Society / Featured Parties

Shelby Hodge’s 12 Most Essential Fall Parties Revealed in a Buzzing Houston Night

River Oaks District's Favorite Steakhouse Serves as the Perfect Stage

BY // 08.24.22
photography Johnny Than

There was a palpable buzz on the second floor of Steak 48 as close to 200 cognoscenti gathered to celebrate Houston’s fast approaching charitable social season. It was a select group representing a dozen nonprofits whose upcoming special events are featured in this scribe’s list of The Most Essential Fall Fundraisers.

Even before the requested start time of 7 pm, the party space began pulsating with an energized clutch of nonprofit leadership, board members and special event chairs, all preening in the special recognition. Within 30 minutes, it was standing room only with the likes of philanthropists Margaret Alkek Williams and Lynn Wyatt swanning through while Houston Symphony executive director and CEO John Mangum, Houston Ballet executive director Jim Nelson and Houston Arts Alliance CEO John Abodeely schmoozed with patrons.

0105_Fall Fates Kick off_20220822_JT (Photo by Johnny Than)
Bruce Blausen, Dominique Sachse at the fall social season launch party at Steak 48. (Photo by Johnny Than)

Among them were Kelley Lubanko, who chairs the Houston Zoo Centennial Ball; Hermann Park Conservancy board chair Kristy Bradshaw; Milton Townsend, who chairs Legacy’s Holiday Schmooze; Sheridan Williams, chair of the Houston Children’s Charity gala; and Craig Massey, Houston Arts Alliance board chair. Local TV news celebrities Dominique Sachse and KHOU Channel 11 meteorologist Chita Craft were among them.

“Thank you so much for filling the room with so many wonderful people that provide such tailwinds to the city of Houston to make it the wonderful place that it is,” Steak 48 chief brand officer Oliver Badgio, who came in from headquarters in Scottsdale, tells PaperCity. “And we’re grateful to be such a small part of it.”

Au contraire. It was no small part to welcome this throng with flowing wine and cocktails and an endless parade of Steak 48’s famed appetizers and mini-desserts, gracefully served by attentive staff. The evening was a continuation of the River Oaks District steakhouse’s tradition of philanthropic community engagement, which is chronicled here.

0089_Fall Fates Kick off_20220822_JT (Photo by Johnny Than)
Cheryl Byington, Kelley Lubanko, Brigitte Kalai, Alicia Smith at the fall social season launch party at Steak 48. (Photo by Johnny Than)

The dozen organizations in Shelby Hodge’s pick of The Most Essential Fall Fundraisers were Houston Grand Opera Opening Night, Museum of Fine Arts Houston Grand Gala Ball, Children’s Museum Houston gala, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Houston Ballet Opening Night Onstage Dinner, Legacy Holiday Schmooze, Houston Children’s Charity gala, Menil 35th Anniversary Gala, Houston Zoo Centennial Gala, Houston Arts Alliance, Una Notte in Italia and A Shelter for Cancer Families La Petite Maison Gala.

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It was an eager and impressive turnout praising the unprecedented prelude to party season. Perfect pre-season timing, they said. So good to see everyone after the summer break, they concurred. A brilliant idea, others noted. And who wouldn’t love an evening of celebrating nonprofits without the requisite live auction and paddles up?

PC Seen: Steak 48 co-owner Jeff Mastro, Chree Boydston, Melissa and Michael Mithoff, Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Gary Becker, Lexie Sakowitz Marek and Mike Marek, Craig Massey, Ileana Trevino, Amy and Rob Pierce, Dancie and Jim Ware, Dr. Alice Mao Brams, Michael Hochner, Debbie and Rudy Festari, John Eddie Williams, Laura Ward, Richard Flowers, Jim Crownover, Stacey and Al Lindseth, David Wuthrich, Rashena Franklin Flagg, Morgan Gerri, April and Dr. Jorge Salazar, and Beth and Nick Zdeblick.

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