When Milan Tojagic first opened Shame on the Moon in Cathedral City, 18-hour days were not uncommon.
“It’s a very hard work, it’s like being married to the business,” says Tojagic.
He spent most of his time in the kitchen at that time with a support staff of four. “The first 10 years, I worked seven days a week. I had one day off sick in 10 years. I caught pneumonia and I went to the doctor and I said, ‘Shoot me up with penicillin I got to go back to work’. He said, ‘You can’t, you need to get to bed.’ I said, ‘You have 48 hours to fix me,’ recalls Tojagic.
Tojagic brought that commitment from across the Atlantic Ocean, starting in the restaurant business in the 1970s in England. “I loved England but the weather drove me away, too much rain,” says Tojagic. He eventually ended up in Los Angeles, and discovered Palm Springs when visiting friends and loved it so much he decided to rent a home in La Quinta in 1984. “I thought I landed in heaven,” says Tojagic.
Taste of Summer
Shame on the Moon makes its second appearance in the fourth annual event geared to feature summer specials at Rancho Mirage restaurants and resorts beginning with a kick-off party July 11 at Pirch and continuing through Aug. 18.
“The goals for Taste of Summer Rancho Mirage are to create a spike of economic impact in Rancho Mirage during a slower time, to engage the greater community to come out to taste the local flavors, and to also support area nonprofit organizations in fundraising and development,” says Katie Stice, executive director of Taste of Summer Rancho Mirage.
To participate, purchase a $10 event wristband, which allows the wearer to participate in a number of $4 deals at participating restaurants. Proceeds go to local charities.
To learn more about Taste of Summer Rancho Mirage, visit tasteofsummerranchomirage.com.
His first job in the desert was as a maitre’d for Le Vallauris in Palm Springs, but then an opportunity with two business partners allowed Tojagic to become a restaurant owner in Cathedral City. The location proved to be successful but with limitations (like street parking) and decided to make a move to Rancho Mirage in 1995.
Vanilla Creme Brulee
During the move, Tojagic decided to stop working in the kitchen, and his staff now numbers close to 40. By 2007, he bought out his partners. “The adjustment was a little harder than I thought because suddenly I was responsible for everything,” says Tojagic.
Jump to 2019, and Shame on the Moon is still running strong, “People still enjoy coming back here, some of them for 30 years plus, and we get new customers who like us and keep coming back,” Tojagic says. “Most of our advertising is really word of the mouth, and the price point, because we are as a rule 20 to 30 percent cheaper for the same caliber of food and we pour mean Martinis that brings lots of them in.”
And Tojagic says that he wouldn’t change a thing about his experience opening and running Shame on the Moon, “Whatever this restaurant is, it has made me who I am today, and I’m happy with myself.”
Shame on the Moon, 69950 Frank Sinatra Drive, Rancho Mirage, 760-324-5515; shameonthemoon.com.