Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bill Homan and family at Logan Circle

I would meet Bill Homan in the summer or fall of 1979 at a party at Eason Simmons apartment on E Street in SE. Which was just around the corner from the Broker Restaurant on 8th Street across from the Marine Barracks. Long before I had met Bill my best friend, Frank Gramarossa, had spoken of him. As had Rae Ann, Inny and Eason. At the time I was living on Maryland Avenue in NE and was involved with the Herb Lehner Enterprises, a real estate development firm, based on Capitol Hill.

And as has been the case with each of Frank's friends who also worked with Bill at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, from the moment that we met, I'd become fascinated with Bill.

Bill Homan, Horst Klein and Steve Veletsis had worked, for many years, with the Hyatt Corporation. In late 1978 or early 1979 they opened the Broker Restaurant on what is now known as Barracks Row which is directly across the street from the Marine Barracks, on Capitol Hill. And as has been the case with any and every thing that Homan or Kline or Veletsis touches the Broker was a major success. To this day, and perhaps with the exception of The Townhouse Restaurant which opened in 1969 and closed in 1978, the Broker remains as the only establishment in the recent history of Barracks Row that would bring the kind of highend clientele to that area of Capitol Hill. Some of the most important and influentual people and celebrities in the world were frequent patrons at the Broker, a Swiss Cuisine Restaurant.

It was also, at the rear of The Broker, that Homan, Klein and Veletsis operated Creative Foods Catering. And as has been the case with any and all things that they touch, Creative Foods would change the face of the catering and event industries.

When Hyatt transfered his partner, Steve Hannan, to the Chicago O'Hara Airport, Frank would move to NYC in the late spring or early summer of 1980. Seldom did a day go by that we did not speak on the telephone. Frank and I were very close. By summer's end and just days after Labor Day 1980 I'd transfer my government job from WDC to NYC. Where Frank and I would share a studio at 321 West 21st Street in Chelsea until July 1981. Whic hwas when Steve would relocate to NYC and the three of us would rent a loft at 22 East 22nd Street in Gramercy Park.

Shortly after my September 1980 move to NYC the Saint would open. Which, not unlike Studio 54 before it, the Saint would forever change the world.

Most things that I would experience with Frank, over the years, seem to have 'changed the world'. Or, at least, "... my view of it."

My first trip to NYC with Frank was in the summer of 1978 when we drove up from WDC on a Friday night for a Saturday night party at Studio 54. My view of the world would never be the same in a similar way that my view of the world would also change in September 1980 when Frank and I first visited the Saint.

In October 1980, Frank and I would visit WDC, for a weekend, to cater a World Bank event at the National Gallery of Art, East Wing Building. It would be amongst Creative Food's first major events at the NGA and my first time, ever, for working in catering.

Catering in WDC would never be the same. Nor would I. The event was such a success that Creative Foods would immediately become the primary caterer at the NGA and the premiere caterer in WDC.

So, within the same month, not only would I witness and The Saint replacing Studio 54 but, also, Creative Foods replacing Ridgewells Catering. I say this because I had more than just a passing connection to each of these scenarios. Since one of my dearest friends that I had met in 1975 was Vince Becht who for many years had been the top salesman at Ridgewells.

It was that weekend, in October of 1980, that would spark my interest in catering. When returning to WDC in February 1982 and while working full-time with the feds I'd work part-time with Creative Foods, until March 1984 when I'd transfer my government job back to NYC.

When I'd return to WDC in November 1984 Creative Foods had changed its name to Design Cuisine and had relocated its operation to Shirlington VA. Which I would work with until 1992.

And like so many things and people that Frank introduced me to or that Frank and I experienced together, not only does Bill Homan remain as one of my favorite people but my respect for him is rooted in his ability to 'create change!'. Or, at least, change my view of the world.

And, as Martha Stewart may would say, "That's a good thing!".

When out taking pictures on Sunday evening, 17 September 2006, I'd happen upon Bill Homan and his daughter, Nicole, who I remember when she was just a little girl. Now all grown up, Nicole is married to David and they have two beautiful children.

Whenever I see Bill I can not help but remember Frank. And Genevera Higginson who as the former Director of Events at the National Gallery of Art I have always had the utmost respect for.

The kind of respect that I have for Bill Homan. Or for anyone on that level of genius.

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