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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On the northern edge of downtown Palm Springs, a new music venue is on the verge of rekindling the music and nightlife scene that seems to have disappeared after the closure of Bar two years ago.

There’s one small problem: The venue isn’t fully open quite yet.

Until the venue finalizes its aesthetic identity, secures more seating and optimizes its kitchen and menu, The Alibi is in a “soft-opening” phase. Nevertheless, the venue is off to a great start, with an experienced team working together toward a common goal: making the northern portion of downtown Palm Springs a hip place to be once again.

Located at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in the space that was for years known as Azul, the venue—directly across from the original Las Casuelas, next door to the Nat Reed Gallery, and a hop, skip and jump away from the old Bar space (which was previously the home of the infamous JD’s Landing)—the building is known for its beautiful patio, swing seats and island bar. All of that is still there, along with a pop-up hamburger stand from The Heyday.

As you walk inside the building, the first thing you see is the stage, and to the left of it, a raised lounge area. As for the décor: Adorning the bar area are leafy, mature houseplants, with dim romantic lighting and chandeliers installed here and there. The result: chill vibes all around. A grand piano and a disco ball are tucked away in a back corner, waiting to be relocated and repurposed. Perhaps most importantly: The Alibi has a stage, a proper sound system and—gasp!—a sound guy. All of these elements combine to create for visitors a unique and chic night on the town.

After taking over the old Azul location, the new owners initiated an extensive renovation. General manager Anthony Molnar says he and his team—which includes accomplished Los Angeles music and restaurant industry people behind The Echo, The Knitting Factory and Spaceland Presents—have a vision to create a “culturally creative space for artists and musicians in the local community, and provide a space for independent music.” They hope to connect to the community organically by providing free, 21-and-older shows—and booking excellent music. Molnar says a dance floor is next.

The team hopes to further attract locals with an expansive and eclectic drink menu. The current incarnation includes craft beers from local breweries, and exotic, yet affordable cocktails. Bartender Angie Bloom said she appreciates the extensive “tool box” she can pull from to quench the thirst of parched patrons. She is among the many excited and curious people who see The Alibi as a blank canvas, full of potential.

The venue’s current hours are somewhat mysterious—for now, The Alibi is mostly only open on weekends—but it is evident the creative people working behind the scenes want to deliver top-notch underground experiences in a lounge-like setting. For example, on Saturday, July 13, The Alibi hosted Jim White, the gothic Western folk musician, playing a warm-up show for his performance at The Echo. Every second Thursday of the month, The Alibi is hosting goth/industrial/EDM DJs. On Saturday, July 27, Lee Joseph is spinning garage and punk music (Joseph is the bassist for local musician Jesika Von Rabbit, who herself also DJ'd The Alibi’s first open night); and for Aug. 4, The Alibi booked Imperial Teen, a band that was big in the ’90s you might recognize for having a song in the movie Jawbreaker.

While the bar owners and managers have close ties to the Palm Springs community, their experience and sensibilities from also working in Los Angeles should result in eclectic, alternative and—above all—interesting music programming—something very refreshing to downtown Palm Springs.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/palmspringsalibi or @thealibipalmsprings on Instagram.

Now Open (At Least a Little): The Alibi Palm Springs

You’ve probably heard this one before: Owners announce a new restaurant is going to open on a tentative date. That date comes … and goes. A new date is announced; it passes, too. Cycle repeats a time or three.

Such has been the case with The Alibi Palm Springs, opening under new ownership and after significant renovations at the former Azul/Alibi/Georgie’s etc. space at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

The new owners opened the space for the Lesbo Expo Launch Party—bringing in outside food—during Palm Springs Pride last November. In December, The Alibi Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheAlibiPalmSprings) announced a soft opening would take place on Jan. 25. We don’t know whether that actually happened; we do know signs went up a little later on The Alibi’s front doors, announcing an April opening. Which, of course, didn’t happen.

In recent weeks, The Alibi’s Instagram page (www.instagram.com/thealibipalmsprings) has sprung to life with encouraging photos of things like functional misters and a new jukebox. However, three pics got me really excited: One shows newly renovated glider seats on the patio—and those unique glider seats helped put the old Azul/etc. on the map; another shows meat being grilled; and a third shows a patio view—with an announcement that the patio would be open over Memorial Day weekend. Yes!

According to a subsequent Instagram post, The Alibi, for now, will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday. Follow that aforementioned Instagram page for more information.


Fire Leads to Temporary Closure of All Aspen Mills Bakery Locations

A fire on May 17 at Aspen Mills Bakery, 555 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs, has led to the closure of all four of the much-loved bakery’s valley locations.

“Our oven serves all our locations in the desert, so every one of our stores will be affected by this setback,” said a message on the Aspen Mills Facebook page. “We hope to be doing what we do best at Aspen Mills as quickly as we can.”

We sent an email to owner Marty Webster asking when Aspen Mills may reopen, but we did not get a response as of our deadline.

Here’s hoping the closure is very short. Watch www.facebook.com/AspenMillsBakery for more information.


Worth Checking Out: Holey Scoops Ice Cream, in Palm Desert

If you’re inclined to support a small business started up by young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs, and you happen to like good ice cream, I recommend trying out Holey Scoops Ice Cream, located at 74600 Highway 111, in Palm Desert.

Siblings Becca and Aaron Brukman opened the shop around six months ago. After growing up in Long Beach and attending the University of Arizona, they moved to the Coachella Valley and decided to open Holey Scoops, using Aaron’s business acumen, and Becca’s experience with people, marketing and customer service.

“We’re a brother and sister. We’re young. We’re trying this whole small-business thing out,” Becca told me.

Holey Scoops offers 16 ice cream flavors (including a no-sugar-added flavor), plus dairy-free bars, chocolate-covered bananas and other treats like cookie pies. If you stop in, chances are Becca and Aaron will be the people helping you: So far, they’re their only employees.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/holeyscoops.


In Brief

Sad news: Three Sixty North, at 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, closed on Sunday, May 26. After word started spreading on Facebook that owner Tony Gallardo had decided not to renew the lease, we reached out to the restaurant via Facebook—and confirmed the news. Gallardo and some staff will remain available for catering, however; call 760-797-5733 for details. … Now open: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, located in the old Starbucks space at 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The renovated spot looks gorgeous, and the menu—featuring tacos, burritos, ceviche and all sorts of tequila-fueled cocktails—looks delicious. Get details at www.facebook.com/elpatronpalmsprings and www.elpatronps.com. … Congratulations to Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive, in Indian Wells, on its 30th anniversary! Get more info, including the restaurant’s amazing $29 Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week menu, at www.vickysofsantafe.com. … PS Underground, which has presented an amazing array of themed culinary experiences at venues across the valley over the last six years, now has a permanent home in Palm Springs: 1700 S. Camino Real, Suite 2; that’s the old Appetito space next to Koffi. Awesome! Details at www.psunderground.com. … Now open again: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. It had been in the side space of the old IMAX theater in Cathedral City. However, CVRep needed that space after taking over the building, and Los Arcos closed down for a bit before reopening on the other side of the “downtown Cathedral City” complex, near The Roost Lounge. Welcome back! Get details at www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Wexler’s Deli to Replace Reservoir at Palm Springs’ Arrive Hotel

A popular Los Angeles Jewish deli is coming to one of Palm Springs’ hippest spots in the fall.

Wexler’s Deli—which has three L.A.-area locations—will take over the space at Arrive Hotel, at 1551 N. Palm Canyon Drive, now occupied by Reservoir. Keep your fingers crossed for an October opening.

"We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Wexler’s team,” said Matt Steinberg, co-founder and CEO of Arrive, in a press-release quote. “Their passion for elevating and re-imagining what a deli can be is evident in the quality of their food. We also know that their voice and style will be a great fit for the locals and visitors to our property and Palm Springs as a whole.”

At first glance, I thought this pairing was … odd, to say the least. Arrive has made its mark by being modern, exciting and hip. And, well, let’s just say that Jewish delis are not known for being anything close to modern, exciting and hip.

But the more I pondered the pairing, the more it made sense. Reservoir never made any sort of serious culinary impression since Arrive opened … and have you ever tried to get a table at Sherman’s in Palm Springs at noon on a Saturday during season?

Plus, Wexler’s is not exactly old-school. In fact, it’s only been around for five years. I’ll let the press release explain things from here: “In late 2013, the owners of the historic Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. approached (chef Micah Wexler and partner Michael Kassar) regarding their plan to renovate the 100-year-old market. … Mike and Micah had a vision to take Jewish deli food back to its roots, and to create a concise menu in a 350-square-foot space, where everything is made in-house. Wexler’s sought out to be the only deli in L.A. that cures, smokes and hand-slices all their meat and fish in-house, (and) uses sustainable meat and fish, and local farmer’s market produce.”

The Palm Springs Wexler’s will serve all three meals, offering a mix of Wexler’s “classics” and new-for-Palm Springs items, like a pastrami burger and “Sasso’s pancakes with blueberries, creme fraiche, and maple syrup.”

For more information, watch arriveenterprises.com.


Here’s Something New: Restaurants Expanding Their Hours During the Summer!

In July, many well-known Coachella Valley restaurants are closed for the season. We know that … but here’s something new and encouraging: A couple of Palm Springs favorites are actually looking to fill that gap by expanding their hours.

First: Until recently, gourmet-vegan restaurant Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, at 706 S. Eugene Road—which was and remains closed on Sundays and Mondays—locked its doors at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, however, Chef Tanya’s stayed open until 8 p.m., adding a few dinner specials.

Well, as of mid-June, Chef Tanya’s is open until 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday! Yes! For more info, visit www.facebook.com/cheftanyaskitchen.

Second: Our good friends at Dead or Alive, the fantastic wine and craft-beer bar at 150 E. Palm Canyon Drive, followed Chef Tanya’s lead by opening earlier on Friday and Saturday—at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.—and by adding Sunday hours: Instead of being closed, DoA is now open Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m.!

For more info about Dead or Alive—and its jam-packed schedule of tastings, charity events and free-food offerings—visit www.facebook.com/deadoralivebar.


In Brief

Azul Palm Springs, at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has closed its doors. The restaurant and show venue with the epic patio swings had tweaked its name several times over the years, indicating possible concept and/or management issues. It’s a great space in a great location, so we’ll be eagerly watching for what comes next. … The Steakhouse at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has started serving brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. We’re dying to try the filet mignon benedict. Get details, including the menu, at www.hotwatercasino.com/dining. … A lot of new restaurants have opened in recent weeks! We’ve heard raves about The Pink Cabana at the Sands Hotel and Spa, at 44985 Province Way, in Indian Wells. “Designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Pink Cabana at Sands Hotel and Spa is a fresh, modern take on the great tennis and racquet clubs of the ’50s and ’60s in Palm Springs,” says the hotel website. The Pink Cabana is serving lunch and dinner daily; visit sandshotelandspa.com/dining-bar. … Balisage is back! Chef Daniel Villanueva and his “earth to table” dinners are being served at Beyond Balisage, Tuesday through Saturday at 68327 E. Palm Canyon Road, in Cathedral City; visit www.beyondbalisage.com. … Other recent openings: Sapporo Ramen and Grill, at 73759 Highway 111, in Palm Desert (sapporo-ramen-grill.business.site); Pizza Peel, at 69115 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City (www.pizzapeel.net); and Cups Café, serving breakfast and lunch at 77912 Country Club Drive, in Palm Desert (search for it on Facebook).

Published in Restaurant & Food News