Eight4Nine Sets the Table with Their Favorite Dishes
Written By: Dr. Paula Trimble-Familetti
Photographed By: Bianca Simonian Eight4Nine Restaurant
Co-owner John Paschal says, “There is not a day that goes by when we don’t hear someone say, “It is like walking into Alice in Wonderland,” describing the main dining room simply called the Grand Corridor. Many of us are searching for the perfect romantic location for our celebration of love, highlighted by beautiful surroundings and stunningly delicious food. The decor not only delights the adult diner, children are enchanted by the furnishings and want to try every chair for proper fit.
Described by co-owners Willie Rhine, and John Paschal as, “Our little home,” Eight4Nine embraces the fun and unique history of Palm Springs. From the original floor in the entrance, which announces the history of HOUSE 849, to the magnificent courtyard gates, the restaurant speaks for itself. Whether you are planning a wedding in the Grand Corridor, a small party in the Gypsy Room, or an intimate dinner on the outside patio, you are sure to enjoy the setting at Eight4Nine.
Interview With Co-Owners Willie Rhine, John Paschal and Chef Chuck Courtney
Q: What inspired your love for food?
Chuck Courtney: My parents were good cooks and I was always in the kitchen helping. They would have swanky cocktail parties and I would pass the tray of hors d’oeuvres. Food was sharing and entertaining. When I got older I watched cooking shows. Graham Kerr and then “Great Chefs” on PBS.
Willie Rhine: I started my career in the hospitality industry with a 100 seat theater. I later worked as general manager for two successful restaurants. I enjoyed putting all the people in all the right places. It is exciting to do the same thing here in our space. We can create the perfect setting for two or 200. In many ways it is the same as running the theatre, my job is to direct the show and put everybody in the right spot.
CC: Yes, there are many aspects of the restaurant business that correspond to show business. We cater to all the senses.
Q: What is your favorite item on the menu?
CC: Having to pick a favorite menu item is like having to pick a favorite child. I developed the menu and have an attachment to every item on it. I guess it depends on how I am feeling at the time. For example, today I feel like the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese.
WR: The Scottish Steelhead, followed closely by our Ahi Poke bowl!
John Paschal: Our Chili Relleno. The batter is so light and fluffy and that cheese! When you cut into the Relleno the cheese just oozes out. It is so good! We use a really good cheese. I know, I pay the bill. I don’t want to sound cocky but we have the best burger in town. Oh, and the Carne Asada…
Q: What would you recommend to a first-time guest?
CC: The four-course dinner. It is great price and gives our guests a chance to sample different items. I would also recommend our 26-ounce ribeye for two. It is served with truffled potato planks.
WR: One of our best kept secrets is our brunch. My favorite is our Scottish breakfast, it is the only one in the Coachella Valley.
JP: I would also recommend some of our bar food. We have fried pickles and Southern fried bacon.
Q: Your team is just as important as the food and decor of your restaurant. What makes your team special?
CC: The team is huge! Great service goes a long way. I am in the back of the house. If one thing is off, it comes across to the guests.
WR: We have a staff of a little over 100. Many of them have worked for me for more than a decade. The staff is crucial to the success in the restaurant business. You must have all the elements from the person who greets you at the door, to the bus staff.
JP: Having staff with you for more than a decade says a lot in the restaurant business. Willie has done a great job putting this staff together. It seems like family. Happy employees translate to happy guests.
Q: What sets you apart or is particularly unique to your restaurant?
JP: We have Willie and they don’t.
WR: Our setting sets us apart. Not many places can throw a party for six or 200 and do it well.
CC: Our creative team, as a whole, sets us apart.
Q: What is next for you?
WR: Catering. We took the time necessary to allow the restaurant to run smoothly before we introduced catering. I have catered events throughout the valley for almost 15 years and I am very happy to say we are starting off to great success. Our guests can now experience, the same quality of food and service at our place or theirs. We provide the same quality food and bring the same team from the restaurant, ensuring the best possible experience for life’s most memorable moments.
Willie 4 the Community: Willie Rhine believes it is greatly important to give back to the community. They host many Willie Rhine is a huge believer in giving back to the community. EIGHT4NINE proudly hosts many fundraisers for local nonprofits. Willie sits on the board of The Coachella Valley Repertory Theater and is a member of the advisory council of Sanctuary Palm Springs. Along with his life partner, Albert Gonzalez, he is a member of The Desert Aids Project’s Partners for Life and the Aids Assistance Program’s Jeannette Rockefeller Angels Program.
Native Knowledge: When not eating at Eight4Nine, co-owner Willie loves to have brunch at Farm or dinner at Jake’s, both in Palm Springs. While co-owner John admits Tyler’s Burgers on Indian Canyon has a great burger.
LOLA: The table is set in one of Eight4Nine’s semi private rooms called the Lola Room, named after a photograph on the wall by Stacey Jacob, of local celebrity Lola Showgirl.
Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge
849 Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Eight4Nine Talks Favorite Dishes and What Sets Them Apart