Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Melvyn's owner spills beans in new book

Melvyn's owner spills beans in new book

Judith Salkin • The Desert Sun • February 22, 2009

“Raconteur” is a good way to describe Mel Haber, owner of Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs for more than 30 years.


Haber has recorded his memories, with co-writer Marshall Terrill, in “Palm Springs á la Carte: The Colorful World of the Caviar Crowd at Their Favorite Desert Hideaway.”

The book, published this month, is available at the Ingleside Inn. On Thursday, Haber is hosting a book-signing dinner followed by a Q&A at Melvyn's.

The first couple of chapters are devoted his early life in New York, before the Ingleside Inn changed his world.

The rest of the book focuses on Haber's singular ambition of returning the Ingleside Inn to its former glory, and in turn, a success for himself.

Haber admits that he's made “every mistake in the book” when it came to running the famous resort.

In the end, he also says, “If I can make it, anyone can.”

The book is full of anecdotes, like how he turned a scruffy Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw away when they pulled up for the grand opening on a motorcycle.

Or the story of Sir John, the ultimate con artist who ran his ponzi scheme on the Coachella Valley's elite from the Inn.

Haber talks about meeting stars such as John Travolta, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Sinatra, who he calls “Mr. S.”

But not all the memories are good. Haber recalls the still-unsolved murder of his son, Lonny, in 1981.

“It's a pain that never dulls or goes away,” Haber says in the book.

What: Dinner and booksigning with Mel Haber

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, February 26

Where: Melvyn's 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs

Information: www.inglesideinn.com

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