No time to whine

Jerry Lasco, president and CEO, Lasco Enterprises LLC

Jerry Lasco used to fly planes for the U.S. Air Force and then Continental Airlines, but after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was furloughed and found himself out of work.

He saw this as an opportunity to shift gears. He and his wife enjoyed traveling internationally, and wine tasting had always been a part of that experience. So he took an hourly position at a Houston wine store, where he brushed up on the wine industry and fine-tuned his palette while planning his next move.

He saw the low-margin retail wine market and became drawn to the idea of a wine bar. In 2003, he and his wife invested all of their savings to open one of the first wine bars in Houston, The Tasting Room. It flourished and continues to set the standard for other wine bars. By 2006, he had opened two additional wine bars. He went through four expansions, and in early 2011 opened his flagship Tasting Room location with 14,000 square feet.

In 2008, he added MAX’s Wine Dive, a restaurant concept that combined gourmet comfort food and wines from around the world. Off-the-wall combinations such as fried chicken and champagne, or hot dogs with shiraz, made the concept a success.

Bon Appétit magazine named MAX’s Wine Dive concept one of the “Hot 10” wine bars in the country, and Texas Monthly named Lasco Enterprises as one of the “Best places to work in Texas.”

Lasco continues to push forward to grow his business. He now has more than 275 employees and is dedicated to offering a distinctive wine experience to customers — excellent wine from around the world and delicious, approachable cuisine in a relaxed and enjoyable environment.

How to reach: Lasco Enterprises LLC, (713) 622-4003 or