CVIndependent

Sun11172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The enchiladas de mole

Where: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $10.95

Contact: 760-992-5133; www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex/

Why: It’s a sublime mix of sweet and savory.

Los Arcos Mexican Food opened back in 2015, on the side of the former IMAX theater at Palm Canyon and Cathedral Canyon drives. I’d heard good things, and I placed it on my mental “Restaurants I Need to Try” list.

Well, I thought I’d lost my chance: Last fall, Los Arcos closed its doors. The old movie theater was being turned into the brand-new CVRep Playhouse (and the theater company needed Los Arcos’ space), and while I am elated about everything CVRep has done with the new building, I was bummed I never got a chance to try Los Arcos.

Fortunately, Los Arcos was not closed—just on hiatus: A few months ago, it reappeared on the other side of what’s euphemistically called “downtown Cathedral City.” Not wanting to miss out again, I headed to Los Arcos on a recent Sunday for dinner.

I intended to order the chicken tortilla soup ($7.95) and the combo featuring a relleno, a taco and an enchilada (a downright reasonable $10.95). Alas, the restaurant was out of tortilla soup, so I had to settle for the combo—and it was quite good, albeit a step or two short of endorsement-worthy.

However … I knew my Monday was going to be crazy, so I ordered the enchiladas de mole (with chicken) to go, for lunch the next day. I was quite full when I got home, but I figured I must try one bite before the food cooled down. After that one bite, I realized I had two things: 1) an endorsement-worthy dish, and 2) a test of self-control, as it was so tasty I was inclined to keep going after that one bite. The mole was rich, sweet, savory and complex—everything a traditional chocolate mole should be.

I am glad Los Arcos is back from its hiatus. If you like delicious mole, then you should be, too.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What says “Christmas” more than candy canes, hot chocolate, Santa’s Village and a slide made of “snow”? While I don’t know the answer to that question, I do know that all of this can be found at the North Pole Village during the second annual Snow-Fest in Cathedral City on Saturday, Dec. 8.

And to clarify: Yes, I did say “slide made of ‘snow.’” More on that later.

“This is the first year that we have duplicated a Santa’s Village theme, and we have had a great city response,” said Jo Anne Kennon, the event organizer. “The CV Rep prop department has built 10 storefronts, and local artists from CV Rep are painting them. They are so cool—and each one has a local sponsor. Special thanks goes out to Ace Hardware of Cathedral City; they ordered everything and are helping build it all. They are our title sponsor.”

The involvement of CV Rep, aka Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre, is a perfect fit, since the renowned company will be moving into the former IMAX theater in Cathedral City’s downtown area in the new year.

“Between Ace Hardware and the CV Rep designers and artists, they took our small idea and made it a million times better,” Kennon said. “This is going to be such a whimsical, fun event, because they made all the difference in the world! The village storefronts will be up for the whole month of December. Christmas music will be playing all the time so that people going to the theater or City Hall can enjoy the music and use (the storefronts) as a picture opportunity.”

There will be a whole lot of festive happenings during Snow-Fest.

“We’re going to have a tree-lighting, a candy-cane drop of 20,000 candy canes, strolling carolers, strolling instrumentalists, and a holiday market that includes food, arts and crafts, and much more,” Kennon said. “We’re trying to make this something big and different. We want to create something that covers all the generations. … We want to make this as family-oriented and interactive as possible. We are offering hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate and apple cider. Santa will be handing out cookies to some of the VIP guests also.”

Bad news: Santa will not be arriving via sleigh. The good news: He’ll be arriving in a more … shall we say, SoCal way.

“He will make a grand entrance in a convertible Volkswagen,” Kennon said. “The Grinch is coming, too.”

(Cover your kids’ eyes for this next revelation.)

“Both Santa and the Grinch are City Council members,” Kennon revealed, her enthusiasm growing as she spoke. “Santa Claus will be in his parlor, where he will have his own Christmas tree and a toy box. Mrs. Claus will be there, as well as a couple of elves. There is also going to be an elf workshop behind the tree in the middle of the village. That is where children will get to make Christmas ornaments out of recycled paper, CDs, ribbon and all kinds of stuff. That way, kids can make ornaments for their own trees at home.”

In the middle of the festival, a stage will feature music—and carolers and others will be stationed throughout the event “so that there will be music everywhere around the village,” Kennon said.

I had to ask: How is this snow slide going to work, seeing as we’re in the middle of the desert? The answer: The snow isn’t really snow.

“It’s in the form of bubbles. We don’t want anyone to get hurt from snowballs, so there’s going to be a small slide for young kids with the bubble machine, with bales of hay,” Kennon said. “Everything will be covered in bubbles! They will be able slide down the slide like they are in snow.”

While the snow won’t be real, the Christmas vibe will be.

“I’ve seen a lot of Christmas shows where you see carolers standing outside, in front of houses in the snow. But that’s not something we can actually see here. This is the vision that I wanted to bring for everybody to enjoy.”

Cathedral City’s Snow-Fest takes place from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, in Cathedral City’s Town Square Park, just east of the intersection of Palm Canyon and Cathedral Canyon drives. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit www.snowfest.us.

Published in Local Fun

A couple of years ago, Damon Rubio found himself at a career crossroads.

The executive vice president at UltraStar Cinemas had been with the company for more than 15 years, and in the movie-theater business since 1991. However, the owners of the company were getting older and had started selling off locations—so Rubio knew his time with UltraStar would be coming to a close.

“I had to decide: Did I want to work for someone else, or take the plunge and do something for myself?” he said.

He didn’t want to move his family out of Southern California, and he’d maxed out his career opportunities in the area, more or less—so he decided to take that plunge.

UltraStar had been managing the Mary Pickford Theatre and the nearby Desert Cinemas, the former IMAX theater, in Cathedral City. However, the lease came to an end last year, so Rubio went straight to the landlord and cut a deal.

D’Place Entertainment was born.

Having been in a similar situation myself, I have an affinity for people who take that plunge and venture out on their own. While I have been petrified with fear at times as a small-business owner, Rubio said he’s had a calmer experience.

“I learned it’s maybe not as scary as I expected it to be,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s easy. But a lot of people dream of owning their own business, and the first step, diving in, is the hardest part.”

Of course, every small business faces challenges. Rubio is looking to expand D’Place beyond Cathedral City, and he said his company’s relative newness has led to some difficulties.

“We’re a young company, and I’m having to make a name for myself,” Rubio said. “My experience is obviously a huge part of what I go in and sell, but when I talk about all my experience with the previous company, (potential partners) sometimes will say, ‘That’s great! By the way, can you give us the phone number for that company?’”

The movie-theater business itself is facing some trying times, given the increasing number of ways that people can enjoy movies. However, Rubio said he’s confident movie theaters will be around for many years to come.

“People have been pronouncing theaters dead for years,” he said. “But none of those predictions came true. People have kitchens at home, yet restaurants continue to survive.”

Rubio said the key to theaters’ survival is making going to the movies a true experience, with better seating, higher-quality refreshments and enhancements to the movie-watching experience itself. He points to recent improvements at the Mary Pickford as examples: Recliners can be found throughout the cineplex, and D-Box motion-effects seating is offered with some films. One theater also offers the Barco Escape format, with the movie shown on a panoramic three screens.

However, all of these enhancements also have an up-charge—leading to another worry.

“My biggest concern is that theaters offering all of these high-end experiences will result in high-end prices,” Rubio said. “We don’t want that. We want to keep family-friendly prices.”

What’s the next big thing for the movies?

“It’ll be interesting to see how virtual reality plays a role, be it in the way movies are promoted, or in the actual exhibition of movies,” Rubio said. “The great thing about theaters is we’re able to provide a mass experience, and that gives us an opportunity to be a place where new technology can come.”

After a little more than a year of ownership, Rubio said things are going well for D’Place Entertainment. Owning his own company is just a continuation of Rubio’s love affair of movies, which began when he stood in line to see the original Star Wars as a kid at the Polar Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska. He said he still gets tingles when he thinks of the first moments of Star Wars, with the crawl and the star destroyer flying into the screen.

“There’s always been something in me that wanted to recapture that moment,” Rubio said. “I realize that I am not just selling movies; I am selling that experience I had as a child.”

For more information, visit dplaceentertainment.com.

Published in Features

Michael Shaw, the artistic director and co-founder of Dezart Performs, had no idea what he was getting himself into when he helped start the theater company back in 2008.

“I was living in Los Angeles, so I was running the theater with my co-founder at the time,” Shaw said. “I went back and forth … and was still holding down my job in Los Angeles. I realized for it to grow, I needed to be here full-time. I needed to be entrenched in the community, because in order to be successful, you need to be in the community and get support for a nonprofit.

“I thought going into it that it was an avenue to explore new scripts. I really went into this thinking, ‘No stress; it’ll be fun. It’ll be an outlet to explore my creative side as an actor’—and the first four years, it was exactly that. But when you decide to take it to the next level, there are responsibilities that come with that. Things mushroomed and grew.”

Things mushroomed and grew so much, in fact, that Dezart Performs is outgrowing its home, the Pearl McManus Theater at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. That’s why Shaw recently announced Dezart was embarking on a campaign to raise money for a new and bigger theater to call home.

Dezart Performs is not alone. Coachella Valley Repertory announced last year it had agreed to purchase the Desert Cinemas movie theater building in Cathedral City and turn it into the company’s new home, after outgrowing spaces in The Atrium shopping center in Rancho Mirage. Meanwhile, Desert Theatreworks outgrew its space at the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center in Palm Desert and just moved into a new space at the Indio Performing Arts Center.

Yep: Local theater companies are on the move.


Michael Shaw (far left) and the company of Dezart Performs' Casa Valentina watch as makeup artist James Geier demonstrates makeup techniques on actor Dale Morris. COURTESY OF CLARK DUGGERWhen Shaw (pictured here, at the far left) and co-founder Daniela Ryan began Dezart Performs, the company placed an emphasis on finding and developing brand-new plays. However, in recent years, Dezart Performs has shifted its focus away from new plays, and toward edgier fare. For example, the 2016-2017 season included Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, a play based on a real-life haven for transvestites in the 1960s, and Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, a play that tackles issues of race, housing and gentrification.

“Our season has an obligation to deliver socially relevant and provocative story lines. We’ve always tried to do that—and our audiences didn’t expect that in our little town a few years ago,” Shaw said. “They say, ‘I really love A Chorus Line,’ and didn’t expect to see Clybourne Park, which not only uses the F-word quite often, but also uses the C-word. When I read the script, I thought, ‘Oh my God! They’re going to pull out pitchforks and torches!’ (But audiences) loved the fact they were challenged and, in the context of the storyline, felt (such language) was necessary. The audience is there with you. That’s exciting. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have done Clybourne Park, and wouldn’t have expected that.”

Shaw said he’s enjoyed watching the Coachella Valley theater world grow and prosper.

“All of the theater directors are friends,” he said. “We all communicate; we all get together and see each other’s shows; and we all support each other. We make an effort to support each other, because we need more than one theater. You can’t have just one hamburger joint or one grocery store. We all have that same belief in supporting theater in the community.”

Dezart’s fundraising campaign for a new facility is in its initial stages, Shaw said.

“What we’re doing is announcing the pledge drive and setting in motion the path to achieve all of the things we need to for us to say, ‘We have now secured a facility, and we’re now in renovation,’” he said. But we’re a few years off from that. We’re establishing a position for a director of development, fundraising, and consulting to put us in a place where we, as an organization, can solidify the foundation and the people we need to make it happen. It means bringing on more staff, funding that staff, and taking a number of things off my plate so I can continue to grow in my role as the artistic director. I wear many hats, but I’m also only one person. Even with the support of volunteers, we need to start thinking ahead and ask, ‘What do we need to do to allow us to grow our programming?’”


CV Rep's Ron Celona and Gary D. Hall (left) sign the option agreement to purchase the former IMAX theater in Cathedral City with city officials Joe Giarrusso and Tami Scott (right).The Coachella Valley Repertory, currently based at The Atrium in Rancho Mirage, was also founded in 2008. It’s the only company in the valley that has Small Professional Theatre status with the Actors’ Equity union.

Founder and artistic director Ron Celona said the theater has grown well beyond what was originally planned.

“We were 2 years old, using outside venues, before we were able to rent our own space,” Celona said. “Our first big milestone was moving into (a space in) The Atrium in Rancho Mirage, which was an empty shell. We hired a contractor to build our 86-seat theater, lobby and box office. We expanded to the next unit, building offices for staff. … The first hire was a box-office staff member, and little by little, we have grown to be an eight-full-time-staff company. It might be called show business, and it’s certainly a business—and it needs to be run like a business.”

Celona said business success led to CV Rep’s current status.

“We started as a non-union theater that contracted Equity actors. A few years back, the accomplishment of the company as a business allowed us to become a full-fledged Equity house. It makes Coachella Valley Repertory the only Equity house in the Coachella Valley,” Celona said. “What that does is gives us national coverage.”

Celona said the CV Rep production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class in 2013 marked a key moment in the company’s history.

“That particular production was a turning point for Coachella Valley Repertory. Why? Because of the recognition of its production values and the cast,” Celona said. “Basically, we got a wide word of mouth, and it spread like wildfire. People who had never heard of us started to check us out. Prior to that, it was very much a small, contained following. Our subscription base was around 300, and afterward, we shot up to 700 to 800 subscribers the following year. Each year since, we’ve grown by about 200.

With that increase in subscribers, and 8,000 people attending the 2016-2017 season shows—in an 86-seat theater—it’s time for CV Rep to move into a bigger space.

“We have signed an option with the city of Cathedral City to purchase the old IMAX movie theater and two adjoining restaurants—the building and the land,” Celona said. “We have until June 2018 to execute that option. Basically, what that means is we’ve had a capital campaign since October 2016 to raise the money we need. The total campaign is a $6 million campaign. We’re just shy of our first $1 million as of right now. We need at least a percentage of that ($6 million) campaign to enter the agreement and break ground and build a state-of-the-art playhouse.”

Celona said he’s proud of the mark that CV Rep and the valley’s other theater companies have left on the valley.

“I think any arts organization in the community … we’re all making a difference,” Celona said. “The difference is to enlighten, inspire and educate our community to be a better place to live in, and (for us to be) better human beings in the world. Theater has always been a mirror to its community.”


Desert Theatreworks has grown in popularity and size since the community-based theater company was formed 2013, in part because the company produces a wide variety of shows, according to artistic director Lance Phillips-Martinez.

“In our first season, we had around 2,000 people who came through and bought tickets. Last year, we had 8,000 people who bought tickets,” Phillips-Martinez said. “We’ve tried to do a diverse amount of productions, and not just things that are interesting to us. What we try to do is broaden our audience with every show that we do, or pick a different type of show in our season that will bring in different audiences and keep them coming back.”

Phillips-Martinez cited a 2015 production of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone as a show that furthered Desert Theatreworks’ reputation.

“We did it in September that year, when the audiences aren’t always bountiful, and it was nice to get that critical response—and the audiences just kept coming back,” He said. “It was a big hit for us, and it was a different type of show. … We staged and choreographed nearly every number and theme transition. It was all original and a lot of fun.”

Phillips-Martinez said he’s had to battle commonly held assumptions about community theater.

“The public perception that community theater is of a lesser quality is a challenge,” he said. “… The work will speak for itself. If you focus on quality, you can put on whatever you want in your space, and your audience will trust you. That’s what the original challenge was—changing the perception of what community theater is.”

I could hear the excitement in Phillips-Martinez’s voice when he talked about Desert Theatreworks’ move from the Arthur Newman Theatre in Palm Desert’s Joslyn Center to the Indio Performing Arts Center.

“We had outgrown the (Desert Theatreworks space at the Arthur Newman Theatre). We had asked for more space, and they had more to give, but for whatever reason, they were not willing to do that, and it’s fine,” Phillips-Martinez said. “Our customers wanted us to stay there and wrote more than 700 letters to the city of Palm Desert, but after much deliberation and trying, it didn’t happen.

“The city of Indio offered us the space. A solution was made quickly, and the show must go on. We love the space, and the city of Indio is our partner in producing our shows. They’re helping us promote our shows as well. It’s very nice to get a municipality’s support in producing shows, because it gives (us) some new support that we didn’t have before.”

The Indio Performing Arts Center has long had challenges attracting tenants and audiences. However, Phillips-Martinez said that it’ll work out just fine for Desert Theatreworks.

“One of the advantages that we have is we have such a good track record of producing shows, and (a large) number of shows we’ve presented, which is 32 main-stage productions,” he said. “Most theater companies that are local only do three or four a year; we produce eight to 10. If you’re looking for viability and sustainability, (the larger number of shows) is more attractive in sustaining a place like that. The possibilities are good.”

Published in Theater and Dance

The New York Company Restaurant Closes After Three-Plus Years

After more than three years in business, The New York Company Restaurant, at 1260 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has closed its doors for good.

“We know you enjoyed dining at The New York Company Restaurant,” said a note sent to the restaurant’s email list on April 25. “So, we want you to know that our last day serving our guests was at Sunday’s champagne Brunch on April 23rd. It was a great run while it lasted … three-plus years of spending wonderful evenings together. Our party is over despite all we could do to create success. We know that we will miss you!”

This closure saddened me for several reasons. For one thing, one of the finest meals I’ve had in the Coachella Valley occurred last year at The New York Company Restaurant. For another, I got to know some of the folks there due to the restaurant’s participation in the inaugural Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week, during which New York Company bartender Joey Tapia won both the Audience Choice Award at the Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Championship, and top honors at the Non-Alcoholic Craft Cocktail Championship.

While the closure saddened me, it certainly didn’t surprise me. I don’t know all of the things Neil Castren, Ken Misa and Wally D’Agostino did to get the word out about the restaurant, but I do know the place escaped my consciousness, more or less, for most of the time it was open—even though I live just a five-minute drive away. I rarely saw advertisements for the restaurant, and its social-media presence was nearly non-existent. If someone like me—a media-savvy person who writes about food on a regular basis—was never somehow motivated to check the place out, what chance did The New York Company Restaurant have with other potential customers?

Perhaps there’s a lesson here: Marketing and publicity, or a lack thereof, can make or break a restaurant.

So long, New York Company. You’ll be missed.


Coming Soon to Palm Springs: 716 on 111

After the sudden closure of the beloved Dickie O’Neals due to the death of its owner in the spring of 2015, the building at 2155 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, sat vacant until Frenchy’s Sports Bar and Grill came along in late 2016.

But within months, Frenchy’s was gone. However, the building won’t be vacant for long.

Keep your fingers crossed for an August opening of 716 on 111. The restaurant, owned by couple Christopher Krayna and David Hoffman, already has a Facebook page that’s full of useful information. For example, the page tells us that 716 on 111 will use “always fresh, never frozen” ingredients, often from local purveyors; that the menu will include “real deal” chicken wings, as well as a cast iron-prepared filet over a crisp wedge iceberg salad; and that a life-sized buffalo sculpture will somehow be involved.

Watch the 716 on 111 Facebook page for updates.


In Brief

We’re getting more and more information about the restaurants coming to the big downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project along Palm Canyon Drive north of Tahquitz Canyon Way. A press release issued in mid-May by Grit Development—formerly known as Wessman Development, before John Wessman, y’know, got indicted—revealed that Il Corso, a longtime Palm Desert restaurant, will open a spot in the development. Other restaurants will include Stout Beer and Burgers, a Tommy Bahama and a Starbucks Reserve. … New to Cathedral City: Justin Eat and Drink just opened its doors at 68784 E. Palm Canyon Drive. The menu of the “upscale casual” restaurant includes appetizers (“Snack Time,” says the menu header), tacos (“Taco ’bout It”), salads (“Rabbit Food”), sandwiches/burgers (“Things on Bread”) and entrees (“Grown Up Stuff”) including a prime hanger steak and a mushroom risotto. For more info, call 760-904-4093, or visit www.facebook.com/justinrestaurantcc. … A few doors down is another new place: Pollo Doky’s, at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive. Peruvian fare—most notably rotisserie chicken and chicharron (pork) sandwiches—is what you’ll find at this fast-casual joint. For more information, call 760-832-6878, or head over to the restaurant Facebook page. … The Reef is now open in the bar area at the Caliente Tropics, at 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Rory Snyder’s bar/restaurant replaces The Congo Room, which fled the property amidst claims of leaky roofs and storm damage. Visit www.thereefpalmsprings.com to learn more. … Now open: Blackbook, in the old Café Palette space at 315 E. Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs. The stylish-looking joint serves appetizers, sandwiches, chicken wings, salads and tacos; call 760 832 8497 or visit www.facebook.com/blackbookbarandkitchen for more info.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What: The biscuits and gravy

Where: Sunshine Café, 36815 Cathedral Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $6.35; $3.85 half-order (pictured)

Contact: 760-328-1415; www.sunshinecafe.com

Why: OMG it’s yummy!

The website brags: “Sunshine Cafè is frequented by celebrities, politicians, word-of-mouth visitors from around the world and mostly our wonderful locals.”

If one is uninitiated, that boasting may seem a little, well, crazy when you drive up to this slightly weather-beaten dinner that sits across the street from a dive gay bar on the industrial outskirts of what city leaders euphemistically call “downtown Cathedral City.” But once you walk in and experience the food at Sunshine Café, you’ll realize this place backs up that brag.

The clean and homey diner offers all sorts of amazing fare. The chicken fried steak gets rave reviews, as do the banana nut pancakes. The Mexican omelette was given a shout-out by Suzanne Somers in one of her books, for whatever that’s worth.

However, on one recent Sunday, none of those other treats mattered much, as I was on a mission: I was craving biscuits and gravy—and Sunshine Café has biscuits and gravy.

Really freaking good biscuits and gravy, that is.

The biscuits are fluffy and flavorful, but the crucial component is what goes on top: Sunshine Café’s version of the white gravy, that diner staple, includes little bits of meat, and is simply delicious. The texture is right, too: It’s not chalky like some flour-based gravies can be; instead, it’s smooth and creamy.

You can get a full order of biscuits and gravy or a half order; in an effort to be somewhat less gluttonous, I went with the half order. That was a mistake: After I finished, I really, really wanted more. It took an amazing amount of self-control for me not to pick up the plate and lick it clean.

Sunshine Café has made frequent appearances on local “Best Of” lists over the years. Once you try the food there, you’ll instantly understand why.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Coming Soon: Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

After many months of construction, Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise—located at 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, surrounding the Starbucks at the Tahquitz Canyon Way intersection—is getting closer to opening.

The signs for the much-delayed restaurant are up; several photos of the interior have been posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, too.

Gyoro Gyoro will be a sister restaurant to Oto-Oto, which includes locations in Monrovia and West Covina; and the Gyoro Gyoro in Encino. The menu posted online at otootorestaurant.com will make the mouth of any Japanese-food-lover water: A wide variety of sushi, sashimi, ramen dishes, rice clay-pot entrées and appetizers are listed, as are many other goodies.

There’s an interesting story behind Gyoro Gyoro and Oto-Oto. According to otootorestaurant.com, the restaurants are owned by Ramla Inc.: “Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1980 by Akira Murakawa, Ramla has grown … into Tokyo’s third-largest restaurant operator. With 154 restaurants comprised of 32 brands, Ramla’s restaurants span a spectrum of cuisines ranging from traditional Japanese, to French, to Italian, to Spanish and more. … Ramla is embarking on an ambitious expansion into the U.S. with its plan to bring 150 Ramla-branded restaurants to American cities both large and small.”

Beyond Thai food, downtown Palm Springs is in serious need of more Asian-food offerings—so count us as excited. If you’re excited, too, follow Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise on Facebook for updates.

Now Open: Smoke Tree Supper Club

The Funkey Family has done it again: The folks behind Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta and downtown Palm Springs’ Bar have finally opened the much-anticipated Smoke Tree Supper Club.

The restaurant—located next to Giuseppe’s at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—appeals to lovers of grilled meat: In addition to starters and salads, the menu features reasonably priced steaks ($18 to $23), a 12-ounce pork porterhouse ($17) and slow-smoked baby-back ribs ($16), as well as a burger ($11), salmon ($16), a sea-scallop skewer ($16) and a pounded free-range chicken breast ($16). Prime rib—$26, with two sides—is the house specialty.

Vegetarians, take note: Aside from the aforementioned salads, you can enjoy a jumbo marinated portobello mushroom burger on a brioche bun ($10).

The Smoke Tree Supper Club is open for dinner every day but Monday. For more information, call 760-778-6521, or visit www.stsupperclub.com.

New: Nothing Bundt Cakes Opens in Palm Desert

Veteran Southern California chef Jeffrey Tropple, along with partner Ellie Koch, has opened the valley’s first Nothing Bundt Cakes location, at 72216 Highway 111, No. F-3, in Palm Desert.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is a chain, based in Las Vegas, with about 90 locations in 20 states. The Palm Desert location celebrated its “soft” opening on Friday, April 11.

The concept behind Nothing Bundt Cakes is simple: The bakery sells bundt cakes, 10 flavors of ’em (nine regular, with one flavor of the month thrown in), in various sizes. That’s it.

What Nothing Bundt Cakes does may be limited, yes, but they do what they do well: Store manager Lauren Bright offered us a sample of the cinnamon swirl cake, saying it was her favorite flavor. Why is the cinnamon swirl her favorite, as opposed to the carrot, or the red velvet, or the pecan praline?

“Because it’s amazing,” she said.

Turns out she was right: The moist, yellow cake with cinnamon, sugar and a signature frosting was indeed amazing. In fact, it was one of the best cakes we’ve had in the valley.

More good news: Tropple and Koch are celebrating the grand opening of their locally owned store by giving a little something back. On Friday, May 2, 20 percent of sales will go to local no-kill shelter Animal Samaritans.

For more information, call 760-346-3440, or visit www.nothingbundtcakes.com.

In Brief

While some restaurants have struggled in what is considered “downtown” Cathedral City—for example, Picanha Churrascaria never found its footing after moving from Palm Desert to 68510 Highway 111, next to the IMAX theater, before closing last year—fast food seems to be taking hold there: A Subway recently opened not too far from the Mary Pickford Theatre, and a Taco Bell is on its way. … Another sad note from downtown Cathedral City: Daniel Webster Jr., 44, the man who owned Big Mama’s Soul Food, has passed away, reportedly due to a heart condition. His highly regarded restaurant closed late last year. Our condolences go to Webster’s family and friends … Farm, the lovely breakfast/brunch place located in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza, is expanding, sort of: Just around the corner is Farm 2, a spot that will be offering “super foods and juices.” … On Tuesday, April 8, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, located at 71800 Highway 111, No. A176, hosted the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Child Abuse Awareness Lunch at the center, located on the Eisenhower campus at 39000 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The luncheon offered thanks to detectives, prosecutors and other professionals who fight child abuse.

Published in Restaurant & Food News