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.)