HOW DID YOU get where you are today? The EMS industry, quite literally, never stops. Our staff and units are called to serve our community every hour of every day; there are no weekends, holidays, or “days off.” Obviously, the demands of EMS are not for the faint of heart, and we have established a culture of service and accountability that is different than nearly every other organization. Our leadership team sets this culture by exhibiting their passion for this industry daily. Their tireless dedication makes a better experience for our staff when they come to work and for our patients and clients when they call on us to transport their loved ones.
Who do you credit? Foremost, I credit the leaders and staff of my team. Beginning with Vice President Sumi Patel, who has been with ORION for 15 years, I am extremely proud to work with, and for, everyone who wears our logo. Houston has amazing diversity in the community, and ORION celebrates that both publicly and internally, as seen in the makeup of our leadership team and staff. The people who work at ORION do so because they are committed to our mission and to providing the most professional medical care to every patient we transport. Their devotion to and support of ORION has made us one of the best EMS companies in the city.
What lessons have you learned that might enlighten/inspire? One of the most important roles that Sumi and I play is mentoring and guiding our managers, so that they can effectively lead their departments. Watching their professional growth is very rewarding, but it also has clear benefits to the business, as it allows us to expand to meet new opportunities. Over the last 15 years, we have learned that complacency is not an option. The EMS industry is vibrant, especially in Houston, which requires ORION to have an agile and dynamic business model. We are constantly evaluating our processes to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our community in ways that provide the most impact and value to them. We are tactical enough to respond to every day-to-day circumstance that arises, while, at the same time, maintaining a strategic focus on our goals for the future.
What’s new or upcoming for ORION? As we continue to fulfill our mission of service to the Houston community, we are excited to expand our reach into other hospital systems in the region. Our team and fleet are growing to ensure that we are always ready to serve the people of this community.
DECEMBER IS BLOWING in with new restaurants, exciting new digs for long-time favorites, and more imports joining our city. Here’s where to pull up a chair!
Cocody duck breast (photo by Mickael Zibi)
The River Oaks Shopping Center is lighting up for the holidays with restaurants galore — so far this year, newcomers include Zanti, Hudson House, the temporarily shuttered Albi, and the news of long-time La Griglia moving to its groundbreaking home to W. Dallas just around the corner. Stunning French-inspired Cocody Restaurant and Bar is the newest kid on the West Gray block: Partners of the restaurant include French chefs David Denis, previously of Le Mistral, and his brother Sylvain, veteran chef Lionel Debon, and co-owners Edith and Edwin Bosso.
Upscale Cocody — pronounced co-co-dee and named after a suburb on the Ivory Coast where Edwin Bosso grew up — is peppered with global culinary influences. Playfully presented dishes include Patagonia smoked salmon and tartare duo, Moulard duck breast with foie gras sauce, and familiar touches like Texas blackened red snapper with Madras curry and quinoa-lime salad with avocado carpaccio. Prepare to be dazzled by the opulent dining room designed by Winn Wittman Architects and Nona Mago. Hundreds of crystal lights dangle from the ceiling along with a showpiece rose-gold metal bar, a take on the Mona Lisapainting, and white-clothed tables dotted between tres chicdécor in shades of pink and gold.
Speaking of French, longtime Midtown-area Artisans opens Dec. 4 in a new home on Westheimer near the Galleria. Co-owners chef Jacques Fox and Jason Schickedanz collaborated with Gensler Architects to create a unique layout with an open kitchen, five private party rooms, an outdoor terrace and a porte cachere grande entrance. There’s an intimate Table du Chef for 28 guests, as well as mezzanine-level tables and banquettes. The classic French menu remains the same with luxe entrees such as pan-seared veal chop with wild-mushroom risotto, and red-wine-braised lamb shank with creamy polenta.
1891 food spread (photo by Andrew Hemingway)
Chef Jason Gould — formerly with Common Bond, Gravitas, and more, is at it again: This time, he’s a co-owner of 1891 American Eatery & Bar in the Heights. The restaurant name hails from the year the Heights community was founded, and the concept is family-friendly, much like its neighborhood. On the Houston-centric menu, expect snacks like crab fritters, Korean fried cauliflower, and soft pretzels along with smash burgers, soups, wraps and sandwiches. For mains, look for braised short ribs, Gulf fish with walnut pesto, and meaty confit duck legs to name a few.
A Tex Mex staple from DFW has joined River Oaks District shopping center, taking the shuttered Seasons 52 space. Its largest location to date, Mi Cocina’s décor reflects Mexican heritage by displaying the work of Mexican artists including a vibrant mural by Luis Sottil and furniture by Peter Glassford. The institution is known for its Mambo Taxi sangria-swirled margarita, a potent libation made with pinot noir, Sauza tequila, lime juice and brandy. But guests don’t survive on booze alone — the menu sports classics including brisket tacos, four different styles of nachos, Tex Mex combo dinners, and the house fave Rico Salad, piled with chicken fajitas, bacon, aged cheddar and tomato (served over Romaine or chopped, a.k.a. “Ricardo style”). Also popular is the Shrimp Brochette: four bacon-wrapped wild Gulf shrimp with Jack cheese, jalapeno, poblano crema and guacamole.
In celebration of the launch of Mi Cocina River Oaks District, the creative team at Alto rideshare has designed a new set of wheels, which is now on the road in H-Town! Book a safe, comfortable and clean Alto ride and one of five artful cars could show up at your doorstep. If so, your Alto car will be stocked with gift cards, goodies and other surprises as your reward.
'Tis the season for all the best cocktails! Here's a roundup of the most festively flavored libations in town.
Ho, Ho, Ho! Here Are the Most Festive (and Photogenic!) Food and Drink Events for Ringing in the Holidays
READY OR NOT, Christmas is almost three weeks away and Houston restaurants and bars are beckoning with sparkling décor, holiday cocktails, and even shopping. Here’s where to slip into the spirit during the most wonderful time of the year!
Brennan's jingle bells
Brennan’s is bedecked in festive decor, and each lunchtime guest will receive a beautiful sleigh bell strung on a long colorful ribbon to jingle through the season. This Brennan family tradition began decades ago at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and is now enjoyed by patrons of all Brennan restaurants, who collect the featured bells each year. Bells are offered at weekday lunch beginning Dec. 1. Make lunch reservations here.
Holiday tea at Four Seasons
Bring the kiddos (or not!) for an interactive Gingerbread Tea at Toro Toro on Dec. 17 from 12-2pm. Along with hot teas, pastries and sparkling wine, guests can partake in decorating gingerbread houses and enjoy a visit from Santa ($95 per guest, free for children 5 and under).
This lovely Underbelly Hospitality concept in Regent Square is taking festivities to its rooftop Dec. 8 (2-6pm, tickets $5) for its Holiday Sip & Shop. The festive and fashionable afternoon will offer gifts from Colores Collective, Paris Texas Apparel Co., Kendra Scott, French Cuff Boutique and more. Shop until you drop while enjoying handcrafted spritzes, bubbles and light bites. Why drive from store to store when you can shop in one place and have fun?!
Holiday Chalet at Stella's
The cool, intimate bar in the luxe Post Oak Hotel is abuzz with its Holiday Chalet décor, chocolate fondue and festive holiday cocktails. Come thirsty for seven different libations hot and cold, including the smoked old fashioned. If holiday shopping, pick up a bottle of wine for take-away at thirty percent off. The gussied-up hotel is a fun stroll for Houston visitors this season and Stella’s is an impressive refueling stop for drinks and substantial appetizers.
Christmas concoctions at Rosie Cannonball
On Dec. 3, chef Chris Shepherd will take over the kitchen at Rosie’s for the release party of William Chris Wanderer Series IV wine. The wine is a collaboration between Texas winery William Chris and MML Hospitality that benefits the Southern Smoke Foundation. The special menu — think fire-roasted Cha Ca-style redfish — sounds superb.
Through Dec. 30, catch the Holly Jolly Holiday Bar located at this new Downtown club.The halls will be decked with floor-to-ceiling tinsel, ornaments, and more, allowing you to immerse yourself from every angle. Each ticket includes a 90-minute reservation and a holiday-themed welcome cocktail or mocktail. Additional drinks and holiday-themed bites will be available for purchase. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, all are welcome to gather at this holiday pop-up bar for cocktails and entertainment. Expect several ticket options including brunch; check them all out at this ticket site.
Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season with a lineup of festive cocktails, a holiday prix-fixe menu, Tuesday Night Lasagna Night, and of course, a New Year’s Eve dinner and celebration. This Spring Branch-area favorite greets guests with holiday decor and a special four-course dinner ($72 per person). In addition to the regular dinner menu, highlights include charred octopus, rabbit sausage, lobster bisque, short rib pappardelle, flounder, and cheesecake with peppermint bark.
Doris Met's Snow Ball
Doris Metropolitan’s SnowBall returns this year on the evening of Dec. 14. Step into a winter wonderland while enjoying drink specials and beats from DJ Just Vi. Guests are encouraged to come decked out in white attire. The party begins at 9pm and seating is limited — call the restaurant for reservations.
Through Dec. 31, the kitschy holiday pop-up bar Miracle is back at local watering holes Johnny’s Gold Brick, Winnie’s and Galveston’s Daiquiri Time Out. Get cozy at one of the most over-the-top nostalgic holiday settings for festive libations like the Christmapolitan and The Krampus. Johnny’s takes reservations via Resy, while Winnie’s will be open for walk-ins only.
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