GAME DAY GALA: The hostess of what could be the most exclusive party in Dallas this weekend has a deal to make with her neighbors.
This story first appeared in the February 4, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I told the neighbors, ‘You can come to the party if you let us park at your house,’ ” says Lillie Romano, who lives two doors away from billionaire H. Ross Perot and across the street from Robert and Laura Wilson, parents of Luke and Owen.
“The Wilsons are coming,” she reveals.
Romano and her husband, restaurant mogul Philip J. Romano, will open their five-acre estate Saturday night for Big Game Big Give, an invitation-only party for 400 co-hosted by Hilary Swank that benefits the Giving Back Fund of Los Angeles and Hunger Busters, a local kitchen founded by the couple. Though it’s hard to say who, exactly, will show for Giving Back’s third annual Super Bowl party, NBA and NFL players and owners are expected, and there’s also buzz about Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston. Houseguests La’Roi Glover, a retired NFL tackle, and his wife, Spring, will almost certainly attend.
“We’ve been surprised every year, but the first two years we’ve had tremendous support from Hollywood and the celebrity community,” says Marc Pollick, founder and president of Giving Back.
Pollick got the idea for “the antithesis of a Super Bowl party” after becoming hoarse at one too many loud, crowded game-day bashes without a star in sight. His first Big Game Big Give fund-raiser was hosted by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, and last year’s was at the Miami Beach home of “Transformers” director Michael Bay. Media weren’t invited to either. Lillie Romano, who met her husband 28 years ago when she managed one of his Fuddruckers burger joints, doesn’t feel any pressure to maintain the momentum.
“I like throwing parties — I do,” she says. “We built this house with entertaining in mind, and we’re in the restaurant business. I have a charity lunch, tea or dinner here probably three times a month.”
The event will actually comprise two parties — a $1,000-a-plate barbecue on the tented tennis court, and a $10,000-a-ticket quail and scallop dinner for 40 under an open-air pavilion across the lake.
And while the party is called Big Game Big Give, at least some things are getting too big for the Romanos. The event will probably be their last big party at the $12 million estate, which has been for sale since 2007. Whether or not it sells, the family is moving next month, Lillie notes.
“We’re downsizing,” she says.