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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

What: The Wedge Salad Trio Style

Where: TRIO Restaurant, 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $10

Contact info: 760-864-8746; www.triopalmsprings.com

Why: The ingredients are in perfect balance.

A while back, a local steakhouse that shall go unnamed offered a wedge salad as part of a prix-fixe special—and that wedge salad did not include bacon.

The menu was accurate—bacon was not mentioned in the description—but I did not notice this fact until I went back and looked later, because HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU HAVE A WEDGE SALAD WITHOUT BACON?

Thankfully, the wedge salad at TRIO has bacon. And blue cheese, both on its own and in the dressing. And tomatoes, and pine nuts—and just the perfect amount of lettuce.

In other words, it’s a balanced wedge salad—a surprising rarity in this desert, where wedge salads often include a chunk of lettuce the size of one’s head. Not at TRIO; the amount of lettuce is just substantial enough to ensure that each bite will contain all the cheesy, piggy, crunchy goodness that comes in a wedge salad.

Another problem that afflicts salads, both of the wedge and non-wedge variety, both here and around the world, is too much dressing. In fact, my default setting at most restaurants these days is to ask for these dressing on the side, because soggy salad = blech. However, I never have to do so when I order the wedge salad at TRIO, because the house-made blue cheese dressing is applied in the perfect proportion, it seems, each and every time.

In a desert chock-full of steakhouses, it’s TRIO that has perfected the wedge salad. Bravo.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Fire Temporarily Shutters Twin Palms Bistro

On a fairly recent visit to the newish Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge, 1201 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, a manager told us that the restaurant, which opened last year, was finally starting to hits its figurative stride after working out all of the kinks that come with launching a new business.

Then Murphy’s Law hit. And then it hit again. And yet again, as posts on the restaurant’s Facebook page show in heartbreaking detail.

On April 9, a “minor fire” broke out in the Twin Palms kitchen.

“The fire started in a wall and the good news is the damage appears to be minor. The bad news is we will be closed today as we work to repair the damaged area,” said an April 10 post on the Twin Palms Facebook page.

An April 11 post expressed hope that the minor damage would be repaired in time for an April 12 opening.

That didn’t happen. From an April 13 post: “Well, Murphy’s Law is in effect and we will not be able to reopen this weekend due to a couple of issues that our contractor has uncovered. We now have our sights on mid-week next week.”

Here it is, approaching mid-May, and the restaurant is still closed. The folks at Twin Palms tell us that a re-opening is probably several more weeks away, and that they’ll let us know the firm reopening date when they know it.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed on their behalf.

Rancho Mirage Koffi Opens

In early March, we reported that the Rancho Mirage location of Koffi—the fun coffee house owned by locals John Abner and John Strohm—appeared to be months away from opening, based on a look we took at the then-under-construction building at 71390 Highway 111.

Good news: Last week—less than two months after our initial report—the Koffi opened its doors to the public.

Koffi’s original location, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, opened in August 2002. The second Koffi, at 1700 S. Camino Real (at Palm Canyon Drive, near the Ace Hotel), opened in 2008. The new location differs from the other two in that it includes a coffee-roasting facility.

We said it before, and we’ll say it again: The success Abner and Strohm are enjoying with Koffi is downright refreshing, seeing as locally owned coffee houses across the world are closing after being pushed out by aggressive chains (like Starbucks). Bravo.

The Rancho Mirage Koffi can be reached at 760-340-2444.

Thai Smile Taking Over La Casita Spot

La Casita, at 100 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, recently closed—and one of Palm Springs’ most popular Thai restaurants is taking its place.

A sign put up earlier this week in a window at the old La Casita spot says that Thai Smile Palm Springs—currently located 651 N. Palm Canyon Drive—will soon open there.

That leads to a big question: What will come of the current Thai Smile Palm Springs spot? Will it close, or will the Thai Smile folks take a page out of the Las Casuelas playbook and keep two similar restaurants open within mere blocks?

A Facebook message and a phone message asking that question have thus far gone unreturned.

Rainbow Bar and Grill Closes

The Rainbow Bar and Grill, at 216 N. Indian Canyon Drive (at Arenas Road), closed rather suddenly last month.

Handwritten signs on the doors of the establishment claim that the restaurant is “temporarily closed” because the “wind knocked power out," while just inside the door, unopened mail litters the floor. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Facebook page announced on April 18: “Hello everyone! We’d like to inform all of our friends and loyal customers that Rainbow Bar and Grill will be temporarily closed until further notice. Thank you.”

The “temporary" closure is unlikely to end anytime soon; many Rainbow employees have already moved on to other jobs, meaning a re-launch would require a whole bunch of new hires. 

Rumors are circulating that a prominent gay couple—who owns a couple of other area business—is buying the place, but a representative of the couple reports that there’s “nothing to share” regarding that rumor.

Trio Hosting Weeklong Fundraiser for Stroke Recovery Center

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion, TRIO Restaurant, 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, is holding a week-long fundraiser for the Stroke Recovery Center.

From Monday, May 13, through Sunday, May 19, TRIO will donate 10 percent of sales to the center.

“Trio owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen are proud to host this event, and believe in the amazing work that the Stroke Recovery Center does here in the desert,” said a news release. “The center offers long-term rehabilitation to the survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injury along with support for their families, caregivers and loved ones.”

For more information, call TRIO at 760-864-8746.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Boosters and opponents of the planned high-rise hotel in downtown Palm Springs are sharpening their blades for battle, after a group of residents delivered a petition to City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 22, seeking to quash those plans by forcing a citywide vote.

Members of Citizens for a Sustainable Palm Springs, the group behind the petition, said that if the City Council doesn't reconsider the look and height of the six-story Kimpton Hotel at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, the city may face a referendum on the issue in November.

The petition's 2,775 signatures are now being vetted by county officials. Should it qualify and come to a successful vote, other aspects of the revitalization—which, all told, would create several blocks of office, retail and restaurant space—would likely not be impacted, according to City Attorney Doug Holland.

Meanwhile, demolition on the project, which would raze most of the moldering Desert Fashion Plaza, is scheduled to begin in about two weeks.

Tuesday's turn-in set the stage for continuing clashes between business owners, residents and, most important, friends, some of whom have known each other for decades. The fight has been waged in public hearings, on Facebook walls and in newspaper comment sections, with both sides admitting that it has occasionally gotten personal.

For their part, opponents of the hotel rattle off a number of problems they have with the development, starting with aesthetics.

"People don't come here to see high-rises and concrete," said Frank Tysen, owner of the Casa Cody Country Inn and one of the most vocal members of the anti-hotel group.

Manny Montoya, a spokesman for Citizens for a Sustainable Palm Springs, added that the hotel's design "isn't conducive to the brand of Palm Springs" and would muck up the skyline. Unlike painting a building or naming a street, he said, "this is something that's going to have an impact on quality of life forever."

But Joy Meredith, owner of downtown's Crystal Fantasy shop and president of the Main Street Palm Springs merchants’ association, said "fear of change" is at the core of the opposition.

"Palm Springs has a great history, but we have to grow, too," she said. "We can't keep living in the past."

Things got a little testy in recent weeks, when a flier issued by redevelopment proponents (and signed by business leaders including Meredith) was circulated, and went to customers of at least one restaurant. In addition to projecting that redevelopment would add hundreds of jobs, it accused paid signature gatherers of lying about their identities.

"Please also warn your neighbors," read the flier, which urged residents not to sign the petition. "This obstructionist scheme will result in keeping our downtown blighted."

Meredith said that she herself had encountered a signature-gatherer who implied that he was working for the city. "People felt like they were being misled into signing it," she said.

Montoya dismissed the claims.

"We feel we've satisfied the burden of proof in this area," he said. "We did not overstep any legalities to do what we did."

Tysen, meanwhile, has accused his "fanatically involved" opponents, in the throes of redevelopment "hysteria," of spreading rumors to undercut his group's message. He said the hotel's proponents are so fed up with the void in downtown Palm Springs that he wouldn't have been surprised if they had voted for a grain silo to take its place.

"The whole thing is an insane idea, driven by the developer, who doesn't care," he said. "It's beyond rational decision-making."

Tysen's group has also taken issue with the way local government "fast-tracked" the redevelopment in December, when the City Council agreed to plans put forward by developer John Wessman. That approval came after two large-scale reviews, open to public comment, were conducted in November.

"They bent all kinds of rules and regulations and codes that need to be followed," said Tysen, who did not give specifics. "It wasn't a good democratic process."

According to Meredith, however, there were ample opportunities to contribute input before December's approval. She said having a group of hotel opponents try to make an end-run around the process was like being "stabbed in the back."

"It was a very lengthy process, and they were all open meetings," Meredith said. "And I know, because I was at those meetings, and I'd like to know where they were."

She also bristled at the notion that exactly how private property should be developed would be decided democratically.

"I did not vote for Frank Tysen," Meredith said. "Is this how they'd want their private-property rights being treated?"

With county officials due to report back to the city on the petition's legitimacy within 30 days, both sides have little to do for now but wait—and try to keep things civil.

"I hope this doesn't become the way people decide things should be done around here," Meredith said. "It can only get more chaotic." 

Published in Local Issues

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