This story appears in the Pre-Spring 2014 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click here to read it in the issue.
Story by Gina Yu | Photography by Max Eremine
Grace Lee is a picture of comfort and ease next to fiancé John Romano. Known as a jetsetting power couple across Atlanta, the tanned duo laugh about their love of quiet times and spending New Year’s Eve with nothing but Netflix and each other as company.
Grace, a former food blogger and competitive eater (Yes, competitive eater. She was even sponsored the first year Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition had a women’s division.) currently owns Atlanta Cuban restaurant Cruzado and hookah bar Hookah Cru.
John is originally from Trinidad and Tobago but grew up in Asia for most of his life. He came to the United States to play soccer for Elon University in North Carolina and currently oversees the urban market for Heineken in Atlanta, working over 80 clubs and festivals including Music Midtown.
Socializing is a part of their jobs, so they make a conscious effort to allow their personal lives to have a little less noise and more simplicity. “We just realized our lives are so public, so in our off-time and quality time, it’s ac- tually the complete opposite,” Grace explains. “We just like to be together, quiet and watching movies, ordering Thai food, pizza, sushi, whatever.”
The two met through a mutual friend while watching a soccer game at a local tavern; they happened to sit next to each other, and that was it. Their first date was that same week. John and Grace have been together for
four years now and have an agreement to spend at least one day a week with one another, and at least one meal. “It’s weird, because there’s no system to balancing. It just works for us,” John says. “The thing is, with my job there’s more flexibility than her job, so I hold down the house completely.” Unlike couples with 9-to-5 schedules that can see each other daily, structure isn’t the solution. “I mean, the industry that Grace is in is probably one of the most demanding, so at times it can be very taxing ... But for me, I know long-term that it’s going to be so beneficial for her and that I would regret if I wasn’t a part of the journey. For me, as a unit, that’s my commitment to her.” Grace, in return, asks John for his blessing with every business venture, knowing how challenging it can be.
Grace explains with tears in her eyes, “It’s just never that simple ... at least for us, our challenges are never because there’s a lack of love. It’s all the other stuff ... The love has never been lackluster. It’s the rest of life that is the challenge,” she says.
“You got some real tears there,” John teases, looking at Grace.
“I think that what I’ve learned the most from our relationship and transitioning into our 30s,” she continues, “whether you’ve been married for 10 years or whether you’re single, it’s never a single answer, it’s never as simple as just love.”