Summer is by far the most beautiful time of year in South Bay (DUH!), so why not celebrate with four awesome parties?!?!? From August 11 - September 8, the South Bay Community and beyond were treated to a series of events, otherwise known as Yelp's Endless Summer Nights at the lovely Garden Court Hotel, located in Palo Alto.
Night 1: Country Club
In honor of the first of four parties the Summer Nights series, yelpers donned their summery Great Gatsby themed clothing with pride. Il Fornaio catered the event with elegant style. Guests were bowled over by the phenomenal spread: including a massive salmon sculpture lined with capers and cucumber slices, giant cocktail shrimp with a mix of cocktail sauces, stuffed foccaccio bread, roasted tomato slices with with marinated mozzarella hats, stuffed mushrooms, delicious panini bites, tender slices of beef served on focaccia with au jus on the side, little triangle cucumber and tuna sandwiches, brick oven pizza slices, sensational charcuterie and cheese, and last but not least, an exotic giant fruit tray arrangement on both floors with pineapple, watermelon, green melon, cantaloupe, and other fruits. And that was just the savory selection of bites. For dessert, yelpers were able to endulge in a decadent chocolate fountain surrounded by scrumptious dipping bites such as strawberries, marshmallows, rice-krispy treats, madeleines and more. Sprinkles was the sweet highlight for many with their beautifully moist specialty cupcakes including Red Velvet and Chocolate Cream.
The selection of food was evenly matched with a dazzling array of robust drinks and cocktails. Hendrick's Gin had a gin drink that packed quite a fun punch. St. Germain dazzled with their champagne cocktail. Crispin Cider was a crowd favorite with their to die-for Raspberry Pear. And Pisco Porton kept the night feisty with their powerful Pisco drinks. For the designated drivers of the night - there was Sokenbicha botanical tea.
DJ Tanoa had everybody moving throughout the night. His groovin' beats kept the party alive well into the evening, and yelpers even broke out their finest moves for a fun dance competition to win a pair of coveted Rock the Bells tickets. Not only were yelpers able to try their feet at dancing, but they were also able to try their hand at some watercolors. All of the art was hung in the windows on a clothesline - capturing the creative spirit of the beaming crowd.
In the spirit of all of the art happening upstairs at the hotel, Foundation for a College Education was hand with exceptional volunteers to inform attendees more about their ongoing pursuit to open Higher Eduation doors to low income students. Their staff collected an impressive amount of donations throughout the event.
Night 2: Fashionably Lei'd
Donning festive lei's, bright tropical flowers pinned neatly in hair, long flowing turquoise dresses, Hawaiian themed collar shirts and other island wear - yelpers arrived at the space with relaxed smiles.
The courtyard was bursting with Hawaiian spirit, blow-up palm trees, festive flowers, a magnificent Clear Memories ice sculpture and the lulling sound of - Island Breeze Entertainment - with their graceful hula dancers and beaming ukulele rockstars.
While taking it easy to the mellow island grooves, guests indulged in Li'll Puffs s'mores and homemade strawberry & passion fruit marshmallows. Yelpers also sampled Da Kin Cafe's "absolutely tasty and fresh" ahi tuna, as well as Il Fornaio's mind-blowing chocolate fondue, cheese and fruit spread. Upstairs guests delighted in Bibo's NY Pizza Hawaiian themed New York style slices and decadent chocolate dipped strawberries, bananas and oranges from Edible Arrangements.
There were two different Coruba rum drinks as well as Yelp sno cones. Meanwhile, others sipped happily on Pisco Porton pineapple punch. Primo Hawaiian Lager was also flowing, so yelpers got a real taste of the island in a pint glass. ZICO coconut water provided some handy extra chocolate and coconut hangover-free electrolytes.
Yepers got all polished up in Umbrella Salon's masterful and magic hair-ea before hitting up PHOTOSTUDIO29's photobooth area to take a "few photos in COCONUT bras and lei's," noticing that it was primarily the MEN who wore sporting the coconut bras!
All tips collected were combined with all of the at-the-door donations, given by Hawaiian adorned attendees - to Breast Cancer Connections. Breast Cancer Connections is a phenomenal non-profit that seeks to educate women about Breast Cancer and raises money to provide more accessibility to important cancer screenings exams for women.
Night 3: Magic 8 Ball
The magic wand was waved and Voila! Belgian beer including Duvel on tap and a super-popular Leifmans Fruitesse beer that had hints of cherry, raspberry, elderberry and some other wacky Belgian berries flowing all night, along with sparkling St. Germain champagne cocktails and a selection from Cupcake wine and spirits that included their famous wine and their new flavored vodka, which was used in delectable coffee cocktails using Illy Issimo. Non-drinkers were treated to some gourmet fermented soda from Cascal.
The beverages were a perfect complement to the endless summer food options that were there that night as well: Butterscotch on the Go, Bebecakes Cupcakery, Willet's Mini Creations, and RawDaddy's Dessert Cones provided the sweet treats (along with a classic chocolate fountain provided by the Garden Court), while Old Port Lobster Shack, Morocco's Restaurant and La Morenita provided the hearty savory dishes including quesadillas and lobster rolls.
The perfect way to burn off all those snacks? Jumping around for a flip book photo booth by The Laugh Box, of course! Check out this fun video from the night, provided by The Laugh Box. Or perhaps cutting a rug on the dance floor to music courtesy of DJ Aaron E (p.s. This may have been the most successful dance party in Yelp South Bay history!) Those who weren't satisfied with their black and white attire enhanced their look with intricate face painting by Lisa, and the theme really came full circle thanks to personalized readings by Elite Wanugee of Golden Dragon Fortunes.
The most magical part of all, though, was the smiles on the faces of those representing the Palo Alto Humane Society, who took home about $2,000 in donations to help coordinate rescue efforts for animals in Palo Alto.
Night 4: Jorts Jam
From tiny seventies daisy dukes, to longer surfer style jorts, yelpers rocked their denim with style. There was even a jorts bedazzling station at the event.
Yelpers arrived to an impressive array of local food options. There was The Counter (voted "Best Burgers in the Bay") serving up mini burgers (including veggie ones) and sweet potato fries. Rubio's Mexican food delighted with chicken tacos and a chips and salsa bar, Saag Sausages's grilled up juicy sausages all night (they even had delicious packaged ones for people to take home), while Garden Court had their famous chocolate dipping fountain flowing with smooth milk-chocolate. Milkshake Werks held down the sugar fort upstairs, with their nutella, mint chocolate chip, and bourbon sundaes with a cookie on top. Wowee!
To match the dizzying array of enticing food options painted throughout Garden Courts picturesque courtyard area and well decorated upstairs and downstairs' rooms were a bevy of bold beverages including Sailor Jerry's rum (they passed out some truly killer swag), Don Pilar tequlia shots and margaritas, as well as Hell of High Watermelon Beer from 21st Amendment. Firestone beer was happily dispensed by Yelp's own engineers (also sporting Jorts) out of the Yelp kegbot, while Sokenbicha Tea satiated all those looking for some non-alcoholic options.
And of course what better way to compliment some strong drinks than with Homefry's giant Jenga (there were excited Jenga yells throughout the night), Partybooths' photo booth (epic photos here, event key "yelpsummer"), and Smule's Glee Karaoke. To keep the party in full party form throughout the evening was Yelp's own Ruggy J (aka - Dusty Muffins) on the turn-tables (also sporting some kick-a$$ jorts).
Not only was the event an exceptional way to celebrate outstanding locals businesses, but it was also a wonderful way to increase awareness about the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation who had an informational booth in the lobby, where they collected donations throughout the evening.
4 nights, 1,200 yelpers, 50 lbs of flowing chocolate, 3 photo booths, more than 10 types of beer and 15 types of alcohol, Lord knows how many calories consumed and, most importantly over $5,000 raised for Palo Alto charities. A special thank you to the Garden Court Hotel for hosting all four events (and some rowdy yelpers)! Read all the event reviews here AND check out all the photos on the Yelp Flickr page.
Until our next shindig, SYOY!
Abby "I need a nap" S
South Bay Community Manager