We wax reminiscent after celebrating our Anniversary… It’s a time for Reflection and Thanks: #RanchSweet16!

What do you remember about your 16th birthday? Was there a tremendous party chronicled by MTV’s My Super Sweet 16? Did you have an intimate family gathering?

We had both! Sort of.

This past Monday we threw a party that we’ve been working on for some time, and while there were LOTS of moving parts that worked in concert to make a BIG PARTY, here’s the thing: With so many of our most dear friends and partners gathered around us, it felt as intimate and meaningful as a dinner-date with our besties.

And though it wasn’t an occasion for presents, there were some very meaningful gifts given. We encouraged our guests to bring an item to donate to our Socks & Shampoo Drive, which would go to women who are homeless or in need of safe housing, thanks to Uptown nonprofit Sarah’s Circle. And we’re happy to report that many of our friends who stepped off the elevator immediately deposited warm cotton socks and blankets and toiletries aplenty to fill our donation wagons as much as our hearts.

One actual Anniversary gift did make its way into our hands, and it really did make our night. Here’s the interesting backstory:

A wonderful woman by the name of Victoria Martin had met our Founder Eva at our Anniversary party two years ago. She was a friend of a friend of the Ranch and was welcome to the party. At one point Victoria asked Eva what time it was when her very first booked meeting started. “7 a.m.,” Eva replied, fondly remembering, but thinking nothing out of the ordinary of the question.

Fast-forward to our Sweet 16 party, and Victoria shows up once again to celebrate us, but with a special gift: A personalized Astrological Consultation for Catalyst Ranch! She charted our sun and moon stars and outlined how they intricately affect our path. And we’re left with a captivating, illustrated diagram of our signs. But not just that.

We’re left contemplating how many people on this planet, in space, have crossed paths with us at Catalyst Ranch and affected us.

We’re left thinking about the physical distance from us to different heavenly bodies, and from us here in the West Loop to wherever each of the many unique souls are who have worked here as staff members and Ranch Hands, having given so much towards what we do here.

We’re left with such gratitude for everyone that was here with us on Monday night for the party; for everyone that has worked with us to plan and deliver creative and innovative meetings and events; for Victoria and her gift; for you who are reading this post.

Thank you so much for 16 Sweet years at 656 W Randolph. We can’t wait to play with you again soon.


…but until we do, we’d be remiss not to record for posterity the wealth of sumptuous experiences provided by our friends this past Monday night. If you were there, you experienced it firsthand! But if not, here’s what you missed:

Our guests arrived on our 4-East floor and were greeted by the pumping tunes coming from all the way down the hall from Howard Wallach, AKA DJ Top Dawg of A-Z Entertainment. For all you who were there, thanks to Howard, Gloria Estefan was right: The rhythm was gonna get you…

And not to miss a beat, our new friends from Von Poof Cotton Candy were DJs themselves, spinning not records but sugar: fresh, colorful cotton candy! With one step off the elevator, we were immediately reminded of how sweet this 16th Anniversary was.

Down the hall, vintage clothing boutique See Jane Sparkle refashioned our Foxtrot Room into a one-night-only Pop-Up Shop full of luxurious dresses and accessories. The silks and satins and jewels were dessert for your eyes.

Continuing down the hall, you saw gorgeous centerpieces of autumn colors made with love from Flowers For Dreams–we’re still enjoying these vibrant arrangements!–and found the incredible spread of comfort food provided by our indispensable catering partner Big Delicious Planet. Heidi Coudal and her team curated a menu fit for the chilly fall night: Juicy, fried chicken with a vibrant garden salad and a mac&cheese bar with all the fixins.

Tri-Star Catering lie in waiting just inside the Jitterbug Room doors, ready to put a cocktail in your hands–their Autumnal Apple Gin Cider with honey and rosemary wowed us. What’s more, Magician Sean Masterson was ready too, to knock our socks off with surprising and delightful close-up magic tricks. We were truly beside ourselves with wonder!

Before the night was over, our Founder and President Eva Niewiadomski spoke her thanks to everyone in attendance and everyone who’s contributed along the way to this Anniversary. Studio Finch continued snapping dazzling photos of the toast, and we finally cut the red velvet cake from our pastry partner West Town Bakery. That icing and their signature cake balls were the stuff of Sweet 16 dreams!

The whole shebang was incredible, and we were in high spirits not just from the gin but from the good feelings and well wishes from all who attended…

Here’s to the next year!