For many people who work in the New York media and advertising industry, the annual word-of-mouth holiday party at El Rio Grande bar is an institution. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the event. We recently spoke to Andy Meyerson, the long-time Time Inc. sales executive and one of the event’s producers, about the history of this unique holiday party.
The Makegood: Andy, how exactly did the Rio Grande party get started and whose party is it, anyhow?
AM: Back in 1996, Charlie Kammerer (working for Time) invited Alan Schanzer and Jane Barasch (both at FCB) for a long leisurely lunch at El Rio Grande. It was a few days before Christmas and the office was nice and slow. El Rio Grande always offered a festive atmosphere, decent food and super strong margaritas. What better place to go for a pre-Christmas lunch? One margarita turned into Two and Two margaritas turned into Three and before they knew it, the lunch ended up going until the dinner crowd started showing up. That lunch was so memorable that Charlie, Alan and Jane decided it would become a yearly tradition.
The Makegood: When did you get involved?
AM: The next year I joined the crew, and each year after that new people joined the fray. Over time, the lunch turned into a Happy Hour with many agency folks and salespeople showing up to celebrate the holidays.
The Makegood: And then it grew even larger…
AM: Yes. After a few years the Happy Hour got so crowded that we moved from the Mexico side of Rio (the restaurant has two unique parts, divided by a north/south border) to the Texas side thinking it would provide more space. But even that side became super crowded. A few years ago we tried moving the Happy Hour to other venues, but it got too big so last year it was moved back to Rio Grande where it started. This year will mark the 15th Anniversary of the event.
The Makegood: When is the event this year and who can attend?
As always, it will be the Wednesday before Christmas (12/21) and starts at 4PM (unless you are making a day of it and join for lunch). Anyone is invited and we look forward to seeing you there.
The Makegood: Thanks, Andy. We’ll see you there!
What: The El Rio Grande Holiday Media Party
When: Wednesday, December 21, 4PM until Whenever
Where: El Rio Grande: 160 East 38th Street (at Third Avenue)