Have you ever tasted fresh, made-from-scratch pasta? If you haven’t, you’re missing out and Lesme Romero is happy to explain why.
Lesme came to the United States from Venezuela in 1998. With big dreams and high hopes, he was able to graduate from Cleveland State University with a bachelor’s degree, having majored in finance and minored in marketing. Later, he would go on to obtain a master’s in business administration. With no concrete plans of opening his own business yet, he stayed in Cleveland, Ohio for another 10 years where he worked at a small, Italian restaurant. This restaurant was the only one serving fresh pasta in the area. Therefore, the lines curving out the door and down the sidewalk were no coincidence. There’s a saying in his industry that he shared: “Once you go fresh, you never come back.” Judging from his success today, it is not hard to believe the truth of that statement.
Today, Pasta Garage is the fruition of Lesme’s hard work of his academic career studying business combined with his long-time passion for cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients. The restaurant was born when, while visiting a good friend and now business partner, Reinaldo Gonzalez, in Lexington, the two were doing what they enjoy best: cooking. They both held corporate jobs at the time, but were not happy with their careers. Lesme points out that in corporate America he felt like “just a number.” But, “With cooking, I had a passion for it,” he says. So, he proposed the idea of a restaurant serving fresh pasta and the rest is history.
Starting as Lexington Pasta in 2009, Lesme and Reinaldo would take their business to the farmers’ market, local Lexington events, people’s homes, and more. They began to make a name for themselves, introducing the deliciousness of fresh pasta to locals as well as visitors to Lexington. With Lexington Pasta, and today with a restaurant location known as Pasta Garage, Lesme was no longer focused on the numbers of the business. Instead, he focused on the cooking. He was “hungry to make something unique and fresh” for the industry and that’s exactly what he did. Now his daily rewards are “priceless.”
Lesme says that his biggest challenge in his restaurant-owning journey has been culturing and educating his customers. It quickly became clear to him that not a lot of people have tasted fresh pasta. While getting his start, he made sure to inform people of the time that is taken in order to make the fresh, delicious pasta that is served at Pasta Garage. He believes it is his job to welcome and teach his customers, regardless of their background. “Once they get it, they keep coming back,” he adds.
At Pasta Garage, food quite literally brings people together. Inside the store, there are 3 communal tables. These tables invite and inspire strangers to sit down together and connect over food, despite any cultural differences they may have. Now having been in Lexington for the last 8 years, Lesme has seen this city grow. Lesme has nothing but gratitude to be in a city that is constantly moving forward.
Pasta Garage will partner with us for the Passport to Flavor fundraiser on June 23. Lesme will be working with Dragana Zaimovic to create Bosnia food for our guests to try!
We invite you to join us for KRM Lexington’s annual fundraiser, Passport to Flavor, on Friday June 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Distillery Square. The event will allow you to experience the feel of an international night market featuring international sounds, sights, and tastes. We will have booths featuring food from Bosnia, the Congo, Cuba, Syria, and international desserts. Other activities include live music, a silent auction, art display, craft and KRM T-shirt sales, photo booth, and henna. Reserve your tickets today!