In 1989, “there was nothing here,” says Marc Laliberte, referring to the stretch on Highway 111 in Indian Wells. “There was The Nest,” he adds, opened in 1968 by his father and his uncle, “and nothing in between.”
But that changed when Vicky’s of Santa Fe opened its 14-foot double doors. This month marks Vicky's 30th anniversary, and a celebration is planned for April 22 by reverting the menu and prices back to the good old days, when gas was an outrageous 97 cents per gallon and the average yearly income was a whopping $27,450. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with music starting at 6:30.
When Laliberte’s family sold The Nest in 1979 and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, they opened a new nightclub called Vanessie’s. That lasted until they missed being able to take summers off like they had done in the past. Much to the delight of desert locals, they made the decision to come back to Indian Wells and build an architecturally significant adobe-style building with saltillo tile floors, aged-wood-plank ceilings, American Native-themed copper lamps, and a nine-foot concert grand piano centering the lounge with a built-in dance floor.
The original menu had five proteins: beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and pork. Sides were one salad, one vegetable, a baked potato, Saratoga chips, and the onion flower (which is still available on today’s menu). Each protein was cooked on a rotisserie, and the no-reservations policy meant wait times of up to two hours. Patrons didn't care. The bar was just off the magnificent piano room built for pianist Doug Montgomery and provided background entertainment for conversations with other patrons waiting for a table or a seat in the nightclub.
A ribeye steak is among the staples at Vicky's of Santa Fe.
The changes since 1989: Montgomery retired a few years back, and while longtime fans miss him, Vicky’s has scoured the valley and continues in the tradition of having A+ acts in their space. For the celebration, the Deanna Bogart Band assumes their usual Monday night slot. As for the restaurant itself, three additions over the years have brought the space up to 9,000 square feet, including a walk-in wine cellar featuring California vintages from well-known winemakers and select boutique vintners. The menu remains true to its roots with the nightly special and the macadamia-crusted Chilean Sea Bass among patron favorites. The other difference? Reservations. Make them. You never know who you might see. Last year brought Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and Toby Keith sat in with the band.
In addition to the special menu and 1989 prices, Laliberte is kicking it up a notch with a red carpet complete with stand and receive commemorative photos. Also available for purchase: Vicky’s branded varsity jackets, baseball caps, and cowboy hats, and a 70-page coffee-table book prepared by Laliberte’s husband and head of PR, Marc Lodovico. All items will be sold at cost.
The main dining room at Vicky's of Santa Fe.
Last year was also a big one for Vicky’s. OpenTable awarded them the Top Ten 2018 Diner's Choice Award in three categories: Best American Restaurant, Best Hot Spot, and Most Vibrant Bar Scene; The Desert Sun awarded them Best Venue To Hear Live Music; Palm Springs Life lauded them Best of the Best, City by City winner in three categories: Best Seafood Restaurant, Best Steakhouse And Most Romantic Dinner; and TripAdvisor awarded them their 2018 Certificate of Excellence.
As mentioned, the supper club takes the summer off so the 30th anniversary and party of the year will be followed by Restaurant Week, which will be your final chance to enjoy the supper club before they close their doors until October.
30th Anniversary Celebration, April 22. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., music starts at 6:30 p.m. at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45100 Club Dr, Indian Wells, 760-345-9770; vickysofsantafe.com.