We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Wolfe and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Daniel, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
My favorite quote comes from Disney’s “The Jungle Book!” The exact quote is longer and known as “the law of the jungle” but the part that sticks out for me is this: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” I, of course, add an “E” to the end of the word Wolf as it reflects my last name, Wolfe. I really like this quote as it embodies the way in which I view my team. Part of what makes me so successful is the incredible team I have behind me. Without them, I would not be able to do what I do On the flip side, having been in the industry for nearly a decade, I am strong in every area of the kitchen and can jump in with my team and work right alongside them depending on how deep in the trenches we are. Part of being a member of our Pak is knowing that every single person’s opinion matters, and we are all people so it’s important to treat each other like that. There may be a leader, but everyone has a place and value in the pak.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I graduated from the University of Hilton, Conrad N. Hilton College in May 2016. While in school, I worked for one of Houston’s leading event companies, interned in the middle east, and made tons of industry connections. Upon graduating I took a job with a local food supply company. Shortly after I left that job for hotels, then to the travel industry, and finally, I worked as a chef for a retail company. While working for other companies, I started my own catering company, Wolfe & Wine Co. with the goal of working for myself by the time I was 30. I ran my catering company on the weekends and limited my bookings so as to not interfere with my full-time job. I said when I think I could support myself in my business alone, I’d quit my full-time job. I loved my job as a chef in retail at first. I got to create, talk to customers, be a trusted source for advice on making peoples nights with delicious dinners, etc. Slowly, I moved along to different stores as openings became available. It was at my second to the last store that made me stop enjoying the job. My manager was for a lack of better terms “A buzzkill.” He had a way of taking whatever motivation you had and wiping it away within minutes. He didn’t value the input from my team or me. When I would bring a problem to him that I couldn’t solve, it was “I’m too busy to handle that.” I was ready to start looking for another job because I was miserable, but then someone up above had a different plan. I was promoted to do the grand opening of a new store that was closer to home, had a different manager, and was in a high profile area of town. Things were going great again. I got to hire and develop a new team, my opinion was valued and I was happier. But sadly, it was all an act. On Grand Opening day, things were going amazing. Shortly before my lunch break, my regional manager called me in the office to talk about how the day was going. I thought it was going to be a good meeting; we were #1 in the company that day, customers had nothing but positive feedback, etc. Instead of being a positive meeting, I was confronted with my catering business. My regional manager and the store manager told me that I was competing with the company and I had to close my business. I was told I was in violation of company policy. When I tried to speak I was shut down. I asked, “When I was hired, I negotiated on my offer that I was not bound by a non-compete policy and it says it explicitly on my offer letter.” I was told that didn’t matter. They tried to claim that they didn’t know about my company until recently. But I knew that was a lie because my managers used to ask me about it all the time. So the meeting ended and I was left with an ultimatum of “Close your business, cancel your events, and continue working or resign from the company.” I was given a week to decide. A week came and went and I went to the office to give my decision. I decided to do nothing. In my opinion, I was doing nothing wrong. I closed the office door and told my manager “I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong, I’ve worked too hard to get this promotion to open this store and I’ve worked too hard to get my business off the ground and I’m not quitting on my dreams. If you want me to quit, I’ll be sitting right here in this chair and you can fire me.” I was fired on February 4, 2020. I hit the ground running trying to stay afloat and grow my catering business. The rest of February was amazing. It was my best month on record. Then March and the pandemic came. I lost everything. In 48 hours, I had over $200,000 in events cancel. I started questioning my decision. But then I decided, no time like the present. In short my experience, taught me a few things, and these lessons are what I try to instill in my companies culture. 1.) Everyone’s opinion matters. 2.) Respect is not an option, it is required. 3.) People are people, they have families, pets, interests, hobbies, etc. They deserve a work-life balance. and most importantly, I want to create a company where people WANT to come to work.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, this is easy! Let’s say our trip starts on a Monday morning. The first thing we’re doing after I get them from the airport is going to Max’s Wine Dive off Fairview for Fried Chicken & Champagne. We’ll have a grand old time and drink way too many mimosas. That’ll lead us home to nap off the buzz. Afterward, we’ll head on a stroll along buffalo bayou all the way to Allen’s Landing. Tuesday is for Tacos so you can best believe we’re going for them. We’d either end up at Ninfa’s on Navigation or Pico’s on Kirby. Wednesday would have been a night at Wild West, but that’s not a thing anymore. Thursday we’d spend the time at Houston’s museums and Herman Park. Friday would be a relaxing day and maybe a movie at the Rooftop Cinema Club followed by a few beers at Axelrad.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The number of people who deserve credit for helping me get to where I am at today is incredibly high. However, there are a few people that come to mind right away that have helped me with my latest endeavor. Lyn Hale – My personal assistant, kitchen manager, and right hand. Lyn started out with me a little over a year and a half ago as my housekeeper for my AirBNB Properties. In that short year and a half, Lyn and I have developed an incredible relationship and she has stood by me during the entire process of opening a restaurant, launching a new brand, expanding my catering operation. Her input and ideas have been invaluable and are a key part of what will make our new venture successful. Another person who has an unmeasurable value would be our Catering Director, Stephanie. Stephanie & I have been friends for almost six years. When I decided I wanted to open a restaurant, I called her and said “I want you to come work for me” and without hesitation, her response was “When do I start?” She has helped grow our team, contribute to menu development, been a sounding board for ideas, and been an amazing person overall. Our designer, Hebah. People think a designer picks colors, tile, and pretty stuff, and then their job is done. Hebah told me her job was only starting when we had that done. She has been the glue that has held my sanity intact. Her expertise, eye for details, and value to our team is incredible. She has thought of things that will make a huge difference that no-one else in my team would have ever imagined. Last but not least would be the friends and family I have. Without them, I would have made excuses as to why I couldn’t do this or why I shouldn’t. Because of them, I “bit the bullet” and went all-in to make my dreams happen.

Website: www.citycellarshtx.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/citycellarshtx/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/City-Cellars-HTX-105495034400641
Other: My company consists of three brands, Wolfe & Wine Co, Dinner Winners, and City Cellars HTX.

Image Credits
Headshot & Dinner Winners Photography provided by Kirk Surber of Kirk Surber Photography and Cinematography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.