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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came

In 2008, I was in the midst of a major life transition. I was a musician who had retreated from the wasteland that was the Los Angeles music scene a year previous, and was I wondering what my next move would be. Beer had always been a love of mine, so I found myself alongside my cousin Josh, attempting to brew it at home.

Our first beer was an IPA, and while it turned out drinkable, it wasn't great. I needed help, and deep within the recesses of Yahoo! Groups, I found the Coachella Valley Homebrew Club. I contacted the club's founder and was invited to a bar in Palm Desert for the award ceremony of a local homebrew competition run by the bar's proprietor.

That proprietor's name is Brent Schmidman, and his bar was Schmidy's Tavern.

Schmidy (this is, after all, how we refer to the man) hails from Nebraska, and in his words, he was fortunate enough to spend a little time as a Marine stationed in San Diego at Camp Pendleton when not in Asia. It was then he fell in love with Southern California.

"I loved the weather, and coming from the Midwest, this was perfect year-round," he said.

He found himself starting a maintenance business in Orange County, where the stress of the job eventually got to him—so he sold it and moved to the Coachella Valley. Why the desert? "I had been coming out here so I could get back down to earth … being from the Midwest and not used to Orange County craziness."

He decided to take some previous experience with the hospitality and beverage industries into a sales position with a local drinks distributor, where he developed a love for "microbrew." After eight successful years with the distribution company, Schmidy was ready to move on.

"I decided I would open a place that would focus on the locals, and because of my passion, craft beer had to be a part of that," he said.

He emphasized his desire to concentrate on the year-round desert residents. "The premise was to focus on locals. Of course, tourists were welcome, too, but really, (it was) for the community to have a place to go—kind of like a modern-day Cheers," he explained. After some searching, he found a location in Palm Desert that would be the home of Schmidy's Tavern, beginning in 2008.

Then in 2010 came Jonas Wilby, the Stone Brewing Company bartender-turned-local representative for Stone Distributing Company.

"They presented an offer to me to move out there and launch Stone Distributing,” Wilby said. “I would be the everyday distribution rep and work alongside all the customers in all facets: stores, chains, restaurants and bars."

He quickly paid a visit to Stone's only IPA tap handle in the valley—at Schmidy's Tavern—only to find it wasn't on tap anymore. "I was like, ‘God dang! We lost this handle!’" Jonas said. "I eventually got a chance to sit down (with Schmidman) and … we talked about the different brands in our portfolio, about cold storage and cold delivery. And we could guarantee to have super-fresh inventory." This, combined with the amount of driving this would save Schmidman, led to an important partnership.

Shortly thereafter, Schmidy had an idea: "I said to Jonas, 'I want to build the craft-beer scene, and I want you to help me. … I'm going to pay for the beers, and we will give free samples. I just want to educate people.' We started it once a week. The first weeks we did it, we couldn't give it away!"

Added Wilby: “There were people sitting at the bar, drinking a Bud Light, saying, 'No, I'm good. I don't want to try that,' like I was trying to poison them.”

But with persistence, Beer School, as Schmidy dubbed it, started to gain momentum and eventually boomed. The last Wednesday of every month, for $20, you'd get four-ounce pours of four beers, alongside four courses of food—and at the end, a specially made cask that Schmidy acquired for the occasion would be tapped, and everyone would get a pour. Soon enough, Schmidy's had to turn people away.

Before founding Coachella Valley Brewing Co. in 2013, Chris Anderson used his culinary background to help Schmidy with the dinner menus.

"(Schmidman) and I really had an ability to create some unique, innovative and often incredibly well-thought-out beer and food pairings together. They were often beers and foods that you probably wouldn't see normally in the valley," Anderson said.

Said Schmidman: "We got real creative about it and thought outside the box and did crazy stuff. That was what it was about: to create an experience with beer that would be memorable. Then people realize beer is not just something you guzzle down while you're mowing the lawn."

Beer School became a "tent pole" event, even bringing in industry people to help out on occasion. 

"Because we had a set time, and it was an event,” Wilby said, “I was able to go out when I was talking to other accounts, even if it was a new account, and I'd be like, 'Hey, you gotta come out to Beer School to see what the desert beer scene is really like.'"

A group of beer-lovers were working at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club at the time, including chef Jennifer Town, who would later be the guest chef at multiple Beer Schools.

In 2013, Schmidman sold the tavern, and Beer School eventually fizzled out. Schmidy’s Tavern itself closed in 2016, after the landlord significantly raised the rent on the space.

"I don’t think you will find another person as passionate, driven and hungry as … Brent,” Anderson said. “He put in the time and effort to make that place a beer destination. He knew that it was going to be a big effort, and it worked. I often would see him in the morning, and he would still be there in the office working well into the night.”

There has not been a local craft-beer bar like Schmidy's Tavern since.

"What was in my head throughout this whole time was spreading the love for craft beer and spreading the culture, one beer at a time," Schmidy said. "I'm proud of what we did … I don't know if it would be the same now or not."

I'd like to raise a toast to Schmidy's Tavern. Here's to hoping we get something as good back here in the desert soon.

Brett Newton is a certified cicerone (like a sommelier for beer) and homebrewer who has mostly lived in the Coachella Valley since 1988. He currently works at the Coachella Valley Brewing Co. taproom in Thousand Palms. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Beer

Owner of 533 Viet Fusion to Open Roly China Fusion in Former Alebrije Space

One of downtown Palm Springs’ best restaurants is no more—but a veteran restaurateur is going to take over that restaurant’s space and hopefully fill a culinary need.

Here’s how it all went down: Alebrije Bistro Mexico, at 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early July. The Mexico City-style upscale restaurant announced on Facebook: “Dear amigos, Alebrije will be closed for the rest of the summer. See you again in September!”

Within a couple of weeks, however, it became apparent that Alebrije would not be seeing us again in September—because Chad Gardner, the owner of both 533 Viet Fusion and Dash and a Handful Catering, announced on Facebook that he’d be opening Roly China Fusion in the space that had been Alebrije’s home.

A July 28 announcement on Facebook said Roly will be “serving authentic Cantonese and Sichuan Chinese Cuisine with (Gardner’s) own modern twists. Roly China Fusion will offer an exceptional social and traditional dining experiences in our indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant.”

What does all of this mean? First: The closure of Alebrije is truly a loss. For my money, it served some of the most sophisticated food and drink in the Coachella Valley. The roasted suckling pig was on my unofficial Top 10 list of the valley’s best entrées. It will be missed.

Second: The opening of Roly, which could come as soon as October, will be most welcome. Gardner has been looking for his next restaurant project for a while now; he announced back in 2016 that he’d be opening a Mediterranean restaurant in the much-and-still-delayed Andaz Palm Springs hotel, but those plans fell through. Given his success with 533 Viet Fusion, I am excited to see what he’ll do with Chinese cuisine—and it’s a well-known fact that the western Coachella Valley badly needs some good Chinese fare.

Watch www.rolychinafusion.com and Roly’s Facebook page for updates and more information.


Ace Hotel Launches a Monthly Wine-Tasting Series

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is holding a monthly poolside wine-tasting series in the months leading up to the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival.

The Golden Grapes tastings each cost $20, will occur on a weekend day between noon and 5 p.m., and will feature a “curated selection of wineries represent(ing) just a few of the new California vintners who are transforming the landscape of wine in the Golden State and beyond,” according to a press release.

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Nomadica wines will be available; on Sunday, Oct. 13, the featured winemaker will be Amy Atwood Selections. On Saturday, Nov. 9, it’ll be Scribe Wine (Nouveau).

As for the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival … mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8.

The Ace Hotel and Swim club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.


In Brief

New to 72301 Country Club Drive, Suite 110, in Rancho Mirage: The Sandbox Kitchen, a deli/taco joint that opened in early August. For now, the place is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday (and Saturday, when it’s open until 9). We’re already hearing raves about the street tacos and the impressive number of vegan/vegetarian options. Call 760-565-6044, or visit facebook.com/TheSandboxKitchen for more information. … New to 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: InKa Peruvian Cuisine. The restaurant wins our Weirdest Facebook “About” Description Award with this: “The InKa came to Palm Springs, brought with him his best dishes with which he will conquer the entire city.” OK then! The expansive menu features a lot of yummy-sounding dishes with meat and seafood, as well as some intriguing vegetarian options. InKa opens at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9 a.m. the other five days of the week; it’s open daily until at least 10 p.m. For more information, call 760-992-5311, or visit www.facebook.com/inkaperuviancuisine. … Acqua California Bistro, at The River (71800 Highway 111) in Rancho Mirage, is now offering a “Buffet Bar” every Sunday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: $7.99 will get you a selection of pizzas, pastas, salads, sliced meats and other goodies—and the house chardonnay and cabernet wines are just $4.99. Call 760-862-9800, or visit acquaranchomirage.com for more information. … Coming soon to 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 130, in downtown Palm Springs: Stout Burgers and Beers. It’ll be the sixth Stout location, joining three other Southern California locations, plus restaurants in Brentwood, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.; visit www.stoutburgersandbeers.com for more information. … Coming soon to 73040 El Paseo, in Palm Desert: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. It’s a sister restaurant to The Capital Grille chain; visit www.eddiev.com for the scoop.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Last month, I said my next column would be about a “craft-beer institution from the past that still has not been matched in this valley”—and it seems I lied. I will bring that to you soon, but I want to make sure I take the time necessary to do it well.

To make up for it, I’m writing about a place—and its beer festival earlier this month—which is vying to become the aforementioned institution’s long-awaited successor.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Palm Springs opened in 2009. The Ace folks renovated “a mid-century desert modern former Westward Ho with a Denny’s” into a hipster paradise. The hotel bar, the Amigo Room, includes many craft-beer taps. In the early years, the Ace and the Amigo had a great rag-tag staff of people who cared about craft beer and strove to put the best beers they could get on tap. From this, the Craft Beer Weekend emerged. As small as it has been in square footage, Craft Beer Weekend has consistently been one of the better beer festivals in the Coachella Valley.

The cherry on top? It’s in the dead of summer.

Will Sperling was recently hired as the food and beverage manager for the Ace Hotel from his former position as general manager at Mikkeller DTLA, a juggernaut of a craft-beer bar. It was subsequently announced that this year’s Craft Beer Weekend, which took place Aug. 3 and 4, would be two beer festivals on two consecutive weekend days, with a brewery list that would make even people who live in beer meccas turn their heads. When I saw the name De Garde Brewing on the list, I took notice, as it is perhaps my favorite sour-ale brewery in the country right now, and the beer is very hard to get hold of without trekking to the taproom in Tillamook, Ore. (yes, the place with the cheese). I reached out to Sperling to get his thoughts on the festival and the future of craft beer—not only at the Ace, but in the Coachella Valley overall.

“One of the main things I want to do is bring out a bunch of new breweries to the desert,” Sperling told me during an interview at the King’s Highway diner inside the Ace. “And it’s easy. I don’t know why people haven’t done it already. Los Angeles is right there.”

He listed additional breweries he wanted to bring out for the festival that just couldn’t make it, like Highland Park Brewery in L.A., and 3 Floyds Brewing in Indiana. To my knowledge, these two breweries’ beers have never been served here in the desert. He had to “settle” for the likes of Bottle Logic Brewing, Horus Aged Ales, Pizza Port Brewing and Mumford Brewing, among others. Many of these breweries had their head brewers pouring at the festival.

I met Jeff Bagby, former director of brewing operations at Pizza Port—and San Diego brewing royalty—at the festival pouring Bagby Beer Company’s true-to-style and gorgeous beers.

“Last year’s festival, there were 40 or so breweries here,” Sperling said. “This year, there were less than 30. … I’ve cut out all the filler—not necessarily bad beer, but I don’t want any beer that you can find in local grocery stores. It defeats the purpose of putting on a beer festival. I want to bring beer that no one has ever seen before. And the cool thing is that I’ve ordered multiple kegs for the event that will be on in the Amigo Room for a little while after the event, so people can come and enjoy them … in normal-sized glasses.” (The last part of that quote will be understood by people who read last month’s column.)

Sperling has the bona fides to back up what he says. Before opening Mikkeller DTLA, he headed Lantern Hall in Brooklyn; worked at the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York City; and managed The Craft Beer Company in London, on his home turf of England. What is interesting about this resumé is the timing: Every city he worked in was experiencing a huge upsurge in its local beer scene while he worked there.

I have a habit of asking people who move here from a major city—tongue in cheek, of course—why here? What would bring a boy from Kent in the southeast of England to our neck of the woods?

“I’ve been coming to the desert for a while,” Sperling said. “I used to come to the Ace, in fact, and hang out here if I just had a day off from L.A., and my wife and I could get away for the night. … We were looking to buy somewhere, and we couldn’t afford anything in Los Angeles. We had a little bit of money, and we wanted to invest in something—not necessarily somewhere we’re going to live forever, but something we could do that would give us a little back on an investment. So we bought this little cabin up in Twentynine Palms—an old, derelict cabin in the middle of nowhere, off a dirt road off a dirt road—and for the last two years, we’ve been fixing that up. It’s been a real joy. We go up there, and we don’t see any people.

“I knew a few people who worked here at the hotel, and I saw they had a position open to run the bar here. I thought, ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s get out of L.A. and try something different.’”

Craft-beer lovers will be reaping the benefits of his presence. I was while I was interviewing Will—drinking a pint of English-style pale ale from the unique Yorkshire Square Brewing out of Torrance.

In upcoming months, I’m going to be focusing on craft-beer culture, and how it is grown. You’ll be hearing more from Sperling and others regarding how we can raise the bar in the future. If you’re as interested in making this beautiful place we call home a better destination when it comes to beer … stay tuned.

Brett Newton is a certified cicerone (like a sommelier for beer) and homebrewer who has mostly lived in the Coachella Valley since 1988. He currently works at the Coachella Valley Brewing Co. taproom in Thousand Palms. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Beer

It was early 2018. I’d just become a desert resident and was shopping at the Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley.

A small yellow booklet with an illustration of a Joshua Tree and the title “DESERT ORACLE” in stark black letters caught my eye. “A pocket field guide to the strange and mysterious Mojave,” it said on its cover. I curiously bought a copy and headed home.

Later that day, after a 40-page binge read, I’d learned about desert quack Doc Springer and his tiny oasis Zzyzx; original Star Trek production locations in the Vásquez Rocks; local alien legends; and tales of teen pranksters putting smoldering tires in the dried-up volcanic rocks of the Amboy crater.

I was hooked.

The man behind the mag is Ken Layne, who founded the Desert Oracle in 2015. He recently invited me to his office in Joshua Tree to pick his brain about what it’s like to be the “voice of the desert.”

Perched along Highway 62, his rented one-room shack features a bright-yellow Desert Oracle sign looming above the front door. Office hours, which are sporadic, are intentionally not posted.

“In the early ’80s, I decided I would live here someday,” said Layne, now 53. “I was 17, and my family lived in San Diego. I bought this old, beat-up International Harvester Scout, and whenever I could, I would drive out here to the desert.

“I remember a specific morning. The PVC valve in my Scout had popped out coming up a grade, and it was leaking oil. I feared the worst. There was a garage that opened in the morning in Baker. The sun hadn’t come up yet. It was a winter weekday; it was beautiful. The air was cold. I remember standing by that garage looking at the mountains going into Death Valley. It should have been a stressful situation—this was pre-cell phones, and maybe my car was wrecked—but I remember standing there watching the sun come up and thinking, ‘I’m going to live here.’ It might be in a couple of decades, because I knew I’d have to work in cities, and I wanted to travel the world, but ‘I am going to live here.’”

Layne didn’t go to college; he instead bounced around various California newsrooms and did freelance writing. He spent three years working for media outlets overseas, living in Czechoslovakia in 1991 and later Hungary. After returning to the U.S., he landed work “typing into the internet void,” in his words, for websites including Gawker and Wonkette. At one point, he even owned Wonkette.

However, he was unhappy. In 2014, Layne took a year off.

“I felt like the next thing I did would be the last thing I did,” he said. “Not just a business—it was going to be my life.”

He traveled. He chilled out and soul-searched—and then one day, it hit him. He was thinking about booklets he’d collected as a teen. With titles like Desert Survival, Amphibians and Reptiles, and Death Valley Jeep Trails, they were minimal, often yellow and black, with grayscale photos or illustrations.

The ah-ha! moment finally arrived: He would create a desert magazine. It would fit in a pocket. The content would be short and digestible, with just enough guts in stories to pique an interest. He would write about his passion—the desert—and all its wonderfulness and weirdness. Most importantly, the magazine would be only in print—not available online.

“This is spiritually satisfying, and you have to pay for entry,” Layne said, holding up a copy. “You don’t get to just go on the internet and read it on your phone.”

He started as a one-man shop—editing, writing, typesetting, laying out pages, etc.—but paid a small stipend to quality contributors.

“I had to argue with printers for months to find one who would stop trying to talk me into printing in color,” Layne said.

The printers may not have understood—but his audience sure did. An underground cult following soon followed. Subscription sales creeped steadily upward and today are around 3,000.

“Here’s the part that surprised me—and this happened very quickly,” Layne said. “I started noticing that my biggest subscription zip codes were Brooklyn, Oakland, the Silverlake/Los Feliz/Sunset Junction area, and the high desert. Those were my four.”

Layne said the magazine’s eccentric nature has garnered attention in a variety of places.

“Like, art museums want to sell the magazine,” he said. “I do events at the Palm Springs Art Museum and other gallery openings. It’s culture; I enjoy that. Then they’ll have me on the weird news segment on the Las Vegas 5 o’clock news!”

Layne intended for the magazine to be a quarterly—but he’s fallen behind.

“When I did four issues in 2015, that is all I did, from when I woke up to when I went to bed, seven days a week,” he said.

The magazine has only come out annually since. “I never intended to have huge gaps between issues,” he said.

As the print magazine was exploding, something else was on Layne’s mind: radio. One of his favorite things—driving through the desert at night—was always accompanied by crackly radio and coming across distant stations. He began dreaming about a Desert Oracle radio show—but he did not have any relevant radio experience. However, family-owned community radio station KCDZ 107.7 FM is right down the road, literally.

“When big radio stations like Clear Channel and other vulture media companies were coming around, buying up every small market station, they said no,” Layne said. He decided to send owner Gary Daigneault an email.

Daigneault was a Desert Oracle reader. “He wrote back and said, ‘Let’s talk; let’s hear what you want to do,’” Layne said.

After some back and forth, they reached an agreement. Layne wanted the show to be on at night; in June 2017, the first episode aired and has run on Friday nights at 10 p.m. ever since. Layne writes the shows each week on the fly—he doesn’t have a set schedule of topics planned out—and produces them himself at home using Hindenburg radio software. Each episode starts the same: A coyote howls, and a female British android voice says: “Transmitting from the Mojave wilderness in Joshua Tree, California, now is the time for Desert Oracle Radio, the voice of the desert.” Then Layne’s distinct, slow nasal drawl comes in. He speaks slowly, dry and deliberately, with large doses of humor. Lo-fi authenticity is of utmost importance. Ambient background tunes and sound effects create a mood. The effect is eerie, spooky, unsettling … yet calming. It evokes the desert perfectly.

After a few dozen episodes, Layne was contacted by Rob, a Joshua Tree desert synth musician, whose one-man band is named RedBlueBlackSilver. “He’d already heard the kind of stuff I was using on the show. He had a sense of it and was familiar with that type of music—ambient, acid jazz stuff.”

Now RBBS creates new original music for each episode of Desert Oracle Radio. Layne listens to the track and writes out a script to ad-lib to for 28 minutes.

The weekly show—repeats are currently running during Layne’s summer break—has been picked up by public stations in Fresno and King County, Wash.; they’re also uploaded to the Desert Oracle website.

As if publishing the magazine and producing the radio show aren’t enough, Layne regularly hosts a live event, Desert Oracle Campfire Stories. They’ll return to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club on Thursday, Oct. 31, and will then be on the first Thursday of each month through June 2020. His campfire persona is similar to his radio persona, he said.

“The one who does Campfire Stories is like a park ranger,” he explained.

Layne has recorded some of these events as live radio shows—but the king of all Desert Oracle live radio shows is slated for Friday, Sept. 20, at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nev. You’ve no doubt heard of the “Storm Area 51: They Can't Stop All of Us” Facebook event (www.facebook.com/events/448435052621047); more than 2 million people have marked themselves as “Going” to the attempt to storm the highly classified and well-guarded Air Force Base to “see them aliens!”

What began as an online joke to rush the Area 51 gates has spawned real events in tiny Lincoln County, 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

“I'm doing the radio show from there and supposedly emceeing from the stage.” Layne said. “Jeremy Corbell and the usual bunch of UFO weirdos will be there, hopefully with thousands of regular people curious to see what's going to happen. A raid … is unlikely, although I'm sure at least a few people will get arrested or just get lost wandering in the high desert.”

Hot off the press is the news that a Desert Oracle book will soon be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

“It’s going to be a hardback, and I’m designing it,” Layne said. “Two-thirds of it is going to be the best stuff from all the out-of-print Desert Oracles—all my long, weird features on various things like Yucca Man and UFOs. The other third will be new stuff, never published, that I have been writing over the past six months.”

Layne said that beyond the magazine, the radio show, the book and the live events, he has yet more pokers in the fire—including a possible TV show.

“I’m never done; there are a whole bunch of Desert Oracle projects that haven’t turned into anything yet,” Layne said.

For more information, visit www.desertoracle.com.

Published in Features

Coming Soon: AsiaSF Palm Springs, to the Former Hacienda Location

A San Francisco restaurant known for its “Cal-Asian” cuisine and dinner shows featuring transgender performers is opening a Palm Springs location in the space that was once the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

While no formal announcement has yet been made, the owners of AsiaSF let the figurative cat out of the bag by promoting auditions for the Palm Springs location in four cities (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Rancho Mirage—at the Desert Rose Playhouse—and San Francisco) on four consecutive nights in mid-July.

AsiaSF opened in 1988 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, founded by Larry Hashbarger and Skip Young.

“The world-famous restaurant, cabaret and nightclub is an iconic entertainment landmark that has inspired over 1 million people from all over the world with great food and entertainment,” says the AsiaSF website. “AsiaSF has been a visionary pioneer in supporting the transgender community through empowerment by creating a safe space and unique employment opportunities that showcase our beautiful transgender stars, the Ladies of AsiaSF, who not only entertain but also educate and enlighten people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

We hear that more details about the Palm Springs location will come out shortly. Whatever those details are … it’s fantastic news that the Hacienda space will soon be alive once again. The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club opened during the summer of 2014, but closed under a cloud of scandal in the fall of 2015, as the owner was indicted and charged in a bribery scheme involving then-Mayor Steve Pougnet. In 2016, Chris Pardo—the driving force behind the ARRIVE Palm Springs hotel—was linked to plans to build a hotel on the Hacienda property, but those plans fell through.

We’ll have more details as they develop. In the meantime, we recommend watching www.facebook.com/officialasiasf for updates.


New and Popping Up: Ni-Chome Ramen

If you’re a fan of ramen, you need to be keeping your eyes on the Wabi Sabi Japan Living Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WabiSabiJapanLiving. The owners have been taking over local restaurant spaces (like Peabody’s and Evzin Palm Springs) during times when they’re closed to offer a pop-up ramen restaurant that even has its own name: Ni-Chome Ramen.

Recent seatings have included a three-course meal plus sake and Japanese beer for the downright-reasonable price of $33. Who knows … maybe Ni-Chome Ramen will have its own home one day?

The next Ni-Chome pop-ups will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Sunday, July 28, at Evzin Palm Springs, 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Visit that aforementioned Facebook page or www.wabisabijapanliving.com for tickets and more details.


In Brief

Coming soon to the space next to Heirloom Craft Kitchen, at 49990 Jefferson St., in Indio: Tu Madres Cantina and Grill. It’s the latest venture by Andie Hubka, the chef/owner of Heirloom and her original restaurant, La Quinta’s Cork and Fork. A post on the Cork and Fork says: “Our new concept is fresh, modern chef-driven Mexican fare and an amazing bar with a crazy tequila list and craft beer selection. Vegans and gluten-free guests will find plenty of options, too. We love Baja Mexico and are excited to bring home a taste of the culture and cuisine there.” Watch tumadrescantina.com for updates, and expect a fall opening. … Coming soon to Palm Desert: Little Bar, a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant at 73560 Highway 111. Watch www.little-bar.com for further developments. … Coming soon to 117 La Plaza, in downtown Palm Springs: Pineapple Express. We know this because we saw the “Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages” sign in the window of the former Delicatesse space—but that’s all we know for now. Watch this space. … New in the former Greek Islands location at 139 E. Andreas Road, in Palm Springs: The Greek at 13, offering cocktails plus Greek and Italian fare. Learn more at www.facebook.com/thegreekps. … Returning to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: the eighth annual Craft Beer Weekend. Two-dozen-plus craft breweries will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4, along with entertainment and all sorts of revelry. A one-day pass is $50; both days will cost you $85. Get tickets and a complete list of participating breweries at acehotel.com/craftbeer.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

June means the start of summer—and a relatively quiet month as far as big events go. However, never fear, because there’s still plenty of entertainment to enjoy.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s Special Events Center is fairly calm in June, but the Rock Yard is in full swing on Saturday nights. Here’s the list of performers, with each show starting at 7:30 p.m. June 1: Journey tribute band Escape. June 8: Sammy Hagar tribute band Three Lock Box. June 15: Eric Clapton tribute band Clapton Road. June 22: Ozzy Osbourne tribute band Mr. Crowley. Saturday, June 29: The Who tribute band The Who Experience. All Rock Yard shows are free! Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has a fine June slate. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 7, Mexican singer-songwriter Christian Nodal will be performing. When he released his first album Me Dejé Llevar in 2017, he took the music charts by storm, with the album reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart. The 20-year-old recently released a new album, Ahora, and his star is continuing to rise. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Art Laboe’s Love Jam VIII will be happening. The lineup includes Baby Bash, MC Magic, Tierra, Frankie J, and LSOB. Come celebrate the popular radio show where you can call in your shout-out to your homeboy or homegirl in lockdown. Tickets are $45 to $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a June event you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 29, the Summer Rap Jam will take place. The lineup includes Warren G, Ying Yang Twins and Petey Pablo. I remember when Warren G released “Regulate” back in the mid ’90s, and everyone was playing it in their cars, on their boom boxes and on their home stereos. Tickets are $30 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa is hosting a couple of great shows. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 14, comedians Jeff Ross and Dave Attell will be performing. Jeff Ross is known as the “Roastmaster General” for his celebrity roasts that have been shown on Comedy Central. He’s roasted some of the best … and some of the worst, including our current president. Dave Attell was the host of Insomniac With Dave Attell, which ran for four seasons on Comedy Central in the early 2000s. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, the all-male revue show Australia’s Thunder From Down Under returns. Considering how often this show comes back and sells out, it’s one of the hottest tickets around. I picture a mob of ladies screaming their heads off for two hours. Tickets are $25. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a wild June schedule. A few highlights: At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 1, one of my favorite psychedelic-rock bands coming out of Los Angeles, Mystic Braves, will be performing. Organist Ignacio Gonzalez is also one of the owners of Lolipop Records, a popular independent label that has released records around the world. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Sunday, June 9, country/folk artist Patty Griffin will be performing. She recently released her 10th album and will be at Pappy’s right after a European tour. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 28, local musician Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing in celebration of his 30th birthday. After Evaro’s tours with national acts, performances at various music festivals, and music appearances on television shows, one needs to ask: When someone is going to finally sign this guy and make him a bigger name than he already is? Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a big event in June. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 22, fresh off a tour with Tool, All Souls (upper right) will be performing, along with local bands Herbert and Fever Dog. All Souls includes Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson), Erik Trammell (Black Elk, Brothers Collateral) and Totimoshi members Tony Aguilar and Meg Castellanos. Admission is $5. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/hoodbarandpizza.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs has an event booked that fans of the Desert Daze festival should attend: At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 6, the fest presents a performance by the band Traps PS. Admission is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Purple Room will soon enter its two-month summer slumber, but not before a fantastic June. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 1, singer Jonathan Karrant will be performing. A popular recurring performer at the Purple Room, he’s best known for his excellent performances of Great American Songbook and vocal jazz music. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 8, Scot Bruce will take the stage. He’s one of the best performers of Elvis Presley’s music that you will find. He’s so good at it that he’s been in music videos with Faith Hill and Sheryl Crow. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Las Vegas will be coming to Palm Springs with Lady Luck. The trio features powerful voices from Broadway, Hollywood, London’s West End and the Vegas strip—and the group will be doing a Las Vegas legends-themed show. Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge rolls into June with a couple of fun events. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 1, drag star Sutton Lee Seymour will be performing. Seymour is known as the “Robin Williams of drag” and has entertained in sold-out venues around the world. Tickets are $25. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 8, America’s Got Talent’s Season 8 runner-up Taylor Williamson (below) will be performing. He’s quite funny. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

Published in Previews

I’m now going to gush about the best wine-tasting I’ve ever been to—ever. I am going to spend the next 900 words or so name-dropping winemakers you’ve probably never heard of, and describing wine-making techniques that will bore you to tears. Consider yourself warned.

Earlier this December, the incomparable desert wine goddess, Christine Soto of Dead or Alive bar in Palm Springs, did what no one in this industry thought was possible: She managed to convince a laundry list of the best and brightest winemakers in California to converge at the Ace Hotel for one day of wine-tasting fun in the sun, for the first Palm Springs Wine Fest. You might think that wouldn’t be such a difficult task, given the beauty of our desert this time of year. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come to sunny Palm Springs in December for a little work/play? Well, the truth is the desert has not exactly been on the forefront of cutting-edge food and wine concepts. The wine scene here has always been a little conservative, if not staid and out of touch. So, to have a venerable list of the coolest “kids” making wine in California right here in our back yard was not only pretty damn exciting; it had never been done.

When I first walked in to the open-air event space at the Ace, it was a little overwhelming. There was a live band and throngs of people wedged between rows of tables. It was hard to even know where to begin. From across the room, I saw Abe Schoener of Scholium Project. I hadn’t seen him in years, and I was certain he wouldn’t know me from Adam. Back in my Napa days, I would sit at the bar of a local hotspot called Norman Rose and hope to get a seat next to him so I could eavesdrop (in a non-threatening fangirl kind of way) on all the cool wine stories he and his buddies would share. I introduced myself to him a couple of times—each attempt a little more awkward and pathetic. But he is such a sincerely nice guy that I think he just pretended not to notice my social ineptitude. But here at this tasting, in my hometown, I suddenly manufactured the confidence to walk right over to him, introduce myself (again) and immediately dive into a conversation about the gloriously strange glass of white wine from his table. It’s called La Géante, and it’s a blend of a couple of white varietals, none of which I can remember, except there’s 1 percent gewürztraminer in there, and I think he said something about skin-contact sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. But what makes this wine so crazy is how he’s making it. Abe proceeded to tell me about some friends of his at Hiyu Wine Farm in Hood River, Ore., making a solera red that blew his mind. So he decided to try his hand at it with some white wines. If you’re curious about the solera process, it’s chiefly used in sherry and other fortified-wine production, and it creates a multi-vintage aged product by fractionally blending the liquid through a series of barrels from top to bottom, with the oldest liquids being in the barrels on the ground. Fascinating stuff, right?! The wine was beautiful and complicated and fearless. I was off to a good start.

From there, I looked for any table that had an opening. I needed to regain a little personal space from the shoulder-to-shoulder New York City sidewalk vibe and blissfully found a spot at the Minus Tide table. Best discovery of the day! These guys released their first vintage in 2015, with the focus being the cool-climate wines of Mendocino. The first wine they poured for me was a riesling. As with Abe and his unique approach to wine-making, these guys do it a little differently, too. This riesling is made by carbonic maceration. If you’ve stuck with me this far, this might be where I lose you … but if you’re a wine geek, you just shouted out loud: “A RIESLING?! CARBONIC MACERATION?! WHAT?!” Yup. It’s 100 percent carbonic, whole-cluster pressed, unrefined and unfiltered from only 40 vines located in the pinot noir dominant Langley Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Just enough for one barrel. I’m choking up a little; it would be impossible for me to love a wine more. That said, this darling wine didn’t overshadow the stunning Feliz Vineyard Carignane—also 100 percent carbonic and 100 percent mouthwateringly delicious—or their velvety-rich malbec from the famed Alder Springs Vineyard. The unbridled happiness I feel knowing these wines exist is only shattered by the fact that everything they make is sold out, and I can’t get any.

Field Recordings from Paso Robles has long been a favorite of mine, and I had the pleasure of tasting their orange wine called Skins. This is a blend of chenin blanc, pinot gris and verdelho, and the result is a wine that, unlike a lot of other orange wines I’ve tasted, is full of bright acidity with that savory, cidery aroma and textured mouthfeel, without the bitter wood varnish component that can sometimes be too overpowering.

I think I hung out at the Red Car table for about an hour. The founder, Richard Crowell, and I discussed our mutual sentiments regarding scores; the beauty of syrah and why everyone should drink it all the time; and the rugged and picturesque vineyards from which the fruit for their insanely balanced and elegant wines comes. He was like a friend you’ve known for years, and our conversations were my high point of the day. If you haven’t tried Red Car, go to Eureka! in Indian Wells right now, and have a glass of their rose. Oh hell, just have a bottle. I did.

I hopped from table to table, tasting one gloriously foot-trodden wine after the next. More often than not, these wines are naturally fermented, and generally left un-fooled-around with by the hands that made them. All of these winemakers were there to tell a story, and what I found so endearing is that they were all so happy to be here in our desert. Many of them had vacationed here as children or had been here years ago without much reason to return … until now. The energy in the room was palpable, and everyone there, whether they were pouring or drinking, was genuinely excited to be there.

There is a wine awakening happening here in the Coachella Valley. Go buy a bottle of something fun and be a part of it.

Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with more than 15 years in the wine industry. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Wine

The kids are back in school. The days are getting shorter. It’ll officially be fall this month. And while the temps are still hot, so are the events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some shows that are out of this world. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, country singer Martina McBride will be stopping by. She’s a powerhouse in modern country music. She’s sold 18 million records, with 20 Top 10 singles, and six No. 1 hits. You don’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, it’ll feel like the ’90s again when TLC (right) and En Vogue perform. Both of these all-women R&B groups were pretty spectacular back in their day. TLC has sold 70 million records and was one of the most recognizable music groups of the ’90s. One of my guilty pleasures is the song “No Scrubs”; yes, I know all the words and will sing along when it comes on the radio. En Vogue was another ’90s great; “Free Your Mind” was a great jam. The group just released its first album in 14 years, scoring them a hit song. Wow! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa goes into September with a great schedule. First, do you love Prince? If so, you’re in luck! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show will be come to The Show. I watched this band’s sound check when the group was performing at the Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs—and was blown away by how good the band sounded. The group goes all out and even includes songs from Morris Day and the Time. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, classic-rock iconic band Styx will be performing. While Styx has received a lot of crap from critics, the band is beloved by a fan base of dedicated die-hards, and is one of the most successful touring bands in America. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, enjoy An Evening With Mel Brooks. The man himself will reflect on his life and his career as an actor, writer, producer and director. At 92 years old, with works such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and The Producers to his credit, he’ll have quite a bit to talk about. Tickets are $75 to $145. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

If you love Latin music, Spotlight 29 Casino has you covered. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, Mexican-American singer Marisela will be performing. Before Selena took Latin music by storm, there was Marisela. A native of Los Angeles, she released her first album when she was just 18 and has been going ever since. She’s a popular performer in Mexico and is also a hit in America with Latin-music lovers. Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, norteño legend Ramon Ayala will take the stage. He’s considered the “King of the Accordion” and is a legendary Mexican musician; he has four Grammy Awards, too. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is getting back into the swing of things. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, and 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, that reliable all-male revue is coming back to town—Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. I’ve run out of things to say about them, so I’ll just tell you to look them up online and check out the pictures of them. If you like … go. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, get ready to journey back to the ’80s … because this lineup is the most ’80s thing I’ve ever seen: Boy George and Culture Club, the B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey will be performing. Yeah, that’s quite a lineup. Tickets are $79 to $149, and as of our deadline, they were looking pretty scarce. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an amazing summer, and the September schedule continues the trend. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, desert-rock legend Sean Wheeler will be playing with his band Reluctant Messengers. Wheeler released his solo album Sand in My Blood in 2017. While it doesn’t have the over-the-top, crazy-fun sound of Throw Rag, it does have his impressive takes on country, folk, gospel and soul. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, Joshua Tree’s own Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing an outdoor show. He has traveled across the country and opened for acts such as Blues Traveler; it’s only a matter of time before he catches his big break. He’s a talented musician and a gifted songwriter. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, The Breeders (below) will arrive. It’s a band that features Kim Deal of Pixies; the group released great music back in the ’90s that was not wildly successful commercially, though it earned acclaim and praise. As of deadline, tickets were still available, but that’s most likely to change. Tickets are $35. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back from its summer hiatus. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2, The Judy Show will return to its weekly slot. It’s a fabulous show starring Judy Garland impersonator and Purple Room proprietor Michael Holmes. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, get out the thick black glasses for the Buddy Holly Tribute with Southbound and Company. This show has been popping up on occasion, and I’ve always been interested in going to check it out as a Buddy Holly fan. Maybe I will this time! Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, actress and singer Renee Olstead will take the stage. Olstead has had an impressive career in film, television and music. Her musical abilities caught the attention of producer/composer David Foster, who opened the door to her musical career. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Palm Springs kicks off September with a special show: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, country music performer Ty Herndon will return to the Copa stage. Herndon’s country music career includes 17 singles on the Billboard chart, including three songs that reached No. 1. A career slump and problems with drugs and alcohol followed, before he came out as gay in 2014. Fortunately, he’s back to performing and releasing albums again. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs has a great September schedule, but one event stands out: At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, British psychedelic-pop legends The Zombies will perform an acoustic set, and founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone will do an interview during a live taping of the podcast The Trap Set with Joe Wong. Tickets are $30 to $75. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life Breaks Records

If anyone ever needs proof that the residents of the Coachella Valley are a rather generous lot, look no further than the results of the Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life (DOFL) fundraiser back in April.

First, a recap of how DOFL works: On one chosen day per year, restaurants across the Coachella Valley agree to donate at least 33 percent of their sales—from one particular meal, or from everything—to the Desert AIDS Project.

On April 26, 75 local restaurants participated, raising a whopping $280,000 for DAP—an increase of $50,000 from last year. An estimated 10,000 valley residents went to these 75 restaurants that day.

“You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone wearing a ‘badge of honor’—the ‘I Dined’ stickers given to diners at participating locations,” said event manager George Nasci-Sinatra, according to a news release.

That’s impressive. However, it’s even more impressive when these numbers are put into context.

Dining Out for Life is a nationwide (plus Canada!) campaign held the last Thursday in April every year by various HIV/AIDS service organizations. Representatives of all of these campaigns gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the North American Dining Out for Life Conference in July to compare notes. Well, it turns out that even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smallest markets participating in Dining Out for Life, we rank No. 2 (!) in terms of money raised.

“Only Denver, which had three times more participating restaurants, raised more funds this year,” said Darrell Tucci, the chief development officer for DAP. “To be the smallest market in population driving the second-largest results is absolutely extraordinary and something we should all be proud of. Other markets have more participating restaurants, but no other market can boast the level of commitment shown by restaurants in greater Palm Springs.”

The main reason for the local Dining Out for Life’s success is the sheer generosity of local restaurants: In fact, the Top 3 restaurants in the country (plus Canada!) in terms of the total amount of money donated are here—Spencer’s Restaurant, Lulu California Bistroand Trio Restaurant, in that order. They raised a combined total of $61,679.

It’s also worth noting the sacrifice of some smaller restaurants that elected to give 100 percent or more of the day’s proceeds to DAP: Townie Bagels, Holiday House, The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge, Ristretto and Rooster and the Pig. Heck, the wait staff at Rooster and the Pig even donated their tips for the day to DAP.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that I’m personally a supporter of the Desert AIDS Project; the Independent does business with DAP; and George Nasci-Sinatra and Darrell Tucci are good friends of mine.)

Will the Coachella Valley be able to top these fantastic results during the next Dining Out for Life, on Thursday, April 25, 2019? Stay tuned.

For more information as the 2019 date draws nearer, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.


The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Celebrates Its Annual Craft Beer Weekend.

It’s become a summer tradition for Southern California beer-lovers: The Ace Hotel and Swim Club's Seventh Annual Craft Beer Weekend will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5.

The weekend’s big events are a Craft Beer Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, featuring entertainment, food and unlimited tastings (!) from some of the top craft breweries from SoCal and beyond; and a beer brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday, featuring six beer-inspired and beer-paired courses—plus starting and ending beers, too.

Passes for the Saturday festival are $35, and the Sunday brunch will set you back $55—or do both for just $70. Attendees who book a room for the weekend get into the festival for free.

Get tickets and more info at www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings/craft-beer-weekend-18.


In Brief

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has announced it has adopted new technology from a company called ORCA Digesters, Inc., that turns food waste into water. This will keep an estimated 624 tons (!) of food out of landfills each year. Awesome! … The Libation Room is now open at 73750 El Paseo, in Palm Desert. The new cocktail bar promises a speakeasy type of vibe; check it out Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. on. For more information, call 877-869-8891, or visit www.libationroom.com. … The Manhattan in the Desert in Palm Desert, at 74225 Highway 111, has apparently closed. The Palm Springs location, at 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is still alive and kicking. … One of the most happening outdoor-dining spots in downtown Palm Springs has been temporarily closed for a “facelift.” The patio at Tropicale, at 244 E. Amado Road, was closed on July 9 for a remodel that “should take about three weeks,” although the indoor bar and dining room remains open during construction. Depending on how that goes, and when you’re reading this, it may have reopened already! Call 760-866-1952 with questions.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

TRIO Closed Indefinitely After Early-Morning Fire

Sometime around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, a fire broke out in the parking lot behind TRIO Restaurant, located at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The ever-popular restaurant suffered significant smoke and water damage during the fire—and is now closed indefinitely.

In the aftermath of the blaze—which also devastated the neighboring Shag Store—TRIO owner Tony Marchese said he hoped Trio would reopen by Labor Day weekend. However, in late August, he announced via TRIO’s Facebook page that the cleanup and other work would not be completed by then.

Keep your fingers crossed for a reopening date sometime in mid-late September.

Authorities deemed the fire “suspicious,” but had not released any further concrete details as of our press deadline.

Watch www.facebook.com/TrioPalmSprings for updates.


Village Pub Closed for 'Rehab' After Liquor-License Violations

Whoever is in charge of the spin effort regarding the month-long closure of the Village Pub—at 266 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—deserves a raise.

Here’s what happened: The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suspended the Village Pub’s liquor license for 30 days due to a couple of major violations: A now-former employee “battered” a customer, and the pub had a bar manager who did not meet the state’s qualifications.

Oops. Well, how did the Village Pub handle the mess? The brilliant answer: Management ’fessed up and embraced the punishment.

Managers did TV interviews. Owners answered reporters’ questions. They announced the closure—which was cleverly branded as the bar’s “Rehab”—would take place starting Thursday, Aug. 24. They said that between then and a planned Saturday, Sept. 23, reopening, they’d “clean, refresh and retrain.” And they announced some great parties—some pre-“Rehab”-themed—before the closure.

Bravo for the PR effort … but not so much for the rules violations.

Watch www.facebook.com/villagepubpalmsprings for updates.


In Brief

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is holding its sixth annual Craft Beer Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and 10. A craft-beer festival, a beer brunch and all sorts of other events are on the docket; get details, tickets and reservations at www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. … Congrats to our friends at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill. On Sunday, Aug. 20, the restaurant, at 350 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, celebrated the two-year anniversary of its wildly popular Desert Divas Drag Brunch. The Sunday brunch and the show are a steal at $16.95; get info at rioazulpalmsprings.com/drag-brunch. … When Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, at 440 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, reopens for its 42nd season on Friday, Sept. 1, it’ll have a new look. “The new concept has a modern feel with exotic woods and soft earth-tone colors,” according to a news release. “The beautification of the dining room will feature new carpet, all new upholstery and seating, and new paint throughout the restaurant. Custom angled framed mirrors will showcase the walls; new chandeliers, sconces and other enhancements will allow the dining experience to be more intimate.” Visit johnnycostaspalmsprings.com for more info. … After a series of violent incidents at The Block Sports Bar and Grill, 68955 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, the city shut down the restaurant on Aug. 10, apparently due to an expired business license. However, management jumped to resolve the paperwork issues, and reopened two weeks later. Watch www.facebook.com/theblocksportsbar for updates. … Coming very soon to the space at 68525 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, that most recently housed Mike’s American Bistro: Bubba’s Bones and Brews. Watch this space for more information. … Coming soon: The valley’s fourth Koffi, to Tahquitz Plaza, at 600 Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. It’ll be the third Palm Springs location for the popular hangout; watch www.kofficoffee.com for more information. … Fans of the Desert Fox Bar, which called downtown Palm Springs home until closing in 2015, have cause to celebrate: The bar is making a return, at 44750 San Pablo Ave., in Palm Desert. Watch www.facebook.com/desertfoxbar for an exact opening date. … New to Palm Desert, specifically the Westfield Palm Desert mall: Burgerim, a “gourmet” chain burger joint. Customers who sign up can get all sorts of free food during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 13; visit www.facebook.com/BurgerimPalmDesert for info and signup details. … Grocery-delivery service Instacart has come to the Coachella Valley. For $5.99, you can get your grocery order of $35 or more—from stores including Stater Bros., Ralph’s, Smart and Final, Petco, Whole Foods and Costco—delivered to your door. Get more info at www.instacart.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

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