Fruitful beginnings

Finalist
Retail & Wholesale

Unemployment worked out well for Jerry Lasco.

Losing his pilot job during the decline of the airline industry after Sept. 11 turned out not to be a bad thing after all, as Lasco recognized that the layoff was his chance to live out his dreams. And so, the path to Lasco Enterprises began.

Lasco had a vision to own a business centered on the wine industry. He had tasted wines all over the world while traveling with his wife, Laura, and he wanted to share his knowledge and enjoyment with others. But there was still more to learn before opening an operation, so he took a job in a retail wine store, learned the industry and fine-tuned his palate.

The Lascos opened one of Houston’s first wine bars, The Tasting Room Wine Cafe in Uptown Park, in 2003. A welcoming environment allows customers to taste wines and relax in the cafe before they buy, removing the fear and intimidation that novice wine consumers sometimes feel. That environment contributed to the wine bar’s success and led Lasco to second location in Austin.

Trying to reach multiple audiences, the Lascos also opened MAX’S Wine Dive for the unpretentious crowd. The business mixes gourmet comfort foods with unique wine pairings.

But, as CEO, Lasco hasn’t stopped there. He’s always considered himself an entrepreneur whose innovative ideas break traditional cultural molds. His third endeavor is The Black Door, a wine social Web network that advertises events, vendors and places to order wine online. But instead of having the wine delivered to the customer’s door, he or she picks it up at a local retailer.

Lasco continues to develop new ideas and plans to grow his enterprise to 30 locations across the country within the next five years.

How to reach: Lasco Enterprises, (713) 993-9800 or