Yes, Mayor Pete, Pala has a wine cave, too

Bill Bembenek, Pala Casino CEO, middle, unveils CAVE.

Dateline Los Angles Democratic Party Presidential Debate:

A fund-raiser for Pete Buttigieg held in a wine cellar in Napa Valley elicited the most strident clash between the Democratic candidates at a debate Thursday night after a mostly staid discussion of policy platforms and impeachment, leading to a round of criticism of the mayor that continued into a later exchange about his previous criticisms of Washington experience and his presidential credentials as mayor of a midsize city.

— New York Times

Wine cave, anyone?

Pala Casino has one, well, kind of has one. The much-ballyhooed CAVE that debuted in 2015 at Pala Casino Spa & Resort is under renovation, expected to be finished, again, sometime in late 2020.

Have no fear, however. Pala Casino sources say it is available for private events before transforming into a new age wine lounge.

Who is up for a Grapevine fundraiser there?

Tree people were part of the grand opening festivities.

Tree people were part of the grand opening festivities.

With all the public relations event hoopla and ambiance one might expect from one of the West’s signature resort and gambling venues,  Pala Casino Spa & Resort did the CAVE right for almost four years.

Serving mass quantities of gourmet dishes like escargot, octopus and duck, the 4,300-square-foot CAVE restaurant and lounge along with its 2,400-square-foot underground wine bar outdoor San Luis Rey outdoor patio restaurant and Starlight Theater entertainment venue hit the Pala scene running.

“It’s nice, nice, very nice,” said Angela Gegelys, who had trekked with hubby Ted from Menifee to the CAVE for its Friday, May 22, 2015 media opening. “We’ve been hearing about thew CAVE for a while and it’s just phenomenal.”

Music to the ears of Bill Bembenek, Pala Casino Spa and Resort CEO, who said, “We’re excited. This is something we started planning over a year ago. It’s something our competition doesn’t have, unique to the marketplace. It’s a great product for our existing customers and a lot of other customers who are more in the 55-to-65 age range, not into the 20s pool crowd scene.”

     For the record

CAVE, Pala Casino's new underground wine venue.

CAVE, Pala Casino’s new underground wine venue.

CAVE is composed of a 4,300 square-foot restaurant and lounge and a 2,400 square-foot underground wine cave. It has an extensive wine inventory and will offer guests access to over 480 domestic and imported wine labels.

The restaurant is a modern eatery offering Mediterranean cuisine with an Italian flair.  CAVE’s lounge offers an imaginative menu of craft cocktails as well as the extensive wine list. Entertainment in the underground cave will feature popular jazz and R&B solo artists, duos and trios.

“It is the only underground entertainment venue of its kind in San Diego County,” Bembenek said. “We have dovetailed an already popular industry in our region, wine and wine tasting, with the gaming industry to create a place with a unique ambiance that is not available elsewhere. CAVE is a place where wine lovers and good friends can come to enjoy their favorite wine and relax to cool jazz in a comfortable, subterranean environment.”

The CAVE menu offers many of the authentic Italian dishes that Chef Luciano Cibelli made famous at Mama’s Cucina Italiana. But Chef Luc and his staff have added many new Mediterranean specialties that reflect his Italian flair.

Just upstairs (the CAVE is built under it) the new permanent, 2,400- square-foot Starlight Theatre stage provides a weekly concert schedule

Luis Rey’s is a 4,200-square-foot casual indoor/outdoor patio lounge and bar that incorporates the scenic mountain views that are unique to Pala.

“CAVE, Luis Rey’s and the new outdoor Starlight Theater continue our tradition at Pala of offering unique entertainment to our guests,” Bembenek said. “We anticipate that not only our existing customers will enjoy these new venues but they also will attract new clientele/”

Former CAVE Hours of Operation: CAVE restaurant, Sunday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; CAVE lounge, Daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Underground Wine Cave, Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Current Luis Rey’s Hours of Operation: Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Pala Casino Spa & Resort is located at 11154 Highway 76, Pala. For moe information call (760) 510-5100.