Saturday, September 24, 2011

Smart Gals Sip – Nan, Marci, Shannon and Tosca

Pictured, l-r, Nan McRaven, Marci Roberts, Shannon Sedwick and Tosca Gruber.

Who has happy hour on a Tuesday? Anyone who wants to have a happy hour with Shannon Sedwick, that’s who. Just about any other night of the week Shannon’s channeling Patsy Cline singing, “I’ve got these little things, she’s got you,” and pulling a saw out the top of her strapless formal. If you haven’t been to Esther’s Follies on 6th Street, you have no idea what I’m talking about, and cannot officially consider yourself an Austinite. Shannon and her hubby have been producing Esther’s Follies, a fabulous satirical musical comedy revue, since 1977. We always take Austin visitors to Esther’s Follies, and you should too, but be aware that the show is packed every performance, so purchasing tickets in advance is imperative.  Shannon is also famous for Patsy's Cafe on East Ben White (Hwy 71). The food is fab, they have great entertainment and, if you’re lucky, you might even run into Shannon. My favorite memory of Shannon is at the Capital in 1989 for the presentation of Austin Women – 150 Years of Trial and Triumph, a freestanding exhibit of photographs and captions of Austin women's history, presented to the City of Austin as a 150-birthday gift. I was the chair of that project; Ruthe Weingarten and Janet Humphrey wrote the history; and Shannon and her troupe performed vignettes. 

I’ve known Nan McRaven since 1983 when I went to work for County Commissioner Bob Honts and Nan was the Travis County Personnel and Budget Director. Ann Richards was a County Commissioner, as was Richard Moya (those were crazy days!). Nan went on to become a congressional staff member, a vice president for communications and public affairs for a number of high-tech firms (including Motorola), and has more recently become a business development consultant at Strategic Partners, Inc. working with Mary Scott Nabers. When Nan charged into Jeffrey’s Tuesday night, she was so excited I thought she was going to explode! She’d just bought an Armani suit to wear to a very special event honoring her brother, William McRaven, Nan’s Navy SEAL “Rambo,” UT grad brother, and the mastermind behind the discovery and killing of Osama Bin Laden! Shut Up! Seriously! I told Nan that I was going to buy her a bumper sticker that says, “My brother kicked Osama Bin Laden’s Ass.” I never do one of the Very Smart Gals get togethers that doesn’t produce something magnificent.

On Monday I got a text from my niece by marriage/divorce, Nicole, saying that she and Rebecca Rather (of Rather Sweet Bakery fame) would be in Austin Thursday to work with my hubby on a logo for their new Fredericksburg restaurant Sugar and Smoke. I said she should come in early and go to the Tuesday happy hour. She replied that she couldn’t, but that I should invite their restaurant architect, Marci Roberts, who was in town from Marathon. Turns out, Marci is fiancé  to famous Marathon photographer James Evans. I’ve been an Evans fan for years and often go by his studio in Marathon to say hello and buy his fabulous photography books to give as wedding gifts. Marci, owner of meo design, moved to Marathon after working for 14 years in New York City, Barcelona, Connecticut and Austin where she worked for Graber, Simmons and Cowen (GCS Architects). AND, she owns my favorite grocery store of all times, and an icon of fabulous Marathon, 111-year-old The French Grocer (which by the way is for sale if you’re looking for an interesting second-life). Marci is cool, gorgeous, and an incredibly talented architect and designer. I made a new Very Smart Gal-friend!

Last, but far from least, is Tosca Gruber, who once and for all cleared up my misconception that you can’t look like Barbie and also be a uber-smart business woman! I met Tosca in the 1990’s when I was the Director of Development for The Center For Child Protection, and her then husband, famous 1992 World Series-winning Toronto Blue Jay baseball player, Kelly Gruber, was playing in a celebrity/charity golf tournament. I remember thinking how cool it would be to meet Kelly, but then I met his wife, Tosca, and realized rather quickly that she was waayyyyy cooler. Tosca is a Coldwell Banker realtor with what looks like the alphabet after her name - ABR, GRI, CRS, CNMS, CNRS – which I believe spell “Very $uccessful.” And she owns several businesses in town, including a famous music club, which she just bought from a famous local singer (all hush hush at this point so I can’t name names), Steiner Ranch Steakhouse and Walton Florist and Nursery. But, the thing that impresses me the most about Tosca is that she is all of the above, AND the mother of four children, including a college-age son, a special needs daughter, and a freshman and junior playing football at Westlake High School. The day after our Jeffrey’s happy hour Tosca sent us all an email saying, “I want to reciprocate with an evening of fun at Steiner Steak House on me, with a driver, or a tailgate party at UT Golf Course on Friday the 14th before our home Oklahoma game. Thank you to SueAnn for including me! I so needed a night of Crazy. Please know you all can call me for anything, even non-related real estate stuff. I have done many things, but being a friend I love most.”

What a great bunch of Very Smart Gals!

1 comment:

  1. SueAnn this is fabulous!!

    I like your writing a lot…and love the mix of books and your mom’s stuff.
    Really good job. I didn’t realize it was your husband doing Nicole’s logo…just saw the first draft.

    thanks for inviting me to know these interesting women!