Some said the building on the corner of North Palm Canyon Drive and Merito Place was cursed. Two upscale restaurants with great potential had come and gone in a whisper. But Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen hoped they could create something special in the former Palm Springs bank.
They gave the space a mod look, bathed it in bright orange, and called it Trio. They committed to serving healthy, locally grown food and giving back to the community. And they broke the curse.
“Mark and I believe we need to build from the locals first,” Marchese says. He attributes much of the restaurant’s success to its neighborly approach, a handpicked staff, and inclusive programs.
Concepts such as Trio’s Frequent Eaters loyalty program, Dinner & a Show, and partnerships with desert galleries help forge Trio’s foundation and ensure a steady customer base. “We started the loyalty program last year, and now we have more than 3,000 people,” Marchese says. “Every week we seem to gain another 100 people.” Frequent Eaters members gain points each time they dine, which can then be redeemed at Trio or participating Uptown businesses and merchants.
But Trio’s triumph is the community’s gain. The routinely sold-out Hollywood’s Biggest Night benefits AIDS Assistance Program, as does Dinner and a Show — a partnership with Palm Canyon Theatre. Add to this a host of additional charitable and community minded activities make Trio easily one of the busiest restaurants in town.
As for the food, Trio’s commitment to locally grown and raised products translates into a farm-to-table experience in a bright mod setting. Fan favorites include pot roast and the sole, Marchese says. Trio’s dishes are the creations of Van Laanen, a longtime chef and restaurateur. Culinary talent must run in the family. Van Latten’s sister, Lori, came on board late last year with her partner, Paul Crittenden, providing the “manpower” necessary for Trio’s lunch expansion. The lunch menu features eclectic dishes and tasty vegan offerings.
“We felt it was time to offer an affordably priced, eclectic lunchtime menu for our loyal customers,” Marchese says. “Many of them are undoubtedly looking for a healthy, quality midday meal, and they know they’ll get the same excellent service they have come to expect during our dinner hour.”
HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST NIGHT
Hollywood’s greatest awards night and a delicious prixe-fix menu set the scene on Feb. 26 for what is in the restaurant business a traditionally slow night, according to Trio co-owner Tony Marchese. “Everyone’s home watching the Academy Awards,” he says. Bringing the awards show into the restaurant energized by Trio’s distinctive vibe was a stroke of genius. “We’ve sold out every year,” Marchese notes. “It’s a fun night — kind of magical” Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a walk down Trio’s signature orange carpet. In addition to contests, raffles, special screens to watch the program, and entertainment during commercials, the event benefits AIDS Assistance Program. Last year’s event brought in approximately $10,000, according to AAP Executive Director Mark Anton. They get it,” Anton says. Visit www.aidsassistance.org for more information.
DINNER AND A SHOW
Trio Restaurant and Palm Canyon Theater present the Dinner & Show theater series on select Thursdays. For a flat fee, you get a theater ticket to the show in production and a three-course dinner. A portion of the proceeds benefit AIDS Assistance Program. Upcoming Dinner & a Show dates are Feb. 2, March 15, April 19, and May 17. Visit www.triopalmsprings.com or call 1-760-864-8746 for more information.
DINNER, LUNCH, AND ART
In collaboration Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Trio features the works of provocative artists Gisela Colón, Trudy Montgomery, Cameron Gray, and Simon Ouwerkerk. All are available for purchase and a portion of the proceeds are donated to area charities. “Our goal has always been to create a unique energy, where people choose to dine sometimes two or three times a week,” Marchese says. “These spectacular works of art truly complement the Trio dining experience, and we know our customers will enjoy them.” Visit www.melissamorganfineart.com or call 1-760-341-1056 for more information.