Carmelo Mauro, founder of Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano, was born in Taormina, Sicily. Travel was his dream from early childhood and the hotel industry gave him the perfect opportunity after he worked his way up from bellhop to general manager. After completion of training at the Hotel School in Taormina, Carmelo was accepted for an apprenticeship at the Frankfurter Hoff Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. From there he was sent to the Queens’ Hotel in Leeds, England and then to the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. His hotel career continued with the Intercontinental Hotels in Europe and Africa, the Southampton Princess in Bermuda, and the Royal Palms and Beach Club in the Cayman Islands (where he met and married his sweetheart and partner, Hilary).
After working twenty years in restaurants and hotels all over the world, Carmelo moved to Houston in 1978 with Hilary and their eldest daughter Luisa. Shortly afterwards they opened their first Carmelo’s Ristorante on Memorial Drive in Houston and in 1985 expanded to Austin, by leasing, and eventually purchasing the historic “Old Depot Hotel,” the oldest standing depot in the state of Texas. Carmelo’s business success has been balanced with a rich family life and a very generous community spirit. With the birth of two more daughters, Tara and Liana, the family became complete.
Carmelo currently serves on the TRA Nomination Committee, the TRA and TRAEF Task Force, the TRA and TRAEF Metro Task Force and sits on the board of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce. Carmelo’s Ristorante has supported the Texas Department of Agriculture’s “Go Texan Week” since the beginning, funds from which are donated to the Food Banks; Carmelo is now serving as a spokesperson for this event which encourages restaurants to buy and use Texan produce, meat and wines. Since the inception Carmelo has supported Cleverley Stone in raising funds for the Food Bank with her Houston Restaurant Weeks.
Presently Carmelo is also serving on the Ambassador’s Council for Interfaith CarePartners, serving on their board from 2002-07. He received the Volunteer in Kind award for 2009 from the West Houston Chamber of Commerce and was their 2009 Education Partnership Award winner. He is also a graduate of the West Houston Leadership Institute Class 1. In 2007 Carmelo was the recipient of the Ben Gurion Leadership Award. He served as President of the Texas Restaurant Association for 2007-2008 and is a past president of the Houston Restaurant Association. From 2000-2006 Carmelo sat on the Advisory Board of the Miller Career and Technology Center in the Katy School District and has recently re-joined them. For three years 2000-2003 Carmelo sat on the board of the TRAEF (Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation) and under their auspices Carmelo’s Ristorante pioneered a program (the first of its kind in the nation), called Entrepreneur 101, opening a restaurant teaching entrepreneurial skills at Del Valle High School, just outside of Austin, (2001) to give students the tools they need to successfully pursue a career in business.
Carmelo, who continues to be very active in Austin and Houston with his altruism, has been recognized widely through the years in Houston and Austin for his commitment to society receiving numerous other awards through the years for his community service. In 2001 he was recognized by the National Restaurant Association as their Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year. He is a member of the Texas Restaurant Association Hall of Honor. In 2014 he was voted Chef of Chefs and inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Woodlands Food and Wine Week. Both restaurants hold the Seal of Ospitalità Italiana from the Italian Government guaranteeing the authenticity of our cuisine and Carmelo was voted Maestro della Cucina, 2011 at the Houston Italian Expo.