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Fri11152019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The Purple Room at the Club Trinidad became a legendary place to have dinner and watch a performance in the 1960s, thanks in part to appearances by the Rat Pack.

After numerous changes over the years, the Purple Room is under brand-new management, and has gone through a complete makeover in an effort to return the classic venue to its glory days.

Who is in charge of the entertainment aspect of this ambitious effort? None other than Gary and Joan Gand, who handle booking for the venue, and themselves play Friday and Saturday nights at the Purple Room.

The Gand Band’s story starts long before the Gands' arrival here in Palm Springs—back in the city of Chicago.

“We met when we were 17 years old,” said Joan Gand. “Gary was a guitarist in my friend’s band, and I was the keyboardist in another blues band.”

Said Gary: “She was going out with the drummer. I was determined to steal her away from the drummer.”

Responded Joan: “We’ve been together and playing music ever since, and we won’t tell how many years that is.”

The Gands were part of the Chicago blues scene, playing in legendary clubs around Chicago and getting to know some of the well-known Windy City blues musicians.

“In Chicago, the blues for us as musicians was every day,” said Gary Gand. “You go to the liquor store, and you’d see Muddy Waters—he was a local guy. It wasn’t until the Rolling Stones came out later talking about how great Chicago blues was, the Chess (Records) sound and all that stuff, that we really thought it was special, and that wasn’t going on in the rest of the world.”

Blues music definitely runs deep in the Gand’s repertoire.

“It’s the emotion of (the blues),” Gary explained. “Blues is about the hardships that are in your life every day. (In) the great music, whether it’s blues, classical or country, there’s always a story of sorrow. You lost a woman; you lost your castle; you lost a war—there’s a whole religion built around that stuff.

Joan Gand credited a high school friend for introducing her to blues.

“I was taking jazz theory and messing around with improvisation,” she said. “A friend of mine who was two years older than me and had a blues band heard me playing in the music department at school. He said, ‘You should come play in my blues band!’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about blues,’ and he said, ‘You don’t have to; if you know jazz, jazz is based on blues.’ I went and played in his band, and ever since then, I’ve always been a fan of blues and that whole world. From a keyboardist’s perspective, it’s just great music to play, and I really enjoy it.”

The Gands later headed to Palm Springs, and played regularly at the late, lamented Blue Guitar.

“We ended up coming to Palm Springs because of the modernism thing going on,” said Joan Gand. “With the architecture preservation, all the amazing buildings in town, and the whole town of Palm Springs, we just fell in love with it from the architecture point of view. That’s a hobby of ours, and we collect modernism furniture—and, of course, that fits in with guitars from the era. All that design adds together with the music, so we got deeply involved in that.”

Their favorite local show thus far was put together by the Palm Springs Art Museum at the Bob Hope house.

“We played a fundraiser there, and when we were looking for an area to set up the band, we discovered this huge outdoor fireplace made out of concrete,” said Joan Gand. “They weren’t using it, and it was a warm night, and it actually looked like a giant stage. Imagine a fireplace that big—that a whole band could fit in there.”

Gary added: “When I went into the backyard, it was right off the patio. I said, ‘Oh, look, they got a stage right here.’ I was talking to the house manager, and I asked, ‘What’s that big pile of wood for?’ and he said, ‘That’s for the fireplace.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s that?’ and he said, ‘You’re standing in it.’ I asked, ‘Are you planning to use it tonight?’ He said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Great! Then we’ll set up in here in the fireplace.’ That was really fun.”

After playing fundraisers and home shows—one of which included Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s drummer—friends convinced them to seek a new local regular gig. However, it was not easy to do; they said there was not much variety in the local scene, and many venues wrapped up entertainment around 9 p.m.

After some residencies in various local places, they found the Purple Room last season.

“When we played here last year during the season, it was barely making it,” said Joan Gand. “It hadn’t been renovated in a long time; it had been reopened by new management who didn’t know what they needed to do to make it work. We have a lot of fans in Palm Springs, and they would come because there was nowhere to hear this music. It would be just packed in here, and when they tried to do other nights of music, no one would come, because (the other acts) didn’t have a following.”

Gary Gand shared a pet peeve that he and Joan share.

“It was a lot of track acts—people singing around with their computer,” said Gary Gand. “Our policy here is no tracks: It’s live musicians playing live music in front of a live audience. Everything that comes off the stage is someone playing a musical instrument. DJs are great for the late-night dance crowd, but that’s not a substitute for a live band playing music. We’re cool with (DJs), but what we’re not cool with is a guy crooning along to his laptop.”

When Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, the owners of TRIO, took over management of the Purple Room over the summer—remodeling it and returning food service to the venue—they brought in the Gands to put together a great music program. They have put together residencies that include local band Machin’, jazz musician Michael Holmes, and Barry Minniefield, a singing chef who performs soul music. The Gands have a special musical lineup planned for Modernism Week in February, too.

As a result of the music, the food and the renovated venue, business has been pretty good since the October reopening.

“It’s been very well-received by the public,” said Marchese. “All the old groups are coming out again. For the past six weeks or so, it’s been awesome. We’re 40 percent above what we thought we were going to do.”

Joan Gand said they want to make sure the Purple Room stays true to its roots.

“The main point of everything is to preserve the traditions of live music and roots music,” she said. “If people don’t hear it performed live, it will be forgotten.”

The Purple Room, at the Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is open from 3 p.m. to midnight, Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Live music is featured every night. For more information, including a complete schedule, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Crave Dessert Restaurant Re-Opening in New Digs

Crave, which its owners tout as Palm Springs’ first dessert restaurant, is reopening in a bigger space at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18.

The restaurant—which opened in 2011 at 390 N. Palm Canyon Drive—has a new home at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 200. The new spot is on the second story and features two patios. Customers will now be able to enjoy tasty dessert treats, coffee, beer and wine while overlooking the goings-on at the Amado Road intersection.

Crave does not only have new digs; it also has some new owners: Original owner Davy Aker has been joined by Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel, co-owners of businesses including Abel McCallister Designs and the Party Lab.

Crave will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Watch www.craveps.com for more info.

Fantasy Springs Launches Cupcake Challenge

Cupcakes for a good cause—has there ever been a sweeter clause?

Forgive the bad poetry (or whatever the heck that was); we’re excited about the second annual Fantasy Cupcake Challenge, taking place from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio.

Here’s how it works: Pros and non-pros alike can enter (by Sunday, Oct. 20) for prizes up to $750. Entrants then bake up a whole bunch of cupcakes (including four full-size entries and at least 300 tastes) and bring them in. The general public is invited to enjoy those tastes—tickets are $30, or $10 for kids age 3 to 11—and vote for their favorites while perusing a silent auction and enjoying live music.

Best of all: Proceeds go to Well in the Desert. In that spirit, anyone bringing three canned/nonperishable goods to the box office on the day of the event gets $5 off admission.

Yum. And yay!

Get more details at www.fantasyspringsresort.com/cupcakes.

Purple Room Update: Opening Planned for Oct. 24

More details have emerged about the revival of the Purple Room at Club Trinidad.

As we’ve previously reported, TRIO owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen have taken over management of the space at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, which has had a controversial year. Well, we now have an opening date: Thursday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m.

The supper club and lounge will offer live music booked by Gary and Joan Gand, of the Gand Band, and will feature food service until midnight Tuesday through Thursday, as well as Sunday—with service going until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Our Continental menu will have a mix of everything,” Van Laanen said in a news release. “From deviled eggs and Sloppy Joe sliders to fresh seafood and steaks, we’ll have delicious options for every palate.”

Get more details at purpleroompalmsprings.com.

In Brief

The Miramonte Resort and Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, is launching a series of wine events for the season. “Le Serate di Vino” events will feature wines complemented with the food of executive chef Robert Nyerick; the first event, on Friday, Oct. 25, will be the Oyster Bay progressive wine dinner, with five New Zealand wines paired with hors d’oeuvres, three savory courses and dessert, all for $75. Call 760-341-7200 for reservations or more info. … Dragon Sushi, in the 68300 block of East Palm Canyon in Cathedral City, is now open. As reported in this space before, it’s the sister restaurant of the much-loved Dragon Sushi in Indio. … Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, held a Make My Pizza Challenge contest last month. Almost 200 folks entered, and the finalists were vetted on Sept. 19. The winning pizza: Christopher Giusto’s eggplant Parmesan pizza, featuring red sauce, breaded eggplant medallions, roast garlic, basil and ricotta cheese (pictured above). That’s not the only news from the Funkey family, which owns Giuseppe’s (as well as Bar in downtown Palm Springs): Next to Giuseppe’s is their soon-to-open Smoke Tree Supper Club. Watch for further details. … Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, featuring food by chef Jason Moffitt, will be opening soon at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. … Earlier this year, a Kickstarter campaign went live with this pitch: “My name is Kelly McFall. With the help of my brother Kreg and my mother Jan, we are opening a restaurant in the El Paseo shopping district of Palm Desert." It went on: "Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe will be a full service breakfast and lunch farmhouse cafe with an urban twist.” The needed $50,000 was raised, and now the café, at 73575 El Paseo Drive, is open; details at www.wilmafrieda.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The Purple Room Returns to Its 1960s Roots

After a quite a turbulent year, the Purple Room, located at the Club Trinidad (1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) is getting a renovation and new management that could turn it into one of the valley’s coolest spots.

TRIO owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen have taken over the spot. They are keeping mum on some specifics, but they have set up a Facebook page and a website featuring a swanky logo and the tagline “Supper club, drinks and live music. It’s where Palm Springs plays.” We hear that a late October opening is in the works.

The website offers this description: “In the early ’60s, Palm Springs’ Purple Room at Club Trinidad became the sweet spot of the swinging supper club scene. Cats like Frank and Dino hung with their pals to eat, drink and play.

“The Purple Room reopens with its pedigree legacy in mind. Swanky décor and state-of-the-art sound for the best live music in town.”

It’s official: I am excited!

Head to the website to apply for a gig, join the newsletter list, or get more information.

Help People Help the Blind

The Desert Blind and Handicapped Association has two fantastic food-related events coming up—during which you can help out the organization just by having a good time.

First up: On Wednesday, Sept. 18, the organization—which offers transportation for those who are disabled—will be having a fundraising dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. at Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant, 35325 Date Palm Drive, No. 111, in Cathedral City. Tickets for the meal—which include salad, a soft drink, garlic bread, carrot cake and one of four entrées—are just $25.

Next up is one of the first events of the social/charity event season: The Fall Garden Party takes place from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, at Copley’s on Palm Canyon, 621 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The event will feature wearable fine art fashions by Lon Michels, and jewelry by Alexis Hunter (a Independent) contributor, modeled by local celebrities. Add in music by cellist Ray Kelley, emceeing by the incomparable Brian Wanzek (you may know him better as Bella da Ball), hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, and a swanky good time should be had by all; tickets are $50.

For tickets to either event or for more information, head to www.desertblind.org, or call 760-440-7720.

Have a Slice to Help a Great Woman With a Terrible Disease

Andie Jaeger—the mother of three (ages 2, 6 and 11), and the wife of Kurt Jaeger, of Indio’s Jaeger Metal—is in the midst of one hell of a fight.

According to publicist Tim O’Bayley, here’s the story: “Andie suffered a seizure while out with her husband and two of her three children. She was rushed to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. … After two spinal taps, (various) MRIs, and a biopsy, on Aug. 23, the doctors confirmed the worst, and Andie was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. Gliobastoma is the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans. Her treatment protocol is still being decided but will likely include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.”

Friends and loved ones have rallied behind the Jaeger family by organizing a series of fundraisers intended to help the Jaegers with what will be one horrible medical bill. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 5 p.m. to close, The Slice, at 72775 Dinah Shore Drive, in Rancho Mirage, will donate 20 percent of each purchase (except for happy-hour menu items) to Andie.

On Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., various local Zumba instructors will team up to teach a class—limited to 35 people—at Inspired Fitness Studio, 78078 Country Club Drive, in Bermuda Dunes. Admission is $10, and $5 raffle tickets will be available; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance for tickets.

Finally, on Sunday, Oct. 6, the Classic Club, located at 75200 Classic Club Blvd., in Palm Desert, will host the Thinking Happy Thoughts for Andie Golf Tournament. Registration begins at 7 a.m., and costs $150, or $500 for a foursome. Lunch will be provided.

Register for the tourney or get more info on these events at www.thinkinghappythoughts.org.

In Brief

The New York Company Restaurant, 1260 S. Palm Canyon Drive (a space formerly occupied by Brushfire), is opening this Friday, Sept. 20. (The restaurant announced an opening date several weeks earlier, too, only to take it back due to “processing” delays. More info at www.thenewyorkcompanyrestaurant.com. … Dragon Sushi, located at 82451 Highway 111 in Indio, is opening another location, in the shopping center in the 68300 block of Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City that once was home to Frickleburgers.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The Legendary Purple Room Slated to Reopen This Week

The bad: The Legendary Purple Room, located inside of the Club Trinidad time share at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early June.

The good: If everything goes according to plan, it will reopen at 4 p.m. this Friday, June 28.

The ugly: Since the closure, there’s been drama.

Here’s what happened, according to Art Brigman, the longtime CEO of Club Trinidad: Tom and Susie Pacholik, who took over management of the club in 2011, informed Brigman they’d be ending their Purple Room involvement, and decided to close while Brigman was on a multi-week vacation.

When Brigman returned, he says, the Purple Room was essentially cleared out—including some items owned by Club Trinidad and not the Pacholiks, Brigman says.

“I have an inventory of what was mine, and what was theirs,” Brigman says.

Brigman also says the Pacholiks failed to pay the state the club’s taxes for the last quarter; he says he’s paying the state, and that if the former managers don’t pay him back, he’ll take them to small-claims court. (This could not immediately be confirmed with the state Board of Equalization.)

However, Tom Pacholik tells a different story entirely. First, Pacholik says the taxes have indeed been paid; second, he says everything he took from the Purple Room was, in fact, his. He says he may have even left some of his own stuff behind.

"I absolutely did not take anything that belonged to the Club Trinidad," Pacholik says.

Pacholik claims that it was Brigman who made the decision for them to part ways: He says Brigman gave them a 90-day termination notice, and that they responded by later giving Brigman 30 days of notice, as called for in their contract.

"I really didn't want to leave. This is what (Brigman) does all the time," Pacholik says, adding that the Purple Room name was revived by his wife and him when they took over the club in 2011. (The lounge was known as the Purple Room in its old-school heyday.)

Brigman’s plan was to have the bar in business again on Friday, June 28. He intends to have it open—with an ample amount of live music, starting with Bill Baker this Friday and Saturday—at 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

Whatever happened surrounding the closure, we’re elated that it was only temporary. The Purple Room is a unique, quirky and decidedly old-school club—a club that more people need to know about.

Dish Creative Cuisine Having an Amuse Night

When dining at Dish Creative Cuisine (68525 Ramon Road, No. A-101, Cathedral City), the greatest delights often don’t come from the appetizers, entrées and desserts on the menu (although these menu items are, in fact, delightful). Instead, it’s the complimentary amuse-bouches that lawyer-turned-chef Joane Garcia-Colson offers all of her customers, delivered between the various courses, that often turn a very good meal into something truly special.

And on Thursday, July 18, Garcia-Colson is going to give her delicious little bites the starring role they so richly deserve.

That’s the date for “Amuse Night,” when for $75 (not including beverages, tax and gratuity), she’ll offer her diners 18 to 20 amuse-bouches as their meal. (She’ll be offering optional wine-pairings, too!) My fingers are crossed that one of those amuses will be what I call “beet nipples”—a bite-sized pleasure (pictured) with a hardened meringue outside, and a delicious creamy beet filling inside. (These are amazing, folks … and this is coming from someone who generally loathes beets.)

We asked Garcia-Colson for a sneak preview, and she shared this tidbit: One of the planned courses is a lobster lollipop with sweet miso caramel sauce and crispy leeks. Mmmm. And liquid nitrogen MAY be involved in creating some of the amuse-bouches, if everything works out.

Reservations for this most unique meal at one of the valley’s most innovative restaurants are sure to go fast; call (760) 832-6526 to get your spot before they’re all gone. (And be sure to leave for the meal a wee bit early, as the stretch of Ramon on which Dish sits is currently under construction!)

Tropicale Owners Prepping to Open the Copa Room

Diners at Tropicale, 330 E. Amado Road, may have noticed that the building next door to the restaurant is currently under some serious construction.

When that construction is done later this year, the building will become the Copa Room bar/nightclub.

The Copa Room will be owned and operated by the same folks behind Tropicale. According to a recent Palm Springs Life article, the club is slated to open this fall, and people eager for updates should bookmark www.coparoomps.com, which should be up and running soon.

Update on Twin Palms (or a Lack Thereof)

The future of the newish Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge, 1201 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, is in limbo after an April 9 fire.

While Twin Palms management kept an active presence on the restaurant’s Facebook page immediately after the fire (including some now-heartbreaking posts expressing plans to reopen within mere days), the posts have steadily decreased—and the restaurant remains shuttered. A May 28 Facebook post says, in part: “This should have been an easy fix to a small problem. … We continue to be at the mercy of the landlord and the insurance companies to get things resolved.”

Folks, keep your fingers crossed that a resolution comes soon.

(Editor's note: The first item here was updated Monday afternoon, June 24.)

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The Legendary Purple Room Closes

Sad news for fans of the swanky, old-school Palm Springs vibe: The Legendary Purple Room, located inside of the Club Trinidad time share at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, has closed.

When we called the Club Trinidad to learn more, a woman identifying herself only as Jackie confirmed the closure, and said it was unclear when the Purple Room would reopen. When we asked if that meant that the venue would reopen at some point, she said she didn’t know, and that we needed to talk to Club Trinidad manager/CEO Arthur Brigman—who is on vacation this week.

We’ll check in with Brigman when he’s back, and pass along what we learn.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a cocktail or two at the Purple Room several times before it closed (although I never saw any live music there), and it breaks my heart that it’s gone. It was a unique, quirky and decidedly old-school club—a club that stunningly few people seemed to know about. My fingers are crossed that it will, in fact, reopen at some point—hopefully with a little more promotion and advertising heft behind it.

Total Wine Opening in Palm Desert

While the alcohol gods take away, they also giveth: The valley’s first Total Wine will open tomorrow (Thursday, June 13), with a grand-opening shindig from 6 to 8 p.m., featuring free tastings and live music.

The chain store, at 72339 Highway 111 in Palm Desert, boasts that it offers more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers and 3,000 spirits.

While the valley is already home to another big-box booze behemoth—there’s a BevMo location in La Quinta—this store will make it easier for local liquor aficionados to acquire those hard-to-find spirits.

Find more info at www.totalwine.com.

POM Changes Up Its Menu

The folks at POM, one of Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s signature restaurants, have changed up the menu for the toasty summer months.

Lunch menu highlights include a Moroccan chicken salad (with Moroccan-spiced chicken, mesculin greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, dates, almonds and cranberries, all topped with a citrus-mustard dressing). The new dinner menu includes wild mushroom ravioli, osso bucco and pork empanadas (with yummy Manchego cheese included in the filling).

Get the full lowdown at www.fantasyspringsresort.com, or call 760-345-2450. Fantasy Springs is located at 84245 Indio Springs Parkway in Indio.

Restaurant Week Enters Its Final Days

The 17-day dining bonanza that is Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week will come to a close this Sunday, June 16.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy the three-course prix-fixe menus, for either $26 or $38, at a decent-sized handful of the participating restaurants, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of myself. It’s especially fantastic when a restaurant really embraces the concept and offers their customers, both old and new, a great deal and/or something special. The best example of this I have seen has been at Trio (707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), where the good people there even revamped their main menu to feature, first and foremost, their Restaurant Week offerings.

However, not all of the participants are embracing the week so fully. At least one restaurant we visited didn’t give us their Restaurant Week menu. (Thank goodness we did our research in advance.) And at yet another couple of restaurants, they’re offering smaller portions of regular menu items—without warning customers that the portions are, in fact, smaller.

I completely understand why restaurant managers may want to offer smaller portions of certain items (for example, soup) for the lower prices featured during Restaurant Week. But if they do so, they should say they’re doing so: Call the smaller portion “petite,” or say it’s a “small bowl” of whatever it is. But offering smaller portions of regular menu items without saying they’re doing so just hurts the restaurant’s image: Newcomers assume the portions are always that small, and in-the-know regulars are disappointed when the smaller portions arrive at the table.

But enough complaining. Nitpicks aside, Restaurant Week is a great event for foodies of all stripes; get out and enjoy it while you can. Find full details at www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News