Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston will celebrate dialogue, collaboration and service at its annual Tapestry Gala. This year’s gala will honor Laurence J. “Larry” Payne and Spirit of Respect honoree Dr. Stephen Klineberg. Community Champions include Houston Methodist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Houston Area.

ABC 13’s Melanie Lawson will serve as the emcee and the evening will begin with a multi-faith invocation. Interfaith Ministries President and CEO Martin B. Cominsky and Board Chair Charlene Chuang invite guests and supporters to an evening of celebration, dinner, and special entertainment. The Palladium Weaver Sponsor is Shell Oil Company.

For more than 50 years, Interfaith Ministries has united people of diverse backgrounds to serve the Greater Houston area and manifests the strength of shared beliefs through five areas of service to the greater Houston community: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County/Animeals; Refugee Services; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships; Volunteer Houston; and SERVE HOUSTON

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft present Martini Madness! WitchCraft

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft will conjure up the return of one of Houston’s favorite fundraisers, Martini Madness!, with a chilling, yet enchanting WitchCraft theme.

The evening of Halloween fun takes place under the crescent moon, where guests will enjoy artist-made glassware and decor, cocktails, bites, a Garden of Fortunes, a Magic Mirror photo booth, and witchy vibes from celebrated Houston recording artist, DJ Sun. Guests are encouraged to participate in the party’s theme by wearing their most creative costume or headwear, from pointy hats to hoods, to win a prize in the costume contest.

Tickets include an artist-made glass for guests to select and take home, but this year’s soiree boasts an expanded selection to choose from, including glasses for whiskey, wine, and, of course, martinis.

Photo courtesy of Ginger Barber Interior Design

Ginger Barber Interior Design presents Habitat For Horses Fundraiser

Ginger Barber Interior Design and fellow Houston philanthropists will present an evening of savory food, saddles, and sumptuous auction items, benefiting Habitat for Horses, a non-profit organization dedicated to equine rescue and rehabilitation.

The evening will feature live entertainment from Dennis Owens, a gourmet fajita dinner, and a live auction. All proceeds from ticket sales and the live auction will be donated directly to Habitat for Horses.

LifeGift 2nd Chance Run

LifeGift’s 2nd Chance Run honors organ, eye and tissue donors in 109 Texas counties in North, Southeast and West Texas. Participants can run or walk 1 mile or 3.1 miles (5k) or participate virtually.

All registered 2nd Chance Run event participants will receive a commemorative 2022 2nd Chance Run t-shirt and an event medal.

Photo courtesy of Grundfos and Houston Public Works

Grundfos and Houston Public Works present Walk for Water

2.2 billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water. In many countries, women and children must walk over three miles to collect water for their families and communities. And oftentimes, this water is not safe to drink.

The Walk for Water event spreads awareness for those around the world without access to clean drinking water. The non-profit Water Mission receives 100 percent of the funds raised through the event to build safe water solutions in developing nations and disaster areas.

Participants of the Walk for Water event will carry a bucket and walk 1.5 miles along Buffalo Bayou to a water source where they will fill their bucket and then walk 1.5 miles back to the starting point (simulating the voyage that many people worldwide make to bring clean water back to their homes).

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

José Altuve, Lance McCullers, Jr., and Kyle Tucker team up for grand-slam charity event at Tootsies

a grand-slam event

As Houston Astros fans are aware, José Altuve was just nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s most prestigious individual honor. Lance McCullers Jr. has made his wildly anticipated return to the mound. And Kyle Tucker, one of MLB’s quietest superstars, just keeps hitting home runs.

Obviously, then, the star trio would be forgiven for going nowhere but home and Minute Maid Park, given their intense focus. But the good-hearted Astros recently spent a day off hosting fans for the fourth-annual Team Up event, which showcases each of their charities at haute hot spot, Tootsies.

An A-list crowd packed tootsies for the VIP event. Noted names included Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife Whitney; Astros superstar slugger Alex Bregman and his entrepreneur wife Reagan (who are new parents); Astros power hitter Yordan Alvarez and his wife Monica; Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy and wife Estefania; player wives such as Nina Altuve and Kara McCullers; Astros staffers such as marketing guru Anita Seghal and Astros Foundation head Paula Harris; and a host of social stars.

Fans angled to get a glimpse of the Astros World Series championship trophy and the players themselves, who happily and patiently mingled with fans, posed for pics, and even said hello to others via FaceTime requests.

Ace Astros reporter Julia Morales and always energetic auctioneer Johnny Holloway served as emcees and urged the crowd to donate to the trio’s charities: The Sunshine Kids Foundation, which Altuve actively supports; the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for stray animals; and the Kyle Tucker Foundation, a cause near to Tucker’s heart that raises funds for families in hospice care.

Sought-after auction items included a lunch at Turner’s donated by Ben Berg Hospitality with Kara and Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker; one-of-a-kind art by Skel showcasing Astros players; a chance to throw the first pitch at a game plus playoff tickets to all home games — including the World Series, and more.

In all, Houstonians raised $ 370,000 for the three nonprofits under the umbrella charity Athletes and Causes Foundation, which helps star players give back to the community.

As for those players, they — especially McCullers — greeted service dogs who work with veterans. Meanwhile, Astros Shooting Stars members presented precious puppies from Harris County Animal Shelter that were available for adoption. (One adorable pup found a forever home with one of the volunteers at the event.)

“This is our home and we truly love it here,” McCullers told the crowd. “We just want you to know that this comes from the heart.”

No question there, Lance.

Seen in the crowd: Fady Armanious, Bill Baldwin, Hallie Vanderhider, Tony Buzbee, Samantha Scott, Tony Bradfield, Jennifer and Scott Allison, Monica and Joe Casiano, Cherie and John Lindley, Jenna Lindley, Shelli and Steve Lindley, Matthew Lindley, Ginger Baldwin, Raeann and Randy Bates, Natalie and Shaun Hodge, Cheryl Boblitt, Tama Lundquist, Tena Lundquist Faust, Alvin Abraham, Travis Torrence, Christian Morales, Phyllis Williams, Meg Toups, Chelsea Collmer, Laurie Sanders , Chris LaFollette, Lauren Morris, Vicki Luna, Emily Schmeltz, Michael Vanderhider, Lauren Varnado, and many more.

Shaun and Natalie Hodge.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Shaun and Natalie Hodge.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

River Oaks fast casual restaurant staple upgrades with new look and fresh eats

refreshed express

One of Houston's most enduring fast casual restaurants will soon sport a fresh new look. Café Express' location in River Oaks Plaza will reopen October 4 after a comprehensive series of upgrades.

Created by Cafe Annie partners chef Robert Del Grande and restaurateur Lonnie Schiller (Schiller is also a CultureMap co-founder) after a trip to Europe, this Café Express location has received a series of upgrades to bring it in line with contemporary dining trends. For example, dedicated curbside parking spots and to-go shelves expedite picking up to-go orders.

First opened in 1991, the River Oaks restaurant also has a new look inspired by European cafes. The interior features wood floors, leather banquettes, and a light fixture that spells out "River Oaks." Similar changes will roll out to Cafe Express' location in Meyerland and Town & Country.

New dishes complement the updated interior. They include a tuna nicoise salad, Romesco chicken, and bavette steak with lemon-herb sauce. They join Cafe Express favorites like chicken deli salad, basil pesto Chicken, and Mediterranean grilled salmon. Even better, the restaurant has brought back its signature condiment bar that includes olives and imported breadsticks.

Cafe Express bavette steak Get a steak at the new Cafe Express.Photo by Michael Anthony

Dine-in service has been upgraded, too. Customers still order at a counter, but the restaurant will now deliver trays to people's tables.

“The remodel of our River Oaks restaurant marks an exciting time in the evolutionary journey of the beloved Café Express brand,” Café Express president Sarah McAloon said in a statement “Not only have we totally renovated our River Oaks location, but we have also elevated the menu and overall dining experience while maintaining prices that are in keeping with a family-friendly, craft-casual neighborhood restaurant.”

Debuting a new look represents a comeback for the restaurant, which exited the Dallas market in 2020 after operating there for more than 25 years. Plans call for opening 30 locations, 15 each in the Houston and Dallas areas, by 2030. First up will be a store in The Woodlands, according to a release.

"The beautifully remodeled River Oaks location is the first example of our expansion plan and designs,” McAloon added. “We are thrilled to breathe new energy into this pioneering restaurant concept and introduce it to a whole new generation of future Café Express lovers."

'Ridiculously' big Houston freeways drive comedian crazy in viral TikTok video

"It's got spurs!'

Try as we might to explain to Newstonians how ridiculously large the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land region is (our fave: it’s literally larger than the state of New Jersey in square miles), few truly understand until they navigate our highways and freeways.

Comedian/actor/filmmaker Kevin Fredericks, known professionally as KevOnStage, has taken to social media to announce what we already know: Houston is ridiculously big.

In a TikTok video boasting more than 55,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments, Kev (who lives in equally sprawling Los Angeles) hilariously sums up our freeway system with declarations like, “Houston has interstates. Four of them!”

He goes: “It’s got toll roads, it’s got loops, it’s got spuuuuurs!”

Perhaps our favorite:

"Houston is so big….that its freeways have a Wikipedia page. Look. At. This!"

Kev then marvels at our farm to market roads: “That means you live on a farm, this road take you to the market!”

He just can’t stop on the Wikipedia page, as he bellows: “It’s got: Planned. Future. Freeways! More. Freeways!”

Sheesh, Kev, no need to shout.

Scratch that: Kev should absolutely shout (as many of us do daily) when his rant turns to our traffic and construction. “It’s too much. If you wanna drive across Houston, you might as fly to Dallas — it’s the same amount of time.”

We’re having trouble spotting any lies told here. Bravo, Kev. We can’t wait for your next rant when you navigate the ongoing and always fun 610/69 construction closures.

Homey new art installation moves into Discovery Green this fall

Welcome Home

Remember the playful, larger-than-life spinning tops that took over Discovery Green in 2015? The team behind that public art installation is back with another unique, interactive exhibit.

Called Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0, it features 16 glowing, house-like play structures on the Sarofim Lawn that create a space for Houstonians to sit, swing, relax, and come together as a community.

The installation from Mexican designers Esrawe + Cadena is inspired by the mercados of Latin America — lively street markets where human connections are made every day.

The goal is for visitors to make new friends, try new activities, dance to music, and enjoy the city’s diverse cultural and art experiences for the duration of the exhibit, which runs October 8-November 14, 2022.

But that's not all. To help bring Houstonians together, there will be public art programming inspired by the installation and sponsored by Houston Association of Realtors, starting with a big opening night celebration.

On October 8 from 6-10 pm, get ready for:

  • Two evening performances of Lifted by Mimbre, an all-woman acrobatic dance group from the United Kingdom on their first U.S. tour.
  • Houston artist Ange Hillz live-painting the newest President's Mural: Discovery Green from A to Z. Hillz will paint accompanied by DJ Monstaa and pianist DJ Pee Wee from The Too Laid Back Band. The painting will be on view through January 29, 2023.

"During the past two years, many Houstonians have felt isolated in their homes and have missed the opportunity to be part of a community," says Jennifer Wauhob, chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is sponsoring the public art programming. "Our 49,000 Realtors know how important community connection is and Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 creates a space where strangers can become friends in the comfort of an exhibit that feels like home."

Here's what else you can enjoy throughout the installation's six-week run:

  • Listen to a “Houston Strong” playlist courtesy of ROCO while enjoying the Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 art installation.
  • Catch two more performances of Lifted on October 9 at noon and 2:30 pm.
  • Watch the Houston Pride Band’s SaxWorx and Brass Tax quartet perform on October 14 from 7-9 pm.
  • Enjoy traditional Indonesian music from Gamelan of the New Moon performed live on October 21 from 7-9 pm.

And especially for children:

  • On Saturday, October 8, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can create a mini casa using toothpicks and gumdrops with the help of Girlstart STEM.
  • On Saturday, October 15, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can sing and dance along with Encanto characters Isabela, Mirabel, and Dolores.
  • On Saturday, October 29 from 1:30-3 pm, they can enjoy cultural crafts created by exhibitors visiting from different parts of Mexico.

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park that features sprawling lawns, a one-acre lake, an interactive fountain, a playground, public art installations, gardens, and an allée of century-old live oaks. Since opening in April 2008, the park has welcomed more than 20 million visitors.

As Discovery Green prepares to celebrate its 15th birthday party, Houstonians are invited to “discover themselves” at the park with free concerts, entertainment, relaxation, and more. More info at

Photo courtesy of Creos

Esrawe + Cadena's Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 is on display October 8-November 14, 2022.