Friday, February 25, 2011

Mai's Restaurant Rising from the Ashes a Pham-ily Affair

Mai's Restaurant, a Houston institution as the first choice for Vietnamese cuisine for over 30 years, is reopening April 16th fourteen months after a fire threatened to extinguish the hopes and dreams of now four generations of Anna Pham's family. February 15th, 2010 just one day after Tet, the celebration of the Lunar New Year, Mai's Restaurant at 3403 Milam suffered a devastating fire for which no one in the family was prepared.

Anna Pham, grand-daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in Houston in 1975, was seven months pregnant with her third child. She saw the desperation and loss of hope in her family's eyes and those of employees who had known nothing other than the pride of continuing on the traditions of Houston's first Vietnamese restaurant.

Now just one week away from a Grand Re-Opening for which reservations are currently being accepted, the final touches are being made in preparation for the, albeit interrupted, continued tradition of excellence. The list of those impressed by Mai's Restaurant includes entertaining legends ranging from Patti LaBelle to ZZ Top, and movers and shakers from the political landscape that include ex-Presidents, Mayors, and council members.

Anna Pham charged herself with the accountability and responsibility to lead Mai's Restaurant onward by executing a strategy that embraces a balance between the establishment's revered and honored history with its bright future. A graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in marketing and management and ten years of business experience under her belt, Anna knew that her vision to lead Mai's forward would be well served by a commitment to leverage social media networking and the latest technological applications of Facebook and Twitter with a ubiquitously recognized as requisite web presence.

This departure from the family tradition of business that had previously relied solely on word of mouth and reputation, was in fact a natural progression. Enlisting the expertise of Kimberly Park Communications to ensure the proper marketing of the restaurant and it's reopening means it will be ready to serve its excited loyal clientele hungry to return to one of their favorite restaurants. Anna recognizes dining is a social experience, and her use of Studio Red Architects has left Mai's nearly double the occupancy of the original 107 to 211 left to dine within its tranquil and relaxing design of jade and bamboo.

Anna's vision was to create with interior transitions a marriage of three generations with an appreciation for the foundation of success of the past with hope for the future. The result: hip Japanese Restaurant meets established Steakhouse. Because the restaurant's long hours of availability means Anna had to ensure the interior was as appropriate for people enjoying a business lunch as it was for late-night weekend revelers, she ensured the interior was pleasing and exciting to all.

They say that "taxes" are one of only two guarantees in life. But just one day after your tax returns are due, I guarantee you will be impressed with the efforts borne of the energy and passion of Anna Pham as she has taken Mai's Restaurant forward and beyond tragedy and positioned it for 30 more years of greatness as it continues to be Houston's first choice for Vietnamese cuisine.

Mai's Restaurant
3403 Milam Houston, Texas

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baseball Scores Big

OK, sports fan, you made it through the first of roughly 30 weekends with no NFL. Never mind that in less than a month the current labor agreement between players and owners expires and then we will be in very real peril of either a delayed season, or---perish the thought...a complete cancellation of the 2011 campaign!

That's probably just "Chicken Little, meet Doomsday" worrying. I am guessing billionaire owners and millionaire players will figure out a way to get things resolved. Regardless, it is time to find something else other than football to entertain you. Maybe it is too soon to get wrapped up in college hoops to hone your knowledge of teams and their intricacies relative to where you should seed them in your office's March Madness Tournament Bracket Challenge, or too early to devote yourself to the NBA as they jockey for playoff positioning for a post-season that does not get interesting for yet another 100 days!

That leaves us with baseball. But, if you are like me, you find the traditional reporting of "Hits, Runs, and Errors" deficient in adequately describing the game's action. So, stay with me as I offer you a way to make baseball every bit as compelling and entertaining an engagement of your time as is football: Big Play Scoring!


Points / Big Play Description
1 Triple with No Outs
1 Run
2 Stealing Home
2 Home run
3 Two RBI Home Run
4 Three RBI Home Run
5 Grand Slam Home Run


Points / Big Play Description
1 Double Play
1 Bases Loaded Inning-ending Out
1 Runner Thrown Out stealing / leading off / tagging up
2 Inning-ending Double Play
3 Bases Loaded Inning-ending Double Play


Points / Big Play Description
1 RISP Strikeout
1 Closer Strikeout
2 Bases Loaded Inning-ending Strikeout

Remember, no "doubling up" on big play points. It's one or the other. But, as always, tally the greater number of "big play points" for any given Big Play. Also, big play points earned are big play points kept. No play, no matter how boneheaded, results in subtraction of big play points.

Play Ball!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Bay's Defense Prevents Pittsburgh's Offense from Winning Superbowl XLV

I'm sure the Green Bay Packers could not have been happy with having earlier had a three touchdowns to three points lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers to now lead by only six points in Superbowl XLV. With only two minutes remaining and Ben Roethlisberger with a resume that already included a Super Bowl winning touchdown drive in the waning seconds just two years earlier versus the Cardinals, the Green Bay defense had to admit there was a bit of a Packer Pucker Factor going on.

The Packers knew all too well of Roethlisberger's capability of late-game heroics without recounting past Superbowls. The last time these two teams met was week #14 in the 2009 regular season. That game was a Heinz Field Shoot-out the Steelers won 37-36 on the final play of the game on a 19-yard Wallace touchdown reception with no time remaining courtesy of the aforementioned more than capable of heroics Big Ben. That game was a stunner in more ways than one: It featured 52 "Big Plays", 29 of them provided by Pittsuburgh to Green Bay's 23. The final drive included a converted 4th & 7 with a 32-yard Santonio Holmes reception. Once again, Green Bay led by six with their defense on the field versus an opponent they knew all too well through personal experience was able to drive the length of the field in a pressurized situation and score a game winning touchdown to persevere by one measly point.

Today's game had amazing symmetry to both their game 14 months earlier, and Superbowl XXXII. But in this contest Green Bay cut Pittsburgh's Big Plays by 50% from their previous meeting, while Green Bay played at an even higher level. Early in the third quarter, Roethlisberger on a 2nd & 7 scrambled for a six-yard gain that he took out of bounds rather than absorb the impact of a collision with Packers Safety Charlie Peprah. That's not the kind of attitude and effort at heroics we have come to expect from Superbowl winning quarterbacks ever since John Elway's famous helicopter hit from Super Bowl XXXII, coincidentally, also against the Packers.

Never mind that the ensuing 3rd & 1 was easily converted on the next just somehow knew that this quarterback this time was not going to have what it took. And he didn't. The Green Bay Packers forced the Pittsburgh Steelers to turn it over on downs after a failed 4th & 5 pass attempt to Wallace.

In a post-season that saw the Green Bay Packers recover from a regular season that one didn't have to be a "hawk-eye" to see that they were a walking M*A*S*H unit, they ramped up their big play making ability against a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that was content to rev down their style to one of executing long, methodical, grind-it-out drives.

75% of the previous Superbowls had a team commit at least 3 turnovers, and then lose the game more than 90% of the time. Pittsburgh fell into that statistical disadvantage with Big Ben's two interceptions and Rashard Mendenhall's fumble resulting in 21 points for the Packers offense.

In the end, it was too much for the Steelers to overcome, and the Packers won Superbowl XLV 31 - 25.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super-Bowling for Combine

I know you judge the success of the NFL in your city of Houston by the success (or lack thereof) of your hometown Texans, but I have a thought for you as sobering and every bit as disheartening as it is for a 7-year old to hear there in fact is no Santa Claus:

It does not matter if your Houston Texans NEVER make the playoffs, much less WIN a post-season game for the Bayou City to be a strong contributor to the continued dominance and success of the NFL. The only thing it takes for an NFL city to be tenable is a fan base that loves football. I did not say the fan base has to love its team, and for the record, for the moment you do. All the people have to do is love the product that is the world's highest level of professional football, and given its availability, they will stand in line on Sunday to slurp it up.

100 days from now for the 2011 NFL Draft you are going to be settled around your HD Flat Screen or at a local bar on an uncomfortable stool surrounded by comforting waitstaff serving watered down draft beer as you watch the Houston Texans select their team's next player. Don't believe me? To quote John Bender (John Hughes fan---sue me!), "I'll bet you a million dollars you are."

But before the draft you will be showing your friends your original formula for analysis of the athleticism of this year's rookie class, based on what you saw at the combine in Indy. So, while some may point to this weekend as the end of the 2010 season, you and I know it's really just the beginning of the continuation of the glorious continuum that is the NFL circle of life!

So put on the most garish garment of your local lanes' wardrobe and yell like there's no tomorrow for a "7 - 10 Split", because we're going Super-Bowling for Combine!