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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?

NatalieNavi

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!


Paulie’s Counter Culture – Colton Edwards

Colton is a student at the University of Houston, majoring in Chinese Studies and minoring in Atmospheric Science.

Colton

His interests include cycling, environmental protection, and world cultures. Staying in China for two months strengthened the passion that he holds for gaining a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and language. When he isn’t studying or serving, you can find him at Cougar lanes, practicing with the University of Houston bowling team, as well as tending to his two cats and bearded dragon at home.

He has previously worked in the transportation industry and retail. As a barista at Paulie’s he hopes to expand his knowledge of Italian cuisine and perfect his quality of customer service.


Paulie’s Counter Culture – Angel Rivera

Angel grew up in the Heights with her mom, sisters and grandma. In their home the dinner table was a favored place to discuss issues, play games and connect. It is still a favorite place to enjoy food and enjoy others.
Angel
In high school she recognized her love for people and stories. Movies were rich with metaphors, character development was meaningful and symbolism in books made life satisfying intellectually. Her mom was very hospitable as well and wanted to include people in their community into their world. After a death in the family, the value of one another and people became a priority. “You never know when you are in the final moments with someone you come into relationship with. So you have to take advantage of every opportunity to communicate love,” was a family mantra, “In the end, you only have each other,” was also something her family lived by. Since then relationships have been the most important factor in her life.
After graduating high school, Angel had the privilege of traveling to other countries to do community service and connect with different cultures. She has gone to Japan, Nicaragua, England, Germany, Jordan, and France to build water wells and partner with charities to do humanitarian work. This greatly shaped her view of the world and people by expanding her view of happiness and contentment in other cultures.
She went to Houston Baptist University to study Christianity and Psychology in order to work with spiritual and nonspiritual clients to counsel in the future. She then worked as a youth minister and fell in love with teenagers and families. After moving on from that job, she became a mentor to college students at the University of Houston at their Baptist Student Ministry. She learned how to be present to people’s struggles without trying to “fix” them. She felt that the ones she mentored taught her much more than she taught them about what it means to live a fully life.
Just recently she graduated with her Master’s in Counseling in order to be able to do Therapy full-time and is on her way towards becoming licensed to work with individuals and families. Her dream is to have her own private practice in an underserved community so that she might be able to see systemic injustices solved in her lifetime. Right now she is pursuing her Doctorate of Professional Counseling at the Houston Graduate School of Theology and is enjoying what she is learning.
In her spare time she likes to play the piano, draw, sing, watch movies, run and cook! Creativity is a big part of her life that brings her joy. She enjoys learning new ways to cook familiar foods. Her favorite meal is chicken and waffles and avidly searches for new takes on it. Paulie’s is a great environment of learning for her regarding food, wine and beer pairings and excellence in coffee!

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Tim Martin

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Tim is a huge Cardinals and Blues (World Champion Blues that is) fan. He began his restaurant career in college at a Sushi bar, fell in love with food and beverage and decided to change his major to Hospitality Management.

TimMartin

Emphasizing on the back of house, Tim started his first out of college gig with Hillstone Restaurant Group as an assistant culinary manager. That job landed him in New York City, the Hamptons, New Jersey and Memphis before eventually transferred to Houston, all within 2 years!

In Houston, Tim decided to make a change go back to smaller locally run restaurants and become the General Manager of Drexel House in Highland Village. The owner of Drexel House was opening some new concepts in San Antonio and Houston (First Course Salad Kitchen and Merchant Houston respectively) and Tim was able to help by moving into a management consulting role and overseeing each location.

This transition lead to more front of house time which ultimately led to Tim’s passion for wine. Tim had known Chris Poldoian from their days together at Hillstone here in Houston and Chris happened to have an opening at Camerata @ Paulies Wine Bar. One thing led to another and now he’s working at both Paulies and Camerata.

The next chapter for Tim will be helping open the second location of Camerata in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest area. But until then he’ll be slinging coffee and pasta at Paulies as well as fine wine and charcuterie next door at Camerata!


Paulie’s Counter Culture – Hugo Paraizo

Hugo has been working at Paulie’s since early June of 2019, but has been part of the Paulie’s family for over a year now. Having worked at Camerata for a little over a year, Hugo was eager to expand his knowledge and experience from the wine bar to the Paulie’s counter.

HugoP

Although born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (a.k.a. the cidade maravilhosa, or the marvelous city), Hugo moved to Houston at a very early age due to his father’s job at Compaq. He has a younger brother and sister living here as well, but the grandparents, uncles, and cousins are all back in Brazil. Moving to a country with absolutely no friends or family can be tough, but the Paraizo family (like most Brazilians) faced the prospect with eager optimism. Growing up in Cypress was extremely different from life in Rio, but Hugo and the family quickly acclimated themselves.

After graduating from Langham Creek High School in 2014 Hugo went on to study engineering at Texas A&M in College Station. After a little over a year he realized that engineering was not for him, so he went back home to contemplate his future. That is when he fell in love with cooking. It became an almost daily tradition to try out new dishes, and to experience different cultures through their cuisine. This was one of the things that truly captivated Hugo’s attention and passion, so he decided to enroll as a nutrition major at the University of Houston after completing his Associate’s from LoneStar College. He remains a student at UH where he balances a 40-hour work week with his part to full time school schedule. Other than cooking, Hugo is a huge fan of watching and playing soccer in his spare time. With friends, he loves to go out and try new restaurants and go to the movies.

Starting at Paulie’s has been a refreshing experience for Hugo. The high-octane environment is exhilarating to work in, and being in the heart of the Montrose food scene is a plus in and of itself.


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.

Muhammad

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.


Paulie’s Counter Culture – Sid Surrock

A native Houstonian who transplanted to San Antonio at the age of five, Sid’s earliest memories are of the neighborhood surrounding Paulie’s in the mid nineties. Though she lamented leaving Houston back in 1998, Sid says San Antonio turned out to be a great place to grow up. There she learned Spanish, nourished what would become a life-long passion for art, and always had access to the finest tacos in Texas.

Sid

 

After graduating high school in San Antonio and briefly working as secretary for her parents’ architecture firm, Sid returned to Houston to study art and German at the University of Houston. She spent some of her favorite times in 6-hour-long life drawing classes (the kind with the naked people) and working as a writing tutor at the UH Honors College. In the fall of 2015, Sid began a year of study abroad in Leipzig, Germany.  The European journey brought her many epiphanies: she decided to go vegan, acquired way more German than she’ll probably ever use, and knew for certain that she wanted to commit her life to making and teaching art. Before coming to Paulie’s in June of 2018, she worked as a barista at Café Cosmopolita in downtown Houston.

When she’s not serving up cappuccinos and taking orders at Paulie’s, Sid likes to spend quality time with her boyfriend and two cats. In addition to drawing, painting, and spending time outdoors, she’s developing skills in ceramics and volunteering with Friends for Life, a local cat and dog rescue organization.