Chef-owner Christine Ha and her husband and business partner John Suh at The Blind Goat, a Vietnamese gastro pub in Bravery Chef Hall, 409 Travis.
Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer
Texan Matthew McConaughey has been involved in many projects outside of his award-winning acting career. Although it seems (for now at least) let Gov. Greg Abbott challenge his gubernatorial election for former representative Beto O’Rourke, his latest venture is to highlight small business owners, some of whom are right here in Houston.
Chef Christine Ha and her husband John Suh, owners of Houston restaurants Blind Goat and Xin Chào, are featured in a video series from Homebase, a startup in which McConaughey is an investor.
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“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities,” McConaughey said in a statement. “And behind everyone are people who take risks, overcome challenges, and stay true to themselves throughout the process. In my experience, this is how we choose to adapt or move on. persevere in the face of these challenges, the kind of challenges small business owners face we turn red lights into green. These are stories of hard work and resilience. These stories need to be told. “
The “Grit & Greenlights” Video Series is inspired by the actor’s book, “Greenlights,” which talks about the “red lights” that challenge us in life, such as the COVID-19 pandemic for so many business owners and workers.
Homebase helps over 100,000 small businesses with processes like parking meters, employee scheduling, payroll, hiring, and onboarding. Based in San Francisco, the start-up was launched in 2015 and has offices in Houston, Austin and three other cities in the United States and Canada.
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In the videos, McConaughey chats with small business owners across the country virtually, including Fuzzy Goat in Georgia, Antique Taco in Chicago, and Omega Roofing in Idaho.
During a video call with McConaughey, Ha begins by talking about her parents, who came to the United States in 1975 as refugees from Vietnam, a day before the fall of Saigon.
She sees herself first and foremost as a home cook, she told the actor. People in her life who thought her history as a visually impaired home cook was interesting encouraged her to apply for “MasterChef”. She won the competition in 2012, and it kicked off her career – but it was a learning curve from home cook and nominee to owning a business and operating a restaurant.
The Blind Goat, the Vietnamese gastronomic pub in Ha and Suh, opened in 2019 in the Bravery Chef Hall. When the pandemic began in early 2020, Ha said they had already signed the lease for Xin Chào. They initially received rent relief, but it quickly sold out, and they had to go ahead and get creative to open a restaurant during a pandemic.
McConaughey remarked that now is “not the perfect time to start a new business.”
Suh, in one of two videos released on November 19, dedicated to the couple, recalls a Korean saying that literally translates to: “If you pull out a knife, the least you can do is cut a daikon radish.”
Saying this, Suh throws a large daikon and cuts it in half with a knife in the air. This means that if you are doing something, don’t do it halfway, although it does use a more colorful word.