After battling alcohol, this Houstonian made a sober space for all

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Christopher Arcidiacono was just 11 when doctors told his family he would no longer walk or talk. The life-changing car crash that killed his brother left his family destitute, facing a future in which he, too, would likely never regain brain function.

Now, 23 years later, Christopher has defied the odds. At ChristoMio Coffee Bar and Eatery, every aspect of the business declares Christopher’s victories, if you know what to look for. Within the store itself is Christopher’s ingenuity, his long journey through physical therapy and independence. The restaurant’s alcohol-free menu is a testament to its determined sobriety after an intense battle with alcohol-related disorders.

Located off Kirby Drive near Rice Village, ChristoMio promotes itself as an alcohol-free community space. For Christopher, the interior and exterior spaces of the boutique feel right at home and symbolize years of loss, determination and triumph.

Christopher Arcidiacono opened ChristoMio Coffee Bar and Eatery in 2021.

Ryan francisco

In 1998, Christopher was returning to Houston with his family after a summer vacation in Colorado when their suburb was involved in a rollover accident. He was thrown from the car and suffered a head injury, and doctors told his family he would likely spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state.

“Christopher and our oldest son were thrown out of the car,” says Mary Beth Lee, Christopher’s mother and the greatest champion. “We lost our eldest son [Johnny], and Christopher was considered to be brain dead.

Clockwise from bottom left: Joey Arcidiacono, Johnny Arcidiacono, Mary Beth Lee, Christopher Arcidiacono and Allie Arcidiacono in the spring of 1998.

Clockwise from bottom left: Joey Arcidiacono, Johnny Arcidiacono, Mary Beth Lee, Christopher Arcidiacono and Allie Arcidiacono in the spring of 1998.

Charla wood

Lee, then a bookseller, closed his shop to take care of Christopher full time.

“I knew my mission was to show doctors a mother’s will and love,” she says. “Chris was a student and a top athlete, but after the accident he struggled with academics. He had to relearn everything, how to tie his shoes, everything. He persevered and even continued to play tennis. football at the Paralympic Games. ”

Today, the charismatic coffee bar owner admits that some of the friendships he formed after recovering from his accident ultimately led to another life-changing turning point.

Christopher while in the intensive care unit at Denver Children's Hospital in August 1998.

Christopher while in the intensive care unit at Denver Children’s Hospital in August 1998.

Mary beth lee

“After high school, I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I left [to seek treatment] to deal with too much alcohol and to mourn my experience with the brain injury and the loss of my brother, ”he explains. Christopher returned to West U with a new outlook on life and a desire to create an understated space for others to come together, he said. As the ChristoMio website says, he realized that “being alone was better than being in bad company. But good company? This is the best of all.

“A friend of mine told me he found a good place to sell. It was the old Hans’ Bier Haus site, which is ironic because now it’s quite the opposite. The location was first rate real estate and had sentimental value. “It’s really close to where my mom’s bookstore was, and that means a lot to me.”

Christoper at the Rehabilitation and Research Institute (now TIRR Memorial Hermann) in late October 1998, before he regained his ability to walk or speak.

Christoper at the Rehabilitation and Research Institute (now TIRR Memorial Hermann) in late October 1998, before he regained his ability to walk or speak.

Courtesy of the Arcidiacono family

The name of the shop was inspired by Christopher’s grandfather who called him ChristoMio, said with an Italian accent that Lee and Christopher emulate while laughing.


“It opened right before he passed away, so we were grateful he was able to visit it,” Lee said.

The store had been under construction for eight years and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the family celebrated the opening and spent the last year adding staff and maintaining the focus on supporting local vendors.

“It’s a good environment where people feel welcome and at ease,” Christopher says proudly. “It’s good vibes and a good crowd. We have great staff and stores in the boutique where people can buy gifts like chocolates, candles and more. The coffee is locally roasted by a family friend in his roast called Little Dreamers. It does a great job and it’s great coffee. Keeping him in Texas is a good feeling.

Dishes and pastries from the ChristoMio breakfast menu.

Dishes and pastries from the ChristoMio breakfast menu.

Marie Gilliland

Alberta Totz, general manager of the store, legal liaison and “Jewish mother” designated by Christopher, emphasizes the importance of her farm-to-fork concept.

“Everything we use in our products is made in-house. Our peanut butter, mash, salad dressings – name it, we make it ourselves in the shop. Christopher emphasizes: “We care about people and health is a huge issue. I grew up eating super healthy. Totz cheekily adds: “He did it! He has beautiful skin! “

Although the store currently serves breakfast and drinks, Christopher intends to expand.

“We go to lunch, dinner, and I love making late night mocktails with karaoke, concerts, movie nights, game nights and other fun stuff. It’s a good, low-key environment and it goes to show that there are many ways to have a good time.

Totz says their goal is for events to be mission-driven and benefit local organizations that give back to the community.

“It’s a great feeling [owning this shop]. I’m happy to be there for anyone who wants to have a good time, ”said Christopher. “Giving back to the community and to those who struggle is such a great feeling. “


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