Championing Local Eateries: How Nick Rama's Love for Food and Community is Transforming the Local Dining Scene
Food & Beverage
Photo: Mike Baxter

Championing Local Eateries: How Nick Rama's Love for Food and Community is Transforming the Local Dining Scene

February 23 2024

In an age where big-name franchises often overshadow local businesses, a voice rises above the noise, championing the local dining scene. Meet Nick Rama, a down-to-earth neighborhood foodie, founder of Nick's Local Eats, and a staunch advocate of family-owned eateries. With tens of thousands of followers across his social media platforms, Rama's name has become synonymous with local dining.

Drawing inspiration from his rich culinary experiences growing up in Hong Kong, Nick's love for food is deeply rooted. Launched in 2015, Nick's Local Eats was born from dinner club gatherings with his friends, where the joy of experiencing new cuisines snowballed into active participation in local Facebook food groups. Over time, Nick's restaurant recommendations gained traction, with his love for eating locally turning into a popular online platform that has become far more than just an annual ranking of favorite restaurants, one of their fan-favorite offerings, but more importantly, a place for foodies to connect with local restauranteurs as a community.

Nick Rama in action with friend Caroline Cobell at My Pizzeria Cucina Italiana. Photo by Erin Nave. (Source: Nick Rama)

The heart and soul of his mission go beyond showcasing hidden culinary gems. Raised in a family that owned local businesses, Nick understands firsthand the uphill battle these establishments face. "My dad was a local self-owned business man, and I grew up seeing how difficult it could be to own your own business," he shares. "I know local mom and pop restaurants do not have advertising budgets and as a result, have always struggled against big commercial chains. It saddens me when a local mom and pop restaurant closes their doors because they just couldn’t make it due to a not-so-stellar location or people not finding out about them soon enough."

His dedication lies deeply within supporting these businesses, highlighting their unique dishes and promotions, and providing them with a platform to share their stories. The mission? "Just to help feature the local food scene and highlight great restaurant owners, and delicious food. We never charge the restaurant and never ask for anything in return," Nick explains. 

Over the years, Nick’s Local Eats has not only directed food enthusiasts to often-overlooked eateries but also stepped up in times of community crises. During Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic, Nick and his team organized charity fundraisers, making significant contributions to organizations like the Montgomery County Food Bank and Abandoned Animal Rescue.

Charity Check presentation to Abandoned Animal Rescue by Nick's Local Eats in 2023. (Source: Nick Rama)

"I am just a guy who knows what I like in food and am passionate about supporting local business and our local food community," shares Rama, whose career prior to Nick's Local Eats spanned from virtually every facet of the restaurant industry to music retail management and even being an optician.

With compassion as his compass, Nick's platforms are actively shaping and propelling support for independent eateries. "I feel Nick's Local Eats and all of the area Eateries groups we run have changed the awareness of the local restaurant scene to some extent and brings them new business or reminds people that there are great restaurants to try or come back to," Nick explains.

In addition to being an online platform for restaurants to advertise their promotions and share their stories, Nick's Local Eats is also a space where Nick shares his annual rankings of his favorite restaurants. These rankings are not arbitrary; in fact, they're based on several stringent factors. 

"I based my rankings on several factors, including the quality, freshness, and taste of the food and the service and cleanliness of the place," reveals Rama. He consults his admins and the members of his groups before coming up with the final list, a tradition that has resonated with his followers.

Nick's Local Eats 2023 Awards night. From left to right: Jay Stone, Fire Ant Brewing Company; Chef Bob Getchell, Dolce Niente Ristorante Italiano; Nick Rama, Nick's Local Eats; and Chef Paul Friedman, The Chef's Kitchen. (Source: Nick Rama)

Earlier this year, Nick also introduced the first-ever Nick's Local Eats Awards, recognizing the best of the best Restaurant Owners, Chefs, Breweries, Coffee Shops, Bakery/Desserts shops, and other categories. The event gave Nick and his team an opportunity to celebrate and break bread with some of the most dedicated, locally owned eateries in the greater Northwest Houston region. 

But Nick's Local Eats is not a one-man show. It's backed by a supportive community including his wife Claudia and son Zac, who accompany him on his culinary journeys and provide valuable feedback. His admins and moderators, including Cassandra Kara Abercrombie Schultz, Elyssa Overstad, Mike McCurdy, and several others also play significant roles in supporting Nick's mission. 

Nick Rama with his wife Claudia Matievic and son Zachary on a Disney World vacation in 2023. (Source: Nick Rama)
Nick Rama is more than a foodie - he's a trailblazer in the dining scene and a testament to the power of community in pushing boundaries and embracing the local food culture. Through Nick's Local Eats, he hopes to continue lifting local establishments to new heights and ensuring they receive the recognition they deserve.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

Select Your Region/Community