Warren Braxton Luckett was working as a wholesale wine distributor when he first encountered Karinn Andrea Chavarria in April 2016, at the Menu of Menus culinary event held at Silver Street Studios in Houston.
“I should have been focused on promoting my wines, but this amazing woman had an aura about her,” Mr. Luckett, 37, said.
After introducing himself, he learned that she was in a relationship, so “I planted my seed by giving her my business card and my most charming smile,” he said. Before parting ways, the two, who were living in Houston, also connected on social media.
Seven months later, Ms. Chavarria, 33, popped up on Mr. Luckett’s Instagram feed and he reached out to invite her to an event. Though she obliged, Ms. Chavarria was still with her then boyfriend and Mr. Luckett’s interest eventually fizzled.
It was around this time that Mr. Luckett, who graduated from Morehouse College and earned an M.B.A. from Texas Southern University, founded Black Restaurant Week in Houston. The event, which promotes Black-owned restaurants and culinary businesses, has since expanded to other cities.
Mr. Luckett had been thinking about the deaths of Michael Brown, in 2014, and Alton Sterling, in 2016. He noticed a growing consciousness among Black millennials like himself who wanted to take action. He kept coming back to the idea of the family dinner table and decided that pairing his love of food and business was the answer.
“My hope was to use Black Restaurant Week as a way to showcase the city’s diverse Black food scene,” he said of the original event in Houston.
In December 2017, about a year after he had last seen Ms. Chavarria, Mr. Luckett ran into her at an event where she was working as a model serving drinks.
“Karinn seemed friendlier than in the past,” he said. “She had a twinkle in her eye and her energy was completely different.”
They soon began dating, visiting spas and attending art exhibits and wine tastings together. In August 2018, Mr. Luckett organized a charity event that doubled as Ms. Chavarria’s 30th birthday party. With his help, “I was able to fulfill my birthday wish of philanthropy,” she said. “This really made me fall in love with him.”
Like Mr. Luckett, Ms. Chavarria said she has “always had an interest in the culinary world,” noting that “in my 20s, I spent some time as a food blogger and recipe developer.” In 2019, following his success with Black Restaurant Week, Mr. Luckett and Ms. Chavarria started Latin Restaurant Weeks in Houston. The event, which has also since expanded to other cities, promotes and supports “those I consider the backbone of the culinary industry — Latinos and Latinas,” she said.
That same year, Mr. Luckett relocated to Atlanta to be closer to his 14-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and to help expand his family’s wine-distribution business, Branwar Wines in Houston. Ms. Chavarria, who currently works in marketing for Equifax, the credit reporting agency in Atlanta, moved in with him soon after.
Mr. Luckett proposed to her on Aug. 21, 2021, while the two were visiting Costa Rica. They were hiking to the Arenal Volcano and “as we reached the top, I got down on one knee and asked the love of my life to marry me,” he said.
The couple were married May 5 by Harry Bowden, a Fulton County Magistrate Court judge, at his home in Atlanta. On May 14, they held a wedding celebration with 80 guests at the Villa Punto de Vista, a private estate in Quepos, Costa Rica.
“Our wedding was a true testament of how carefully Warren listens and how he will always make sure that I am happy,” Ms. Chavarria said. “Even if it means traveling to the rain forest.”