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It’s not easy to get the press to brave the traffic of midday Hollywood and show up for the launch of a bottled tomato sauce. But when Rao's Homemade introduced their latest flavor—Tomato Herb—they had a full house of food writers and bloggers. And everyone left happy.

So, what do they do right? For starters, they had a great venue at their disposal. Rao’s in Hollywood, the West Coast branch of the legendary Harlem restaurant where it’s famously impossible to get a reservation. Rao’s Hollywood isn’t normally open for lunch, so it made the gathering feel even more special, and the whole space could be devoted to the fête.

The planners let guests know in advance that their valet would be covered (a big issue in Los Angeles, where valet charges often run into double digits), or guests would be given an Uber code if they preferred to ride both ways on Rao’s. (With all of the controversy surrounding Uber, planners might want to start considering offering Lyft or other ridesharing apps as an option.)

When guests arrived, Bloody Mary’s were at the ready, along with a full bar of offerings. (That and the wine pairing that was available during the lunch itself made some of us regret passing on Uber.) There were a colorful cast of characters on hand, including Johnny Roastbeef, part of the Rao extended family and a character actor best known for his role in Goodfellas, and Frank Pellegrino Jr., Rao’s co-owner, who was a very engaging and hands-on host, bussing plates while we chatted about Rao’s history and how to choose a good tomato.

The four-course lunch was served family style; huge platters of red-sauced pasta, fusilli, meatballs, shrimp, lemon chicken, grilled vegetables and a caprese salad. While the pace wasn’t at all hurried, there weren’t lags between courses, which meant everyone lingered for the dessert plate of New York cheesecake, cannolis and berries. As promised we were out the door at 2 pm, most of us carrying leftovers, which had been thoughtfully packed up and waiting for us, and a swag bag that contained a bottle of sauce, an apron, a package of Rao’s rigatoni, a shortbread cookie embosses with the Rao’s logs, and a signed copy of Rao's Classics cookbook. All will be put to good use. (And, in case you’re wondering, the new Tomato Herb flavor is quite delicious and available exclusively at Whole Foods.)

Both Luxe Hotels in Los Angeles offer two completely different experiences. The Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel is the only hotel on Rodeo Drive, with easy access to dozens of designer stores, while the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel has some of the best pool facilities on LA’s Westside.

Now, the two are teaming up to bring Rodeo Drive to the pool. All guests at the Rodeo Drive hotel will have access to the pool at Luxe Sunset Boulevard with any booking.

 

A $16 million redesign has been announced at Stanford Court, a tech-centric hotel located atop the San Francisco landmark Nob Hill. With a slated completion of spring 2018, the renovation will touch everything from the hotel's lobby to their guest rooms, fitness center, meeting and event spaces and hotel amenities. The hotel will remain operational throughout the entirety of the project.

 

Ever since he was a teenaged event manager in Melbourne, Australia, Wayne Fernandez has sought ways to work leaner, faster and bigger. Today he has dual roles as general manager of the Magic Box at the Reef, a downtown Los Angeles venue and small convention center with over 100,000 square feet of event space, and head of Curated Events, his event production company. Efficiency matters more than ever to him, and with his proprietary cost- and time-saving software, Exhibitor Management Tool, Fernandez is out to streamline how events are planned, managed and invoiced.