Houston isn’t only the fourth-most populous city in the United States, but it climbed the moving trend charts to become the number one city where Americans chose to move post-pandemic. Blame it on no state tax, warmer weather, lower cost of living, or something as simple as culinary diversity, it made sense for Houston to host the first-ever Honeyland Festival.
The all-star lineup features Mary J. Blige, Miguel, Tems, Scarface, Tobe Nwigwe, Jasmine Sullivan, and more. Nestled at the intersection of musical art, culture, and food; the Beats, Eats, and Drinks festival, not only provides a platform for artists and creators, it also serves as a powerful catalyst for exploring those who make up the 9% of black-owned restaurants, and the 2% of Blacks in the spirits industry. As the vibrant month of celebrating Black Business comes to a close, we explore how Honeyland Festival contributes to the spirit of Black Business Month in an exclusive interview with one of Houston’s most notable restaurateurs and his business partner. Steve Rogers and Rob Wright, who will showcase their talents at the festival November 11th & 12th.
Steve Rogers is not new to the business, he is a 20-plus-year entrepreneur. If you live in Houston, Texas, you might remember the Bar 5015 and Almeda Hospitality Group owner from his Paul Mitchell marketing days. Or maybe you remember your first dance at his first night-scene location on Southmore, Sugar Hill, which he and his business partner Rob Wright opened together. If none of that rings a bell, maybe Turkey Leg Hut & Prospect Park which he co-owns will. Since then, he’s brought Bar 5015, Faces, Rockhouse Houston, and The Warwick to Houston’s Restaurant and Bar Scene.
“Concept King” as we like to call him, Steve Rogers, saw the opportunity to create multiple spaces that catered to sub-groups within the culture. “We understand that everything is not for everyone and so we started carving out spaces where we saw a need”, said business partner Rob Wright. Bar 5015 is the perfect neighborhood bar, which turns into a concert venue on the weekends with their Legends Only Concerts and is a top contender in Houston for Brunch on Sundays. Warwick is an upscale fine-dining restaurant that caters to those wanting an elevated dining experience, while, Rockhouse Houston is a predominately live music-driven venue reviving Houston’s open mic scene post-pandemic. All three deliver a rich diversity of black cuisine from all over the world including the diaspora. Conceptually, what they have done aligns perfectly with Honeyland Festival because “it is a tribute to exactly what [they] are doing with Warwick and Rockhouse”. –Rob Wright
The Appetizer- Honeyland Fest
“We couldn’t be happier that they reached out to us. We just want to make sure that people understand that we are a relative force in the city in terms of our culinary landscape so we are excited to join Texas Chefs like Don Burrell, Keisha Griggs, Bun B, and more to highlight the influence that our culinary scene has to offer nationwide. If you’re looking for conversations from rising chefs in the industry, or how to break into the food and beverage industry as a black entrepreneur, we are going to be a conduit for that as well. We are open to telling our story and we are excited for that.” – Rob Wright
As far as the food goes, have you ever had an Oxtail Eggroll or a Creole Pizza? The dynamic duo are working with Chef Jabril Riddick to bring those culinary creations to life placing attendees in a foodie paradise come November. Bar 5015, The Warwick, and Rockhouse Houston are also known for perfectly priced/creative cocktails. Steve & Rob mentioned that they will be working with Fawn Weaver, the founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, the festival’s beverage curator, to create some amazing hand-crafted cocktails.
Some of the best conversations are had over food. This is what sets Honeyland Fest apart. Dedicated to providing professional training and career development for black creators, Honeyland offers an immersive experience through conversations with National and local leaders and tastemakers in the industry. In an environment where many feel like intellectual property is the real wealth, Steve and Rob are emphasizing giving attendees the dos and don’ts, pros and cons, and multiple hats they will have to wear as an entrepreneur during the festival.
Again, giving away the “game” for free isn’t a new concept for Steve. His philanthropic efforts greatly impact the city, be that through education, monetary support, or donating his precious time to train and mentor individuals in business. He exclusively gave us a heads up on the Internship program he’s currently curating that will pour into the next generation of business owners, free of charge, in 2024.
There is a common thread we have seen in successful Black Business Owners in the food and beverage industry, their tenacity, resilience, and ability to juice every lemon thrown at them to craft the perfect Lemon Drop! Due to this, we are constantly asking the greats, what’s next? However, the sweet spot, according to Steve and Rob, is balance and quality mental health care. Steve, who is used to the rigorous life that entrepreneurship can bring, spoke about taking time to enjoy the produce he’s been growing over the last 20-plus years. For his mental health, Steve spoke to creating a healthy routine of running three times a week. The engaged business owner also emphasizes taking time away to decompress once a month. Rob, who has been married for 2 years, spoke on home being his peace and keeping his mental health in the best shape by not bringing work home, but being present for his wife and child, letting his family life center him. It doesn’t hurt to also be married to a Therapist.
Honeyland is going to be a unique festival creating a culminating experience of Black expression with food, spirits, music, and art. So head over to HoneylandFestival.com for tickets.