Paul Qui, the controversial Houston chef known for his now-shuttered eatery Aqui, is headed back to court in April to face misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated in Harris County.
Harris County District Court records connected to a 2019 incident, surfaced by Twitter user @kylejack, indicate that the incident occurred on October 29 after Qui was involved in two separate, minor vehicle accidents on that same day. According to the complaint filed by the state, an “officer shortage” and another accident involving a Metro Lift bus meant that Qui was somehow allowed to leave the scene of the first accident when he was picked up by a friend.
Not long after that first accident, the complaint alleges that Qui was involved in a second fender-bender and an officer conducted a field sobriety test. The officer wrote in his report that Qui had “unsteady balance and [was] unable to keep a straight train of thought.” Later, a toxicology report revealed that Qui had alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax), cocaine, and THC in his system. “Based on my training and experience, I determined that [Qui’s] mental and physical faculties were impaired by his drug intake while he was operating his vehicle,” the officer wrote.
The driving while intoxicated charge wasn’t filed until late December, and Qui was arrested on December 29. He paid a $100 bond to be released from jail on the same day.
This isn’t Qui’s first brush with the law. In 2016, the chef was arrested on charges of domestic violence. Those charges were later dismissed because Qui’s victim did not cooperate with prosecutors, but they sparked a massive conversation in the national restaurant industry about how to handle chefs who have been accused or convicted of violent crimes in the #MeToo era.
For those who aren’t familiar with Qui’s Houston history, the chef opened his polarizing Montrose restaurant Aqui in 2016. It earned positive critical reviews, but some diners weren’t comfortable with spending their money at a restaurant helmed by a chef facing domestic violence charges. Aqui closed in 2018, but Qui’s comeback to the Houston dining scene could be imminent — in November 2019, he announced plans for a restaurant at the forthcoming Post HTX food hall. The announcement was later deleted.
At present, records indicate that a court date is set for April 9.