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26 Sep 2017

Restaurant News Bites: When It Comes to Restaurant Inspections, Calm Down; California Barbecue Company Moves; and More!

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When It Comes to Restaurant-Inspection Ratings, Please Calm Down

In the September 2015 issue, I used this space to examine the ridiculousness of public freak-outs over restaurant-inspection ratings. Now, 25 months later, I shall do so again.

Here’s why: On Friday, Sept. 1, some very bad things happened to Manhattan in the Desert, at 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. First: The restaurant had refrigeration problems. Second: Inspectors from the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health showed up.

As a result of all this, according to the inspection report: “Due to (a) lack of adequate refrigeration, (the) facility … decided to voluntarily close.”

That’s bad enough. Making matters worse: This happened on a Friday … before a holiday weekend—Labor Day Weekend, to be exact. This meant the restaurant had to be closed during what would normally be a rather lucrative four days, until it could be re-inspected by the county on Tuesday the 5th—even if the refrigeration matter were fixed well before that.

Making matters much worse … the inspector, as they are mandated to do, placed a big, red “C” sign, for all the world to see, near the closed restaurant entryway.

Of course, someone took a picture and posted it on Facebook; that pic was then passed around, giving trolls and idiots a chance to have a field day.

Yes, “C” ratings are a big deal. A “C” or even a “B” means the restaurant failed its inspection, requiring that it be re-inspected again, often the next business day, until it receives an “A.”

My problem with all of this is context: My research uncovered at least nine other Coachella Valley businesses that got “C” grades during inspections over the last 12 months, with many dozens of others getting “B” grades—which, again, means failure—often with scores of 80 or 81, meaning they’re on the cusp of “C” grades. You probably heard of the mess regarding Manhattan … but did you hear about many of these other restaurant-inspection failures? Unless you’re constantly checking the county website, no, you did not.

Some restaurants that fail inspections are genuinely dirty or poorly managed; many of them are not—they just had a bad day, like all businesses have. This is why Manhattan in the Desert will not lose a dime of my business. See you there soon, I hope.


California Barbecue Company Moves to Indio's Club 5

On Aug. 15, we published a nice piece at CVIndependent.com about Reggie Martinez and his California Barbecue Company.

At the time, Martinez—who before had been at Neil’s Lounge, in Indio—was serving up smoked meats and his famous mac-and-cheese to rave reviews at the Red Barn, in Palm Desert.

However, shortly after the article was posted, the Red Barn and Martinez parted ways. When we asked Martinez what happened, he declined to share the details.

Martinez’s smoker, fortunately, did not stay in storage for long: He is now serving his delicious barbecue and sides at Club 5, located at 82971 Bliss Ave., in Indio.

For more information, call 760-863-6971, or visit www.facebook.com/thecaliforniabarbecueco.


In Brief

New: Azúcar Restaurant and Bar. The tiny restaurant at the La Serena Villas, at 339 S. Belardo Road, in Palm Springs, has been creating a buzz with its tasty fare, such as shrimp and scallop ceviche ($16), Kobe beef sliders ($23) and blackened salmon ($25). Lunch and dinner are served Wednesday through Sunday, as is breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant offers a limited menu on Mondays and Tuesdays. Check out the menus at laserenavillas.com/azucar-restaurant-and-bar. … If you’re a fan of cigars and tequila, take note: Las Casuelas Terraza, at 222 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will be holding its latest cigar and tequila dinner at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11. Rancho Mirage’s Viva Cigar Lounge is providing the cigars, and the tequila on offer is Hornitos Black Barrel and Siete Leguas Añejo. $35 will get you all that plus a carnitas bar. Call 760-325-2794 to reserve your spot. … Mark VanLaanen, a now-former co-owner of Trio Restaurant, recently announced he’ll soon be opening On the Mark just a few doors down at 777 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The shop will sell cheese, meats and other yummy foods—along with beer and wine. Watch www.onthemarkpalmsprings.com for updates. … Coming within the next few months to 36101 Bob Hope Drive, near Gelson’s: O’Caine’s Irish Pub. Watch www.facebook.com/ranchomiragemarketplace for updates. … Good news for fans of patio seating and Sunday tea dances: Oscar’s Café and Bar, at 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs, again has a liquor license. Ownership changes there led to drama, which led to the current owner not having a liquor license, but that has been resolved now. … We’re hearing rumors that a high-end sushi and cocktails joint is coming soon to Palm Springs. Keep your fingers crossed, and watch this space.

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