Tiki Gardens

Indian Shores, Florida, United States

This theme park included Trader Frank's restaurant.

In the mid-1940s, "Trader" Frank Byars and his wife, "Wahine" Jo Byars, ran a small St. Petersburg hotel. His wife began making jewelry from shells, and Mr. Byars saw that they were more than pretty; they were sellable.

They lost the lease on their hotel and decided to move forward with his wife's jewelry and other related gifts.

They bought the inventory of a failed gift shop, stocked it with similar shell jewelry, and started the Signal House, ultimately one of the Suncoast's largest gift shops. To attract customers, Mr. Byars put in a small Polynesian garden.

The Signal House burned in 1962, and they decided to rebuild it in earnest as a real tourist attraction.

They researched to see if there were any other attractions in the state with a Polynesian atmosphere and found none.

Thus came about Tiki Gardens, several gift shop, and its 450-seat restaurant, Trader Frank's, on 7 acres of palmetto swampland overlooking the bay and Gulf of Mexico.

The layout was greatly influenced by The International Marketplace in Honolulu and its gift shops and restaurants.

The tiki gods were designed by Gordon Keith Originals of Columbus, Ohio.

From the start, back in 1964, business was good. Auto clubs and tourist guides soon recognized Tiki Gardens as a Florida attraction.

In 1988, Mr. Byars and his wife sold the attraction to Australian investors Neville Schmidt and Darrell Roder. As partial payment they accepted $1-million in opals.

Tiki Gardens was subsequently closed and later, in 1990, Pinellas County commissioners approved plans to buy the site where Tiki Gardens stood and turn it into a park.

Bar, Park, Restaurant, Store & Themed Attraction
Indian Shores, Florida, United States
Permanently Closed?
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2020-04-23 08:09:01

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Date Created
23 Apr 2020
Date Updated
3 Aug 2022
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