House of Pies: A Slice of Heaven on Earth

April 20th, 2020

A slice of heaven on earth!


By Blaine Ochoa

During these trying and uncertain times of COVID-19, people, businesses and communities are having to adjust to new guidelines and standards of living. The U.S. economy has suffered tremendously. Many businesses have had to close their doors temporarily or make a livelihood based off of E-commerce sales alone. Essential businesses such as restaurants, have been able to keep their brick and mortar locations open and have made food purchases available for drive through, pick up and delivery. It is a positive thing that the restaurant industry is able to stay in business, however, it is still being greatly affected by the current worldwide pandemic known as the Coronavirus or COVID-19. One iconic Houston business has been able to stay open during this rough time to serve the community, keep their employees having a job, and serve delicious food to keep customers happy and full.

A local Houston favorite, House of Pies founded in 1967, has become a beloved tradition for many families. House of Pies is a family owned and operated business that now has four locations across Houston and its surrounding areas. The original locations are on Kirby and Westheimer in Houston, and in 2017 the Ganim family also opened the Fuqua location, along with the Woodlands location in 2019. One of the owners, Chuck Ganim, said, “we are happy that we are able to stay open for the Houston community. They have supported House of Pies for over 50 years and we are glad that we are able to serve the great citizens of this city during these tough times.”

A lot of restaurants have seen a decrease in sales, but continue to push through in hopes of providing for the community, keeping jobs for employees, and getting past the economic crisis. “Sales haven’t been anywhere near what we are used to. Its been a very rough time for everyone, but we can’t wait to get past this and get back to doing what we do best for the Houston community and getting our employees back to work full time. With the limited hours and lack of business we are trying to schedule as many employees as possible and rotating them with a few hours a week to help support them and their families.”

During difficult times or changes throughout life, we are able to evolve and grow. Sometimes in these moments creativity and innovation can flourish. Companies and business can evolve and establish new ideas and protocols to make their business better. It is imperative to always find the good and positive things that come from challenging times; for example, sparking new ideas, spending more time with loved ones, or strengthening a business. “We are continuing to keep our traditions in place. We are taking more time to spend with our employees over zoom calls to reach out and keep the company morale with our employees positive. We have a great team and want to let them know we are there for each other during this crisis.”

Next time you are in Houston or the Bay Area be sure to visit this incredible, family friendly establishment. Between the wonderful service, hospitality and food, you are guaranteed, ‘A slice of Heaven on Earth’. I highly recommend the chicken fried chicken or the patty melt! Or if you are in the mood for sweets, the Bayou Goo is the house favorite pie! “It consists of a layer of sweetened cream cheese, crushed pecans, and a chocolate vanilla custard topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and powdered sugar.”

“I would love to tell the community how grateful we are to be apart of this amazing city. We have seen generations of families grow in our restaurants and we consider our patrons as apart of our own family. We can’t wait to be fully open again to serve our community and bring the House of Pies family back together. Stay strong Houston, we will come out of this greater and stronger then ever.”

Our world, nation, state, and Houston community will rise above these challenging times and continue to adapt and grow stronger. Thank you to the hospitality workers and restaurant industry, like House of Pies, that are feeding the community and those on the front lines who are working diligently to ensure Americans are safe and healthy.

Commissioner Garcia Gets out Into the Community

February 12th, 2020

At the beginning of the year, Commissioner Adrian Garcia laid out how he wanted his schedule to be coordinated and his vision for doing so.  He does not like to sit and work from his desk every single day – he likes to get out, meet residents where they live, and really understand what impacts them. One of his goals for this year is to do more of this on a regular basis. This means having more one-on-ones with residents, as well as attending HOA, civic club and PTA meetings, and visits with staff.

I want to visit all Precinct Camps and spend time at job sites while the crews are working. I can get a hard hat and work gloves to use. I want to get my hands dirty with the staff,” Commissioner Garcia said.

And he was serious! At the beginning of January, the commissioner rode the new Harris County Transit bus routes that were recently launched in East Harris County. The five new routes were launched to service some of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey flooding. Take a look at this clip from that day and listen from one resident who shared what this means for him.

Two weeks ago, the Commissioner visited with the Precinct 2’s Road and Bridge crew to learn more about the process of digging and ditching. And as requested, he was equipped with a hard hat, vest, and gloves. He was serious about getting his hands dirty!


The following are his thoughts about the visit and what he learned that day:

Precinct 2 has many important responsibilities, key among them is the work done by our Infrastructure and Public Works Departments, which includes our Parks Department.

I visited my field staff because what they do is key to improving the quality of life for constituents of Precinct 2. I witnessed their careful work as they improved the water flow of area ditches that often intertwine with gas lines and main waterlines. Their work requires skill and teamwork to get the job done and done quickly.

I also watched and helped, as my staff did the labor-intensive work of cleaning out neighborhood culverts. My team does some backbreaking work with shovels and other equipment to clear culverts so that the entire neighborhood drainage system works and prevents neighborhood flooding.

I was also proud to be in attendance as we delivered to several employees brand new trucks so that they can do their job even better. Many vehicles were in horrible condition, one employee told us about the hole in his floorboard. Others told us of the frequent breakdowns they were experiencing with vehicles that should have been taken out of service years ago.

I also learned of the great pride and commitment our Parks Department has for their work. Many were using their personal equipment to maintain our parks because the previous administration wouldn’t buy the equipment they needed. Now, they leave their personal equipment at home because we’ve purchased brand new equipment for them to use.

As I visited with these hardworking employees, I was beaming with pride because I have always strived to have Customer Service be a guiding principle of all my work and I witnessed how our Precinct 2 employees are just as committed to doing their jobs well and treating all they those come in contact with dignity and respect. And this is something my administration strives to do every day.”

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Be sure to check out the video and more photos from the day!

To close off January, Commissioner Garcia hosted his first “Café with Commissioner” at a grocery store located in Precinct 2 to connect and visit with residents. He will be hosting these meetups on a regular basis to gives residents an opportunity to meet him and share their concerns.  To find out when the next Café with Commissioner will take place, be sure to connect with us on social media! You will also stay up-to-date about important programs, resources, and events taking place around Precinct 2.

Blaine’s FIVE Fav Beauty Products

February 1st, 2020

By Blaine Ochoa, Miss Houston 2019

As we continue on in the new decade and new year, I want to encourage you to give your all to each and every day. Goals and dreams are only achieved with faith, hard work, focus, and intentionality. You have the power to make 2020 as great as you want it to be. The most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity, is daring to dare. – Maya Angelou.

Here are my five favorite beauty products that will help you look and feel fabulous as you conquer your goals in the new year! I use these products almost daily, and love them because they help boost my self confidence and make me feel empowered and more beautiful. I know they will also help you look and feel your best!


Kaprielle Blue Chamomile & Gold Antioxidant Face Serum
I recently started using this product on my face once a day in the evening before bed. It is super nourishing and has helped even out my skin complexion. I love this product because it is organic, vegan, helps reduce the signs of aging and reduces inflammation. It also smells amazing! The bottle is gorgeous and has 24 carat gold flakes in it. You can purchase the serum at for $68.


Misty Rockwell Cosmetics Fresh Nude Mineral Gloss
A great nude lipgloss is an essential beauty product that every woman needs to have! Whether you are running errands, going to work, or getting ready for date night, this gloss will go with anything, and will complete your look! Fresh nude mineral gloss will give your lips the pop they need and keep your lips glossy for hours. It is extremely hydrating and the consistency is wonderful. You can buy the gloss for $21 at


Soleil Organics Tanning Mousse
I have to have a wonderful self tanner all year round to keep my skin glowing and tan. Soleil has three different self tanning options and all of them are fabulous. The color creates a perfect complexion, smells great, and lasts longer than other tanners I’ve used. The product is also very hydrating and comes with an application mitt. Soleil is also organic, cruelty free and vegan, making it my number one choice of a self tanner! You can buy this product at A single bottle is $38.95


Lucky Cat Beauty Faux Lashes
I have been using lucky cat lashes faithfully for about three years now. They are the best lashes I have come across! Fake lashes will make your eyes pop and create a dramatic, beautiful effect. Lucky cat beauty has different styles of lashes, so you can choose the best option for you. The styles range from bold and big to softer and more subtle. You can also re wear the lashes and use them multiple times. You can purchase the lashes at for $22.


KÜL GLÖ Serum – Infinity Med Spa
This is a wonderful facial serum that you can apply morning and night. This serum is unique because it has a lot of different benefits and you will see many great results! It is paired with full spectrum CBD (Hemp extract) and a synergetic blend of oils with antioxidants and probiotics. The GLÖ serum strengthens your skin, and is very nourishing and hydrating. Definitely a new favorite! You can visit and purchase the GLÖ serum in location at Infinity Diagnostics Center in Houston, TX.


January 29th, 2020

The closures are part of the I-610 West Loop/ I-69 Southwest Freeway Interchange Project

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will close all mainlanes of the I-610 West Loop at I-69 Southwest Freeway in both directions for multiple weekends starting the weekend of Jan. 31 to hang bridge beams and other related work for a new connector ramp.

Starting Friday, Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. until Monday, Feb. 3 at 5 a.m. crews will close all I-610 West Loop northbound and southbound mainlanes at I-69 Southwest Freeway. Crews will again close the I-610 West Loop mainlanes at I-69 Southwest Freeway in both directions on the weekends of Feb. 7 through Feb. 10Feb. 14 through Feb. 17, Feb. 21 through and Feb. 24.

Crews will continue work on the I-610 West Loop northbound connector ramp to I-69 Southwest Freeway southbound as part of the I-610/I-69 interchange project. Motorists traveling northbound on I-610 West Loop northbound will detour to I-610 frontage road to re-enter the mainlanes of I-610 northbound. Motorists traveling southbound on I-610 West Loop will detour to I-69 southbound, exit at Chimney Rock, U-turn at Chimney Rock to reach the I-69 northbound mainlanes, and take the direct connector from I-69 northbound to I-610 southbound.

It is recommended that motorists seek an alternate route during the time of these closures.

The I-610/ I-69 interchange is a major connection point of two of the most congested highways in the state of Texas. The $259 million project will significantly enhance safety and improve mobility by widening the connector ramps to two lanes, increasing sight distances, and providing remedies to eliminate weaving.

The project has incentives and disincentives to encourage the contractor to complete various phases sooner than anticipated.

For additional scheduled lane closures related to this project go to All closures are subject to change due to inclement weather. Follow TxDOT on Twitter @TxDOTHouston and @HOU610at69 and Facebook

Movers & Shakers: Jordan P. Davlin

November 1st, 2019

Name: Jordan P. Davlin

Occupation: Professional MotoSurf Racer and owner of JetSurf Academy Houston

Hometown: Clear Lake City

Current home: Seabrook

Family: Lives in the Clear Lake area and North Houston

Someone I’d like to meet: Travis Pastrana or Joe Rogan

If I could switch places with someone for just one day, I’d choose: Dan Bilzerian

My favorite performers are: Nitro Circus

I like to spend my leisure time: JetSurf Racing and traveling

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

My favorite meal is: Bone-In Filet

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be: Lawyer

You’ll never catch me: On the MotoSurf World Cup track

2 UHCL alumni named among magazine’s Most Admired CEOs

September 11th, 2019

Two University of Houston-Clear Lake alumni were among 59 area leaders as Houston Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs of 2019. Both lead divisions of HCA Houston Healthcare.

Honorees were Megan Marietta, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare West, and Jeanna Bamburg, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast. Bamburg received a bachelor’s in marketing in 1999 and an MBA in 2002. Marietta received a MBA with a concentration in health care in 2004.

Marietta is a member of Houston West Chamber of Commerce; Greater East Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; Greater Lake Houston YMCA and Montgomery County United Way.

Bamburg belongs to the American College of Healthcare Executive’s Southeast Texas chapter; Pasadena Chamber of Commerce; San Jacinto Community College Foundation; Economic Alliance Houston Port Region; Texas Healthcare Trustees Board of Directors and Pasadena Rotary Club.

In profiling the honorees, the magazine asked each awardee the same set of questions. Asked about leadership philosophy, Marietta responded, “People and patients come first. The team is paramount and must be developed to execute successfully. Treat people with respect and listen to others when they share their feedback.”

To the same question, Bamburg replied, “I feel it’s my job to influence and inspire everyone in my organization to do better for our patients. Consistency and leading by example are two mantras I focus on.”

In selecting honorees, the magazine’s judges looked for characteristics such as contribution to company success, civic involvement, career achievement and other factors. Judges selected 17 nonprofit leaders and 42 for-profit leaders for awards.

Houston Spaceport slowly turning dream into reality

August 1st, 2019

Taking part in the Spaceport groundbreaking were, from left, Houston City Councilman Mike Knox, Intuitive Machines President Steve Altemus, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Houston Airport System Executive Director Mario Diaz, Ellington Airport General Manager Arturo Machuca and FAA Deputy Regional Administrator Rob Lowe.

By Mary Alys Cherry

The Houston Spaceport has been a dream for the past four years. Now it is moving toward reality after a groundbreaking ceremony June 28 for the first phase of the project at Ellington Field.

“When complete, Phase 1 will provide the ground work to support the companies that produce the cutting-edge innovations needed to take commercial space travel and aviation into the sub-sonic, super-sonic and hyper-sonic realm,” Diaz said, no doubt remembering a day four years ago on June 30, 2015, when Houston received its license from the FAA and became the nation’s ninth spaceport.

Phase 1 of the project required an $18.8 million investment to provide the ground level infrastructure – streets, electrical power, water, wastewater, fiber optic and communication facilities — to attract commercial space travel and aviation companies to Houston. That came in May when Houston City Council approved the funds.

Joining Diaz in turning the first shovels of dirt were Ellington Airport Director Arturo Machuca, Houston City Councilman Mike Knox, San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus and FAA Deputy Regional Administrator Rob Lowe.

Altemus’ Intuitive Machines, is the first company to sign on as a Spaceport tenant. Back in May, the company received a $77.2 million contract from NASA to create, launch and land its Nova-C lunar lander spacecraft to the surface of the moon with a payload of experiments from both NASA and private companies.

And then there is the need for training, for which the Spaceport has partnered with San Jacinto College. To help train that workforce, San Jacinto Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, says the Spaceport’s Edge Center for Advanced Manufacturing Training will serve as a workforce training center, providing a talent pipeline for new businesses.

“When you’re bringing in and trying to recruit new companies to the area, they need to know you have partners like that at the table to meet their needs,” Hellyer said.

Meanwhile, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell could hardly conceal his excitement as he spoke to the group.

“We are currently working with six companies which are looking to expand operations at the Houston Spaceport,” he said. “The Houston Spaceport’s certification is already acting as a catalyst to spur new interest and development at Ellington Airport.

“Over the last several years, more than $200 million worth of new projects have been  completed, or announced, at Ellington Airport, including the Lone Star Flight Museum,  the new Army Innovation Command … and its battle command center. New public hangars are under construction … and the new 117,000 square foot U.S. Coast Guard regional campus, a $57 million investment, has been completed and further expanded. Today marks a great day for Houston, for Ellington Airport and for the Houston Spaceport!

Washburn Tunnel to close nightly Aug. 5-9

July 29th, 2019

The Washburn Tunnel will be closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily, beginning Monday, Aug. 5 to Friday, Aug. 9. During that time, Texas Department of Transportation will conduct its biennial inspection, which is required by the Federal Highway Administration for all tunnels within the United States.

Drivers are reminded to use alternate routes during the closure. Alternate routes include I-610 East Loop Freeway, Sam Houston Parkway, and Highway 146.

The Washburn Tunnel is a two-lane underwater roadway connecting Galena Park and Pasadena. Named after Harris County Auditor Harry L. Washburn, the tunnel opened in 1950. It is the south’s largest and first toll-free vehicular tunnel. The site was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2008.

For more information and updates on the Precinct, visit

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.

Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton speaks of Texans’ Opportunity to Lead

June 1st, 2019

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, right, congratulates Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton for an outstanding speech at the BAHEP meeting.

By Kathryn Paradis

Without the aid of PowerPoint or notes of any kind, not even a few words scribbled on his hands, Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton delivered a dynamic, passionate speech to members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership during its General Membership Meeting at the Clear Lake Hilton.

He spoke about The Opportunity to Lead, but his speech was about much more than leadership. First, however, it would be good to know a little of Sitton’s background. He is a mechanical engineering graduate of Texas A&M University. Elected Texas Railroad Commissioner on Nov. 4, 2014, to a six-year term, Sitton is the first engineer to serve as Railroad Commissioner in more than 50 years. In 2015, he was named one of the 40 most influential leaders under 40 in the Houston area. With nearly 20 years of experience in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries, Sitton is considered a leader in his field. He, no doubt, knows a little something about leadership.

He began by speaking of the tradition of the Aggie Muster, which he had attended the previous evening. He said that Aggies learn from the first day on campus about the importance of believing in something more important than themselves.

“The thing that makes Aggie Muster such a special tradition for us is that it is one of those examples that show how we as a society recognize service,” Sitton said. He later spoke of his own three children who are 10, 13 and 15 years old. He asked, “In the world that we live in today, at what point in our kids’ lives do they begin to learn the lesson that if you want to be successful in this world, you’ve got to make it about people other than yourself? What is it about your life that will echo beyond yourself?”

“When I talk about the opportunity to lead, it always starts with the opportunity to serve.” He explained that this is an historical point in time for Texas saying, “This state produces nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil per day, which is 5 percent of the world’s crude. Texas produces about 24 or 25 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. That’s close to 5 percent of the world’s natural gas. We refine along the Gulf Coast a little over 6 million barrels per day of crude oil. That’s 6 percent of the world’s refining capacity. Out of the Port of Corpus Christi, we export more crude oil than all of the other U.S. ports combined. We have over 30,000 miles of pipeline in the state. In the last five years, Texas has gone from a strong energy player to arguably the most dominant force on the planet. Energy requires massive industries to produce it effectively, and the State of Texas does it better than any other place on Earth.”

Sitton went on to ask, “Now, what do we do with that? We talk about the opportunity to lead, and opportunities come in a lot of different ways. We in Texas have the opportunity to leverage this position in energy like we haven’t done in a generation. We are changing the landscape in the world. The question is what do we do with that? How do we capitalize on that opportunity?”He said that the world is hungry for affordable, reliable energy that is produced safely, and Texas can provide that better than anyone else.

Bay Area Houston Magazine