par·ty1 – ˈpärdē/
noun – a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment.
Eating? Drinking? Entertainment? Like I said, who doesn’t love a party? But there are parties, and then there are PARTIES. I used to love throwing parties; birthday, Super Bowl, New Year’s Eve, graduation, Mardi Gras, 4th of July, Thanksgiving dinner, you name it, I found a reason to make it a party. I love cooking and feeding people. I love live music, and have hired many an entertainer. And drinking. . . well, you know. If one must. But when we moved to Florida in 2009, we left behind many party goers, and, to be quite honest, when your job is hosting a couple of hundred guests each day, the idea of throwing private parties loses a bit of its luster.
As Out of the Weeds products came to fruition, some of my close friends and colleagues asked me when I was going to host THE product launch party. Hmmm. Oddly enough, this party planning girl hadn’t even thought of that. Invitations, guest lists, menus, decorations, invitee follow ups, all while fall season is kicking in at Three Birds Tavern? Who would come? Did anyone care that we were bottling three of the dressings that we make in our little kitchen at the restaurant that so many of our guests seem to love? At first, the thought wasn’t very appealing to me, but with time, and consideration, I knew that this new product line deserved a celebration.
However, doesn’t something always try to stop you? As party plans were underway, on Wednesday morning, September 24th, on our way to the Sysco Food Show in Tampa, I fell in the parking lot at Three Birds, moving too quickly with too much on my mind, and to make a long story short, I had foot surgery on Tuesday, September 30th. On a positive note, Dr. Swick of All Florida Orthopedic is a rock star, just in case you need foot or ankle surgery (hope not). So here it was . . . my excuse to cancel the Launch Party. My excuse to not have to worry about invitee follow ups, poor attendance and lack of interest in Out of the Weeds. I can’t walk, very well, and three to four weeks of accident and surgery recovery will put me way behind on my day to day responsibilities, let alone an additional event, right? Something will always try to stop you. Don’t allow that to happen!
Well I did not allow that to happen, and, with the help of our staff, last Thursday, October 23rd, at 6 pm, Jack and I hosted THE Out of the Weeds Product Launch Party at Three Birds Tavern, and it was a PARTY! Eating; we had all three dressings out for tasting, and our amazing staff prepared a fruit and crudite table, Asian pasta salad featuring Carrot Ginger Dressing, and inspired by THE Saucy Queen herself, Michele Northrup of Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces and The Sauceology Group, our co-packers for Out of the Weeds, flatbread pizzas using Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette as the base sauce and with various toppings, and Roasted Beet Vinaigrette topping deconstructed mini Greek salads. Drinking; bartender extraodinaire Monique came up with a list of handcrafted, vegetable infused cocktails that she served, including carrot mimosas and carrot and cilantro coolers, along with beer, wine and champagne. Entertainment; the talented trio of Clockwork Knotwork entertained us for hours, along with a few hula hoppers who showed up, and, a belly dancer (she was not a part of the act, nor did I pay for her to be here – just sayin’ – and for those who were here, you understand this comment). And in addition to eating, drinking and entertainment, an event venue must be pleasing to the eye, and we had this covered, thanks to my friend Petra Dvorak of Simple With Style Events, who created beautiful displays.
Was anyone interested in Out of the Weeds? I’m happy to say, yes, indeed. The Mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, and his lovely wife, Kerry, were with us, and toasted Jack and me with warm words and gratitude for our continuing efforts to grow business in St. Petersburg. Chris Steinocher, the President of St. Petersburg Chamber, Barry Rubin, the President of Gulfport Chamber and Billie Jo Bell of Pinellas Park Chamber were here. Cindy Stovall of Life Improvement Radio. Janan Talafer of 83 Degrees (who is going to do a BIG feature on the creation of Out of the Weeds). Foodies Nichole Crews of Casa de Crews, Kay Clark of Edible Tampa Bay, Lane Richeson of Supper for a Steal, Alison of Never Have I Ever and Nikki Alaee of SandBookWich. Ester Venouziou of LocalShops1 had a table of several local business owners out showing their support. Andi Graham and Adam Kuhn of Big Sea Design and Development, who’ve created my logo, website, label design, and so much more. The Saucy Queen, Michele Northrup, my co-packer, friend, inspiration and mentor. I know I’m forgetting so many. Friends, neighbors, book club pals, former employees, vendors, too many to list. Photographer from the heavens, Rossie Newson. Family. My rock, and the one who challenges me each day to raise the bar, my husband and twin soul, Jack. My daughter, Mackenzie, who unexpectedly is living in St. Petersburg right now, and who I hope becomes a much bigger part of Out of the Weeds one day. But the true joy of the evening was the presence of my beloved aunt, my mother’s baby sister, Aunt Becky. Aunt Becky has been my biggest fan for decades, all the way back to Junior Miss and the modeling days of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Among a guest list of Who’s Who, and local business and community leaders, she was my VIP.
Every hour of doubt, every sleepless night, every check written, and every difficult step on this sore foot has been worth it. All the cliches are true: success seems to be connected with action – successful people keep moving – they make mistakes but they don’t quit; it’s lonely at the top; people who succeed are willing to do what others won’t; nothing can subtract hard work from success – only add to it; possibilities don’t add up – they multiply; etc. Work your ass off, and surround yourself with believers, or go it alone. However, remember to celebrate the successes, ’cause who doesn’t love a party?
Cheers, my friends,