Co-Owner of Woodlands Restaurant Faces Mounting Debt After Revealing Abuse — Updated

Bonnie Alcaraz of Uli's Kitchen

Trigger warning: This article includes an account of repeated spousal abuse, as well as links to videos showing the abuse in progress. If you are a victim in need of escape, therapy and support, there are organizations that can help. One in the Greater Houston area is the Houston Area Women’s Center. Visit the website and click the “I need help” button, or call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at (713) 528-2121. Help is also available for those who have been sexually assaulted and children who have been affected by abuse.

Bonnie Alcaraz, co-owner of Uli’s Kitchen at 8021 Research Forest Drive in The Woodlands, is facing mounting debt, bank account seizure, and closing her restaurant after going public about the spousal abuse she’s endured at the hands of her husband and business partner, David “Ulises” Alcaraz. The situation was revealed to the public after Bonnie posted several videos that she says shows David viciously beating her at the restaurant after hours to his Facebook page.

Update, 5/3/2024, 12:22 p.m.: While the videos have now been deleted from David Alcaraz’s Facebook page, they remain posted at the links below, and Houston Food Finder retains downloaded copies and screenshots. Before this article was published, the videos were widely distributed through the links below as well as to food-related Facebook groups focused on restaurants in The Woodlands, each with tens of thousands of members. 

Bonnie says that instance happened in June 2023. The videos, posted on April 23 just after midnight, went viral after a man named Robbie Harvey posted an edited version on Instagram, where he has over 455,000 followers, and an unedited version, along with David Alcaraz’s mugshot, on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

David Alcaraz was arrested on March 20 at their home after more abuse, when Bonnie says he beat her with a wine bottle. He was charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” and is currently in Montgomery County Jail. Bonnie says that they have been married for seven years, the abuse started the first year of their marriage and it’s dramatically escalated over the past year as the financial pressures of the restaurant increased. 

Bonnie is a native Houstonian who has also lived in Tomball. She and David started the restaurant in May 2021, with her taking care of the administrative side and him handling the food aspects. They moved to The Woodlands to be near the restaurant last May, which Bonnie calls “a godsend” thanks to eliminating the 35-minute commute. 

Uli's Kitchen in The Woodlands
Uli’s Kitchen in The Woodlands. Photo by Bonnie Alcaraz.

After David’s arrest, Bonnie announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page — without mentioning the newly revealed abuse she’s suffered for seven years — that she was closing the restaurant. Her decision has as much to do with finances as her partner being in jail. According to Bonnie, the restaurant’s debt with the Texas Comptroller’s office started growing in December. 

“At Christmas time, we got a little behind on our state taxes,” Bonnie explained. “It wasn’t anything insurmountable, but I knew we couldn’t let it go. I got a phone call about it around Christmas, so I said, ‘Let’s aggressively pay this down.’ We were making good progress on it, but every time [the restaurant] would have a good week, then we’d have a bad week.” 

The current amount owed to the Comptroller’s office is about $13,000. Bonnie says that the Comptroller froze the business bank account this past Friday. “When that happened, I was just like, ‘Well, this is it.’ I don’t have lawyers or deep pockets,” she said, also stating that it’s important to her that she close the business without debt and ensures that the employees all are properly paid. “I don’t want my employees to have to chase me down to get my last paycheck,” she said. “I want there to be a plan.” While the Comptroller’s office did release the hold (after taking all but approximately $200), it plans to seize assets on May 8 if the taxes are not paid in full — including for March and April.

Because of the Comptroller’s lien, Bonnie can’t even sell any of the restaurant assets, such as the kitchen equipment. She expects that by the beginning of May the debts owed to government entities will grow to around $25,000. In addition, the fact that Uli’s Kitchen’s co-owner is in jail means she’s unlikely to be able to renew the TABC license. 

Bonnie’s closing announcement reads: 

“Uli’s Kitchen will close it doors on May 6th. Unfavorable economic conditions are taking a lot of us little mom-and-pops, as you well know. In the end, we gave it everything we could, and we thank those of you who have been loyal supporters and regular patrons. Please consider joining us for one last Cinco de Drinko – we will be offering $5 house margaritas from 5 pm on Friday, May 3rd all the way through to Sunday evening when we close. Your support would mean the world to our staff, who have chosen to stand by me to the end. Thanks again to our customers, our neighbors, and our friends.” 

Upon the closing announcement, some of the restaurant’s Facebook followers seemed to misunderstand that it is Bonnie who is asking for support, not her abusive husband. “I’ve seen the video and know the real reason your [sic] closing,” posted one. Any aversion to dining at Uli’s Kitchen due to concern that David stands to profit is understandable. However, Bonnie says, “The only [entity] that’s getting any money at this point is the Comptroller’s office.” As of press time, the restaurant is Bonnie’s only way of earning an income, and there’s no online fundraiser in progress, such as a GoFundMe. (We’ll update this article if that changes.)

Bonnie is still going to need money to rebuild her life.

“I can get a job somewhere and live with no to low overhead,” she said. “I can bounce back.” 

Comments (2)

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  • April 26, 2024 at 12:16 amSharon

    I felt so defiled watching the video of him hurting her. Ulis was my favorite restaurant and I would eat here for birthdays and special occasions. The food was great, and I never would have suspected this was going on. I’m so sorry he hurt you, Bonnie! I hope you are able to get away and rebuild your life into something sweet and gentle.

    • April 26, 2024 at 7:02 amPhaedra Cook

      Sharon, thank you for leaving a kind and supportive comment. “Defiled” is an accurate word. When you see someone do this to their partner, it’s witnessing a betrayal that would hurt anyone who has empathy.

      I hope that Bonnie gets the support from the community that she needs to create that new, gentle life you describe.