EST? PST? What time is it? The answer at Palm Springs’ iconic Grand Central (www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com) is #GCT-PS. It’s always “Grand Central Time” for brunch, munch, lunch, dinner or the new “nibbles and bites” offerings at the restaurant that is, literally, at the center of everything in Palm Springs, smack dab in the middle of the classic downtown gathering spot, La Plaza. Starting this week, “Tequila Thursdays” offers a wide range of high end Mezcal food & drink.
“Palm Springs is now a year-year destination,” said Rita Capponi, founder and co-owner of Grand Central.“That means that Palm Springs is also a year-round food destination, so we’ve expanded our hours, and our offerings to meet the demand.”
With a patio, dining room and bar long known as the place “to see and be seen” by Palm Springs and Hollywood’s weekend glitterati, Grand Central also boasts a true “hidden gem”: its spacious special event space, complete with separate entrance, for the perfect Instagram-able wedding, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, birthday or business gathering. With a regular rotation of local artists, the “Art Gallery” special event space is quickly becoming a “go to” spot for this year’s post-worst-of-COVID Holiday parties.
“As they used to say at our namesake Grand Central Station in New York City, ‘meet us under the clock’,” said co-owner and founder John Diskin. “It may be the height of the summer, but we’re already seeing a real pick-up in bookings and inquiries for the Holiday Season, so call us now to reserve your spot.”
Currently, highlighted is the work of local artist Lucia Grossberger Morales, whose unique creations are based in her groundbreaking career at the forefront of personal computer graphics.
“I remember vividly in 1979 seeing my first Apple II computer,” recalls Lucia. “That night I dreamt that I was a ten-year-old boy walking on the shore, and embedded in the sand, I found a black box. When I opened the box, small dots of light danced in the night sky. When I woke up, I knew the computer would become my medium.”
In the ’80s, Lucia coauthored the Designer’s Tool Kit, a graphics program published by Apple Computer. Lucia’s software and artwork on the Apple II computer work are archived at the Rochester Museum of Play.
As computer technology exploded, Lucia innovatively used images, text, animation, and interactivity to tell her story of leaving her homeland at three to emigrate to the United States. In 1969, starting at sixteen, she returned to Bolivia. The experience was overwhelming. Lucia created a CD-ROM Sangre Boliviana that has been shown around the world and is stored in perpetuity at the National Library in Paris.
“As a LatinX artist, Lucia blends cutting-edge technology with themes of social justice and gender equality,” said Grand Central husband and wife team Rita and John. “This is exactly the sort of art and perspective we want to highlight and celebrate in our restaurant gallery space.”
In addition to its artistic backdrop, the spacious “Art Gallery” special event space can comfortably accommodate 150 for a seated dinner or over 200 for standing cocktail reception. Additionally, Grand Central is open for a full buyout of the restaurant with the “Art Gallery” room set up for dancing either with live music or a DJ.
What makes Grand Central Café Palm Springs unique?
“Our brunch is very much based on California cuisine with influences of the coffee cafe culture of Auckland, New Zealand, Dublin, Ireland and Melbourne, Australia,” John explains. “Our goal and our mission are to bring those flavors to Palm Springs.”
“For dinner, we expand our offerings to bring a fine dining experience in a more casual and relaxed environment,” says Rita, known for her personalized touch as hostess and creator of Grand Central’s iconic and seasonally-changing “Book Holiday Tree” in the main dining room. “Good food doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and lovely surroundings don’t have to be stuffy. At Grand Central, we stand for approachable elegance.”
Why the name Grand Central?
“In cities and train stations throughout the years, people have been meeting ‘under the clock’,” explains John. “Grand Central’s iconic clock is a reminder to take a breath. Take some time to relax and enjoy innovative food and drink at our table.”
“Most importantly,” reiterates Rita. “Take some time to be with family and friends.”
Grand Central opened in May of 2018 after extensive renovations to the previous Palm Springs Institution, Desmond’s Department Store. After sitting vacant for over a decade, owners and husband and wife, John and Rita, revitalized and reimagined the space as a place for friends to gather and share good conversation, great cocktails, and a wonderful meal. The space was updated to a modern open concept with a large opening to the kitchen that helps bring the restaurant to life and ensures a one-of-a-kind experience.