Houston Restaurant Week Could Become Houston Restaurant Month

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HRW2010-CheckPhoto-RoswithaVogler-Photog.jpg
Photo by Roswitha Vogler
Stone presenting a check to the Houston Food Bank signed with her own name, a point of contention from last year's Houston Restaurant Week
Along with nearly everyone else in the city who participated in last year's super-extended Houston Restaurant Week, we joked that -- at this rate -- the organizers were going to have to rename it Houston Restaurant Month.

Now, it appears that may happen. Cleverley Stone, host of The Cleverley Show on 650 AM and chair of the Houston Restaurant Week committee, announced last night on the event's Web site that it was her intention to formally "upgrade" the weeks-long charity event and rechristen it "Houston Restaurant Month."

There's just one problem.

Houston Restaurant Month is a registered business name in Harris County, and has been since August 2010. And Cleverley Stone isn't the one who registered it.

"There was a lot of talk last year -- by a lot of different people -- about Houston Restaurant Week and how it needed to grow beyond one person, to showcase Houston's food and chefs and restaurants instead of a single personality," said Mark Hanna by phone this afternoon. Hanna and his company, Customer First, registered the Houston Restaurant Month name last year in anticipation that Stone would attempt to officially rename the event.

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Houston Restaurant Week went on for far longer than just a week last year.
"The purpose is not to attack Houston Restaurant Week or Cleverley Stone," Hanna said. "She didn't 'found' Houston Restaurant Week, as she often claims, but she did revive it from another program."

"She's done a great job with it," he continued. "But it comes down to who owns an event."

Many people in the restaurant community were upset last year to see that the emphasis on Houston Restaurant Week, which benefits the Houston Food Bank, wasn't on either the charity or the restaurant aspect of the event, but on Stone herself. In the past, Stone has gotten into public scraps with others in the radio industry as well as a large portion of the Houston Chowhounds, and there were rumors that she strong-armed the Houston Food Bank into letting her have sole control over an event that raises more than $500,000 each year.

Hanna was among the people concerned when -- at the close of last year's Houston Restaurant Week -- a check was presented to the Houston Food Bank bearing Stone's own signature instead of the typical "Houston Restaurant Week" signature that had been present on past checks. It was viewed as a signal that the event had truly shifted from being a charity function involving Houston's restaurants and diners to what was seen as more of a vanity project for Stone herself. And that was the last straw for Hanna, who went to the Harris County registrar and purchased rights to "Houston Restaurant Month" for the next 10 years.

"To grow," he explained, "it's going to have to evolve to where it's more than just one person. It needs more oversight."

However, he's quick to point out that he does not want to run the event himself. "I sent Cleverley a note this morning saying that we own the name and asked her to please refrain from using it." The registration protects any business or charity from operating under the name "Houston Restaurant Month" in Harris County, but not because Hanna doesn't want it to be used.

"I hope she'll reach out to us," he said. "Ideally, what I hope to do with this is have it directed by a board or a committee and involve a lot more media sponsors, sponsors that she turned away in the past."

"I just want it to focus on Houston," he finished. "On Houston's food and its chefs and its restaurants, and raising money for the Houston Food Bank. That's what's important."

Although we briefly reached Stone by phone earlier today, she had no comment save for a follow-up email that read, "I could not answer your question in front of the people I was with. It would have taken too long. I'll get you an answer in writing soon."



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27 comments
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I Miss Rob!
I Miss Rob!

I can't believe that since Rob Walsh has moved on that what used to be my favorite column is now used to vent personal evny and vendettas.  Kinda sophmoric and petty to be kind.  It's this "yellow journalism" which makes Houston Press a joke among legitimate media circles.  Katherine - green isn't a good color on you. If you did half as much as Cleverley has for the community you might enjoy the same good reputation that she does.  Petty and Pitiful . . . . Mark Hanna.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Love her or hate her, Cleverley has done a great thing by turning Houston Restaurant Week into a big deal around town. If the worst thing she does is publicize herself a bit, I daresay it's forgivable considering the fact that over a half-million dollars is raised for the Houston Food Bank.

Mark Hanna should be a mensch and sign the DBA over to the Food Bank.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I have an inkling we all know who you are too since you won't show your identity. My guess would be Mr Hanna's business partner or personal life partner. I'm sure he very much appreciates your support.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Unbelievable!!!! We're talking about $900,000 to the Houston Food Bank and everyone is concerned about who's name is on the check. Does it really matter. Does the Houston Food Bank care. Do the homeless people care. Obviously Mark Hanna does, probably because his ego is twice the size of Cleverley's. If all he cared about was the charity then why intentional register the name in August, which by the way it was before the check presentation in October. He did it for selfish reasons and now he's using some BS excuse about Cleverley trying the take credit for the event. Business must be really bad for Mr. Hanna. The people that we have to worry about are the restaurants that are not reporting accurate numbers and even worse failing to make their donations. Thank you Cleverley for reviving the Houston Restaurant Week and you're due all the credit for all your hard work. All the jealous people out there need to step aside and let her do what she does best.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Can we get the IP address of "anonymous?" I have an inkling we all know who wrote it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Your inkling is wrong! As soon as you post your real identity and your contact info I'd be more than happy to contact you directly and shed some light on the reality of HRW. I am a restauranteur that has enjoyed HRW for many years and the ability to give back to the Houston community which truly what this is all about. Not who's got a bigger ego and who's name is on the check.

Kyle
Kyle

Also, the last time Houston Press wrote a negative piece about Cleverley, she picked an out of context quote and used it on her website. Let's take bets on what she'll use from this story. I'm going to go with:

"She's done a great job with it." -Mark Hanna

Kyle
Kyle

The money that it generates is an impressive haul, but are financial reports published? How do I know that the $5 per meal gets forwarded on to the Houston Food Bank?

Kim Padgett
Kim Padgett

Who is Mark Hanna? I have been involved as a volunteer and committee member for several years for Houston Restaurant Week and to my knowledge, this person has not been involved, has not volunteered or given his time, treasure or talents to this event. So strange that he would register a DBA (doing business as) for Houston Restaurant Month.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Don't know, and don't care. I want this to be about the restaurants. If Hanna wanted to promote his name as signature, I'd have just as big a problem. Do you not see that?

This isn't about an ego. Sign the thing Houston Food Bank from now on and be done with it.

In the immortal words of TJ.

CASE CLOSED

Fiorello85
Fiorello85

Why is it each time I glimpse Cleverly I am reminded of Dante's Ciacco?

Bm2stu
Bm2stu

Apparently Hanna has never served on a board. In reality, and especially in the non profit world, they often decrease efficiency with events like this as more personalities become involved. A half a million dollars is a substantial amount of money to raise...and if she takes a little credit for it since she is apparently not being paid, so be it.

Feleciademers
Feleciademers

So Hanna represents just another piece-of-the-pie middlemen that would dilute the funds that go to charity?

What if he raises a substantial sum with his own magical publicist contacts? That would be a bigger pie, right?

Sorry, don't know much about this stuff.

Bm2stu
Bm2stu

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. From what I can gather, it's a streamlined event that raises substantial funds and awareness for the Food Bank plus traffic for the restaurants. Perhaps he should start his own fundraising endeavour with a fresh concept rather than trying to improve an existing event with which he currently appears to have no affiliation?

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Good God. This isn't even up for debate. She acted like she was everything on this.

Again, sign the damn thing Houston Food Bank. This is the dumbest argument ever and it seems like we have Cleverly and cronies doing this.

Keep it up. I can come up with something that is catchy about Cleverly...

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

I like my Little miss Hubbard analogy...

How about:

Ms. Cleverley shared to miss Beverly to see if she had a bone.

But the Food bank was there to say it was theirs and if she disagreed she had a phone.

So Cleverley called acting appalled seeing what she could fix

But unless she is spilling what needs admitting, she's still in the mix.

Cleverley
Cleverley

After this blog was published the Houston Food Bank sent this message to me and gave me theirpermission to share it with you:

"The Houston Food Bank is grateful for your tireless and selfless leadership in bringing the restaurant community together to fight hunger through Houston Restaurant Week. Yourservice as a volunteer fundraiser since 2003 so far has brought in more than $900,000in donations from restaurants to help us provide meals to people in need."

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

But you can understand why others who worked with you have a problem with you taking credit?

And FYI, hun, I've only donated in my attendance to the restaurants. I'm all for credit where credit is do, so you are more than welcome to explain why this is something you created. Either here, or in a letter to, quite frankly, anyone.

Folks that defend themselves this vehemently always do the opposite of what they expect.

Cleverley
Cleverley

Here is the written response I sent to the Houston Press:

Hi Katherine,Thank you for your email regarding Houston Restaurant Month.I received an email from Mark Hanna late last night saying that he hadfiled a DBA for Houston Restaurant Month with Harris County in August 2010.He said we could not use this name for our charity fundraiser within Harris County.

Ever since Houston Restaurant Week was established in 2003, my focus forthe event, as a volunteer, has been to raise funds to fight hunger in Houston. To date we have raised over $900,000, with 100% of the funds raised goingto the Houston Food Bank or the former End Hunger Network.

The 2010 event turned out to be over a month long (due to an extension)and was very successful. I discussed this with the folks at the Houston Food Bank and we thought it made sense to change the name this year to Houston Restaurant Month.

But it's OK if we can't call it that. The community loves Houston Restaurant Week and we love them and our wonderful restaurant participants. It is with their support that HRW has grown to be our city's largest charity dining event for hunger relief.

So get your forks ready. We are all looking forward to a successful and fun event this August 1-31!

Thanks so much.My best to you,Cleverley

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

No worries, sweet pea. Just keep your name off the check. And why did that happen in the first place? That was the valid point I saw in this story.

I love supporting restaurant week. I think 2 is sufficient, but whatever. Regardless, this is about the Houston food bank, the restaurant's that generously join, and the proceeds that follow. I'm fine with you taking some credit, but this isn't about you.

If you want to act like you're helping charities, then do so selflessly. I can completely see why folks had an issue with last year's event. Can you?

PatriciaO
PatriciaO

Wow... did the organizers forget that this is not about them, it's about Houston people helping the Food Bank? That said, I hope this cat fight doesn't end in an 'everybody lose situation'. Keep us updated!

Eric Henao
Eric Henao

Sorry baby, nuthin' personal, it's just business.Who among you who is with out sin, may cast[out] the first Stone.

HPRESS - please follow this story closely. I am so dying to see the flames ERUPT Mt. Vesuvius style over this!

Megan
Megan

Agreed. I sorta want to see this go to court.

Django313
Django313

A cat fight between publicists! Meeeeoooowww! TS Eliot would have a field day writing about these aggrieved felines.

Bernardo
Bernardo

Im pulling up a chair, getting me some popcorn & a beer and watchin the fights!

MC
MC

Sounds like a few more egos might make this story a whole dozen.

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