By Henry V. Thiel
Donnie Roy and Jeffery Plummer got their start in the Houston restaurant industry long before Houston became known as a foodie destination. Each had 18 years of catering experience prior to joining their dear friend, restaurateur Mary Li, to open Ginger & Fork, a Hong Kong-style Cantonese restaurant near Shepherd and I-10.
Li, who has been best friends with Roy and Plummer for more than 17 years, affectionately refers to them as her “two gay husbands.” “When I first dreamed of opening Ginger & Fork, I wanted them to be a part of it,” she says, “and I am thrilled to have them with me on this adventure.” Roy is the general manager and Plummer is the director of catering and special events.
Roy and Plummer met 21 years ago while shopping at Willowbrook Mall. Both men had been married, and each is the proud father of two children. “Together, we have four children and one granddaughter between us.”
“Jeffery introduced me to the restaurant world,” smiles Roy. “Being a people person, I loved it from day one.”
Plummer first became interested in the restaurant industry when he was in the U.S. Army, where he served as part of the honor guard for the Reagan administration in 1982. After his service, Plummer was ready to take on a livelier career that involved working with people. His first restaurant job was at a Red Lobster in Washington DC, where he bartended for several years before moving to Houston in 1991. Plummer worked at several Landry’s restaurants before joining HEB in 1994, where he is the grocery chain’s floral manager. He began working with Roy in Tony Mandola’s catering department in 1999.
Roy entered the restaurant industry in 1994 as a part-time waiter at a Red Lobster restaurant in Houston, while he continued as a full-time bookkeeper for a software company. After just a few months, Roy discovered that he loved working with customers in a restaurant setting—so much so that he quit his bookkeeping job. He was quickly promoted to Red Lobster’s BRAVO Team, which is reserved for the highest-quality employees who are responsible for training the staff at new locations. Roy went on to become the general manager for Pizzeria Uno in River Oaks from 1995 until 1998, before he started working for Tony Mandola’s in 1999. He was hired as the general manager, where his duties quickly expanded to include operations manager, catering director, and bookkeeper. During his five-year career at Tony Mandola’s, Roy helped open three new locations, including the current Waugh Drive location.
Throughout their tenure with Tony Mandola’s, Roy and Plummer perfected the art of catering. “Jeffery is the type of person who can take a client’s dream,” adds Roy, “and turn it into reality!”
Both men feel honored to have worked with St. Luke’s Hospital for many years, catering for 6,500 people over three days during their annual employee-appreciation week. They have also worked with many notable individuals, including former president Bill Clinton, Al Pacino, Anthony Bourdain, George and Barbara Bush, and Aileen Gordon at Gordon’s Jewelers. The largest party they have ever catered exceeded 1,000 attendees, and the musical group The Temptations performed.
You can find Donnie and Jeff most days at Ginger & Fork, located at 7450 Inker Street.
Ginger & Fork
4705 Inker Street
Henry V. Thiel is a principal at The Epicurean Publicist.