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FIND Food Bank Celebrates 35 Years of Feeding Coachella Valley Residents in Need

The statistics are staggering: Each month, FIND Food Bank—which supports the communities of the Coachella Valley, high desert and Salton Sea area—helps more than 85,000 people, both directly and through its partner agencies. In a year’s time, more than 10 million pounds of food will be given to those in need—more than half of that fresh fruit and vegetables.

The cynical among us right now might be thinking: “That’s great. But this is a restaurant-news column. What does this have to do with restaurant news?”

My retort: Those of us fortunate enough to eat at restaurants on occasion need to realize that a whole bunch of our neighbors need our help to get food on the table, period.

To that end, FIND is celebrating its 35 years of existence during September—which is also Hunger Action Month at FIND and all Feeding America-affiliated food banks—with an ambitious goal: FIND’s management is hoping 3,500 people will donate $35 to mark the Indio-based food bank’s 35 years of service.

Debbie Espinosa, FIND’s president and CEO, said she, her staff and volunteers are proud of what they’ve accomplished over 35 years.

“The accomplishment is amazing,” she said, “from starting with basic food rescue out of a blue Pinto, and turning it into a food bank that serves the Coachella Valley and beyond.”

Help out, if you can, with that $35 or more. Get details at www.findfoodbank.org.


In Brief

Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise, the sprawling restaurant located 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, has closed for good. File this one under “wasted opportunity”: The restaurant, owned by now-in-bankruptcy Ramla USA Inc., could not take advantage of a relative dearth of Japanese restaurants in the west valley. While Gyoro Gyoro was a gorgeous restaurant with at-times great food, it seemed mismanaged, including a notorious closure following a bad health inspection, and a lack of community involvement. However, the news is not all bad: The family that owns L’Olivo Italian Restaurant, located at 333 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has already snapped up the location. Watch this space to see how that turns out. … Toucans Tiki Lounge, the popular gay bar located at 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has been purchased by managers who are part of Foundation 10 Creative, the company that owns restaurants including Birba, Cheeky’s and Mr. Lyons Steakhouse. Dave Morgan, of Reaction Marketing and Promotions, is also involved. The new owners are saying Toucans will remain a gay bar focused on entertainment. Let’s see how this goes. ... Newish to Rancho Mirage, at 42452 Bob Hope Drive: Hielo Sno, a shaved-ice/snow-cone joint. Learn more at hielosno.business.site. … Donald “Lucky” Callender has purchased Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse, located in Rancho Mirage’s The River at 71800 Highway 111, from the trust fund set up by his father, Donald W. Callender, the man who started both Babe’s and the Marie Callender’s chain. We hear changes are already taking place. … Celebrate Mexican Independence Day, if you’re so inclined, on Sunday, Sept. 16, with $16 tequila flights and live music at Las Casuelas Terraza, located at 222 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. Watch www.lascasuelas.com for more details. … On Saturday, Sept. 15, The Saguaro, at 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will hold its Beats and Brews Fest. For $45, sample beers and tequilas from well more than two dozen companies, and enjoy great music from bands including The Flusters, Spankshaft and Plastic Ruby. Get more details at thesaguaro.com/palm-springs. … Coming soon to Palm Desert: The Vine Wine Bar, at 74868 Country Club Drive. Watch www.thevinewinebar.com/palm-desert-ca for details. Oh, by the way, it’s right next door to a new IW Coffee location! … Bit o’ Country, the diner at 418 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has reopened. It has new owners and has been tidied up a bit, but the greasy-spoon food and vibe remain (and we mean that in a good way). … There is good news and bad news from Bootlegger Tiki, the craft-cocktail joint at 1101 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. The good: The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation honored the bar with one of its Spirited Awards, for having one of the 10 Best Bar Teams in the western U.S. The bad: The leader of that team since the bar’s opening, Chad Austin, has departed Bootlegger and the Coachella Valley for greener pastures. Congrats to Bootlegger, and best wishes to Chad!

Published in Restaurant & Food News

At 4 foot 11 inches tall, Leslie Jordan is one of the shortest actors in Hollywood—but thanks in part to his Southern charm, he has a big presence in any production in which he finds himself.

Jordan will be performing his one man play Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories as the first ticketed show at the brand-new Copa Room in Palm Springs, from Thursday, Dec. 19, through Saturday, Dec. 21.

Born in 1955 in Memphis, Tenn., Jordan’s mother was 19 years old when he was born. His father, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was killed in a plane crash when Jordan was only 11. He grew up in a deeply religious, conservative atmosphere, and he told his story of growing up as a tiny boy while being “the gayest man I know” in his autobiography, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, which also became a one-man show.

While Jordan has had a successful career in Hollywood by any measure, he said during a recent interview that acting wasn’t his original career of choice.

“I had been around horses, and I wanted to be a jockey,” said Jordan. “I never became a jockey, and I was an exercise-rider. I went back to school; I got a degree (in theater), and thought while I was at the University of Tennessee, ‘You know, I gotta go somewhere,’ so I decided either L.A. or New York. I thought, ‘ I’ll start with a tan, so I’ll go out to L.A.’”

He came West to start an acting career in 1982.

“When I look back on it, I didn’t have doubts. I was so naïve about the whole thing,” he said. “I got off a bus near Hollywood and Vine. I had $1,200 sewn into my underpants by my mother because we didn’t even have ATMs back then, and I just sort of thought, ‘Here I am!’”

Jordan found work doing commercials and made his TV-show debut on an episode of The Fall Guy in 1986. In 1990, he starred in the campy comedy Ski Patrol with then-up-and-coming comedian George Lopez, as well as Martin Mull and Ray Walston. He has earned numerous roles in TV and film productions within a wide variety of genres—including a couple of horror films. He’s probably best known for his roles as Beverley Leslie on Will and Grace, and as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Sordid Lives. More recently, he was on American Horror Story.

When asked how he chooses his roles, he said choice doesn’t come into play much.

“Honey, if they offer it to me, I do it,” he said. “I have to. There’s no plan, and there’s no, ‘Oh, am I attracted to this project?’ At my level, if it’s offered to me, I have to do it. I ain’t no Tom Cruise—but I’m a whole lot of fun. Sometimes I think I’m the biggest whore in Hollywood: 100 bucks a day and a square meal, and you’ve got me! Pay me the money, and I’ll be like an aging show pony.”

Jordan has also found success as a playwright. His first play, Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued my Life Thus Far, found success both off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.

“They call me a playwright, and I kinda think … I don’t write anything for anyone other than myself,” he said. “I (once) had a casting director who told my people, ‘Leslie is a very funny guy who comes in with the singers, and that’s going to be his career. He’s going to have a long and very storied career, but we don’t think at this point that he could carry a show.’ I thought, ‘You know what? He doesn’t think I can keep people enthralled for an hour or whatever; I’ll write my own play.’”

In a sense, Jordan said he wasn’t prepared for the success of Hysterical Blindness.

“I don’t think I was quite ready for that. The critics were pretty mean and hurt my feelings,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m not a playwright! I just write things for me.’ They approached it as if it was a theater piece. I didn’t write anything again for 10 years. But that’s what attracted me. … I wanted to showcase myself for better TV and film roles.”

As for how Unwrapped came to be the Copa Room’s debut show: Dave Morgan, a local public-relations/events producer, suggested the show to Jordan after hearing his hilarious Christmas stories from his childhood.

“I told (Dave Morgan), ‘I don’t have a Christmas show!’ He said, ‘Yes, you do. I know a lot of your stories. I’ve heard them all over the years about how your daddy bought you a bride doll one Christmas, and that funny story about when you got a pony another Christmas.’ So we put together an amazing little Christmas show that’s just me telling stories about Christmas in the South, growing up with Christmas, and what Christmas was like. We’re going to keep it short, sweet—and I’m not going to ramble.”

Jordan doesn’t have any kids, and his identical twin sisters never married or had any kids. Therefore, Christmas these days is pretty quiet for him and his family members, he said.

“We’re a little family unit, with my mom, my sisters and me,” he said. “I take them everywhere I go. I took them to Barcelona one year, to Casablanca, and other various gay cruises—but there are no kids. Christmas is very quiet. Sometimes, we don’t even take off our pajamas, and we just lay around.”

Leslie Jordan performs Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories at 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 19-21, at the Copa Room Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road. According to the Copa website, tickets are sold out. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit www.coparoomps.com.

Published in Comedy