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Welcome to Reservations!


Transcript of the Video: Eight4Nine Restaurant in Palm Springs

Welcome to Reservations. I’m Jeff Harrison and today we have a great opportunity to speak to another restaurateur here in the desert in Palm Springs. Before we start, I just want to give a special shout out to our sponsor, Swing Point Media. A digital media company and that helps restaurants put more, as we say “put more butts in the seats”. But today we’re going to talk about something totally different. First of all, we’re going to welcome our guest, Willie Rhine of Eight4Nine. Willie, welcome.

Thank you. First of all, thank you so much for joining us. My pleasure. It was nice to be here. I’ve been here several times. In fact, last year I was telling Andrew behind the camera that last year we brought our sister, my wife’s sister from Arizona here for her to celebrate her birthday. It was fantastic and wonderful. At the same time, I noticed there were a lot of Bachelorette parties going on. So, it was a lot of fun. It was a perfect festivities. Take a minute and tell us a little bit about you, how you got involved in this, and tell us a story about Eight4Nine because I think there’s a lot of things about Eight4Nine that there’s probably a story behind. You’re absolutely correct.

Do It Big

My business partner John Paschal, two of us owns the restaurant. Actually, John came to me when I was the general manager of one of the large restaurants down the street. John came to me and asked me if I would be interested in partnering with him in a small 60-seat restaurant. I said, “Yeah, sure. Absolutely”. I thought that was something that I could probably do on the weekends. So it was very interesting to me. Long story short, we looked at a couple of locations and nothing was right though. There were issues in each of the places we looked at. We looked at the old Thai Smile building right down the street from us and they’ve really toured us and was showing us space, just happened to mention that he had signed the lease agreement that was then designed Eight4Nine which is a large design showroom.

And I turned to my business partner and I said, “If we were going to do this, we might as well do it right”. Do it big. So, long story short, we went from a small 60-seat restaurant and would fit in our lounge to this massive place. How many people now can you see, because I think I went around, so there are probably 60 seats in this one room. We can see over 300 guests throughout the restaurant combined in the patio. One of the reasons I love this space, and actually there’s more to that story. About a year and a half before we signed the lease of this building, we walked through the place with my life partner and said this would be an amazing restaurant. And I said that because there are lots of different size rooms.

Have A Little Bit of Something for Everyone

There’s a huge patio, which would seat about 150 people. The room that we’re standing in and we call this and Michael Childers’ room. It’s called that because of the photographs, that idea at by famed photographer Michael Childers. So the Michael Children’s room will seat up to 50 guests and then we have a couple of smaller rooms, one that seats a group of 12 perfectly and another one for 24. The menu is very eclectic. I would consider ourselves fine dining and then in our lounge, we have a casual menu. So we were able to do both here.

Now just to give you a little insight, when we got here, we were treated to lunch and I had that Cubano sandwich and it was delicious. I’ve had it before so I kind of knew where I was going. I probably should be a little more adventurous next time and do something different because everything on the menu looks great. You have a very extensive bar menu as well, as far as drink menu. Are there specific drinks? Like it seems like every time I would see one come out when we were here several times. It’s always a work of art. Is there a story behind that as well?

Again, when we opened up the restaurant, I wanted to have a little bit of something for everyone. So, of course, we jumped on the craft cocktail and we have a lot of old fashioned favorites. They’re cultural, they’re bright, and they’re tasty. They are inexpensive, especially in the lounge. Again, we wanted a nice mix.

We Had Good Bones To Work With

Yeah, Sometimes, I noticed and you’ve done it totally opposite. You have hard surfaces down here which have a really tall ceiling and let’s face it, we’re not all real young here in the desert. We’d like to be able to have a conversation and I love how you have these offsite rooms, but also I love how your design absorbs the sound Swiss, not so difficult to have a conversation. Was that by design or was it just the way the bones of the building were? Basically, we had good bones to work with.

But yes, it was designed. We put in the installation soundproofing material on the ceiling because we also took advantage of the fact that we did have the quieter ones on the sides. So, we have a little bit of, again, something for everyone. People who liked the noisy, excitement of the bachelorettes on the weekends or certain weekends, they enjoy that in the main dining rooms. But if you want a nice quiet intimate dinner, just choose one of the smaller ones on the side. I think that’s great. Now, when you’ve talked about the food, you said it’s kind of eclectic. Give us an idea of what people can expect when they come here to have dinner because you serve lunch and dinner, yes? We do. So tell us a little bit about the idea behind the food.

Whatever You Want, You Can Pretty Much Have

Well, we serve lunch, dinner, and brunch. On Saturdays and Sundays, we open at 9:00 AM so we’re available for brunch. And because I’m Scottish, I decided because I wanted eventually everything about the restaurant is eclectic as I said. So the menu is especially eclectic, very worldly. So you can come for a Scottish breakfast on the weekend, you can come for our Chile Relleno for lunch. You can have some Hawaiian influences. Of course, we have one of the best burgers in town. So all American Burger, whatever you want, you can pretty much have.

This is fantastic. So take us through the process as far as, what would you like the folks that are watching, what would you like them to know if they’ve never been here and say this is why you’ll like Eight4Nine.

Our Secret

One of the biggest secrets of Eight4Nine is the fact that we have an eight for $9 menu in the lounge. Oh, okay. A lot of people, when you walk into the restaurant of the, again, I mentioned the term fine dining. The dining room is definitely fine dining without a doubt. However, I wanted that casual feeling in the bar, which goes all the way down to the prices. You can get a half salad, which is more than enough for most people for nine bucks. You can get a glass of wine you bought for five bucks.

So, you can get in and out for lunch for under $20 very easily. A lot of people don’t know that, unfortunately. So we’re changing that right now. I love that. All this time I thought, Eight4Nine was just the address. No, there’s more. A lot of people can say, “I ate for nine bucks”.

Artwork and Photography

Now let me ask you, as I look around, you said all of them, all the artwork in here and the photography was done by a specific individual. But you have this throughout. Is this one person who is providing all this artwork? No. Again, like to think that I’m a clever entrepreneur. Michael Childers is a local celebrity in town and everyone knows him. So I invited him to have this one room. So this is the Michael Childers room. Michael has hosted some parties, a lot of his friends asked to be seated in the Michael Childers room. We’ve got local celebrities on the wall. I’m not sure if the camera can capture this or not, but we have, Carol Channing, Lucie Arnaz, Lauren and a lot of this.

On the other rooms, we invited original artists. So we’ve got a nice mix. And also my business partner, he’s a celebrity photographer, so the black and white prints in the bar and in the restaurants are all him. That one was commissioned and I’m sorry, I forgot the artist’s name. But that was commissioned maybe about three or four months ago. Carol was here at our opening. She’s been here many times. I’m really sad that she’s no longer with us, but she’s got a special “plate” in my heart.

Outside the Walls of Eight4Nine

If you haven’t seen it when you get here, it’s spectacular. It’s a very large print that you’ll see in. It’s really neat. Now, what if I would love to bring Eight4Nine outside the walls of Eight4Nine? Do you guys do any catering? Do you do any offsite events? We do.

Actually, we just started that with the restaurant has been open a little over three and a half years. Okay. I’ve been in the restaurant business locally for over 20 years. I wanted to spend, anyone who knows me knows that I’m very much hands on. So, I wanted to spend the first year just in the restaurant and make sure that everything was working well. About a year after we opened, we decided to go back into the catering business. Our catering department again, because being hands on, I’m at most of the events. So, our catering department has literally gone through the roof in the last year. We do weddings, corporate events where the preferred caterer most of the favorite local venues, including the Palm Springs Art Museum on 29, a lot of private residences, Frank Sinatra’s state central. So it’s doing really well.

It Has To Be Above The Dining Experience 

I think it is exciting. Usually, you know, you’d, because again, I live here in the desert. We live here in the desert. Now, we live on the other side, but when we come down here, there’s always a treat to come here. Because there’s always something you did. It’s like all the stuff on the wall. It’s not like you’re just filling your stomach. You’re also filling your eyes. It’s just so cool. It’s an experience. It really is. It has to be above the dining experience. Not only do I think that we have great food, we have great prices. Again, reminding everyone that you can either come in for a nice focused meal for 45 bucks or you can go to the bar and have a nice lunch dinner for under 10.

I was impressed when I saw the prices. I had forgotten about it because maybe I wasn’t paying attention. But yeah, that is a great opportunity. A lot of people really don’t know that that menu exists. I tried to, I tried to get it out there as much as possible, but a lot of people don’t know.

If somebody just joined us again, do us a favor. Repeat exactly what Eight4Nine means when it comes to the menu again. Let’s get that out there a second. So Eight4Nine is the address. It’s our website, And also, we got creative and our slogan or logo in the Bar, and it means that people can leave here and say they ate for nine bucks.

An Exception For Your Listeners And Viewers

Can you buy or purchase the images and the artwork? Yes, absolutely. All of the artwork is for sale. Should they get hold of you directly, Willie? Yes or any of the managers, anyone in the restaurant can help somebody who’s interested in. That’s great. We’ll put you in touch with the artist.

First of all, thank you so much. This was a great behind-the-scenes of what’s going on. Also, by the way, we took a lot of photographs. We’ll be putting those on a Coachella Valley Good Eats probably next week or so and give a little behind the scenes. But like what we’d like to do, as the restaurateur is to try to see if we can put an offer out there when people say, “Hey, I heard you on Reservations”, is there a special that you can share with those people if they heard this record this on Reservations that come in and say, “Hey, I heard that on Reservations”.

I mentioned to you earlier, Jeff, we don’t normally do that, but I’m more than happy to do that and make an exception for your listeners and viewers. Why don’t they mention, “Hey, I saw Willie and he said you were going to get free dessert? Oh, I like that. I love it. Yeah.

Get More Reservations For Restaurants In The Desert

So free dessert. You just have to come in and say, Hey, I saw Willie on Reservations, and I said I’d get you to get a free dessert. Now we’re going to kick that up a notch. We’re also going to say everyone who takes advantage of that, and we’ll set this up. It’s not quite there yet, but we’ll set this up. You’ll see it on our Facebook page, but when you do that, you’ll also be entered into a drawing for a hundred dollar gift card for Eight4Nine, and that’s from us at Coachella Valley Good Eats. We appreciate you watching and supporting the channel. We really appreciate that. Sounds great. Really, thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thanks for joining us.

Come on down and make sure you get that. If you were interested in the prints, come on down and pick one of your favorites because they are, I think it’d be a hard call, but again, thank you so much for joining us. My name is Jeff Harrison with Reservations. Behind the camera is Andrew and we want to thank our sponsor Swing Point Media, which is a digital marketing coming here in the desert using digital media to get more reservations for restaurants in the desert. Thank you so much.

SwingPointMedia is a marketing company focused on using content marketing, such as written articles, video and podcasts, to attract their customers ideal audiences. This approach has proven to attract higher quality customers while simultaneously reducing the sales cycle by as much as 70%.
SwingPointMedia serves local businesses in Southern California and can be reached by calling 760-422-5176.
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