The Crystal Charity Ball’s Husbands Party is unlike other events put on by the 70-year-old Dallas County children’s fundraising organization. As one vet described the annual gathering, “It’s casual, laid back and fun.”
Last year’s Husbands event at Café Momentum was indeed all that — until it came time to fetch the cars at evening’s end. It seems that the garage above the restaurant hadn’t realized there would be a large group dining at the ground-level eatery and had frozen the parking arm in place across the exit ramp. It took quite a bit of doing and waiting until the vehicles were finally released to their owners.
However, this year’s Husbands dinner hosted by RGT Wealth Advisors and Beth and Chuck Thoele at the Dolce Riviera restaurant on Thursday, October 13, one-upped all past valet tales. In fact, the parking snafu would become topic No. 1 as guests entered the Dolce terrace, which had been lit from above — but just barely — by strings of white lights.
As arriving guests watched in amazement as cars zoomed past them along McKinnon headed to the Dallas North Tollway, they themselves made little or no progress at all in the valet line. Five, 10, 15 or up to 25 minutes passed, and the vehicles basically stayed in place or crawled ahead snail-like. Some passengers finally abandoned their cars to find out what the holdup was as the drivers sat tight.
It became clear that something was missing from the six car parkers who’d been contracted by CCB to work the event. According to one valet, his boss had arranged for just three, not six, workers to handle the expected crowd of 100 arriving for the 7 p.m. dinner. When the men on duty finally declared “calf rope” and sent an SOS to the boss that a major problem was developing, the big guy dispatched one additional parker to the scene.
As for the dinner itself, it was a bit of a “darkened” occasion thanks to the light strings, as if the restaurant’s management had gotten mixed messages about the dinner and had been planning to host a séance instead. By 7:25, 2022 CCB Chair Susan Farris was on a mission to bring up the lights and crank down the music. Management said its plan had been to turn up the lights once the sun had set. The only problem was, the sun had disappeared half an hour before.
Eventually the lights brightened, and guests laughed as they discovered many familiar faces emerging from the darkness and found their places at tables.
After Susan and Chuck welcomed the group, the attendees settled back to enjoy a family-style dinner. As it turned out, though, one table wound up waiting an hour for a bowl of pasta to be presented. When asked whether there were going to be any ingredients brought to be mixed in with the pasta, the response came back: “It’s being prepared.”
Early-departing guests who texted for their vehicles to be summoned were surprised to receive a response that no one was at the valet station, and that they should “try back later.” But when they got to the valet in a moment or two, they found three car parkers just sitting there, a couple of them on their phones.
Just about the only thing that went as planned: the fact that the restaurant’s event planner showed up just before the party started to pocket her good-sized check. But after that, she was as scarce as the pasta ingredients.