One of the lady’s friends from high school was getting married in Houston, so we hopped on a plane and headed out to the Lone Star State. It was a really quick, hit-and-run, day trip kind of trip. We did a lot of driving around, marveling at how spread out Houston is. And how we spent more time on highways than anything else to get around.
We flew into George Bush Intercontinental Airport, wondering if it was different from an international airport. We took the shuttle to where the rental cars are. We spent much more time there than we wanted to because the lady’s driver’s license number has already in the system for someone else. Apparently, some states use the same numbering system and the car rental’s system couldn’t sort by state. Backwards.
Most of the wedding party stayed at Hotel Derek, west of downtown Houston, in a ritzy area with a fancy mall that reminded me of Tysons Corner in the DC area.
And somehow, we were fortunate enough to get one of the few rooms with a balcony.
While driving downtown in the morning to get something to eat, we passed by Lakewood Church, home to Joel Osteen Ministries. Didn’t even know he was in Houston.
Joel Scott Osteen is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas. His ministry is seen by over 7 million broadcast media viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 nations around the world. Osteen has written five New York Times Bestselling books. He has been widely nicknamed “The Smiling Preacher.”
We really didn’t spend much time exploring Houston, even though we left the little back in DC. We drove around a lot, through downtown, grabbed a burger at Whattaburger [Sorry, I wasn’t impressed], cruised through some rich people’s neighborhood and also drove through the 5th Ward.
After the American Civil War, newly freed slaves (freemen) began settling in the sparsely settled area. In 1866, it became the Fifth Ward and an alderman from the ward was elected to Houston’s City Council. By the mid-1880s, it was virtually all black, home to working-class people who made their livings in Houston’s eastside ship channel and industrial areas or as domestics for wealthy Houstonians. Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, founded in 1865 by a former slave, is the oldest church in the ward. Five other churches are over a hundred years old. Also home to the famous “Island of Hope (Anderson Memorial Temple) COGIC” the oldest Pentecostal church in Fifth Ward. Over the years it had been home to the city’s minority and immigrant population. Although it had always been a mostly black area, Latinos, Filipino Americans, Pakistani Americans, and Italian Catholics also moved there.
It wasn’t pretty. Reminds me of Ward 8 in DC.
But, we were really just looking for breakfast. Looking up places to eat on Foursquare, it recommended a place called The Breakfast Klub. When we turned the corner and saw a line wrapped around the parking lot, we kept driving. Well, for maybe a block. Any place with a line that long has to have some good food.
We got in line. And it didn’t move as fast as we were hoping, but maybe that anticipation is what made us more determined and looking forward to getting inside. While standing in line, I Googled the place. 4.5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor; 89% on UrbanSpoon; rave review here; another rave review there; spotlight newspaper articles in every Houston publication; local TV shows, bloggers and foodies featuring the restaurant; everyone talking about the Wings and Waffles and its owner.
As boys growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, breakfast excited Marcus Davis and his two brothers. As they rode home, their mother would sometimes ask if they wanted breakfast for dinner. The owner of The Breakfast Klub in Houston remembers how happy that question made them.
“It was a treat for us, but really, she was tricking us because she didn’t feel like cooking, and probably at the time, we couldn’t afford much more,” says Davis. However humble those dinners of eggs and biscuits might have been, breakfast became his favorite meal.
Davis, a 41-year-old husband and father of three, created one of Houston’s favorite destinations by combining his love of breakfast with a desire to fill a void in his beloved city. He noticed the popular coffee houses did not serve grits. The breakfast shops had the grits, but poured coffee that tasted like dishwater. Davis decided to give people in Houston a place where the coffee is memorable and the food legendary by opening The Breakfast Klub in September of 2001.
We weren’t disappointed. Not only was the food good, but the service exceeded expectations. They had the sweetest lady outside passing out menus, talking to the people, and many of the people knew her back. When you order your food and it’s time to be seated, though this is a breakfast joint, you get seated and treated as if this place was serving up $50 steaks. And as we ate, we looked out the window, and an hour or so later, the line was still just as long, people waiting to get in.
And then, there was the article about Breakfast Klub’s Marcus Davis and the Barack Obama mural just around the corner.
The highlight of the trip, though, was the wedding. It was a garden wedding at The Bell Tower on 34th Street, the perfect venue for a wedding.
Juni and Chanler, all I can say, perfect match. The uniting of two different families, cultures and worlds coming together was flawless. The wedding was flawless. Here are just some of the photos.
The evening reception was help back at the Hotel Derek. It went on until midnight. I was surprised the lady stayed awake that long; then again, she was catching up with friends she hadn’t seen since high school.
We had a good time for it being such a short trip. Wish we had more time and could’ve caught up with my friends Tangela, visiting her parents the same weekend, and Mike Heard, we went to Osterholz American High School in Germany way, way, way back in the day, but maybe another day.
Maybe we’ll bring the little one with us. Maybe we’ll catch up with Juni and Chanler, if they’re not out traveling the world. Regardless, I know we’ll be going back to the Breakfast Klub.
* Thanks Juni and Chanler for inviting us to your special day!