No denying 1998 was a very good year. That December restaurateurs Paul Fleming and Bill Allen opened the first and flagship Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Fleming’s now has a national presence with 70 locations.
Simultaneously, a blueprint for the Newport Beach Film Festival was deep in development, which launched the following spring. On October 17, 2018, both forces came together when Fleming’s hosted a pull-out-the-stops party on the recently renovated restaurant’s coastal-vibe patio to celebrate two decades of success.
Fleming’s dapper operating partner, Sanjiv Gupta greeted Gregg Schwenk and Todd Quartararo, co-founders of the festival. Gupta and Schwenk spoke briefly to the crowd in front of a spectacular custom ice sculpture of both 20th-anniversary logos carved by hand. Fleming’s “taste the future” campaign includes the stunning remodel, lunch service, weekend brunch, and chef-driven creations. Schwenk told of the NBFF at Sea Caribbean cruise and special events in London and Sundance early next year prior to the 20 the annual Film Festival launch in April.
More than 75 guests entered after passing two sleek Karma Revero electric cars parked in the porte cochère. They were greeted with champagne and wines from Fleming’s renowned cellar and enjoyed a bountiful display of jumbo shrimp and crab on ice, platters of charcuterie and cheese, and the pièce de résistance from chef-partner Kevin Monahan: massive hand-carved prime tomahawk steaks, a Fleming’s signature.
Seen in the crowd were Tanya Thomas, VP-general manager of Fashion Island, Stefanie Farnsworth Salem, founder, and CEO of the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, Gary Sherwin, president, and CEO of Newport Beach & Company, Janice Arrington, Orange County Film Commissioner, Karma Automotive’s Jim Taylor, and Maria Hall-Brown, executive producer, PBS SoCal.