The Men of Houston

On business, motivation, and their love of HTX.

Owen Conflenti, Anchor, KPRC2

You are Houston's reigning king of TikTok. How much time do you spend making those hilarious videos? 

I spend anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours on any given TikTok video, depending on how complicated the production is. With dancing, no matter how simple the choreography, it probably takes me 50 times to get it right. Sometimes, the actual editing process can take a while, like the time I sent a coffee cup rocketing out of the studio in my video.

What is attractive to you about that particular social media platform? 

I love the way music and sound are central to the content. Mashing up video, text, graphics, and effects isn't as cool or entertaining without TikTok's extensive audio library. I've enjoyed collaborating creators it is something I've never done before with other platforms. 

What do your kids think about their dad having almost 1 million followers? 

It's funny because my kids are the reason I'm on TikTok at all! They showed me the app in late 2018, and I haven't looked back. They enjoy producing videos with me, and I think the process of creating content develops their creativity and sense of humor. 

What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

The people. The people make the place, and this place is full of great folks. You see it during any crisis — incredible souls doing the best they can to help themselves, their friends, family, neighbors. 

Drake, Leonards

Executive Chef, Eunice

At what point did you realize you were going to become a chef?

I knew I wanted to be a chef early on; I started in a small kitchen during high school and cooked my way through college. I grew up around great home cooks and learned that a great pantry and fresh local ingredients, many of which were smoked, caught, and hunted by friends and neighbors, were

keys to great cooking. 

What personal quirks does your team tease you about?

I have a very distinct southern Louisiana accent and tend to talk fast when I get excited. From New York to our kitchen today and all places in between, I think everyone has their version of the "Drake" voice.


What is your ideal Houston menu?

I love to cook and entertain at home, but my ideal Houston menu would have the foods that my family and I eat when I'm not cooking. Having access to the same blue crabs, shrimp, and oysters from the Texas coast that have inspired countless dishes on the Louisiana coast is a real treat. I could envision a spread of raw and mesquite-grilled oysters along with a salad of chilled crab and shrimp dressed in avocado, tomato, and fresh lime. A well smoked beef brisket with all the fixings from Feges BBQ and fresh warm flour tortillas would be on the table, as well. To drink, we would have a mixed six-pack from some of the incredible Houston breweries and wine picked by my buddy Guy Stout. Strawberry gelato from SweetCup Gelato would be the perfect way to end our meal.


What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

Houston is a fantastic place to live. The support that Houstonians have shown our restaurant, our team, and my family has been truly humbling.

Kyle Noonan, CEO, FreeRange Concepts

How do you stay innovative in all of your restaurant concepts? 

From an innovation standpoint, it is essential to understand what the consumer wants and is doing - to understand consumer habits. Secondly, it is important to look at what the competition is doing and try to do it a little bit differently so that we stand out. For example, from the beginning The Rustic was philosophically a restaurant with live music as opposed to a live music venue that serves food. Our newest concept, The Rustic Post Oak, is going to be an elevated dining experience with live music. It is going to cater to the inner-loop crowd that wants a great meal and live music.

Is there one thing that you are secretly obsessed with having in all of your restaurants?

I believe firmly from a restaurant design experience that a great crowd with good energy is the secret sauce to a successful restaurant. It is vital to figure out the way to bring the crowd to you. Once you have that – everything else becomes a backdrop.

What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

I love Houston's diversity. It is the most international city and I love the spirit that comes from that. You get so much flavor and excitement from all the different perspectives that make Houston so special and unique.

I believe firmly from a restaurant design experience that a great crowd with good energy is the secret sauce to a successful restaurant.

Pierre Russell, Owner, Spar Houston

What is the most prominent misconception people have about working out? 

People think you need a lot of time to get a good workout in, but in reality, you only need between 20-30 minutes. Some of the best sessions I have with my clientele are 30-minute sessions. If you are working within the right heart rate zones and know how many calories you are trying to burn, it is easy to get in a great workout without spending hours in the gym.

For most people, there is no reason to spend hours in the gym. You only need between 20-30 minutes for a great workout.

If you could only have one piece of workout equipment for the rest of your days, what would it be?

The piece of equipment that is most versatile and that I have used the most is really simple – a resistance band. You can use it for upper body, lower body and total body. It's just a piece of rubber, but they come in different weights and widths, and you can do so much with it to have an excellent resistance-based workout.

What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

That is easy – the thing I love the most about Houston is hands down the food. I love walking down Washington where I can have almost any kind of meal I want. I love the diverse food culture.

Lou Savarese, Owner, Savarese Fight Fit

What attracted you to the sport of boxing?

My family has a history of fighters, so I have always been around boxing. I received a college scholarship but wasn't interested in college, because I knew I always wanted to be a professional boxer. 

Being inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame is quite an accomplishment – what are the next goals on your bucket list?

I own Savarese Fight Fit and want to help my clients genuinely feel good about themselves. I am building a brand that I hope one day I can turn it into a franchise and hand it over to my kids.

What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

Houston has become home to me for sure. It's a lot easier to get around in versus New York City. It's diverse, I have so many friends here, and the food is fantastic. I am Italian, so we're all about the food.

William Wheless, Realtor, Wheless Realty

Real estate in Houston can sometimes be very volatile. How do you stay motivated during lean times?

Real estate is an ebb and flows business, so I try to prepare for the slow seasons mentally and not fight it when the tide is out. During lean times, I aim to nurture my relationships, both professionally and personally, which helps when the real estate business starts to accelerate. 

What is your favorite style of home right now? 

I was initially drawn to real estate because I love architecture and appreciate all the various styles across the city of Houston. Any style can be appealing as long as it is well done and doesn't cut corners. 

What do you enjoy the most about Houston? 

I love the fabulous restaurants and the wonderful people who make up this great city.  

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