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Besides the popular Eatsie Boys food truck he runs with two longtime friends, he’s preparing to open a non-mobile Eatsie Boys café in the former Kraftsmen Baking spot in Montrose and a brewery in east downtown. But the 28-year-old wasn’t always in the food and beverage biz.

 

Both of his parents were physicians when they came here from Argentina and Soroka originally got a degree at Tulane University in New Orleans and went to work in the corporate world of finance. But it wasn’t a good fit.


“We knew he wasn’t happy,” says his mother Claudia Soroka. “He said he wanted to open a restaurant and we told him to go to school for that.”


Which he did, graduating with an MBA from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.


And right about then his school chum Alex Vassilakidis called and said he wanted to start a Greek food truck. “We saw what was happening with food trucks in other cities,” Soroka says. “But I thought we should have more than Greek food and we should get a great chef.” Enter the third school friend, chef Matt Marcus.


“A food truck was a great way to get into the restaurant business, to roll the dice without losing the house.” When he told his parents about the idea they were supportive, even though they didn’t know what a food truck was. And in part that was because his mother knew that following one’s bliss is important.


“I went through a career change myself,” she says. “So I knew what it was like to be unhappy going to work every day.” When Claudia Soroka came to Houston she was a doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital. After eight years she decided she wanted something else.

 “When we bought our second home here,” she says, “I designed it. And all of my artistic side came out! I realized I wanted to do something else.”


So she also went back to school to get a degree in design and opened her CBS Designs in Upper Kirby. And then in 1989 she went to see a play about Argentina in Spanish. Without any theater background at all, she decided to sign up for auditions, won the role as the lead in the next play and in 1994 launched Gente de Teatro, a non-profit Spanish language theater producing contemporary Latin America and Spanish plays.


“I get my creativity from her,” says Soroka, who even appeared in one of the theater’s plays as a kid. But it wasn’t the theater bug that bit him, but the culinary one.


“I would say that I have food in my blood, too,” he says. “My mom is a great cook and my Dad’s mother is a great cook and my aunt is a pastry chef. There was always just a lot of great food on the table.”


“He was never a picky eater!” adds his mom. Today the mother and son duo are combining their artistic talents as Claudia Soroka is doing the interiors of the Eatsie Boys café - set to open in late summer - and Soroka is helping his mom with growing the theater, writing a mission statement and business plan so Gente de Teatro can have a home.


“We need our own home,” says Claudia Soroka. “A place we could do a whole season of plays and present poetry readings and other Spanish arts.” The theater currently performs two to three plays a year at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the first Spanish language theater to perform there. “The Hispanic art scene is underserved in this city,”
Soroka says. “We talked about doing a theater restaurant combination, and we might still do that.”


“He has a great nose for real estate,” his Mom adds. Shortly after Sokora and his partners Vassilakidis and Marcus signed on the dotted line for the brewery space in EaDo the Dynamo’s announced the groundbreaking for the soccer stadium just four blocks away. “That was the happiest day of my life,” Soroka says. “It will be great for the brewery business.”


By the way, the beer brewing biz has been fermenting in Soroka’s blood for a long time. He brewed beer at home while in college and for his thesis he wrote a brewery business plan.


“It started as a brew pub,” says Soroka. “But then it switched to just a brewery because of the laws in Texas. That’s why we’re doing a restaurant and the 8th Wonder Brewery separate, we’re not ADD. We wanted to open them together but if we put them in the same place we couldn’t sell our beers wholesale and we want to sell to grocery stores and bars locally. We want the brewery and the café to support local producers and create jobs in Houston.”


And Sokora is enlisting his former University of Houston professors to recruit workers for the brewery and hopes to turn it into a lab for a masters program in beer brewing for the university.


With all their projects brewing, both mother and son still find time for each other and family events. Gente de Teatro has a performance at The Hobby coming up in September and the brewery should be open next month with the Eatsie Boys café opening in late September. “It’s definitely crazy right now,” says Soroka. But it sound like this mother and son duo can handle it.


Gente de Teatro’s production of Dias Contados by Oscar Martinez is September 6 – 8 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts with subtitles in English. The Eatsie Boys café is set to open in July or August at 4100 Montrose Boulevard and the 8th Wonder Brewery at 2202 Dallas St. should open shortly.