The Heyday finally finds its own home, offering owners, staff a sense of both permanence and pride

From a tent at VillageFest to two different hotel locations, nothing has stopped fans from seeking one couple’s burgers. Now they need those fans more than ever.
Since 2018. Brad and Crystal Reihl have served their popular hamburgers at many different locations in Palm Springs. Soon they’ll be serving them from their own restaurant.

After years of engaging in a game best described as follow the bouncing burger, the owners of one of the most popular food spots in the city are preparing to settle into a place they can finally call their own. But first, they need your help.

Brad and Crystal Reihl got the keys to their new business last week and immediately began remodeling and revamping the space at 1550 North Palm Canyon Drive. Gone will be the unassuming and authentic JJ’s Mexican Restaurant. In its place will be The Heyday, known for smash burgers served in a hip and vibrant style. JJ is off to a well-deserved retirement but remains as the building’s landlord.

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The story of how The Heyday landed in what the couple hopes will be its final location is similar to the story of how their burgers became one of the most coveted meals in town. There was a little luck and some word of mouth, but also a loyal fan base that doesn’t just include customers. Brad Reihl is quick to credit other Palm Springs businesspeople who have stepped up as he and the staff have moved from a tent at VillageFest, then to The Cole Hotel, and finally to The Hilton.

“The Hilton has been incredible,” Reihl said, pointing particularly to Aftab Dada, its general manager and a longtime pillar of the city’s business community who encouraged him to consider occupying the restaurant space there after a stint at The Cole ended in the waning months of 2020. “I have got nothing but love and appreciation for the people there.”

The opportunity to take over JJ’s space came after a similar interaction. A mutual friend — the owner of a nearby hotel — knew that JJ wanted to retire, and he sensed that The Heyday would be a perfect fit for the space. While the Reihls were more than happy and thriving at The Hilton, a conversation during last November’s Pride Parade led to a visit to JJ’s and an eventual lease signing.

If all goes well, The Hilton location will close on Jan. 29 and the new location will open the next week — early February. “It’s a lofty as all hell goal,” Brad said Thursday during a tour of the roughly 500 square feet of dining and bar space and the adjacent kitchen.

The goal is so lofty, however, that the couple elected to do something that took them completely out of their comfort zone. They recently created a GoFundMe page, hoping to raise $50,000 for much-needed equipment and buildout of the new location. Donations to the fundraising effort will be matched with gift cards for future food orders.

“There are many other things in this world, particularly locally, that require people’s time, attention and money,” Brad said. “This came up so rapidly that there was no way that we could do it without help. It did not feel comfortable having our hand out.”

“As we jumped through hurdles, you guys stayed with us every step of the way,” Crystal wrote on the GoFundMe page. “From pop-ups, to drive-throughs, and now at The Hilton, nothing — not one thing — that we’ve accomplished over the years could have happened without our community standing by us. Now, we’ve finally reached our final step and realized we cannot do this alone.”

Chances are the community will rally behind the Reihls, just as it did when they were forced to pivot shortly after arriving in the city almost five years ago.

Hoping to open a pizzeria here in 2018, their hopes were dashed when the building they were going to operate in sold before they could open. Then, after a friend who operated a brewery found himself suddenly without the taco caterer he had hired, Brad leapt into action, serving smash burgers that were an instant hit. A tent at VillageFest followed, but so did the pandemic.

Moving into The Cole, The Heyday was able to stay in business as the world shut down, offering time slots via an online service so that customers could drop by to pick up orders with minimal interaction.

A smash burger at The Heyday isn’t just a meal, it’s an experience.

Two years ago this month they moved into The Hilton. The burger believers followed, as did much of their staff — a sure sign something special is happening behind the scenes.

The customers return because that staff delivers exceptional burgers, fries, “chicken sandos,” salads and drinks. In return, Brad and Crystal deliver care and compassion to the staff, hoping that as their business grows so will opportunities for career growth.

Creating a family feeling is equally as important as making a quality product, Brad said, adding that he hopes moving into a permanent home will only improve the bond between everyone in the building.

“I’m extremely excited for what this means for our staff,” he said. “This transition is going to increase that sense of pride in what we’re doing.”

So far, the response to the GoFundMe campaign has shown the Reihls that they themselves should be proud, and they aren’t taking it for granted.

“People are gracious and generous and giving,” Brad said. “We’re being met with so much generosity that it’s actually taking me time to sort through all of my feelings. I want to make sure that we are part of the community for a long time so that we can give back just as much as the community is giving to us.”

More information: To contribute to The Heyday’s campaign, go to the GoFundMe page here. To eat one of the best burgers in town, check out the restaurant’s menu, current location, and hours, at the website here.


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