Of course, Equinox founder Harvey Spevak was only kidding when he said that Michael Strahan, the strapping former NFL star, was in town "to kick your butt if you don't join us."
But the New York-based founder of the nationwide system of sleek health clubs was intent on impressing the chic crowd of influencers that filled The Dunlavy on Wednesday night.
And impress he did, even with the discerning party crowd that included not only Houston Texans Brian Cushing and Jonathan Weeks and Houston Super Bowl Host Committee chairman Ric Campo and president Sallie Sargent, but also KPRC Channel 2 news anchor Dominique Sachse and NBC news national correspondent Janet Shamlian.
Guests gathered first on the party pavilion balcony overlooking Buffalo Bayou Park for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, prepared by Clark Cooper Concepts which also handled the four-course seated dinner inside.
More than three dozen chandeliers shimmered overhead as guests made their way to the elegant dinner tables set with flowers and linens, the napkins embroidered with each guest's initials. With chef Charles Clark making a pass through the kitchen and Grant Cooper in the house, the dinner was on point even if the service was surprising slow.
Spevak welcomed guests on the eve of the opening of his River Oaks District club, the 77th in the group's stable of upscale fitness clubs that include London and Toronto. In a slight dig at The Houstonian, Spevak noted, "There is old school and there's new school. That's all that I'm saying."
Strahan told CultureMap that he and Spevak have been friends for two decades. That friendship included Strahan's appearance in Houston (his second in less than a month) and gifts, to all guests, of signed copies of his new book Wake Up Happy. Strahan left midway through the evening to hop a private jet to New York, where he had an early morning appearance on Good Morning America, where he is a regular guest.
The impressive turnout included NFL veterans Chester Pitts and Wade Smith, plus Nick Florescu, Becca Cason Thrash, Le Melcher, Faith and Lee Majors, Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Sarabeth Melton, Pierce Bush, Holly and Austin Alvis, Jay Zeidman, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Carolyn Farb, Gabe Canales, Page Parkes and Equinox president Sarah Robb O'Hagan.