New Harvey Intake Center opens

June 3rd, 2019

Residents of Baytown and East Harris County looking for assistance recovering from Hurricane Harvey have a new location where they can receive help applying to the Project Recovery-Harvey program, Harris County officials have announced.

The new location, at 729 Sharon Lane in Baytown, opened its doors to the public on Monday, June 3, replacing an interim office located along Market Street. The Sharon Lane office will operate Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturdays by appointment only from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. To schedule a appointment, call 832-927-4961.

The only other area center is at 3315 Burke Road in Pasadena.

With the addition of the Baytown center, Project Recovery-Harvey now has five permanent locations to assist Harvey-affected homeowners who live in Harris County, but outside the Houston City Limits, get access to federal money designated to help repair flood-damaged homes, reconstruct homes deemed unlivable or vulnerable to future flooding, or for reimbursement of repairs already made.

Prior to visiting an Intake Center, residents are encouraged to fill out a pre-application at harrisrecovery.org.  A list of the five Intake Centers, and their locations, is included in this release. Project Recovery-Harvey will also continue to operate a part-time mobile intake location in Sheldon on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

NASA to announce commercial opportunities at International Space Station

June 3rd, 2019

NASA will announce the agency’s plans to open the International Space Station to expanded commercial activities at 10 a.m. EDT Friday, June 7, at Nasdaq in New York City. The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Participants in the news briefing are:

  • Jeff DeWit, chief financial officer, NASA Headquarters
  • Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Robyn Gatens, deputy director, International Space Station, NASA Headquarters

The panelists will discuss NASA’s near-term, five-point plan to enable commercial and marketing activities aboard the International Space Station, with a long-term goal to achieve a robust economy in low-Earth orbit from which NASA can purchase services as one of many customers. The commercialization of low-Earth orbit will enable NASA to focus resources on landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, as the first phase in creating a sustainable lunar presence to prepare for future missions to Mars.

Media who would like to participate in person or by phone must contact Stephanie Schierholz at stephanie.schierholz@nasa.gov or 202-358-4997 no later than noon, Thursday, June 6. Questions may be submitted on Twitter during the teleconference using the hashtag #askNASA.

NASA’s plan addresses both the supply-side and demand-side for a new economy, enabling use of government resources for commercial activities, creating the opportunity for private astronaut missions to the space station, enabling commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit, identifying and pursuing activities that foster new and emerging markets, and quantifying NASA’s long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit.

The plan is informed by recommendations 12 companies made in recent market studies to assess the potential growth of a low-Earth orbit economy and how to best stimulate private demand for commercial human spaceflight and other commercial and marketing activities in low-Earth orbit.

O2 Bistro: Great Food In a Casual Setting

June 1st, 2019

By Rick Clapp

The new O2 Bistro is the creation of maven and restaurant extraordinaire John Schaefer. He was the mastermind of Outriggers on the Kemah Channel where locals, as well as tourists, relished the great view and awesome fresh, fried seafood, burgers and cold beer.

The dynamic General Manager Tina Philepot was selected personally by Schaefer to run and operate O2 Bistro because of her vast knowledge and creativity in the kitchen. Philepot hails from some of Houston’s best establishments and fine eateries. Schaefer has taken a different and unique approach with O2 Bistro. This fine but casual eatery and bar offers the best in good fresh seafood, steaks, chops and superb delicious appetizers and mouthwatering decadent house-made desserts. The bar is fully loaded with premium call liquors, cold beers and a nice wine list. The friendly and knowledgeable bartenders Audra and Sierra put a nice face to the place. The bar is always lively and a great place to mingle, hangout or just have a drink and enjoy their renowned appetizers.

O2 Bistro knows appetizers. Some of the Bay’s best starters include the filet bites, which are so tender they just melt in your mouth and served with crispy fried onion strings. The charcuterie board is a real winner and feeds up to four as an appetizer. This delicious assorted platter offers artisan meats, cheeses, olives, mango chutney and fresh baked toast points.

Deviled eggs go well with your favorite drink, wine or cold beer. This southern favorite is simple but good and filling. The eggs are topped with tobiko, which gives them an epicurean taste liked by all. A must is the O2 mussels. These little delicacies are sake steamed with kaffir lime and green mango sunken into a coconut curry.

They also offer the largest list of affordable appetizers in the Galveston Bay area, including fresh oysters on the half shell or Rockefeller, snapper ceviche, calamari, and ahi poke just to name a few.

For the soup and salad lover, the jumbo lump crab bisque is sumptuous and served with lots of lump crab in a cream based soup. They have fresh salads such as the caprese salad, the wedge and a favorite is the house salad with seared ahi tuna, served with sesame seeds, fresh mango, and avocado in an incredible ginger citrus soy vinaigrette. O2 Bistro’s salads are complete meals in themselves.

All entrees served at O2 Bistro score extremely high marks, starting with Snapper Schaefer. This epicurean delight is served with a large fresh snapper filet with crabmeat, pasta, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms and with lime chervil butter.

O2 Bistro’s regulars love these items. The blackened redfish Louisiana style with rice pilaf and vegetable medley as well as their authentic shrimp and grits with andouille sausage. Another choice of the locals is the shrimp and scallops pasta, served in an incredibly good garlic and white wine sauce. The double rack pork chop served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus in a unique cider blend – pepper glaze is incredible.

This pork chop rivals “you-know-who’s” at Baybrook Mall. For the salmon fans, a definite choice is the citrus glazed salmon, which is made to perfection and not overcooked. It comes with jasmine rice and a vegetable medley.

O2 caters to its meat lovers and offers all certified Black Angus cuts from Filet Mignon to Ribeye, New York Strip and a nice Top Sirloin. The quality of the steaks and price are right. For the best deal try their steak night, you will not believe the prices. You can even order a nice bottle of wine and not break the bank.

The popular O2 steak night also offers Mediterranean kebabs, shaking beef 8 oz. Vietnamese wok seared top sirloin, ribeyes, pork chop, ahi tuna and filet mignon. All served with sides at no extra cost! The steak night favorite is the filet mignon topped with fresh chimichurri sauce.

Your dessert finale with dinner, or just by itself, includes the best Crème brûlée, served with fresh berries, apple and blueberry crisp with pecan streusel and buttermilk-like ice cream. Simply delicious!

O2 Bistro’s happy hour is all day Wednesday at the bar and offered Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

O2 Bistro offers special themed wine dinners as well. The upstairs O2 private room seats up to 60 people and is perfect for your corporate receptions, dinners, special events, wedding showers, family reunions, holiday or birthday parties and more. There is no extra charge for the room.

The culinary dynamic duo, John Schaefer and Tina Philepot, have created a winning combination of great food at affordable prices, perfect for families and your choice of indoor or outdoor dining in a casual setting. You can come by land or by sea. Boat slips are available. O2 Bistro is conveniently located at 1002 Aspen Road at the entrance of Clear Lake Shores on the water.

Reservations not required but a good idea on Friday and Saturday nights. Call (281) 532-6860.

Come as you are to O2 Bistro and enjoy the view, great food in a most relaxed, casual, family-friendly setting. Tell John and Tina that Rick sent ya! Bon appetite!

CHEERS: Great views, friends, food and drinks in a relaxed, casual atmosphere

Movers & Shakers: Bill Provenzano

June 1st, 2019

Name:  Bill Provenzano

Occupation: Senior vice president / commercial lender / HomeTown Bank of League City and League City Regional Chamber chairman

Hometown: Houston

Current home: Friendswood

Family: Married to Mindy Provenzano 34 years this July;  2 sons – Colton and Blake (one lives in Friendswood the other in League City); 1 granddaughter – Blakely Grace Provenzano

My favorite writer is: Tom Clancy

Someone I’d like to meet: JJ Watt

If I could switch places with someone for just one day, I’d choose:  Happy with what the good Lord gave me.

My favorite performer is:  The Eagles

I like to spend my leisure time:  Playing golf, listening to music, watching Houston sports teams, spending time with family and friends, and cooking!

If I could travel to any place, I’d choose:  Italy

My favorite meal is: Steak

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be:  Like my Dad!

You’ll never catch me: Bungie jumping, sky diving or hang gliding

The thing that bugs me the most is:  Inconsiderate people

My favorite movie is:  The 10 Commandments starring Charlton Heston

Few people know:  I plan everything!

Even Capt. Kirk was there for 2019 RNASA Space Gala

June 1st, 2019

David Thompson, left, retired CEO of Orbital ATK, is presented the 2019 National Space Trophy by Northrup Grumman Space Systems Group President Frank Culbertson at the RNASA Space Gala April 26 at the Houston Hyatt Regency.

HAPPY STORIES make for happy evenings, and stories rarely are happier than that of David Thompson, recipient of the 2019 National Space Trophy, who turned a boyhood filled with small rocket launches into the formation of a well known aerospace company.

And, looking around at smiles on the faces of the black-tie crowd of nearly 750 at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation Gala April 26, it was evident they were all happy for him as former astronaut and Orbital Sciences Senior Vice President Frank Culbertson presented the award and another former astronaut and Space Trophy winner, Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Stafford, presented him with an Omega watch.

Boeing Site Director Mark Mulqueen and his wife, Dawn, right, stop for a photo with United Launch Alliance COO John Elbon and his wife, Brenda, at the Rotary Space Gala, held Friday, April 26 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Thompson, retired president and CEO of Orbital ATK, along with two Harvard Business School classmates, founded Orbital Sciences Corp., in the early 80s. Later, it grew to become Orbital ATK, which last year was purchased by Northrop Grumman for a mere $9 billion.

Film star William Shatner, who you knew as Star Trek’s Capt. James Kirk, was an honored guest and recipient of RNASA’s Space Communicator Award. Unfortunately, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein had to cancel his visit the day before the gala.

After RNASA Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez welcomed the crowd, saying that “the foundation’s mission is to encourage, recognize, honor, and celebrate U.S. space achievement. The members of the foundation truly appreciate the enormity of the work that is represented by tonight’s audience,” and dinner featuring Petite Filet of Beef and Crab Cakes, the smiling crowd cheered as astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Dr. Shannon Walker passed out marble Stellar Awards to several dozen of our best and brightest – a ceremony that has become known as the space industry’s Academy Awards.

And, what a crowd it was, filling up the giant Houston Hyatt Regency Ballroom. Folks like former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer, Glenn Research Center Director Janet Kavandi, JSC Deputy Director Vanessa Wyche and Engineering Director Kevin Window, Barrios Technology CEO Sandra Johnson and President Robert McAfoos, Boeing Houston Site Director Mark Mulqueen and Vice President Jim Chilton and Lockheed Martin Vice President Dr. Mike Hawes, along with their spouses.

Glancing around, you might also have spotted Jacobs GM Lon Miller, MEI Technologies CEO David Cazes, Oceaneering Vice President and GM Mike Bloomfield, United Launch Alliance COO John Elbon, Bastion Technologies CEO Jorge Hernandez, MRI Technologies President and VP Debbie and Tim Kropp, Dynetics CEO David King, KBRwyle President Byron Bright and Senior VP Dr. Vernon McDonald, ERC Manager Darryl Smith, Ares Vice Presidents Dr. Jimmy Young and Bill Wessel, SAIC Vice President David Nuckles, Aerojet Rocketdyne VP Scott Ward and Leidos Manager Wes Tarkington – many with their wives.

RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez and his wife, Anangela, wear big smiles as the Space Gala comes to an end.

After dinner, the program kicked off with a year-in-review film by Space City Films, after which NASA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs welcomed honored guest William Shatner, best known for his role as Capt. James Kirk of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, saying that “I know his work has touched everyone in this room…And it inspired most people here to do what they’re doing today.”

Shatner shared his thoughts about mankind’s hunger for adventure this way, “what is inside our heads that compels us to set forth on the precipice of existence? For what? Is it ego? Is it pride? Is it a death wish? Is it the sense of adventure that propels the human spirit into unfamiliar modes, into life threatening environments because the challenge is there? Is it humanity’s need to experience the unknown to grasp it, embrace it, absorb the experience as only a human can? Yeah, the challenge of life over death, that’s it.”

Former Space Trophy winners Tommy Holloway, Glenn Lunney and Eileen Collins were in the crowd, as was retired JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, who came down from Idaho to see all her old pals.

Other familiar faces included Aviation Weekly Editor Mark Carreau, Clear Lake Chamber Chairman Brian Freedman, well known retirees Pat and Wendell Wilson, Leslie and Ted Cummings and Eleanor and Arnie Aldrich, plus astronauts Richard Hieb, Randolph Bresnik, Scott Altman, Mark Polansky, Robert and Dr. Megan Behnken, Richard Arnold and Bob Curbeam.

Space Center Rotary members mingling with the crowd included President Nancy Anderson and husband, Robert; President-elect Mike Porterfield and his wife, Cindy; Patty and John Branch, Susan and Bill Taylor, Suzi Howe, Dr. Jean Walker, Scott and Martha Rainey, Stan Galanski, Frank Perez and Priscilla Ennis, Melinda Mintz, Geoff and Vivian Atwater, Karen and Gary Johnson, Clay Boyce, Jordis and Bob Wren, Jeanette and Mark Hollis, Adrienne and Dr. Vissett Sun, along with Rotary District Gov. Carmen Cuneo, Rotary District Gov.-elect Gary Gillen and his wife, Janice; and former Rotary International Vice President Jennifer Jones with her dad, John Jones.

Road Trip SUVs: CHEVY BLAZER & FORD EDGE

June 1st, 2019

By Don Armstrong

Manufacturers just can’t seem to satisfy our appetite for SUV’s, and with summer vacations upon us, now may be the perfect time to shop for a new road trip ride.

Chevy Blazer
The name may be the familiar, but that’s all. The Chevrolet Blazer is all-new for 2019 and ready to hit the highway.

Slotted between the smaller Equinox and the larger, 3-row Traverse, the Blazer seats five and borrows some styling cues from the Camaro, believe it or not.

Mounted high on the front fascia are “squinty” headlights, with more vertical, ancillary lighting below. The grille, however, is so large, you may find it polarizing. Trendy, large wheels and accompanying openings give it the much sought-after off-road look. Tail light design is Camaro inspired.

Several interior design details come directly from the new Camaro also, including a standalone, center dash mounted touch screen, with multifunction air vents below. Seating is comfortable and stylish, especially with the optional leather.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 193-horsepower. We recommend the optional 3.6-liter V-6 with 300 horses. You’ll appreciate the extra passing power and it ensures a smoother shifting 9-speed automatic transmission.

We like the new Blazer enough that we think it should be on your shopping list.

Pricing starts at $28,800.

Ford Edge
This second-generation Edge was introduced in 2015 and has been nothing short of a true hit in the Ford SUV lineup.

For 2019, the Edge gets updated front and rear styling that really gives it a whole new, modern look.

Like the Blazer, the Edge comes standard with a 4-cylinder power plant. The optional 2.7-liter V-6 is what we recommend, but for the hot-rodder, Ford offers an ST version that ups the horsepower ante to 335. The kids will squeal with delight.

Taking the Edge for a test drive will reveal an unusually quiet cabin, especially at highway speeds. We appreciate the F-150 influence on the easy-to-use dash layout, it’s neat, clean and just makes sense. Seating is supportive and comfortable, especially on long trips. The recently reworked Sync infotainment system behaves a lot better that versions one and two.

The Edge’s wide body gives everyone a little more shoulder room and more storage behind the second row of seating.
Edge pricing begins at $29,995

Ford announces the return of a Ranger-based Bronco SUV in 2020. Stay tuned.

She will not only climb mountains, she will move them too

June 1st, 2019

Miss Houston Teen 2019, Rita Goebel and Miss Houston 2019, Blaine Ochoa.

By Blaine Ochoa 

Everything starts with a dream, a thought, a goal, a wish. When you want something in life, go for it, give it everything you’ve got, and when you believe in something, believe in it with your whole heart.

On Easter weekend April 20, I won the title of Miss Houston 2019. Becoming Miss Houston has been a dream of mine for the past 10 years.  It’s a very surreal feeling to see your dream come to life and daily live in your dream.

I’ve always believed “all things are possible with God” Matthew 19:26 and my mom has always called,  Philippians 4:13 – For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” my life verse.

Chasing after this dream for three and a half years has been a long journey. I’ve previously placed first runner up, and second runner up, and I’ve even fallen on stage. I’ve had a variety of ups and downs, setbacks and comebacks. It has been a challenging, emotional, exciting, and beautiful journey – the comeback is always stronger than the setback.
I’ve learned that we have to trust God’s perfect timing, even when we don’t understand. His ways are higher than our ways. I realize now that without those years of preparation, learning, changing, and growing, I wouldn’t have been ready to take on this great responsibility that I’ve been given. I am ready now, and I’ve never been more ready for this opportunity.

I’ve also learned that you have to believe in yourself and never give up. You have to know that you are good enough, strong enough, deserving, worthy, and capable of achieving your goals and dreams. Start where you are and give it your all each and every day. It takes a lot of courage, sometimes believing in yourself when no one else does. It takes stepping out in faith, when sometimes there is no clarity. The journey is not always easy, and life gets tough, but learn to persevere. Success requires discipline and resilience.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that this journey is not about me. Its about something bigger than myself. It’s about loving, helping, and encouraging others. It’s about the love of God that shines from the inside out. It’s about grace, faith, and overcoming.

I hope my story can inspire others to passionately pursue their dreams. I’m a girl from a little beach town, with humble beginnings, who believed in her self, never gave up, and believed that God could do incredible things in her life and use her in ways that only God could.

I am truly thankful for all that God has done in my life and what He is going to do. I’m honored, humbled, and beyond excited to represent the great city of Houston at Miss Texas USA 2020. I am very thankful to work with an incredible team to help me prepare for Miss Texas USA and train under the direction of the wonderful Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008.

I encourage everyone to be present in your life daily. Now is your time. Now is your moment. Dreams do come true, and the only way to make the impossible, possible, is to have faith.

Wayfare Offers a Fresh New Orleans Experience

June 1st, 2019

skewered: Wayfare’s delicious Mediterranean Shish Kabob.

By Brandon Rowan

Skip Bourbon Street and delve into a different side of New Orleans this summer. There is no shortage of excellent restaurants in this culturally rich city and Wayfare nestled in Uptown is no exception.

This spacious tavern at 4510 Freret Street designs culinary delights and craft cocktails in a rustic chic/industrial ambience. Wayfare is the destination for high end gourmet food and presentation found in a casual atmosphere. I was fortunate to be able to sample many of their dishes on my way through NOLA.

For happy hour or before dinner, Wayfare’s appetizer menu does not disappoint. The Calamari was superb. The breaded crunch of this fresh seafood paired well with the accompanying Cebollita Aioli and tang of pickled peppers and onions heaped on top.

The Bacon Mac & Cheese, gourmet nachos or pomme frites are also wise selections. Feel like sharing? The chef’s choice Charcuterie Board is perfect passed around the table with friends and wine.

Wayfare’s Entrees are also made with equal amounts of vision and execution. The Mediterranean Shish Kabob was my favorite. The skewered hanger steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned. Caramelized onions and halved grape tomatoes added even more flavor to the dish. House-made hummus with pita was served on the side, along with a properly made greek salad.

Fresh seafood is also in ample supply for lunch or dinner. Try the Gulf Oyster Caesar Salad or massive Fish Taco for an inventive take on these standard dishes. Expect generous portions!

For a true New Orleans favorite, order the BBQ Shrimp Pasta, served with fresh head-on shrimp, roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach and pan seared duck ham.
If you find yourself in New Orleans soon, make it a point to explore the Uptown and Garden Districts of the city. The delectable fare served by the area’s smart restaurants, like Wayfare, will keep you more than satisfied.

Wayfare Handcrafted Food and Spirits is located at 4510 Freret Street, New Orleans, LA. For more information, visit WayFareNOLA.com or call 504-309-0069.

24th Annual Keels & Wheels chalks up another big success

June 1st, 2019

Seabrook Mayor Pro-tem Natalie Picha, from left, Mayor Thom Kolupski and City Manager Gayle Cook, along with Economic Development Corp. President Paul Dunphey, can hardly contain their happiness as the rainstorm moves on and the sun comes out just in time for their Keels & Wheels kickoff party on the elegant yacht Liberty Belle at Lakewood Yacht Club.

By Mary Alys Cherry

The 24th Annual Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance, the weekend-long, nationally acclaimed classic car and vintage wooden boat show that takes place each spring at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, was another rousing success – even managing to dodge a damaging rainstorm that swept through the area.

This year’s proceeds will benefit Today’s Harbor for Children, which opens its door to abandoned and abused children.

It was an especially happy event for two Texans who held the winning raffle tickets for a new car and a new boat, donated by The Jon and Jacqueline Hodges Charitable Organization and Texas Coast Yachts – Jason Tieman of League City and Lori Hunt of Dallas.

As the Friday afternoon rainstorm that threatened the popular event headed north, leaving all the dashing Keels & Wheels automobiles snug as a bug in the rug under their protective covers until the event opened Saturday, Seabrook Mayor Thom Kolupski, Economic Development Director Paul Chavez and the EDC Board headed by EDC President Paul Dunphey got the party started on the Dunpheys 67-foot yacht, Liberty Belle, in Lakewood’s inner harbor just as the sun peaked through the clouds.

Among the dozens of guests at the kickoff party, you might have spotted Seabrook City Manager Gayle Cook, with her husband, Kevin; Mayor Jon Keeney of nearby Taylor Lake Village, Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther and his wife, Fabiana; Economic Alliance President and CEO Chad Burke with his wife, Shannon; Seabrook Mayor Pro-team Natalie Picha and husband, Darrell; and City Councilmen Jeff Larson and Ed Klein and his wife, Adel, along with hostess Amy Dunphey, to name a few of those munching on hors d’oeuvres and enjoying the cool bay breezes.

It was not until Saturday that Jason Tieman of League City learned he had won the 2019 Lincoln MKC SUV from BayWay Lincoln as this year’s official raffle vehicle, valued at more than $39,000. Dark Knight Motor Group provided a Cermamic Coating Package, valued at close to $5,000 for the Lincoln MKC, which includes Feynlab Self Heal Plus. Dark Knight Motor Group specializes in the aesthetic rejuvenation and protection of automotive and marine vehicles and is based in Kemah. Lori Hunt of Dallas won the 2019 NC 795 Jeanneau Power Boat, 24’4” with Yamaha 200 engine and air-conditioned cabin, valued at more than $100,000. Dark Knight Motor Group also provided a Ceramic Coating Package valued at close to $6,400 for the power boat which includes Feynlab Hydro Marine Ceramic Coating and the installation of Glassparency Hydrophobic Coating.

Another highlight of the event was the $100,000 dollar painting on display of “The Bugati in the Lake” provided by Gremillion Gallery and sponsored by Bay Area Houston and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazines.

Keels & Wheels, chaired by Bob Fuller, welcomes approximately 200 cars and 100 boats each spring, and has raised more than $1.8 million for local charities, while drawing thousands of participants and spectators from all over the U.S. and Europe.

Proceeds from the 2019 event will again benefit Today’s Harbor for Children, who mission is to provide a home and safe environment for abandoned and abused children and healthy, comprehensive care for children and families in crisis.

Expand Your Palate at Sokol’s Greek Deli and Café

June 1st, 2019

Owner Chris Sokol in front of his beautiful Greek mural on the wall of Sokol’s Greek Deli

By Xander Thomas

Even with the saturation of restaurants in the Clear Lake area, it can still be a difficult task to find places based around better eating, but there are still a few that have your best interest in mind.

“I go hand pick my own tomatoes, onions, lettuce, all that stuff, that way you don’t get whatever stuff any other restaurants get,” said Sokol’s Greek Deli and Café owner, Chris Sokol. “It is a lot more time consuming, but we’re kind of known for the healthier salads and stuff like that.”

The Greek deli has been in its current location at 2410 Bay Area Blvd. for about six years, but was renamed Sokol’s about five years ago when Chris took over ownership. While he did use a lot of the previous owner’s recipes and ideas, he also took from what he learned in his youth.

“Mostly family recipes, my own recipes, I’m a big foodie so I like to integrate a lot of weird, different specials.”

He says that a lot of his specials were so well loved, and so requested, that they made it onto the regular menu. He learned a lot about how to cook because when he was growing up, his parents would let him and his sister eat whatever they wanted, but they had to cook it themselves; there was no going to grab fast food.

Chris likes opening up peoples’ minds to different foods and helping expand their palates, and that in this area, most have just not been privileged enough to have certain things prepared properly.

“Around here a lot of people tend to say that lamb is disgusting or nasty cause they haven’t had it cooked right,” he said confidently. “Usually they’ll say wow this is way better than beef.”

Even if you think you are not a fan of lamb, the slow-cooked lamb ribs are a must when visiting his restaurant.

Chris says that because they use extra virgin olive oil for just about everything, he imports an entire ship load, around 6,000 lbs once a year. Not only is it just a major staple of Greek cuisine, though, it is also better for you than more other types of oils typically used to cook with.

“We make our own salad dressing, which we sell a lot of, and consists of just extra virgin olive oil and four different vinegars and there’s absolutely zero sugar or additives to it,” he said.

This isn’t the only thing that makes his dishes healthier than most other places in the area.

Along with using a better oil, Chris prefers better ingredients for almost all of his dishes, including a well-loved sauce in the native foods, the tzatziki sauce. While many places will use sour cream, he prefers low-fat Greek yogurt for lighter guilt free eating with just as much flavor.

“The trend nowadays everyone wants the organic or non-GMO stuff like that and a lot of Greek food just happens to fall in that line.”

Chris and his sister grew up mostly in the British school system, and have lived in Indonesia and Malaysia, and around high school, landed in Texas for most of their adult lives. Chris just happened to choose our Clear Lake area to offer us some of his authentic cuisine.

He is even an admirer of the space programs and the astronauts, and has adorned the place in various NASA items.

“I have a lot of memorabilia from collecting it as I was younger, and astronauts come by here and give signed stuff for me,” he said, “It was really cool to have a restaurant right on Space Center and Bay Area.”