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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Owners of Wally’s Desert Turtle to Retire at the End of the Season; Restaurant’s Future ‘To Be Determined

At the very least, management change is coming to Wally’s Desert Turtle, one of the desert’s pre-eminent fine-dining restaurants, located at 71775 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage: Owners Michael and Nicole Botello have announced they’re going to retire at the end of the tourist season.

Wally’s—which was opened by Michael’s father, Wally Botello, in 1978—has been managed by Michael and Nicole since 1982.

What does this mean for the future of Wally’s? We reached out to the restaurant and asked whether it would close or continue on under new management. The response: “That is to be determined. What we know at this time is that the Botellos are retiring.”

Watch this space and www.facebook.com/wallysturtle for more information.


Sanctuary Palm Springs Throws a ‘Holiday Spectacular’ at Spencer’s

One of the valley’s most amazing nonprofits also happens to throw one of the valley’s most festive holiday parties—at one of the valley’s most revered restaurants.

Sanctuary Palm Springs—a transitional home for former LGBTQ foster youth, 18-21, who have aged out of the system—will be throwing its Holiday Spectacular fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Bougainvillea Room at Spencer’s Restaurant, at 701 W. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs.

We’ll now quote from the news release, because it explains the goings-on as well, if not better, than we could: “The $95 ticket price includes cocktails, lavish hors d’oeuvres, and a not-so-silent auction co-hosted by the effervescent Dottie and Maude of Les Dames du Soleil, plus a special performance by Broadway’s David Burnham. David is an award-winning actor and singer last seen on Broadway in the mega-hit musical, Wicked. The event will be hosted by actor and comedian Alec Mapa.”

The event was formerly known as Holiday Socks, because it involved filling holiday stockings with presents for the youth living at Sanctuary. “With a goal of raising funds to help support the entire program, the ‘socks’ part of its name seemed less relevant, so we’ve evolved and renamed it Holiday Spectacular, which is more fitting,” said Rob Woronoff, Sanctuary’s executive director, in the aforementioned news release.

For tickets or more information, visit sanctuarypalmsprings.org (click on “Support Us” for tickets), or call 760-766-3500.


In Brief

New to 73850 Highway 111, in Palm Desert: Grindhouse Burgers. The joint’s Facebook page promises a unique, never-frozen burger blend, along with brews and TVs with sports on. And what’s this about sweet-potato tots? And homemade brown sugar maple cake? Call 760-404-0300, or visit facebook.com/grindhouseburgersurge for more details. … Brew in LQ, one of the east valley’s best beer festivals, returns on Saturday, Nov. 2. More than a dozen breweries will be on hand, along with food, live music, games and more. It takes place at the One Eleven La Quinta Center, at 78950 Highway 111, in La Quinta, and advance tickets cost $25, or are two for $30, plus fees; designated drivers get in for $10, and imbibers will pay $10 more at the door. Get tickets to the rain-or-shine, 21-and-older event, as well as more info, at www.playinlaquinta.com/brew. … Even though the big event isn’t until March 27-29, 2020, tickets are now on sale for the annual Palm Desert Food and Wine festival. Admission to the grand tastings starts at $100. Head on over to www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … Even though this is a project by friends of the Independent, we don’t know a lot about it—but we’re intrigued. It’s called the Palm Springs Oyster Society, and the description on the Instagram page simply reads: “Oysters and caviar. DM us to RSVP for our next event November 10th.” Wanna know more? Get thee to that Instagram page (www.instagram.com/psoystersociety), and send a DM! … New to the Cathedral Canyon Golf Club, at 68311 Paseo Real, in Cathedral City: Jax Bar + Dining. It’s operated by Jack Srebnik, the owner of The Slice in Rancho Mirage, and Maracas Mexican Cantina in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs. Expect California cuisine, live music on the weekends, and other fun; visit www.facebook.com/JAXBarDining for more. … Newish at 66121 Pierson Blvd., in Desert Hot Springs: Delicias Mexican Cuisine. The owners promise “authentic Mexican food from Mexico City.” Sounds yummy! Head to www.facebook.com/DeliciasMexicanCuisine for more. … One of our favorite local chefs has landed at one of our favorite special-occasion restaurants. Jennifer Town, formerly of the Purple Room and Melvyn’s, is now the executive chef at the Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms Hotel, at 572 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Curious about what she’s up to? Watch www.facebook.com/PurplePalmRestaurant.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Mark Your Calendars: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week Happens June 2-11

It’s the favorite time of year for many Coachella Valley foodies: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here! This year, it will take place from Friday, June 2, through Sunday, June 11.

Why is the week so fantastic? Well, when else can one have a full, three-course dinner at Wally’s Desert Turtle for just $39?

For the uninitiated: During these 10 days, restaurants valley-wide offer special, discounted prix-fixe menus. In the past, the event has been dinner-focused—but this year, restaurants can offer special lunch menus, too. Three-course dinner prices are $29, $39 or $49, while two-course lunch prices are $15, $20 or $25. Participating restaurants should offer their regular menus during these 10 days, but emphasize the special Restaurant Week offerings.

As of our press deadline, the new Restaurant Week website had an ever-growing list of participating restaurants, along with the prices of their menus—but only a few of the actual menus had been posted. However, that handful of posted menus looked inviting. For example, Vicky’s of Santa Fe, in Indian Wells, is offering entrées including a 10-ounce flat iron steak, boneless beef short ribs or New Zealand lamb chops, among other offerings, plus an appetizer and dessert, for just $29. That’s one hell of a deal.

Check out visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/restaurantweek for more information.


Pho 533 Is Now 533 Viet-Fusion

Chad Gardner, the man behind the successful Dash and a Handful catering business, purchased Pho 533—then a longtime family-owned pho joint in Palm Springs’ Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center—back in 2015.

Ever since, Gardner has been guiding the restaurant through a series of changes. First, he revamped the menu. Next, he expanded the restaurant into an adjoining space, and completely revamped the décor—including the addition of a spring roll bar. Now he’s making even more changes to the menu—and to the name as well.

In fact, the only significant thing remaining from the old Pho 533 are those numerals: The restaurant is now called 533 Viet-Fusion.

“I had a vision of what it would be even before I first heard Pho 533 was for sale,” said Gardner in a press-release quote. “I have always wanted to blend classics with contemporary Vietnamese.”

New menu items include a Maine lobster-claw spring roll; ahi Viet-nachos (wonton chips and topped with avocado, spicy ahi tuna, cilantro, Fresno chili and various sauces); tamari-glazed Atlantic salmon; red curry “ramen”; and chile-braised osso bucco.

By the way, there’s a good reason Gardner is keeping “533” as part of the name: That was the number on the side of the USS Cheboygan County, an old Navy tanker that transported nearly 300 Vietnamese refugees who were fleeing the fall of Saigon in 1975. One of those passengers was 10-year-old Anh Ho Rock—the founder of the original Pho 533.

533 Viet-Fusion is located at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625. For more information, call 760-778-6595, or visit 533VietFusion.com.


In Brief

Coming soon to the under-construction downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project: a Tommy Bahama restaurant. … Also coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: Urban Crates, an indoor farmers’ market sort of thing at 358 S. Indian Canyon Drive, just a door or two down from Rooster and the Pig. There’s a sign up in one of the windows that says vendor stations are available by calling 760-808-3756. We’ll watch and see what develops. … Oops! We missed the opening of the Wine Emporium in Old Town La Quinta last September. Well, better late than never! The restaurant and live-music venue features a big retail wine room, and seems to have lots of cool stuff going on. Stop by 78100 Main St.; call 760-565-5512; or track down the place on Facebook for more information. … Add UberEATS to the growing list of services offering restaurant deliveries in the Coachella Valley. While I am morally opposed to the company’s management, I tested out the delivery service recently; I got some breakfast delivered from one of my favorites, the Broken Yolk Café. Pros: The delivery was fast, and the food came hot and fresh; it only cost 99 cents for the delivery itself. Cons: There’s no way to tip the driver via the app. Yeah, the app emphasizes that driver tips are neither necessary nor expected, but I still felt like a major ass when I realized I had only $1 in cash on me to give for a tip. Lesson learned.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe Opens On Sunny Dunes

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, things in the Sunny Dunes area of Palm Springs got a whole lot tastier. That’s when Townie Bagels Bakery Café opened its doors at 650 E. Sunny Dunes Road, in the space Tlaquepaque used to call home.

Owners Andy Wysocki and Bill Sanderson had been selling bagels for quite some time at the Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market before moving into the Sunny Dunes space, where they serve breakfast, lunch and coffee from Joshua Tree Coffee Company, in addition to their tasty bagels.

One of the things I like the most about Townie is the space: The café has a definite neighborhood coffee-shop vibe, with comfy seating, a welcoming atmosphere and all sorts of friendly faces from the surrounding area(s). It’s exactly the thing this part of Palm Springs needed. I’m a Palm Springs resident, and every time I’ve gone to Townie since it opened, I’ve run into at least one person I know.

Congrats, Andy and Bill. You’re really created something great.

Townie Bagels is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., every day but Tuesday. Visit www.facebook.com/towniebagels for more information.


Robbie Knievel to Make a Sunset Jump at Spa Resort Casino’s Brews and Bbq

A really interesting event is coming to downtown’s Spa Resort Casino on Saturday, Oct. 24—and a good cause will be all the better for it.

As one would expect from the name, Brews and BBQ will feature beer from great Southern California breweries, as well as food on sale from local restaurants. It’s a family-friendly event, with a play zone for kids; adults will be able to check out motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles courtesy of Palm Springs Motorsports.

But the highlight of the event, at least as far as I am concerned: Daredevil Robbie Knievel will make a motorcycle jump at 5 p.m.

Festivities start at 1 p.m. Admission is $15 (including a souvenir tasting glass); designated drivers and kids age 4-20 get in for $10. Kids younger than 4 are admitted for free. Beer-tasting tickets are a buck each, with the proceeds going to the Rotary Club of Palm Springs.

Get tickets and more information at www.sparesortcasino.com.


In Brief

Looking for a spiritual chat over coffee? Then check out the “Coffee House Rabbi” chats featuring Rabbi Sally Olins, happening at 10 a.m. the first and third Sunday of each month upstairs at Lulu California Bistro, 200 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Olins retired from Palm Springs’ Temple Isaiah recently. More info at rabbisally.com. … Applause, please, for the folks at Wally’s Desert Turtle, at 71775 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. As the high-class restaurant heads into its 38th season (!), president and owner Michael Botello recently announced a “complete conversion” of the landscape at Wally’s, including new signs—and native, drought-tolerant xeriscaping taking the place of water-guzzling grass. The restaurant will be reopening after its summer slumber on Friday, Oct. 9. More info at www.wallysdesertturtle.com. … It has always seemed somewhat oxymoronic that the excellent La Quinta Brewing Co. was located in the northern outreaches of Palm Desert rather than, well, La Quinta. However, this “wrong” is being righted: La Quinta Brewing will soon be opening a taproom on Main Street in Old Town La Quinta. According to the Old Town La Quinta folks, the new taproom will feature indoor seating as well as a patio. Watch LaQuintaBrewing.com for more information. … The second annual Taste of East Valley will take place from 4 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Shields Date Garden, 80255 Highway 111 in Indio. Your $20 will get you tastes from some of the eastern Coachella Valley’s top joints. The event will kick off East Valley Restaurant Week, which runs through Nov. 1; get tickets and details at www.cvdining.com. … Congrats to Zin American Bistro, located at 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, for its newly bestowed Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. It joined Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs and Cuistot in Palm Desert as Coachella Valley restaurants that have earned the honor, for an impressive wine list. Less than 1,100 restaurants have earned the honor or better. … Postmates.com has come to the Coachella Valley. It’s a delivery service that includes a bunch of restaurants, both chains and local—but be prepared for the delivery-service fees. Check it out at, obviously, Postmates.com. … Renowned El Paseo Drive breakfast-and-lunch joint Wilma and Frieda’s Café will start offering dinners on Oct. 15. Watch www.facebook.com/wilmafriedascafe for details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Jewelry is often referred to as “wearable art”—and Michael Kneebone creates incredible wearable art via Michael K Jewels.

His one-of-a-kind pieces go far beyond the ordinary thanks to Michael’s keen eye, steady hand and vision for style and quality that has served him well for decades, ever since he studied at Northern Illinois University and earned a degree in jewelry design.

Early on, an instructor recognized his talent and recommended him for an apprenticeship position, where he honed in his skills in casting and refined fabrication. He even mastered the almost-lost art of enameling. Today, only a handful of jewelry artisans are true specialists in the enameling process.

When you meet Michael, you immediately sense his dedication and demand for quality. His jewelry is always one-of-a-kind; his clients know that each piece is unique and personal. Nothing is ever duplicated.

Early in his career, his line was represented exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, before he opened his own store in Naples, Fla.

For a glimpse of some of his designs, visit MichaelKJewels.com, or visit his charming store, aka the Canyon Road Collection, located at 73200 El Paseo, Suite 2C, in Palm Desert.

Michael’s works often show off colored stones of impeccable quality. He uses cabochon cuts and bright-colored sapphires from sources around the world. Kneebone’s knowledge and expertise allows him to select the most vivid colored stones. They are as bright as they come, and include exotic varieties such as spinel, which is almost as hard as a diamond. Spinel is mined in a variety of colors from pinks to reds to black. His sapphires are available in the traditional blues, as well as rarer black, green, orange, yellow and even silver. He uses green amethysts and tourmaline stones that range from pink to bright greens and blues. He carries the best pearls in shapes and sizes that boggle the mind. Yes, he uses diamonds, too, in every shape and color.

Michael and his partner, interior designer Herbert Smalley, came to the desert after finding the winters to be too cold in Santa Fe, N.M., where his jewelry store was one of the most beautiful on the famous Canyon Road. Herb, who has been featured in Architectural Digest for his design work in New York City and Naples, created the space for the jewelry stores and has been a promoter of and an advocate for Michael’s work during the 32 years they have been together.

Today, they have been in the desert for more than a decade and have established themselves in the community. Kneebone has been a jeweler for the Cuistot's Friday fashion luncheons for many years now, as well as the fashion luncheons at Wally’s Desert Turtle.

Become acquainted with the Canyon Road Collection and Michael K Jewels, whether you are a resident or a visitor. You will be amazed at the colorful, tasteful designs that have adorned so many of the well-heeled women. Even if you can’t afford the jewelry, it’s worth looking at for its artistic beauty.

Michael K. Jewels/Canyon Road Collection is located at 73200 El Paseo, Suite 2C, in Palm Desert. In-season hours (October to May) are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, or by appointment. For more information, call 760-880-4791, or visit www.michaelkjewels.com.

Published in Visual Arts