Ben Kneifel :: Bringing the ’Good Life’ to Palm Springs
If Ben Kneifel looks familiar to you, chances are you’ve met him before.
Kneifel tended bar at many of San Diego’s favorite watering holes. Most recently, this native Nebraskan can be found just over the mountains in Palm Springs, where he now works at one of the hottest hotels in the desert, The Saguaro.
Ben has spent time in front of the camera modeling as well; in fact he was featured on the cover of The Rage Monthly in 2009.
We spent the day with him recently to find out if there is anything we should... or shouldn’t... know about all things Kneifel.
When and where did you start tending bar?
I started about three years ago at a couple different bars in San Diego, all in Hillcrest. The first place I worked at was #1Fifth Avenue, the second was Fiesta Cantina on 3rd and University, and the third place was Dog House Bar & Grill on Fifth and Upas.
What was the best thing about being a bartender in San Diego?
The beautiful people, beautiful weather, the wonderful fellow employees that I got to know and all the people who live in San Diego. I had a chance to work with some of the best bartenders in town and was able to rub shoulders with some amazing people. And being able to see the influx of people through all the different seasons was just amazing.
What is the best thing about working in Palm Springs?
I love the management team that I work with. All the staff here are amazing and very knowledgeable. I also love being able to work with Chef Jose Garces, one of the winners of Iron Chef America. It’s such a privilege to work for this company.
I’ve also enjoyed being able to work at events such as the White Party, Coachella Music Festival, Dinah Shore Weekend and Stagecoach. I’m also looking forward to Palm Springs Pride, as well as helping to plan other events that are coming up.
What’s the best cocktail to have in the Palm Springs heat?
I always like to suggest our Tanteo Jalapeño Watermelon Margarita! It’s delicious, refreshing and it keeps a little spice in your tummy!!
The thing I love about the Garces Group Restaurants is that we use all fresh ingredients; fresh squeezed lime, all fresh pureed fruit juices, everything tastes great because of it!
What can we look forward to at the Saguaro? Any more "gay nights" planned?
There’s a lot that we’re working on at the Saguaro, but I don’t think we’re doing any more gay nights as were set up before at El Jefe (one of the hotel’s on-site restaurants). We are planning some pool parties, have live music on Saturdays and on Taco Tuesdays as well. I’m trying to work on something "big" with The Rage Monthly, but that’s between you and me, so we’ll see!
Do you prefer working at the restaurant bar or the pool bar at the hotel?
Honestly, I love both places, but to be able to look at the boys hanging out on the pool patio is kind of nice!
I hear that you like hiking. Where do you prefer to go?
There are so many trails all over Palm Springs. I can’t wait for the heat to ease up a bit so I can really explore all the different options. I’ve been on three or four different hikes. My favorite so far is Tahquitz Canyon -- it’s amazing because of the beautiful waterfall in the springtime.
Not so long ago you appeared in the magazine as a cover model. Are you still modeling elsewhere?
I really don’t have much spare time right now, and it does take a lot of work to pursue modeling as a career. But I would love to get back into something!
Do you have advice for aspiring models?
Work hard at it, don’t give up, and never let anybody tell you that you can’t do it! I have so many friends who were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t, who have become amazing models with great careers!
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know?
I’d have to say the most important thing would be that I’m a father of two amazing, beautiful, wonderful kids.
The Saguaro and the hotel’s El Jefe Restaurant are located in Palm Springs at 1800 East Palm Canyon Drive. For more information on events or to make reservations call 760.323.1711 or go to jdvhotels.com.