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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Now Open at Palm Springs’ Kaptur Plaza: V Wine Lounge

Before we get to all the sad news … let’s celebrate a little bit of good news with a glass of wine!

V Wine Lounge has finally opened its doors in Kaptur Plaza, at 600 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs.

Mikey Consbruck, the owner of V Wine Room in West Hollywood, and James Mortensen are the masterminds behind V Wine Lounge. On offer are 80 wines by the glass from California and the old world; a nice variety of craft beers; and even cheese plates, if you’re feeling a bit peckish.

Even though Independent World Headquarters is located just a short jaunt from V Wine Lounge, we haven’t yet had a chance to stop in for a drink or three. We’ll do so soon—so watch this space.

For more information, call 760-668-9665, or visit www.vwinelounge.com.


Three Much-Loved Local Restaurants Shut Their Doors

And now for the sad news: Three well-liked local restaurants in recent weeks have announced that they’re shutting down:

Justin Eat & Drink, which had become a favorite of foodies at 68784 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, announced via social media on Sept. 18 that it would not be reopening for the season. The soon-to-start construction on the Agua Caliente casino in Cathedral City was cited as the reason. “Keep your eyes open and stay tuned. You never know where you might see us next!” said the Facebook post.

Maria José Peruvian Restaurant, located in The Atrium at 69930 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, will also not reopen after a summer vacation. In an upbeat message posted on Facebook on Sept. 14, the owner said the time had come for her to “pursue other endeavors and devote more time to myself.” However, it’s no secret that the space Maria José occupied inside the sleepy Atrium mall was a tough sell—made even tougher since CVRep moved out of the mall earlier this year.

Frankinbun, which had delighted fans of all things sausage for five years at 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, announced on Facebook on Aug. 23: “So landlord decided not to renew our lease. ... The good news is we will be moving to the virtual world launching in 2020. All our vegan sausages and chutneys will be available. Stay tuned and thanks for all your support and love!” Watch www.frankinbun.com for updates.


In Brief

More sad news to report: The Coachella Valley restaurant world has lost two icons in recent weeks. Johnny Costagliola, the founder of legendary Palm Springs Italian restaurant Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, passed away on Sept. 4. He was 87 years old. His namesake restaurant remains open in the capable hands of his family. … Bill Tracy, the owner of the two Bill’s Pizza locations, passed away in early September. He fell off the roof of the Palm Desert restaurant in July, and then faced a series of complications. He was 69 years old. … Now open in Cathedral City: Bake’d Cakes and Pan Dulce, at 27800 Landau Blvd., No. 102. The bakery’s croissants, desserts and other goods are already earning raves on social media; call 760-656-0176, or visit www.facebook.com/Baked27800 to learn more. … Now open in Rancho Mirage: K-Tofu House, at 72817 Dinah Shore Drive, in the space that was briefly Sushi Arigato. If you’re not a fan of bean curd, don’t worry: K-Tofu House offers all sorts of Korean favorites with meat and veggies—bulgogi, bibimbap and a whole lot more. Call 760-656-8886 for more details. … Our friends at the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the city of Indio, are again showing off the eats from great east valley restaurants at the Taste of Indio event. It’ll take place from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at Jackalope Ranch, 80400 Highway 111, in Indio. Tickets are $20 and include tastes from the dozen-plus participating restaurants. For tickets or more information, call 760-347-0676, or visit gcvcc.org/event/taste-of-indio-2. … Like meatballs? Then get thee to the seventh annual Sammy’s International Meatball Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City, located at 32141 Whispering Palms Trail, in Cathedral City. The event is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club. The $15 ticket includes meatball tastings, entertainment and access to a beer and wine garden. Kids get in (albeit not to the beer and wine garden part) for $5. Props to Sam Pace of Sammy’s Place for hosting the event! For tickets or more info, call 760-770-4965, or visit bgcccity.org.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

TRIO Closed Indefinitely After Early-Morning Fire

Sometime around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, a fire broke out in the parking lot behind TRIO Restaurant, located at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The ever-popular restaurant suffered significant smoke and water damage during the fire—and is now closed indefinitely.

In the aftermath of the blaze—which also devastated the neighboring Shag Store—TRIO owner Tony Marchese said he hoped Trio would reopen by Labor Day weekend. However, in late August, he announced via TRIO’s Facebook page that the cleanup and other work would not be completed by then.

Keep your fingers crossed for a reopening date sometime in mid-late September.

Authorities deemed the fire “suspicious,” but had not released any further concrete details as of our press deadline.

Watch www.facebook.com/TrioPalmSprings for updates.


Village Pub Closed for 'Rehab' After Liquor-License Violations

Whoever is in charge of the spin effort regarding the month-long closure of the Village Pub—at 266 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—deserves a raise.

Here’s what happened: The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suspended the Village Pub’s liquor license for 30 days due to a couple of major violations: A now-former employee “battered” a customer, and the pub had a bar manager who did not meet the state’s qualifications.

Oops. Well, how did the Village Pub handle the mess? The brilliant answer: Management ’fessed up and embraced the punishment.

Managers did TV interviews. Owners answered reporters’ questions. They announced the closure—which was cleverly branded as the bar’s “Rehab”—would take place starting Thursday, Aug. 24. They said that between then and a planned Saturday, Sept. 23, reopening, they’d “clean, refresh and retrain.” And they announced some great parties—some pre-“Rehab”-themed—before the closure.

Bravo for the PR effort … but not so much for the rules violations.

Watch www.facebook.com/villagepubpalmsprings for updates.


In Brief

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is holding its sixth annual Craft Beer Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and 10. A craft-beer festival, a beer brunch and all sorts of other events are on the docket; get details, tickets and reservations at www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. … Congrats to our friends at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill. On Sunday, Aug. 20, the restaurant, at 350 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, celebrated the two-year anniversary of its wildly popular Desert Divas Drag Brunch. The Sunday brunch and the show are a steal at $16.95; get info at rioazulpalmsprings.com/drag-brunch. … When Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, at 440 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, reopens for its 42nd season on Friday, Sept. 1, it’ll have a new look. “The new concept has a modern feel with exotic woods and soft earth-tone colors,” according to a news release. “The beautification of the dining room will feature new carpet, all new upholstery and seating, and new paint throughout the restaurant. Custom angled framed mirrors will showcase the walls; new chandeliers, sconces and other enhancements will allow the dining experience to be more intimate.” Visit johnnycostaspalmsprings.com for more info. … After a series of violent incidents at The Block Sports Bar and Grill, 68955 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, the city shut down the restaurant on Aug. 10, apparently due to an expired business license. However, management jumped to resolve the paperwork issues, and reopened two weeks later. Watch www.facebook.com/theblocksportsbar for updates. … Coming very soon to the space at 68525 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, that most recently housed Mike’s American Bistro: Bubba’s Bones and Brews. Watch this space for more information. … Coming soon: The valley’s fourth Koffi, to Tahquitz Plaza, at 600 Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. It’ll be the third Palm Springs location for the popular hangout; watch www.kofficoffee.com for more information. … Fans of the Desert Fox Bar, which called downtown Palm Springs home until closing in 2015, have cause to celebrate: The bar is making a return, at 44750 San Pablo Ave., in Palm Desert. Watch www.facebook.com/desertfoxbar for an exact opening date. … New to Palm Desert, specifically the Westfield Palm Desert mall: Burgerim, a “gourmet” chain burger joint. Customers who sign up can get all sorts of free food during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 13; visit www.facebook.com/BurgerimPalmDesert for info and signup details. … Grocery-delivery service Instacart has come to the Coachella Valley. For $5.99, you can get your grocery order of $35 or more—from stores including Stater Bros., Ralph’s, Smart and Final, Petco, Whole Foods and Costco—delivered to your door. Get more info at www.instacart.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

BEVMO! Opens in Downtown Palm Springs—but I'm Still Going to Total Wine for the Better Prices

Fans of booze and spirits who reside in the western portion of the Coachella Valley got good news in November, when BevMo! opened at 333 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, in part of the building that formerly housed The Alley.

This is the second valley location for BevMo! The other is located at 79715 Highway 111, in La Quinta.

I reside in Palm Springs, within walking distance of the new BevMo!, and I was looking forward to no longer having to drive to the Total Wine and More at 72339 Highway 111 in Palm Desert when I needed to stock my personal bar.

Then I tried to get a bottle of my go-to bourbon at the Palm Springs BevMo!—and found it was about three bucks more expensive than it is at the lovely Palm Desert Total Wine.

Hmm. That made me wonder: Which of these two mega-booze chains have better prices? Might it still be financially prudent for those of us in Palm Springs and La Quinta (and beyond) to head to Total Wine?

I decided to do a little experiment. I checked the prices at each place of eight spirits and two wines that I happen to have at home: Maker’s Mark bourbon (750 milliliters); Evan Williams bourbon (750 ml); Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin (1.75 liters); Tanqueray gin (750 ml); Herradura reposado tequila (750 ml); Don Julio blanco tequila (750 ml); Fireball (don’t ask why I have it; 750 ml); Ketel One (750 ml); Bogle Vineyards merlot; and Toasted Head cabernet sauvignon.

The verdict? I’m still going to be making the drive to Palm Desert.

The tally (before taxes) for the nine items both BevMo! and Total Wine had—BevMo! does not stock the Toasted Head cabernet, according to the website—came to $179.39 at Total Wine, while it came to $204.91 at BevMo! That’s a substantial difference of $25.52, or more than 14 percent.

Total Wine’s prices are basically lower across the board: Eight of the nine items were between $1 and $5 cheaper at Total Wine. There was one tie: The Herradura reposado was $38.99 at both places.

Check the prices on your own favorite liquors at www.totalwine.com and www.bevmo.com.


Cello's Bistro Closed; Cello's Pantry, Catering Remain Open

Cello’s Bistro, a cute restaurant with yummy food at 35943 Date Palm Drive, in Cathedral City, is no more.

The owners announced the news in an email on Nov. 8.

“After seven seasons, we have decided to close the restaurant,” the email said. “This was not an easy decision, but every year when we are off during the summer, we ask ourselves the same question: ‘Do we want to open the restaurant this season?’ Unfortunately, the answer this year was no. We want to thank all of our lovely and gracious guests who were so supportive to us over the years.”

The owners will now focus on Cello’s bustling catering business, as well as serving grab-and-go meals at Cello’s Pantry, at 70225 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Customers can get breakfast at Cello’s Pantry on the weekends, too.

For more information, call 760-328-4200, or visit www.cellospantry.com.


In Brief

Gelson’s Market, at 36101 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage, is offering several free wine-tastings this coming weekend! Stop in between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, to try Catena malbec and Fat Bastard chardonnay, and/or Saturday, Dec. 3, between 2 and 5 p.m. for three different Donati wines. Again, tastings are free—and everyone who attends will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 gift card. Call 760-770-0010 for more information. … Mark your calendars: Draughtsman, the “renderer of fine foods and craft beer” from the team behind the Arrive hotel, will mark its for-real grand opening on Monday, Dec. 5. The venue is located at 1501 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs; get more details draughtsmanpalmsprings.com. … The long-delayed and much-anticipated reopening of Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club at 69830 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage is close enough that management held a job fair just before Thanksgiving. Keep your fingers crossed for an opening around Christmas. Ironically, it was on Christmas day in 2014 when a fire doomed Bernie’s at its old location at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Watch for updates at www.facebook.com/Berniesfans. … More good news: Rocky’s New York Style Pizzeria and Restaurant, at 12856 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs, finally reopened in November. Some folks (myself included) feared Rocky’s was gone for good after a “summer closure” drifted well into the fall—especially since the building that houses Rocky’s was at one point gutted. Peruse the menu at www.rockyspizzadhs.com. … Rubio’s, a chain known for its fish tacos and other “coastal” fare, will open another valley location on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 73399 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. … Coming soon to the West Elm building in downtown Palm Springs: Blaze Pizza. The first valley location of the chain can be found in Palm Desert, just down from that new Rubio’s. … I was startled to see the building that houses beloved Palm Springs Italian restaurant Johnny Costa’s, at 440 S. Palm Canyon Drive, listed for lease on a commercial real estate website. Turns out Johnny Costa’s is slated to move sometime in the new year to 333 S. Palm Canyon Drive, the same building the aforementioned new BevMo! calls home. … Village Pub, at 266 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, is celebrating its 21st birthday with a new menu. Find details at www.palmspringsvillagepub.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News