4 Bay Area Power Couples Reveal Their Secrets to Long-Lasting Love

4 Bay Area Power Couples Reveal Their Secrets to Long-Lasting Love


Four enamored Bay Area power couples play our version of the Newlywed Game to reveal how they win at love.


Anna Weinberg, 37 + James Nicholas, 40; Owners of Big Night Restaurant Group

Couple since: 2004

First impressions:

AW: We met on a blind date in New York, where I was living at the time. I thought, “He’s so cute, so sweet, but why the fuck does he have to live in San Francisco?”

JN: I met her and I thought, “I’m going to take the next two weeks off.” And I did.

When did you know you were in love?

JN: When I took her to a wedding and, on the way, we stopped to get a deli sandwich. Without knowing it, she ordered my perfect sandwich, as if I had telepathically conveyed to her the ingredients: fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and red peppers on ciabatta.

AW: I knew two weeks after we met: My little brother was killed in an accident and James dropped everything to come home to New Zealand with me.

Favorite SF date night:

AW: Caviar and Champagne—tequila for James—at the bar at Gary Danko.

Best traits:

JN: Anna is a naturally happy person. I love her happiness.

AW: James is a great dad to our two-year-old, Leo. Watching your husband be an awesome father is a sexy thing to behold.

Biggest challenge:

JN: Our biggest challenge is also our biggest achievement: Making time for each other despite our hectic schedules. The restaurant business goes all night long. Anna works the floor, so getting used to her coming home at 3am was a huge hurdle.

Who’s your celebrity “hall pass?”

AW: Alan Alda, in the M*A*S*H days.

JN: Judge Judy. I love Judge Judy.

Little-known fact about your union:

AW: Oh, that’s easy. We’re actually spies.

Photograph by Andrew Paynter; Stylist: Lauren Goodman; Hair + Makeup: Megan Ray (aubri balk inc.); Fashion Assistant: Kate Grella. On Lia: Isabel Marant pants ($255), top ($205), and sandals ($545), and Rona Pfeiffer arrow ring ($1,600); On Andrew: La Panoplie jacket ($385) and Gant indigo button-down ($135)


Andrew Mariani, 32, founder and vintner, Scribe Winery + Lia Ices, 30, singer-songwriter, Ices

Couple since: 2010

First impressions:

AM: We met at a dinner party in New York. I was immediately taken by Lia. She was incredibly beautiful and elegant, and I’d never seen anybody like her before. I told her she had to move to California.

LI: I was like, “Nice to meet you, too.”

First date:

LI: I came out to California and we had a really lovely, really long, getting-to-know-you dinner at Bar Tartine.

AM: From there, we went on a weekend campout party with my friends in Ukiah. It was really intense for her, I think. A trial by fire.

LI: I thought it was some kind of agility test.

When did you know you were in love?

AM: For me, it was instantaneous.

LI: I told him I was falling in love with him 10 days later, when we were camping in Big Sur for his birthday.

Biggest challenge:

AM: We had a long-distance relationship for a few years, so I would say that the expanse of America has been the biggest hurdle to overcome.

The proposal:

AM: Last July, we were in Martha’s Vineyard with her family. We took a walk, and she just started gathering flowers into a bouquet. I told her, 
“I think we should get married.”

LI: We had talked about it before, so I just thought we were talking about it again. I said, “Yes, I agree.”

AM: I was like, “No, I’m actually proposing.”

A typical night:

AM: At the end of the day, we’ll take a long walk on the [Scribe] property. For dinner, we’ll gather some greens in the garden for a salad, throw some meat on the grill, open a bottle of wine. We like to cook a lot.

What do you fight about?

AM: About getting a Bengal kitten. Lia really wants an indoor cat. I argue that there are already several feral cats that live here….

If you could re-live one moment in your relationship, what would it be?

LI: Stepping off the plane that first time I flew to California to see Andrew. He was wearing all denim, which made his eyes even bluer, and he had a basket of strawberries in his hands. I wish I was more present and understood what was really happening.

Tips for a happy union:

AM: Good food, good wine, and good sex. In reverse order, of course.

Photograph by Matt Edge; Stylist: Olya Dzilikhova; Hair + Makeup: Tahni Smith (Aubri Balk Inc.); Location: CULT | Aimee Friberg Exhibitions; Artwork: Joseph and John Dumbacher


Jessica Shaefer, 33, independent art consultant + Michael Martin, 31, managing partner, Code and Theory

Couple since: 2010

How did you meet?

JS: Michael came into the gallery where I worked in New York. I had just stuffed a samosa into my mouth when he walked through the door. Not the sexiest impression I could have made!

When did you know you were in love?

MM: In Montauk, on New Year’s Eve 2010, when we ran naked in the dark, through the snow, and into the frigid Atlantic. Jessica’s daring was a pretty solid indicator that she was the one.

Michael’s best personality trait:

JS: Besides that fact that he is super smart, generous, and actually gets my weird sense of humor? He’s really good at mimicking accents. It’s hilarious.

Jessica’s most annoying habit:

MM: Her uncanny ability to point out my annoying habits.

Sunday morning routine:

JS: Sleep late; cuddle in bed with our dog, Eloise; New York Times crossword puzzle; brunch at Plow.

Would you ever entertain an “Indecent Proposal?”

MM: Only if I got to play Robert Redford.

What was your last fight about?

JS: Where to put the bookshelves.

Bonding experience:

JS: Our cross-country road trip in 2013. We’d just gotten married and were leaving our life in New York to start something new in San Francisco. We took off after Christmas, spent two weeks driving with our dog and plants in the backseat, and spent the New Year in Marfa, TX. It was an amazing adventure.

Advice for a happy union:

MM: Travel often, laugh a lot, and give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Photograph by Aubrie PickStylist: Olya Dzilikhova


Derek Holbrook, 29, stay-at-home dad + Orkut Büyükkökten, 39, cofounder and CEO, hello.com

Couple since: 2006

How did you meet?

OB: We met in the hallway at Google, where we were both working. Derek complained that there was a bug on Orkut, a social networking site that Google named after me. I told my coworkers, “I just met this super cute guy making a complaint about Orkut. I have to fix it right away!”

First kiss:

DH: It was after our first date, which lasted 11 hours. I wasn’t sure 
if Orkut was gay or just European, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

OB: I didn’t know if it was a date. I’m a gentleman, so I waited for Derek to make the first move. And he did!

Favorite quirks:

DH: I love Orkut’s [Turkish] accent, and how he sometimes mixes
up his words. Like calling stockings “sockets,” for instance. 
Or confusing Nerds for Skittles.

Default date night:

DH: We live in Mint Plaza, so we just walk across the street to Cavalier for deviled quail eggs and wild mushroom potpie.

What would you change about each other?

DH: I’m more easy going than Orkut. Sometimes I wish he was 
a little less structured.

OB: I love Derek the way he is.

Sunday morning routine:

DH: Our nanny will make pancakes for our families, who live nearby. Our four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter love it.

Surefire foreplay:

DH: Making out—specifically aggressive kissing—does it for me.

OB: This is too personal.

Advice for a happy union:

OB: Trust.

DH: Always be willing to let your partner explore themselves. Otherwise, you’re just holding them back.

This article was published in 7x7's February 2015 issue. Click here to subscribe.

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