Genuine Hospitality Consulting

Joe Abuso holds a unique position among restaurant consultants. He began as a CIA-trained chef who cooked in some of the country’s most prestigious establishments, then worked as a food and beverage director, and then started, operated, grew and profitably sold a top-tier, full service catering company in one of the country’s biggest markets. He has hands-on experience and success in all phases of operations – front and back of the house – as well as business planning, back-office operations, kitchen design, openings, growth strategies, operations assessments and exit strategies. His background is entrepreneurial, not corporate. When you hire Genuine Hospitality Consulting, your project won’t be handed off to an assistant, it will get the full attention and efforts of Joe Abuso, himself.

Joe Abuso –

Joe Abuso started in the Hospitality Industry as a teenager, washing pots. From this humble but useful starting point, he went on to graduate with High Honors from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After that, he cooked at some of the Country’s finest restaurants, including Café Annie in Houston, The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and was Executive Chef/Food & Beverage Director at Elk Canyon Ranch in White Sulfur Springs, Montana.

In 1994 he and his wife, Leslie, founded Abuso Catering Co., growing it into one of Houston’s most popular, successful and respected premium full-service off-premise catering operations. Abuso Catering Co. was a major player in one of the Country’s biggest markets, providing premium services to Houston’s elite in business, society and the arts, as well as numerous visiting heads of State and foreign dignitaries at The Baker Institute at Rice University.

Since selling Abuso Catering Co. in 2007, Joe consults to restaurants, bars, breweries, universities, hotels, wholesale operations, catering companies and senior living facilities with his current company, Genuine Hospitality Consulting. With both startups and established businesses, he has worked with owners and managers on business plans, financials, human resource matters, kitchen designs, coordinated every aspect of openings, written menus and recipes, sourced products, developed wine and liquor programs, developed back-office operations, and established and refined various systems and procedures, both front- and back-of-the-house. Included in this work, he has conceived and implemented a food venue at Rice University, the foodservice at Saint Arnold Brewery and several restaurant start-ups and major event sites.

He has also created, developed and implemented – from the ground up – the entire foodservice operation at one of Houston’s most respected, long-established retirement communities. This included writing their departmental budget; determining, hiring and training the management and staff; developing all the menus and recipes; and supervision of overall quality, cost controls and special events. The transition to a premium, cooked-from-scratch, fine restaurant-quality operation from a third-party, institutional provider was seamlessly orchestrated by Joe, with a one-day turnaround, without missing a beat.

Joe has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association’s Board, President of The International Wine & Food Society and Board Member of Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. He is a member and past President of The Whitehall Club, a group of businessmen founded in 1968. Joe has given presentations to the National Restaurant Association on kitchen design and has lectured on wine at the LeNôtre Culinary Institute.

Joe is also a Certified Sommelier, holds a Master’s Degree from Rice University and is an active lecturer and writer, with articles appearing in Restaurant Startup & Growth and My Table magazines, among others. His food has appeared on the cover of both Food & Wine magazines and cookbooks.

Joe Abuso


“Great job! Whatever shall we do next year? I am certain we will think of something.”

 ~ Best Wishes, Caroline Tyson

Leslie Abuso

– Leslie Abuso 

Leslie Abuso is a veteran of the Information Technology field and has worked in many capacities, from instructor and courseware designer to training manager, in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings. Using her B.A. degree in Psychology as a starting point, Leslie has amassed a very practical range of expertise in organizational efficiency and work flow management.

Catering is all about the details, and at Abuso Catering Co., Leslie used her experience and skillset to create a consistent and reliable flow of information, from the initial customer inquiry to the final invoice, and all the myriad of steps in between. The database she established was a central part of the entire successful operation.

Leslie has used her capabilities to help clients with many HR issues, including federal and state hiring compliance, employee documentation, ACA implementation and oversight, payroll, hiring and termination policies, and developing bi-lingual employee handbooks.

In the realm of the back-office and Information Technology, she works with clients on Point-of-Sales systems, PCI compliance, computer networks, filing systems, bookkeeping procedures and website implementation.