulie’s barista and a Paulie’s barista-to-be.

Despite the storm, Natalie was hooked. Luckily, Houston has no shortage of luxury hotels and brands, and Natalie had to get her Texas start somewhere. she worked as a sales manager for the Hotel ZaZa, which is only a few miles away from Paulie’s. As you can tell, Natalie has a love for high-end luxury brands. However, Paulie’s manages to combine that sense of quality and customer service with a neighborhood-oriented ethos that just about fits the bill. She applied to work at Paulie’s, was hired quickly, and has worked there ever since. Luckily, there haven’t been any more hurricanes.

Paulie’s holds a special place in Natalie’s heart, especially because of the sweet memories she now has of the space (and there have been many nostalgic glasses of rosé in honor of those times). Working there now, Natalie sees how the restaurant is able to make people feel, and the memories it’s been a part of for so many different Houstonians. Natalie finds joy in hearing the stories of longtime regulars — so join her at the counter, grab a glass of the rosé, and tell yours!

About pauliepetro

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

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