Formerly Cary Grant's estate, Copley’s now features elevated American Dishes
Hawaiian inspired cuisine with European refinement
By Kevin Perry
Hospitality is a dish best served warm. When you sit down for a gourmet meal, you don’t want to feel unwelcome or out of place, no matter how upscale your surroundings may be. It’s a delicate balancing act, but Copley’s really sticks the proverbial landing.
“We are a fine-dining restaurant but there’s certainly nothing stuffy about us at all,” promises co-owner Greg Butterfield. “Being from Hawaii, we have that aloha spirit.”
Waves of South Pacific serenity wash over you as you immerse yourself in the Copley’s dining experience. Butterfield draws from his past and reminisces about how this Palm Springs passion project was hatched thousands of miles from home. “I was living in Maui, in Lahaina, managing a restaurant, and I met Juliana and Andrew Copley there. Andrew was a chef, Juliana had her own destination management company, and I was running my own restaurant. Juliana had the idea that we could open a restaurant together. We looked around in Hawaii. Nobody wanted to leave Maui; it was awesome. But Andrew had an opportunity to come out to Palm Springs.”
Scouting for a location as perfect as his palate, Andrew “found this beautiful property here at 621 North Palm Canyon,” recounts Butterfield, adding that the Copleys had “the vision that it could be a beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant. They called me up and sent me pictures and that’s when we just kind of dove in.”
The aforementioned locale is steeped in legacy, founded on the estate that once belonged to silver screen icon Cary Grant. “Our landlord has told us that he used to own the property,” narrates Butterfield. “It was four little guest homes, little bungalows that he used to own. He had a big house in the Movie Colony area a couple blocks away.”
With their North (by Northwest) Palm Canyon roots firmly planted, Greg Butterfield was ready to dig in. “In October of 2004, I moved out here. We opened in December. That’s been almost 15 years.”
It’s been a decade and a half of decadent dining, kept orderly by the division-of-labor-of-love amongst the Copley’s team. “Since we have been working together for 15 years, we all trust each other. So Juliana takes care of the groups and all the finances, I take care of the bar and the front of the house service, and Andrew takes care of the kitchen. We just developed a nice trust. I’ve heard it said that the strongest table has three legs, so that’s kinda how we operate.”
Butterfield’s leadership inspires structure as well as smiles. “I just try to keep everybody super happy and friendly. Most of my waiters have been here over 10 years, so it’s a very pleasant place to work and I think that really translates to the guests.”
Copley’s diners are, indeed, primed for a joyful display of succulence elevated. Their kitchen crew gets back to the basics without being basic.
“I know Andrew’s philosophy is to keep things simple. He likes using unique ingredients, but our menu reads very easily; you don’t have to ask a lot of questions. The way he pairs flavors is perfect. I’ll give you a quick example: with our salmon dish, he uses a teriyaki glaze, and then he’s paired it with some roasted shiitake mushrooms. I always thought salmon and mushrooms sounded totally weird, but because of that teriyaki glaze and a little light vanilla drizzle, the woodiness and the earthiness from the mushrooms really makes a great pairing with the rich salmon dish.”
Diving deeper down the menu, Butterfield discusses sourcing. “Of course we try to get as many local ingredients as we can,” he declares. “Our sesame seared ahi tuna entrée is served with a citrus ponzu sauce. Andrew has kept his connections to the fishermen in Hawaii, so he gets the freshest, freshest ahi.”
Greg thrives on staying connected to his Hawaiian heritage as well as forging new friendships with his neighbors in the Uptown Design District. “It’s been awesome. It’s funny, 15 years ago, we were on the north side of town and I think we were one of the only restaurants here back then. So it was a little bit scary for the three of us, putting our lives on hold and our finances all in one big basket. But it’s really rewarding to look across the street and see Cheeky’s and Birba and then Trio and Workshop and Eight4Nine. All of those have come in after us.”
No matter how far he ventures from Maui, Greg Butterfield is all about mahalo. “The little town of Lahaina where I lived and this little town of Palm Springs are very similar,” he explains. “Getting to know all the people in town, all of us restaurateurs really get along very well too, so that’s another plus. I just ran out of cucumber vodka the other day, so I ran down to Trio and borrowed that, so it’s all very friendly.
We can think of nothing more neighborly than sharing a beverage, and the fact that it’s cucumber vodka is an added bonus. Save us a taste, Greg – we’ll be right over.
621 N Palm Canyon Dr | 760.327.9555