On the Mark Fine Foods & Provisions
A one of kind gourmet food market and deli
By Kevin Perry
A visit to Palm Springs is a veritable safari for the senses. Your eyes careen across our majestic vistas, your lungs fill with our healing desert air, and your palate guides you ever onward, in search of a foodie experience worthy of your luxurious surroundings. But where will your taste buds take you?
Just follow the giant cow to 777 North Palm Canyon.
“Her name is Buttercup, because that’s a good Wisconsin cow name,” explains Mark Van Laanen, owner of On the Mark Fine Foods and Provisions. Churning maximum joy into every word, he continues, “And on her, there’s a sign that says ‘Come taste my cheese!’ So people go, ‘Why do you have a cow out front?’ and I say, ‘Well, I’m from Wisconsin; I gotta have a cow!’”
Laanen was a successful Midwest restaurateur for over three decades when the lure of the Inland Empire beckoned. “Came to Palm Springs to visit a friend,” he recounts with a rapid-fire enthusiasm. “I fell in love with it, literally went back to Wisconsin, sold the restaurants, sold my house, and moved here! That was 12 years ago.”
And it’s been a fruitful 12 years, indeed. Laanen truly established himself in the desert with a series of gastronomical triumphs. “I ended up opening Trio Restaurant here,” he narrates. “I had Trio for nine years with a partner, and then we opened another restaurant called the Purple Room, which was a separate club with entertainment, and then it got to the point where I was like, ‘I’m getting burnt out and want to do something else,’ and hence, that’s when On the Mark Fine Foods and Provisions came to be, and that was just a year ago.”
It’s been a whirlwind of decadent endeavors, but Van Laanen didn’t leave the wholesome of the heartland far behind. “Actually, I have friends that have small creameries in Wisconsin, since y’know I’d been there forever. I deal directly with them and they ship me their cheeses.” He specifically mentions a pal from Algoma, then continues, “I get all my smoked salmon from him and my trout – they ship it directly to me.”
Swimming upstream in an age of online anonymity and generic consumerism, Van Laanen strives to inject a personal connection into his daily dealings. “We’re a little specialty store, but we also specialize in our customer service. I mean, we really take care of our guests. Everybody knows our products, from the wines to the cheeses to the meats, and we let them try everything in the store just to make sure they like it!”
On the Mark is a one-stop shop of wondrous variety. It’s the perfect inaugural destination when you need to stock your vacation home or resort kitchenette, but you may get distracted by the hospitality of the shop itself. “What really makes me feel good is that people come into the shop and they just go, ‘Wow! This is an awesome shop!’ We cover all bases; we have a local guy who does baking for us, we do wine tastings every two weeks, we get literally 40 to 60 people who come to those. We make it more of a party than informational, so that’s fun.”
Reaching beyond the confines of his store and reaching out to potential visitors far and wide, Van Laanen makes his delectable pitch: “I think everyone that comes to Palm Springs should definitely come and check the shop out. They’ll absolutely love it! We have something for everybody.”
Amidst all of the flavors and frivolity, the greatest commodity that Van Laanen has discovered in Palm Springs has been inclusion. “We borrow things back and forth from napkins to buns to fish. It’s a very supportive community.” Praising his fellow business owners, Mark characterizes, “It never has a competitive feel about it. It always has this camaraderie and everybody supports each other and has each other’s backs.”
Van Laanen’s generosity shines brightest when he discusses his charity work. Mark’s soulfully selfless efforts have benefited such groups as Desert AIDS Project and Food Samaritans, not to mention the next generation of local leaders. “We do a lot of mentoring with the high school kids on career building, because I’m a baker and a chef.” Mark gives Palm Springs teens a front-row seat to their future, stirring them into his mix of gourmet food prep and civic connectivity. “You get involved and what you put out, you get back.”
Karma has never been so delicious.
777 N. Palm Canyon Dr. | 760.832.8892