We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Lovato and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I am inspired by food. It sounds like a simple, generic answer….FOOD. For me, it means so much more. Food is my passion. Food ignites so many senses. Just the sight of food (for me) sparks a Pavlovian response as my mind shifts into thoughts of, obviously how will it taste, to asking questions of how it was prepared? How can I make that dish and add something different or prepare it in a different way? Then the smell…..oh the wonderful smells! I start to work through my knowledge of spices. Trying to figure out what seasonings were used. Then the taste! Diving a little further into the flavors and textures that tie it all together. That’s just the eating part! My true passion, my joy is in the actual preparation and cooking. Being able to watch others as I arouse their senses of sight, smell and taste. Beyond that, it’s the sense of fellowship that food “brings to the table.” Whether it’s hamburgers and dogs on the grill or the recent 12 day journey I took in making my own pastrami for the first time. Food is friends, family……it’s life!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career path started, probably like most, once I graduated High School. I was never mistaken as a good student. I didn’t like school but decided to try community college. I remember telling my grandmother of my decision to continue education and she said “Great! What culinary school are you going to?” I told her I was going into law enforcement and she asked, “Why are you doing that?” Hind sight. Upon graduating, I moved to Texas to take a management job with McDonalds. It was with McDonalds I learned everything I know and use today in my ownership of a restaurant. How to manage people, not just be a boss. The effect of food and labor cost to the bottom line. Maintaining equipment. Setting standards for service, cleanliness and quality. The challenges this year with COVID-19 have been extreme for the restaurant industry. We made our very high standards even more stringent to be aligned with all local and national guidelines. Our loyal customers appreciate our efforts and have continued to do business with us. The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. It will present challenges on a daily basis that I can only describe as like turning the crank on a jack-in-the-box and never knowing when something will pop up! I’m most proud of my ability to adapt and overcome which I feel is the main reason for my success. That and the feeling that I must be doing something right when I reflect on how long some of my staff has been with me. I hired my most trusted person in charge when she was 17 years old. Still with me today, she turned 30 this past August.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to my back yard. Fire up the grill and cook some steaks or salmon. Go to a nearby relative’s house to share more food and fellowship. He has a common passion for food and life. He plays guitar, we sing, eat, smoke cigars……simple pleasures. Summer time, sit in my pool and enjoy a cocktail. Winter time, sit around the fire pit……..enjoying a cocktail. Definitely treat them to a couple “hole in wall” favorites of mine here in Arlington. Paula’s Mexican on Arkansas Lane and Fork in the Road on Fielder Road. Both are mom and pop restaurants that I would recommend without hesitation. I’m not big on site seeing. The Sixth Floor Museum is worth the time and although a little touristy, The Fort Worth Stockyards is always a good time. Of course, take them to Jambo’s BBQ on Division street for the best BBQ in town. It’s housed in the old Arlington Steak House which is the oldest building in Arlington continually running as a restaurant. (since 1931). We have big plans and surprises for 2021 to recognize this 90th year anniversary. Stay tuned!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout would have to be to my parents. Growing up in a family with 6 brothers and 4 sisters, I learned the value of hard work and to not take anything for granted. The best times I’ve ever had in my life have not been planned events but a chance gathering of several siblings. Example: We’re at Mom and Dad’s house on Hamlin Lake in Michigan. Down by the water’s edge with a fire roaring as the sun sets. A few brothers and I take the boat out to spear some fish. We return, clean the fish, wrap them in foil with butter, potato and onion then toss them in the ashes. We stand around a table and nosh. All the while watching mom and dad sit next to each other, enjoying the simple pleasures of life. The “scares” of their hard life are visible but their joy of the moment, their witty humor and love for one another and their children bubbles over……not in your face, it’s just there.
Facebook: Jambo’s BBQ at The Arlington Steakhouse