Houston Journalist Cleverley Stone Dies After Battle With Cancer

Cleverley Stone

Longtime Houston food journalist, radio host, television personality and founder of Houston Restaurant Weeks Cleverley Stone has passed away after several months battling uterine cancer. Stone publicly announced her diagnosis to her television audience on Fox 26 on October 18, 2019, her 68th birthday, and encouraged women to pay attention to their health. She followed up by posting to Facebook, “Ladies, please do not ignore any symptoms that you may have. Early detection would have offered me a better prognosis, but I ignored my symptoms. Please go to your doctor if you have any symptoms.”

One of Stone’s most impactful achievements was founding Houston Restaurant Weeks in 2003. To date, the annual fundraiser has raised over $16.6 million for the Houston Food Bank, enabling the distribution of more than 44 million meals to Houstonians in need. Stone continued chairing and working on Houston Restaurant Weeks until her death.

For the past several years, Stone held the distinction of being Houston’s longest-running food journalist. Born in New York City, she had a significant career in the bridal industry before moving to the Bayou City. Once she arrived here in 1989, she quickly became part of the city’s fabric. Leveraging her experience as a bridal director and fine china, crystal and silvery buyer at B. Altman and Company, she accepted a Houston-based job as corporate bridal director with Foley’s, managing the bridal registry for over 40 stores. It was also at that time that she started her journalism career, writing a weekly Sunday newspaper column for the Houston Post and eventually becoming the editor of the wedding section.

HRW group
Houston Restaurant Weeks founder Cleverley Stone (center) and many of the chefs who helped raise over $2 million for the Houston Food Bank in 2016. Photo by Nicole Kornhauser.

Like many who wrote for the Houston Post, when it shuttered in 1995, Stone had to find new outlets for her journalism work. She took an innovative approach and started a newsletter about Houston’s dining scene. The Internet was still a fledgling service, so she faxed it to friends and connections. Later, she sent it by email. The newsletter opened the door to The Cleverley Show, her eponymous restaurant-focused talk radio show, which this year marked it 13th anniversary.

In 2008, she started hosting the “Cooking With Cleverley” segment on Fox 26, showcasing hundreds of independent Houston chefs and restaurants. Over the years, she also appeared on Great Day Houston and on three seasons on the Emmy award-winning The After Party with Ernie Manouse.

In September 2016, Stone invited Phaedra Cook to The Cleverly Show to announce the new online publication she was starting: Houston Food Finder.

Michael Cordúa talks about Cleverley Stone’s accomplishments at the Houston Food Finder Perfect 10 Gala in 2019. Photo by Quy Tran.

In November 2019, Houston Food Finder selected Stone as the honoree of its inaugural Perfect 10 Gala featuring chefs, bartenders and sommeliers from all over Houston. Fellow Houston Restaurant Weeks board member Michael Cordúa gave a heartfelt speech honoring her accomplishments at the gala. Stone was too ill to be there in person, so Cordúa and wife Lucia delivered the plaque to her in person during an episode of The Cleverley Show.

Her loss is going to be keenly felt throughout Houston’s restaurant industry. Longtime industry professional Jonathan Horowitz, former CEO of Legacy Restaurants and founder of Convive Hospitality, said:

“The Houston restaurant industry suffered a tremendous loss today. Cleverley’s impact on the entire community was immense, from covering restaurants and bars as a journalist, to promoting them on her long-running radio show and appearances on Fox26, and of course with her development and nurturing of Houston Restaurant Weeks to become the largest fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank each year. Her voice in the community was unique and consistent, and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her tireless work on our behalf. She will be missed, her positive impact will continue on, and her memory should be a blessing for us all.”

In November 2019, Stone told her radio show listeners that she took comfort knowing that she helped create something that would go on even after her passing: Houston Restaurant Weeks. Furthermore, a press release stated that she knew the hardships the Houston restaurant industry is facing with the COVID-19 crisis, and that “the upcoming Houston Restaurant Weeks from August 1 through September 7, 2020 would be one of the most important ever, and she asked that the community support local restaurants and ultimately the food banks.”

Stone is survived by her daughter Katie, son-in law Joe and grandson Luca. A celebration of her life is in the planning stages and more details will be released on a future date. Donations in Stone’s memory can be made to the Houston Food Bank.

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  • May 29, 2020 at 10:32 amPat Brandt

    I always looked forward to her representing the great Chefs and restaurants! She was a breath of fresh air! She will be missed!

  • May 28, 2020 at 9:26 pmDeborah Powell

    My condolences to the family of Coverely Stone. May she rest in peace. She was a great inspiration to us all. Thank you for the good work you did.Rest in peace

  • May 28, 2020 at 6:19 pmMs. Patricia A Bailey

    My sincere condolences to her daughter…family..and many friends! A few months ago…I vividly remembered when I first missed her regular Ch26 TV appearance..I contacted her…as to why! Even in her pain…she took the time to explain her absence! That is one of the sweetest gestures I will forever cherish! Rest well…Ms. Cleverly Stone…your heavenly mansion (which…I truly believe)…with the grandest of kitchens…now await your presence!???????????????? RIPIGH????????????

  • May 28, 2020 at 6:03 pmLon Pope

    Truly a sad day for all who knew her and the entire restaurant and Food Bank community. You will be missed.

  • May 28, 2020 at 5:21 pmMichelle McCance

    Condolences to Cleverley’s family and friends!!! She always was reinventing herself and such a joy to watch or listen to on the radio!!! She was a great person and humanitarian raising over 17 million dollars for the Houston food bank!!! She was committed to helping others!!! RIP 1951-2020.