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  1. #1

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    An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    This needs its own thread a bit... I've already stated some of this in another thread, but this story is rather sad.

    Right around the corner from me, opening in 1961, was one of the greatest architectual wonders of our time: the Kahiki




    That's what it looked like... located right across from the Town & Country Shopping Center, another place of historic value, being the first outdoor strip mall in the country (and still among the biggest to this day).

    Entered this building, designed based on a Hawaiian war canoe, by crossing a bridge and entering into a tropical wonderland.

    There were several rooms to the building, each one layed out under a grass hut. But that's not the amazing part....



    That fireplace was located at the end of the main dining room, towering over everything.



    The left wall of the restraunt was a big aquarium. Here was where to sit if you wanted to sit in a darker portion of the restraunt. Meanwhile, the right wall was a little brighter, with a tropical rainforest setting, real tropical birds flying around behind the glass, rainstorm every half hour.



    And then there were the drinks, like the above drink: the Mystery drink. Made with a 140 proof vodka. The drink was served by ringing a gong and brought to your table by the Mystery girl. Me? I was 20 when it closed, so I never got the mystery drink, but I did get a virgin headhunter often (which was served in a tiki mug that you could take home).

    So, all that came to an end in 2000. The original owner died. And that just went downhill from there. Not even a spot on the registry of historic places could save it. I was there on the last day to serve to the public (one big private party to high payers was done the next day -- a shirt from the event hangs at the Block's Bagels closest to me).

    So, here we are in 2006. Walgreens now sits where Kahiki once was and the former managers of Kahiki have opened up the Tropical Bistro, an attempt to bring back a few memories. But this is what it has become:




    A pretty pale imitation of the former restraunt. It sits in an old Mark Pi's China Gate location in a strip mall, 30 minutes away from the other location. The arches outside and the golden statues are from the Mark Pi's. However, the much of the rest of the interior decor came from the Kahiki. Still, not the same.

    I ate there Monday. I wanted to cry being there. It was great seeing many of those things again. It was like seeing a long-dead friend returning from the dead. Much of the staff has returned, from the chefs to the waiters. The drink menu is the same old drink menu, only the name of the restraunt on front has been changed.

    They're slowly trying to rebuild the restraunt to its former glory. Little by little, they will be adding on to the restraunt. And maybe soon, they'll be able to move out into a rebuilt location.

    They've only been open about 2½ months so far and it's proved to be a hit. For the tiny restraunt it is, they manage to serve around 600 customers for the sunday brunch. Evenings are pretty much reservations-only since the wait line pretty much runs the entire strip mall.

    I really hope that it will be rebuilt... I would hate to see this tiny place be the last chapter of the Kahiki dining story.

    (I pass by the Kahiki frozen food outlet store every day going to and from work... really hard to see that sign sometimes.)


    -Tim

  2. #2

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    What an amazing place! The pictures are great and I'm sure they don't do it justice.
    Thanks for sharing them.



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  3. #3

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Quote Originally Posted by dsnylndmom
    What an amazing place! The pictures are great and I'm sure they don't do it justice.
    Thanks for sharing them.
    It was amazing... Too bad you'll need to experience yet another Walgreens if you ever go to the place now.
    -Tim

  4. #4

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Little-by-little, the last remaining survivors of an amazing and creative era in American architecture are being destroyed. Tragic.
    "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. " -George Washington

  5. #5

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Interesting fact:

    In an issue of Fortune magazine, Michael Eisner stated that he often ate at the Tiki Room when he went to college here. Oy... just another flub of Eisner's.
    -Tim

  6. #6

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Did/does any of you have a Tiki restraunt near you?
    -Tim

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Cool pics and story! This reminds me of another Tiki legend on the potential chopping block within the next year: Trader Vics in Beverly Hills. It was made famous in Warren Zevon's classic song Werewolves in London:

    I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
    His hair was perfect
    Werewolves of London






  8. #8

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Here's one that has been there for years in my city.
    http://www.critiki.com/cgi-bin/location.cgi?loc_id=108

    It has become more of Bar with Live bands, then a restaurant.
    1st Amendment-Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  9. #9

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Quote Originally Posted by fastpassmountain
    Cool pics and story! This reminds me of another Tiki legend on the potential chopping block within the next year: Trader Vics in Beverly Hills.
    Whoa, they're tearing down Trader Vic's!??!?!?!? That's terrible! That's where my favorite Chinese appetizer was invented... the crab rangoon.

    Thanks for the pics and story FB. Hopefully the new resturant will be able to do proper homage to Kahiki's.

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  10. #10

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Oh my gawd!!! That place was freaking awesome!!! I wish I could of seen it in person. I love the whole tiki thing. Very few places nowday give it the justice it deserves.

    I hate to hear stories like that. I agree with jwbear. One by one, piece by piece we are distroying our history, and distroying buildings and designs that will never be recreated again. I can't put into words how sad I feel at seeing another story about another piece of "Lost America" happening.




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  11. #11

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Laguna Beach has a good Tiki Restaurant named The Royal Hawaiian located on Coast Highway on the right side just before you begin you descent down the hill to Main Beach and Downtown. It's reasonably priced and still maintains the original look of the place...fishnets, blowfish, etc.

    We also have some Tiki themed architecture here in Palm Springs. There's a large apartment complex that had been shut down and a few years ago someone took it on and began restoring it but apparently ran out of money. It's fenced and falling apart once again and is on Camino Real just a block south of Hwy 111.

    And Hollywood once had a Don The Beachcomber's for many years just north of Hollywood Blvd. Their Zombies were the best and they had a limit of two per customer.

  12. #12

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    wow, that looks so cool!! how come there's nothing like this in adventureland?

  13. #13

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Quote Originally Posted by desertdweller
    We also have some Tiki themed architecture here in Palm Springs. There's a large apartment complex that had been shut down and a few years ago someone took it on and began restoring it but apparently ran out of money. It's fenced and falling apart once again and is on Camino Real just a block south of Hwy 111.
    Isn't there a motel down there too that sort of has a Tiki theme? Why can't I think of the name.... Calente Tropics or something like that? I'd always wanted to stay there but I've heard the newest owners have really let it run down.




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  14. #14

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    Not tearing down Trder Vic's, just getting rid of it, as the Hilton is going to convert a lot of its rooms to condos or some other freakin' nonsense!!!

    I tried to go to a tiki restaurant for my birthday and failed miserably. Everything was either too far, too much, not a full restaurant or had horrible reviews.
    Good morning, son
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    I knew you'd feel the same things...





  15. #15

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    Re: An Ode to the Great Tiki Restraunt

    In SoCal, there's (as far as I know):

    Damon's in Glendale.
    Kiki Ti on Sunset.
    Bahooka in Rosemead
    Tonga Hut in NoHo.
    "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. " -George Washington

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