Houston Restaurant and Bar Industry Rallies for One of Its Own

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Linda Salinas, before shaving her mustache.
Linda Salinas is a talented sommelier and bartender. She's worked at and with some of Houston's best bars and restaurants: Voice, Anvil, Branch Water Tavern, Bootsie's, Beaver's, 13 Celsius and Kata Robata. She is a fixture within the industry scene, helping out at every single Houston Chowhound throwdown and working as many fundraising and charity dinners as possible. She's a former Houston Roller Derby girl and a scooter rider.

She was involved in an accident late Sunday night, on that same blue-and-white scooter for which she's often recognized, and is now in intensive care at Ben Taub. And while people are still finding out about Salinas's accident and trying to figure out how best to help, the bar and restaurant industry has already quickly mobilized to support one of its own.

So, too, has the huge community of food lovers in Houston, which is using Twitter and Facebook to set up donation pages and group accounts to help Salinas's friends keep track of updates from the hospital as well as upcoming fundraising events.

There can be just as much ego and competition as humility and camaraderie in the restaurant industry; it's a tribute to Houston's food community that it chooses to focus its energies on the latter. Donations for silent auctions to be held over the next few weeks began pouring in within hours, all organized by Greenway Coffee & Tea's David Buehrer, food fan Liz Fenton and food blogger Phaedra Cook, while Anvil's Bobby Heugel held an impromptu meeting last night at Grand Prize Bar to discuss monetary donations for Salinas's medical care and future events.

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Tracy Vaught from Backstreet Cafe, Prego and Hugo's donated a $200 gift certificate to her restaurants. Nathan Ketchum from Samba Grille donated a tasting for four along with wine pairings. Ronnie Killen from Killen's Steakhouse donated a chef's table dinner for six. Urban Harvest donated a one-year membership to Urban Harvest, as well as one individual class and a three-gallon fruit tree.

And those donations were just the tip of the iceberg.

Paul Petronella from Paulie's has organized a block party to take place this Sunday, April 10, at his restaurant. A bake sale from Jodycakes will raise money, as will donations from a silent auction to be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Many of Houston's most popular food trucks will selling food, as will Paulie's itself, the proceeds of which are also going to Salinas's medical care fund.

It doesn't stop there, though. More fundraising dinners are in the works, including a food truck rally and a tasting dinner that's tentatively scheduled to be held at Haven, which will feature food from plenty of local restaurants.

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Mindy Kucan and John Betik won't be the only ones throwing in their tips and wages for Linda Salinas.
But even more touching are the small ways in which Houston's food community is helping out: Fellow bartender Mindy Kucan volunteered to donate all of her tips from this Saturday at Anvil, by far the bar's busiest night. Bartender John Betik from BRC Gastropub offered the same for today's shift. And Catalina Coffee is selling $8 half-pounds of coffee, with all proceeds going directly to Salinas. (Chef Chris Shepherd of Catalan quickly bought up today's supply, but Catalina will have more in tomorrow.)

In an industry where so many live off tips and have no medical insurance of their own, these generous acts are reminders that we can all give during events like this, no matter our own personal situations. And they're even more visceral reminders that Houston is a pretty goddamned awesome city where people take care of each other, period.

At a time when national food website Eater is busy choosing Dallas over Houston as its next featured food city, we're too busy being awesome to care. To whit, former EOW blogger J.C. Reid put it best this morning: "I'd say the [Linda Salinas] mobilization confirms that Houston doesn't need a national rag like Eater.com to validate the food community here."

If you'd like to donate to Linda Salinas's medical fund, visit her ChipIn page. As of this writing, $2,835 has been raised. A tribute to Houston, and a tribute to Linda.



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32 comments
advinjhonsan
advinjhonsan

These acts of generosity, remind that can all give this kind of event, regardless of our circumstances. They are even more visceral reminder that Houston is a pretty impressive cursed city where people care for each other.

accountant in nyc

Mickey
Mickey

I don't know Linda but I am sending good wishes her way.

Jonjonf
Jonjonf

The first time ever I've been attracted to a Mexican with a handlebar moustache! Get well soon Salinas!

Teftell
Teftell

We all grow stronger from times like this. Houston's diverse food & drink scene truly rocks for rallying behind Linda!

ratfinkleton
ratfinkleton

Best of luck, Linda. I hope this post gets you a lot more than just $1. You deserve it.

Insured
Insured

Should have used the money from all the padded tabs to buy health insurance!

Mandi33
Mandi33

Linda is very lucky that she has lots of friends and is popular around the community she works in. There are some big name people in those restaurants with money and means to help raise funds to support her. But not everyone is blessed with such great connections. I am new in Houston, I have no insurance and a small secretary salary. Who will rally around me? Who will start my Facebook and Twitter fundraising page?

Sorry if I come across as sounding jealous or bitter. Ive been burned with hospital bills before. Like VonHauptstadt said, demand a better system overall. I wish Linda all the best in her recovery.

Kyle
Kyle

The last time I saw Linda she jokingly accused me of working PR for El Real and trivialized Tex Mex, so I think someone should bring her some El Real fajitas or enchiladas when she's well enough to eat them. :)

Fluerie28
Fluerie28

She's a great girl, and my hopes are with her completely.

Not such a great country that we have a healthcare system that will treat her, and then sue her for every asset she has, including her scooter, to cover her care. In France, England, Italy, Poland, Portugal or any other civilized country, she'd be treated and we'd be taking up a collection for her, independent of her medical care. Maybe a welcome home party.

Foodies, please direct a pea-pod of your energy toward politics.

SirRon
SirRon

I'd like to think that it isn't a Houston thing or a "food community" thing. This response it much broader; it's a community and humanity thing.

I don't know Linda at all, but I just donated. Sincerest wishes for a speedy recovery.

Rest Rant
Rest Rant

If I were a food writers like Eater.com, I wouldn't come to Houston either. Too much greatness in food writing here already. Dallas's lack of noteworthy eateries may be surpassed only by its lack of talented folks to write notes about them. Simply the path of least resistance.

Here's hoping she recovers fully and quickly.

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

Methinks that Linda would hate all this attention -- but LOVE that you chose that photo =)

Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

Thank you for taking care to recognize the wonderful people who have spearheaded the fundraising efforts. Also, sympathy for Linda has extended beyond Houston's borders - for example, Daniel Delaney of VendrTV (http://danieldelaney.com) has contributed to the fund, and posted links on his media platforms to encourage people to contribute. Fabio Vivani, of Top Chef fame, has lent his support by publicizing on his considerable mass of Twitter followers.

Humanity, at it's best, is a thing of wonder.

moxie!
moxie!

you absolutely disgust me you vile piece of merde. who are you? you have no business coming on here to spread your negativity. a great friend of this community (gastronomic, philanthropic, etc) has fallen under some truly unfortunate circumstances and you have the gall to come here and spew venom? suck it insured. just suck it.

Kyle
Kyle

And what's decent insurance with a reasonable deductible going to cost an *individual*, keeping in mind it would have needed to cover an ambulance ride, several days stay in a Level 1 trauma center's ICU, and the rest of the recovery?

Don't derail a feel-good topic for a good cause with this rude back-biting.

VonHaupstadt
VonHaupstadt

I agree with this. Bottom line is Linda is a great person, and I'm glad we can offer her support and raise money to help one of our own.

On the other hand, were Linda not a great person whom we all love and adore, she still ought to be entitled to medical treatment that will not bankrupt her. And this kind of reform will not gain traction if we just self-congratulate each other about helping one person in our in-group, and ignore the larger issues that confront us all. Teachable moment, in more than one way.

doppelstranger
doppelstranger

Wow! Talk about an inappropriate forum to bring up civic rivalries. And it's Dallas' not Dallas's.

Kagan312
Kagan312

Yes, right on, but we shouldn't have to be scrambling to cover her medical care. She ought to be covered, period. Every citizen, even if they aren't foodies, deserve to be covered. This wasn't her fault. Diabetes among kids isn't their fault. Please give a little bit of your medical imprimatur to lobbying to enact a more fair system.

Insured
Insured

Less than $200 per month.

SirRon
SirRon

Totally disagree. You should get out of your box more.

Rest Rant
Rest Rant

Thanks for your reply, Doppel, but I didn't bring it up! Katharine did in her story. Better you should read it. Dallas's is certainly correct.

And as for Linda, as I said, I wish her speedy recovery. I will be sure to contribute. Hopefully that makes you feel better.

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

I agree. However, both Dallas' and Dallas's are correct.

Kyle
Kyle

What, 80/20 co-insurance with a $5000 out of pocket cap? Which plan?

SirRon
SirRon

Whoa.

Get well soon, Linda.

VonHauptstadt
VonHauptstadt

So, SirRon, for healthcare during an accident, we should come to rely on our networks? Taking up donations?No thanks. I've seen this at Big Easy almost every week: a benefit for this musician or that one...all of whom are great and wonderful people...and all of whom can't afford healthcare.

Community giving is great. And worthwhile. And morally upstanding.But going further and demanding a better system overall is that, and exponentially that much better.

SirRon
SirRon

@KS ...but in doing so, you implied that if Linda lived somewhere else that she wouldn't have had as great of a response. Seriously, you guys showed and are continuing to show truly amazing support. 'Nuff said.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

The only reason I brought it up at all was to further highlight how great Houston's response has been to this situation. Not to start a flame war, and not as troll bait.

This is ultimately about Linda, though, so let's just focus on that. :)

doppelstranger
doppelstranger

I saw that she brought it up as well but you elaborated and they were both inappropriate given the circumstances. I will admit I was wrong in thinking it had to be Dallas'.

I don't want this article about Linda and the effort to help her turn into a flame war. As such I won't respond further.

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