Well, sadly, the other shoe has dropped. At the end of August the decision was announced to tear down the burned-out shell of the landmark restaurant in Rancho Mirage that caught fire in the early hours of January 10, 2012. Designed in 1977 by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, the building was often referred to as “The Chart House” after its first tenant, which moved out in 2003. A succession of other restaurants occupied the space since that time—including Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill, Bananaz Tropical Grill, and then GGs Island, which was operating when the fire took place.
The property was Rancho Mirage’s only commercial building on the city’s historical preservation list, and for many, patronizing its restaurants was often as much about visiting this amazing serpentine space as it was about eating the food served. The structure is built right into the topography, with subterranean walls running both inside and outside, making it look much smaller from the exterior than the reality of its cavernous interior. And even though preservationists hoped it could be rebuilt, the price tag of more than $5 million appears to have been prohibitive to owner John Wessman.
And so it’s a sad day for residents and visitors of the communities of the Greater Palm Springs Oasis. This was a spectacle the likes of which will probably not be seen again for a very long time.