And now for something completely different: a restaurant story that has (almost) nothing to do with the coronavirus. The tale connects one of Houston’s best restaurants with a well-connected college freshman.
At the end of service on March 29, Kaiser Lashhari, chef-owner of acclaimed Houston restaurant Himalaya, forwards the restaurant’s phone number to his personal cell phone. Himalaya is closed on Mondays, but Lashkari still needs to be able to receive catering orders, answer questions, that sort of thing.
It’s a sequence he’s done hundreds of times, but, exhausted after what had been one of the most emotionally trying weeks of his long career, he entered the wrong number.
Wesley Gow — son of David Gow, CEO of CultureMap’s parent company Gow Media — thought his friends were playing a prank on him. Beginning around lunch time, his phone kept ringing with people who thought his number belonged to Himalaya.
“I was confused,” Wesley Gow tells CultureMap. “When I looked it up on Google, it wasn’t my number. But when you clicked on it, it would call me.”
Unable to reach the restaurant by phone (obviously) and concerned it was losing a substantial amount of business, father and son drove to Himalaya to resolve the problem. Of course, they found it closed. They also began to realize how popular the restaurant is.
“I think we counted 30 calls from random numbers,” Gow says. “I was trying to tell people [they had the wrong number]. It was craziness.”
That’s when Mr. Gow, as he’s known around the office, contacted CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler (aka, me), his employee, for help to resolve the situation. With a couple of texts from writer to chef, Lashkari had corrected the mistake. Gow, who’s currently attending the University of Chicago from his home in Houston, stopped receiving calls from people trying to order chicken hara masala and garlic naan.
As for Himalaya, Lashkari says the restaurant’s business is down, but it’s faring reasonably well. He only had to lay off three of his 16 employees. He thinks the quality of the food may even be a little better because he has more time to focus on it.
“We are keeping our head above the water,” Lashkari says. “People showing us love and support, that means the world to me.”
Usually, Himalaya has a full dining room during the week and a wait on the weekends. The work can be stressful, and the chef has even threatened to retire on a couple of occasions. Suddenly deprived of the usual hustle, Lashkari realized how much he misses it.
“All these years I said I want to retire,” he says. “Hell no, man. I will come in a wheelchair and keep working for as long as I can. I am bored with this pace.”
Himalaya, 6652 Southwest Fwy, is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday - Sunday beginning at 11:30 am. The phone number is 713-532-2837 (we promise).