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That's Entertaining!

Jim Burba and Bob Hayes, spouses and co-founders of a Costa Mesa-based global hospitality company, open their Laguna Beach home to talk about what makes a great party

Jim Burba, rear left, and Bob Hayes with actress Ann Walker, left, comedy writer Bruce Vilanch and legend Carol Channing at a recent Palm Springs gathering.
David A. Lee

The martinis, perfectly chilled, are presented on a silver tray. The hors d’oeuvres, including gravlax and crème fraîche on toast and grilled shrimp with pineapple relish, are scrumptious, tidy bites. And the conversation is lively among the dozen or so guests who have gathered in the 1927 Laguna Beach home of Jim Burba, 61, and Bob Hayes, 57, spouses and co-owners of a booming hotel-conference company, to celebrate the completion of their upcoming book, “Smart Partners,” a primer on how couples can live and work together “without,” as they write, “a homicide on our hands.”

The party, in other words, is a success, never mind that it lacks the trombones and rodents – more on this later – that made previous soirees held in this historic residence memorable. Or, that 20 minutes before guests are due to arrive, Burba is still in the shorts and T-shirt he’d worn during a lunchtime walk to Papa’s Tacos (the local fave is just a tortilla’s toss from their home) and is searching frantically for the keys to his BMW SUV.

“He’s always searching for his keys,” says Hayes, already showered and changed into a paisley button-down shirt.

But when the first guests show up a few minutes after 5 p.m., the keys have been located in the master bathroom, and Burba, in a white shirt every bit as crisp as Hayes’, is there to greet them with hugs and hearty hellos.

It’s a small illustration of one of the tenets of their book, which will be published later this year by SelectBooks:  Successful partners have attributes that fill in each other’s blanks.
“Jim and I are good partners because we’re yin and yang,” says Hayes. “Among other things he’s always tardy to the party, and I’m the timekeeper.”  Strong partners also, the co-authors write, see eye to eye on the big issues. Like, say, what makes a great party.

 “A great party,” says Burba, “is one where people are meeting people. Our job as hosts is to break down barriers and introduce people.”  Hayes agrees:  “I have a saying … .”  

Burba interrupts:  “He has a saying for everything.”

Undeterred, Hayes continues. “I have a saying that everybody you know, knows somebody you should know.”

And with that he excuses himself to introduce Dan Ketelaars, an importer of seafood from Europe and Africa, to Ed Fuller, the retired president of Marriott International who’s now the CEO of the Orange County Visitors Association.


Jim Burba and Bob Hayes share their tips on hosting a great party.

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