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Foodie shakeup: Houston restaurant group lays off employees, but expansion plans are full speed ahead

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Jerry Lasco of The Tasting Room at bar
Jerry Lasco will assume the role of president of Lasco Enterprises in the wake of layoffs at the company.  Photo courtesy of Lasco Enterprises
Uptown Park Houston, The Tasting Room, patio
Lasco operates four locations of The Tasting Rooms across Houston.  Uptown Park Houston/Facebook
Max's Wine Dive Montrose Exterior
The company says plans to expand Max's Wine Dive outside of Texas are moving forward as scheduled. The new Montrose location opens to the public tonight.  Max's Wine Dive/Facebook
Jerry Lasco of The Tasting Room at bar
Uptown Park Houston, The Tasting Room, patio
Max's Wine Dive Montrose Exterior

Lasco Enterprises launches Houston's second Max's Wine Dive this week, but CultureMap has learned that some employees won't be part of the celebration with the company that also operates four Tasting Room locations in the Houston area.

Lasco has recently undergone a significant round of layoffs that includes president Rick Van Pelt, whose name has disappeared from the Lasco website. Chairman and founder Jerry Lasco will assume Van Pelt's role. Other changes include the departure of the general manager of The Tasting Room's Kingwood location and a shakeup in the marketing department, a source tells CultureMap. 

Chief brand officer Jonathan Horowitz tells CultureMap via email that fewer than 10 positions in the corporate office were eliminated. "We analyzed which positions were most in line with our growth plans and adjusted accordingly. In fact, we actually added a couple new positions to assist with that growth," he writes.

 "We analyzed which positions were most in line with our growth plans and adjusted accordingly."  

Horowitz also says plans are proceeding to expand Max's beyond Texas. "Atlanta is under construction. Demo of the Chicago space is complete and construction will start in February pending permitting. Both of those should open in April. The Denver lease is signed and we’re planning on a July opening there. We have LOIs (letters of intent) out in a number of other cities around the country, including some in other Texas cities. We hope to open at least a couple more locations this year."

The company will also open Flow Juice Bar next to the Montrose location of Max's next month. 

Despite both the layoffs and the fuss over the wintery weather, Max's new location in Montrose will open to the public Tuesday night as planned. 

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