The Mai-Kai is perhaps the last of the grand Polynesian palaces still operating from when tiki was at its peak in the late '50s and early '60s. That the Mai-Kai not only still exists today, but is vibrant and thriving, is something we should all be very grateful forbut not take for granted.
The Mai-Kai was opened December 28th, 1956 by two brothers from Chicago, Bob and Jack Thornton, in an age when roadside attractions were springing up all over Florida; eventually Bob took over the business. Like many of these attractions, the Mai-Kai grew over time to be quite a spectacleit includes eight dining rooms, a bar that on its own would stand as perhaps the best tiki bar in the world, tropical gardens with walking paths and waterfalls, a stage in the center to showcase the Polynesian floor show, and of course, a gift shop.
Today, experiencing the Mai-Kai is much as it was in the '60s. The experience begins as you listen to the wooden slat bridge you drive over to reach the porte cochere and valets. As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by an elegant maitre'd. Be sure to bring some singles when you visit the restroom, as the bathroom has attendants on hand to assist you. The Mai-Kai's manager is Kern Mattei, who took over the position from his father.
When you're drinking at the Mai-Kai, you're drinking tiki history. The bar program here was created by legendary bartender Mariano Licudine, who came from the Don the Beachcomber in Chicago, and brought Don the Beachcomber drinks with him.
Bob and Jack have passed away, and the restaurant is now run by Bob's wife Mirielle. Bob met Mirielle when she joined the Mai-Kai as a Tahitian dancer, and still today she runs the Mai-Kai's Polynesian revue. As new dances are added to the show, Mirielle first visits the island where the dance originates to ensure it will be performed properly and will be blessed by its people. All dining rooms overlook the popular show, and dinner reservations are recommended.
The enchanting nature of the female form is something that is celebrated throughout Polynesian pop, but perhaps nowhere quite so extensively as the Mai-Kai. The beautiful waitresses to this day are attired in bikini tops and wraparound sarongs. For many years, a Mai-Kai calendar was offered featuring the many beautiful women of the Mai-Kai. This worship reaches its zenith with the Mystery Drink, delivered by the Mystery Girl, an experience that must be witnessed to be fully appreciated, so I will not describe it here, but rather urge you to visit the Mai-Kai yourself and order one.
In February 2015, the Mai-Kai was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
At the end of October 2020, the Mai-Kai announced what was hoped to be a temporary closure because of flooding and damage caused by heavy rains. This damage proved to be more extensive and the costs of repair more prohibitive than expected. Eventually, on January 21st, 2020, the Mai-Kai announced that it was making the business available for acquisition or joint-venture development.
On September 28th, 2021, the Mai-Kai made public that after considering numerous interested parties, the Thornton family agreed to a new joint venture with the Barlington Group, a South Florida-based real estate investment and development company focused on growing unique and eclectic legacy businesses that give their communities character, and Mad Room Hospitality, the proprietors of iconic establishments such as Ball and Chain, Los Altos and Taquerias El Mexicano.
*NOTE: !!! The current expected target reopening timeframe of The Mai-Kai is Spring of 2023 !!!
In November 2010, Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge moved from their original location to this much larger space, just down the street and now right on the Mississippi River.
The main level includes a restaurant and bar, and a large patio overlooking the river. There are large carved posts and tikis, and walls lined with lauhala matting and and carved wooden tchotchkes. On weekends, house band Exotik-a-Go-Go plays Exotica music, and the upstairs area is open. The upstairs, Shangri-La, has three distinct themed bars: the Shrunken Head, Forbidden Cove, and Ports of Pleasure. Each of the upstairs bars can be rented out for private events.
From 2016 onward, Psycho Suzi's started an annual "Mary's Christmas Palace" event running from October 1st-January 31st where everything is converted to an over-the-top Christmas theme, including the drinks.
*NOTE: In September 2022, the owner listed this location for sale for $6 Million.
Jardin Tiki opened on February 14, 1985, and was founded by Douglas Chan. Chan had worked at the Montreal Kon-Tiki, and had also opened the nearby Tiki Dor.
Jardin Tiki was a large, open, and extravagant space -- a mid-century building that had been a car dealership. It was filled with many large hanging lamps and other decor that came from the Kon-Tiki (which had closed in 1981). There were water pools complete with turtles, and bridges to cross them. Large cane chairs provided glamorous seating for all. As grand as this all sounds, its most distinctive feature was the natural light: while most classic tiki bars are dark, windowless caverns, Jardin Tiki was full of natural sunlight from the windowed ceiling, giving a bright airy feel usually avoided in Polynesian restaurants.
Jardin Tiki closed on Saturday, March 28th, 2015, and was later demolished for new development.
This is the newer sister location to the first Kahuna Tiki in North Hollywood, owned and operated by Carey Ysais.
It features sushi and Polynesian style food and tiki cocktails.
Opened in December 2020, the Kahuna Tiki TU is located at the site of the historic and former Mikado Sushi Bar in Valley Village.
The Kahuna Tiki TU and the adjacent Mikado Hotel were both built in 1957. They are under separate ownership.
This location has a full liquor license and a full range of cocktails featuring hard alcohol, whereas the first Kahuna Tiki location has a limited liquor license and features beer and wine, and a more limited range of tropical cocktails made with sake and soju and the like.
You can sit at "The Jungle Bar" (a more intimate area with three thatched booths and velvet paintings), the sushi bar, the main hall with tables or booths, the "Party Room" (complete with jukebox and windows overlooking the pool), or sit outside on the patio next to the pool itself.
Mobile Tiki Bar from Belgium, est. 2019.
Snowbird Tiki Bar opened on April 7, 2017, in Montreal's Little Italy, in the space that used to hold Cafe International.
It closed in late 2018, but re-opened in what had previously been known as Idole Bar.
The new space has stone, brick, and some green-painted walls, with float lights, and lots of vintage pieces in the decor. The bar incorporates some elements from the now-closed Jardin Tiki, including tables and chairs that were originally at the Kon-Tiki in Montreal. There is a large tiki that came from somewhere in Ontario.
They continue to add more and more to their decor, including a number of vintage hanging lamps over the bar.
There is also outside seating.
From their website:
"The team that brought us Pagan Idol was inspired to create another tiki bar - one that would pay honor and homage to the late, great Skipper Kent and his dream of a place where his guests would enjoy wonderful drinks and receive extraordinary island hospitality. In 2019, The Zombie Village opened in San Francisco's Tenderloin District shocking those who couldn't believe that the Bay Area would come to have another tiki bar, and delighting everyone who has walked through its doors.
The bar's design not only includes tiki elements reminiscent of the South Pacific, but it also celebrates the spirit of the Caribbean, a region synonymous with fine rums and hospitable, fun-lovin people. A team of renowned tiki artists was assembled in order to create a real, authentic tropical paradise. Ivan Mora, Bamboo Ben Bassham, Crazy Al Evans, Woody Miller, Bosko Hrnjak, and Mikel "MP" Parton all contributed custom works for the bar. The beverage program, designed by Doc Parks, boasts an array of exotic flavors and unique spirit blends. It takes inspiration from Skipper Kent's Zombie Village cocktail menu and includes drink names originated by the Skipper himself."
Opened December 1st, 2018.
Flamingo's Tiki Bar operates from the basement at the Pacific Hotel (below Bushfire Flame Grill) on the Esplanade in the long-vacant site of a former bottleshop. It is a very small bar with only a 35 person capacity. Billing themselves as a "modern interpretation of tiki", this bar is brightly lit with tropical prints, palm trees, bamboo, hula girls wallpaper, and neon signs. It has more of a Miami feel than a dark and traditional Trader Vics vibe. They do have a serious rum collection (over 150 labels), but a light-hearted approach to serving their cocktails. They serve some drinks in tiki mugs but others are served in glassware with miniature pool blow-up flamingo coasters/huggies.
Mahiki opened in November 2006 in London's Mayfair District. Mahiki was designed and decorated by London-based tiki outfitters Cheekytiki, with menus designed by Tiki Racer. More of a nightclub than a simple lounge, Mahiki quickly became a celebrity destination once word got out that Prince William and Prince Henry were semi-regulars. Rihanna celebrated her birthday here in 2009.
In late 2011, a second Mahiki location opened in Dubai, located at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and closed in 2018, due to “unforeseen circumstances during the renovation” of the hotel, as stated by the owners at the time.
In 2017, Mahiki's owners further expanded and franchised the brand. In the course of that year, Mahiki Clubs opened in Marbella, Spain (Mahiki Beach/open), in the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia (now closed), in Manchester in collaboration with Gary Neville's company GG Hospitality Management Ltd. (closed in 2018, but re-opened in 2019, and closed again in 2020) and at a second London location (Mahiki Kensington, closed in 2019). There was also a Mahiki club in Gothenburg, Sweden (closed).
This flagship location in London's Mayfair District closed in July 2021, due to COVID shutdowns.
From their website:
"Experience a unique, world-class immersive experience for friends, co-workers, or a romantic escape.
Our three-story urban oasis features an immersive two-story dining and drinking experience designed to transport guests to a distant tropical paradise bathed in perpetual twilight. Our third floor, opening in late 2020, will include boutique lodging that carries on our tiki theme.
Maxs features an original interior design from Bamboo Ben and Notch Gonzalez, two of the best-known tiki artisans in the world, along with a giant collection of vintage and modern tiki art and decor."
Opened November 12th, 2021 in the space formerly occupied by BurgerFi.
This is Napa's first tiki bar, run by Nat Komes and family, who have deep roots in Napa and are known for Flora Springs Winery.
The name of the lounge is inspired by their family history and Uncle Wilfred in particular. Flora Cabral and her brother, Wilfred, grew up in Hawaii. Flora later married Jerry Komes and they started Flora Springs Winery.
This location pays homage to Wilfred, who often played the ukulele and entertained guests.
Their signature tiki logo was inspired by The Tiki-Jo logo tiki which was carved by Eli Hedley in the late 50s.
Interior work was done by Ben Bassham (Bamboo Ben, who is the grandson of Eli Hedley) and Billy Crud (Crud Tiki Polynesian Design).
Laki Kane opened in July of 2018 and is located in the heart of Upper Street Islington, London.
Beyond the Polynesian inspired decor one typically associates with tiki bars, Laki Kane also tries to pull from other tropical areas, including the Caribbean (bongo drums) and South East Asia (elephant wallpaper and swinging chairs).
While those who frequent tiki bars may be disappointed at the lack of tiki carvings (although there are some pillar tikis) or tiki artwork, they do have several very impressive in-house tiki mugs designed by Bai of France just for this location and a very robust tropical craft cocktail menu.
The name Laki Kane comes from the lucky (Laki) sugar cane (kane) which is converted over time into the rums used in their cocktails.
The cocktail list has been designed by co-owner, Georgi Radev, a former Mahiki bar manager (11 years at that location) and author of the cocktail book, Let's Get Tropical.
The bar prides itself on being the first in the world not to use any refined sugar in its cocktails. Instead the bar is using natural sweeteners including sugar cane juice, agave, honey and a wide range of tropical sweeteners.
They also strive to use a range of fruits not commonly seen in western cocktails, including Soursop (something between coconut and peach), Cupuacu (between peach and cacao), and Wood Apple (cross between mango, peach and grapefruit).
Each table is fitted with call buttons for service, meaning that you can call on tiki-dressed waiters at any time for a re-fill.
They also have a micro distillery on premises and make their own bespoke rum in the upstairs bar, The Spiced Dry Rum Club. This area is dedicated to teaching guests Laki Kane’s unique re-distillation process.
The kitchen is helmed by renowned chef Michael Moore.
The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1947. It was owned by the Cabang family. The Cabangs were originally from the Phillipines and were friends with both of the Fillipino Tiki carvers in L.A. at the time, Milan Guanko and Andres Bumatay. These talented artists both supplied Tikis for the restaurant. The prominent Andres Bumatay tikis outside the restaurant became weathered and destroyed and were later replaced by modern carvings.
The Royal Hawaiian also had a sister location located in Anaheim in the 1950s.
The Royal Hawaiian has been through several iterations. It originally had several small dining rooms with glass-walled dioramas filled with tikis and plants, great lamps, bamboo, thatch and sea grass matting, and a bar with a fireplace and pufferfish. There were lovely oil paintings throughout, including a large piece hung directly above the hostess stand.
In spring 2006, the restaurant was sold to a new owner, who gutted it. The newer, tiki-stripped version closed for good in 2012. In 2016, the space reopened, again with the name Royal Hawaiian, this time by people who wanted to bring back its rich tiki history. The new owners, Mo Honarkar and daughters Hasty and Nikisa, worked to bring back a fully-decorated Royal Hawaiian with the help of Bamboo Ben.
However in January-February 2019, the restaurant was closed for yet another remodel and then re-opened on April 3rd, 2019 under the auspices of chef Mariano Maro Molteni. Honarkars company remained as landlords, while Molteni owned and operated the restaurant which he rebranded as the "Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill". Molteni's remodel (which came as a surprise to the landlords) removed much of Bamboo Ben's decor, especially natural materials like lauhala matting and thatching in favor of dark blue painted walls and a "cleaner" and "less cluttered" look. There were still tikis and accent pieces, but the interior was much reduced from its former full tiki glory.
On July 15th, 2022, Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill announced its closure for the end of that same month, on July 31st, 2022 .
*NOTE: For photos of original location prior to 2006, see separate listing.
Opened in 2015.
This location had a young nightclub atmosphere with light tiki decorations including at least one carved tiki and some flotsam and jetsam hanging from the ceiling. It had a strong tilt toward drinks with naughty sounding names -- concoctions like the "The Bear's Bollock" (served in a small frozen coconut resembling the drink name) or the "Jerry Springer" although they did have house versions of classics like the Zombie and the Mai-Tai.
Closed down as a result of temporary COVID restrictions and shutdowns in 2020, reportedly shut down permanently as as 2021, and no signs of re-opening as of 2022 with boards up in windows and a lease sign out front...
NU LOUNGE BAR was founded in December 2000 by four friends – Davide Cavallari, Daniele Dalla Pola, Elena Esposito and Maurizio Gerosa. The four members gathered their national and international experiences together in order to create a Cocktail Bar in the center of Bologna and offer their customers a unique experience.
It is tucked inside an open galleria and there is seating within the bar area as well as outside in the enclosed galleria space. Focus is on tiki cocktails and the bar features a unique assortment of Italian made tiki mugs.
Daniele Dalla Pola is known in the United States for his work at Esotico Miami.
Strong Water Anaheim is a tropical, nautical bar with Asian inspired food and a small hidden room full of wonder based on the mid-1800s mysterious shipwreck of the vessel Clementine. Brought to you by the owners of Blind Rabbit, this Packing House-adjacent bar has a whole back bar dedicated just to gin and also serves up tropical libations and Asian-Hawaiian inspired appetizers and entrees. It does have some tikis throughout, a fountain shaped like a giant moss-covered skull, and a tiki mug cabinet with several shelves of mugs -- vintage and from other establishments and events.
Opened in 1959 by Bernard and Janet Tohl, this polynesian-themed dinner spot served around 1,000 people a night in its heyday.
The spare ribs, rumaki, and unique tropical drinks were always a hit. They also had 3-4 rickshaws in front at all times and people lined up for the experience of being driven around the block in one. The big sign out front with flaming torches also caught lots of attention. The building was elevated one floor above the sidewalk so to enter you had to cross a bridge over a lagoon, then go up a ramp decorated with shells, tiki gods, and palm trees. There were also capuchin monkeys and toucan birds living in a "controlled" environment. Additionally, there was artificial thunder and lightning periodically and nightly entertainment with fire dancers and hula dancers.
This site was transformed into an Acapulco chain restaurant in the 80s and then completely demolished in summer 2012.
Collectors covet the tiki mugs from The Los Angeles Islander, as they were made by Spurlin Ceramics (Stella Bodey) and represent some of the earliest and most innovative tiki souvenirs from that era. The Los Angeles Islander is not to be confused with the Stockton Islander (1966-1980).
Opened in 2010.
From Tiki Hideaway: "Welcome to our exciting tiki hideaway - situated upstairs at Call Lane Social. A 1950's inspired tropical slice of Tiki goodness for urban beachcombers. It’s escapism at its best – and the ultimate destination for the cocktail lover with its tiki décor and zombie cocktails set alight for you!"
When the London Trader Vic's opened at the London Hilton in 1963, it was the first expansion outside of North America. In 1978, Warren Zevon immortalized the London Trader Vic's in his song "Werewolves of London" from his Excitable Boy album: "I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's... his hair was perfect."
In July 2011, a fire in the hotel caused some minor damage, requiring a short closure and a bit of remodeling in the dining room.
As of November 27th, 2022, the General Manager of Trader Vic's London stated that their lease was not renewed by Hilton and this location would close on December 31st, 2022.
There was a petition and much sadness in the tiki community, but this location did, in fact, shut its doors at the end of 2022.
This was the second Bahooka location (opened in 1976), and the one that lasted into the new millennium. The original location in West Covina operated from 1967 until 1980.
The exterior was decorated with pier pilings and long lengths of thick nautical chain strung between them. Also on display was an anti-aircraft cannon. The chain and cannon were painted white.
The interior of Bahooka was lit quite dimly, which contributed to its labyrinthine feel. The building was appraised at 8,598 square feet and had seating for 350 patrons and a banquet room that served 80. Aquariums were everywhere -- over 100. The decor could perhaps be described as more nautical than truly tiki, with many items salvaged from the same Navy scrap yard in Long Beach where they obtained the chain and anti-aircraft cannon outside.
Some of the more eclectic items included an old set of post office boxes flanked by Marquesan tiki poles in the front lobby, a vintage standing visible gas pump with glass cylinder at top, and an old set of sliding metal jail cell doors that could "lock up" patrons eating in the "jail booth".
Tikis could be found throughout Bahooka. Some of them were vintage pieces and some by more modern carvers.
They would make any drink a flaming drink -- even non-alcoholic ones.
Near the entrance was an aquarium holding a rather large, decades-old fish, a Pacu named Rufus, who ate carrot sticks. The pacu is a close relative of the piranha, and has become known as "the testicle-eating fish" after some unfortunate incidents in Papua New Guinea's Sepik River. Rufus was much beloved, however, and stuck to carrots.
Bahooka was also featured briefly in the film Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
At the beginning of 2013, it was announced that the owners of the building had sold it to a group intending to gut it of all decor and turn it into a Chinese buffet. The decorations were sold, with much of it winding up at Clifton's Pacific Seas (the jail cell doors, the gas pump, the largest tiki on premises...).
The current whereabouts of Rufus are unknown, despite a massive fundraising to re-home him and an offer by Damon's in Glendale. The new owners of the building were unwilling to produce him, however, leading to speculation that Rufus did not survive the transfer from his old tank.
The Bahooka closed in March 2013.
After the building's remodel, it was home to at least one or two short-lived Chinese restaurants. As of July, 2022, it is home to a Boston Lobster restaurant.
Jade Island opened in 1972.
Located in a strip mall on Staten Island, it is a Chinese restaurant with plenty of tiki details. The dining room has some bamboo-framed booths, with pufferfish and tiki lamps, and backlit tropical scenes. Drinks are served in tiki mugs. There is a flaming pu pu platter. There is a small waterfall fountain, and several tikis that are unfortunately painted in primary colors. The bar has a pointed bamboo overhang, and tapa cloth on the wall behind the bar.
No less a luminary than food critic and television personality Anthony Bourdain put a spotlight on the restaurant in 2009, on his show, No Reservations.
The restaurant announced on its Facebook page in 2012 that it had signed a lease with Kimco Realty to stay in place for 10 more years, so it should be open at least through its Golden Anniversary in 2022.
Kahala opened on April 21, 1971 and was the first tiki bar in Spain. There were once 14 tiki bars in Barcelona, and Kahala has survived these many years because it has much to offer.
It still has all the original decor. You cross a waterfall to a long bar space, with various private seating areas, including King chairs. Staff wears Hawaiian shirts and the mugs are all original with a massive selection.
The cocktails and music may not always endear themselves to tiki purists, but if you are in the area, you owe it to yourself to check out one of the elder tiki temples still in existence.
This is a very large complex which includes a marina, a restaurant, a lounge, a long pier-side walkway lined with carved tikis, and a motel.
For over 70 successful years, the Ponce family has owned and operated the Conch House Marina Resort. The Ponce family is one of the oldest families in the United States and has been in St. Augustine for over 400 years. The property was purchased in 1946 by Jimmy Ponce and his wife Jackie, and was once the Coast Guard gunnery station. The business started as a 4 room hotel, called Ponces By The Sea in which the family lived in one room and rented the other rooms to guests.
Their Lounge Tiki Bar was built in 1976 and sits out 300 feet over the water.
Tikitiki Bowling Alley opened on October 15, 2015 in Sai Kung, in Hong Kong's New Territories. It is a large attraction, with three bars, a restaurant and a live music venue in addition to the bowling lanes.
The Krakatoa Lanes are ten bowling lanes, topped with a massive video screen with tropical and party scenes. Light fixtures are lava inspired, and the pins and balls are fluorescent colors and lit with black light.
Sea Dogs & Mermaids is the main bar, a large bar shaped like a ship and built of rustic wood, decorated in a nautical style. A row of tikis faces into the bar area. The bar serves classic tropical drink recipes a la Beachbum Berry, and a selection of their own creations, in tiki mugs.
Beach Bums & Cannibals is a fine dining restaurant. The room is ringed with carved tiki panels on eggplant purple walls, with matching purple shag throw rugs under each rustic wooden table. Candelabras and chandeliers provide the lighting.
Other areas include the Octopus's Garden, with live music acts performing in front of tiki masks; and Island of the Gods, an outdoor dining area overlooking the hills of Sai Kung, backed with a row of tall tikis.
Trader Dick's was located in the Nugget in Sparks, just outside Reno. Trader Dick's had been remodeled twice and even moved across the street once since its opening in 1958. The final incarnation of Trader Dick's featured a 6,000 gallon fish tank, and support columns for the highway ran right through the restaurant and tank. When it opened, an unamused Vic Bergeron (of Trader Vic's) sued for trademark infringement and lost. The original Trader Dick's decor, which didn't survive the remodeling, was done by Eli Hedley, grandfather of Bamboo Ben. Trader Dick's closed in February 2014, and the space became Gilley's, a "honky-tonk" themed restaurant.
Bali Hai opened in 1980. The restaurant has a thatched roof, and is guarded by a row of five large moai at the entrance. Inside, the ceiling has cascades of strung shells, there are wood carvings representing Polynesia and also South and Central America, and a dramatic white coral wall is pegged with stone tikis. There is a floor show featuring dances from both Chile and the South Pacific.
This classic Portugese tiki bar is not as highly decorated as some of the other Portugese or Spanish tiki bars, but it does have some of the familiar decor, such as amazing tile-work on walls and bar, a working fountain inside, and a plethora of porcelain Spanish-style tiki mugs. It looks to be fairly well preserved (probably opened in the 70s) and although the flooring looks new and some areas might have a fresh coat of paint, it is still much like opening a vintage time capsule.
Opened May 23rd, 2019.
This bar is located in Des Moines' Historic East Village.
The decor is not the usual Trader Vic's and Don the Beachcomber dark and moody environment with layers of bamboo, lauhala matting, and carvings. "Our mood was Brooklyn Diner-meets-Palm Springs hotel lobby," said co-owner, Nick Tillinghast. "Because the bones are industrial and brick, we didn't want to lose that completely. We wanted to meet somewhere in the middle." One entire wall is wallpapered in a tropical leaf pattern. Another wall also has tropical leaves but in a rainbow of different neon lights. The central bartop and matching tables are white laminate with chrome trim. These are matched by diner-style bar seats upholstered in different colors.
Behind the bar it is all business with an excellent assortment of rums and their menu features a good assortment of both classic tiki cocktails and their own signature libations.
Opened in 1979.
A somewhat Polynesian Pop tiki bar and restaurant right on the main island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia.
It features a thatched roof, open sides, white sand floor, wooden slab tables and stools made of coconut stumps. Some carved tikis are on site that look like they could have come out of Oceanic Arts in Whittier, CA. Mary's has been visited by many celebrities over the years and the bar is proud to showcase their carved "walls of fame" with each celebrity's name -- some of whom have performed impromptu shows for the bar.
They also serve as a venue for traditional dance groups.
The Caliente Tropics Resort began its life as simply "The Tropics" when it was opened in 1964 by Ken Kimes. Kimes owned 40 motels, and five of them were the Polynesian-themed Tropics chain with locations in Blythe, Indio, Modesto and Rosemead. The Kimes family later earned headlines when Ken's wife Sante and son Kenny were wanted, and later tried & convicted, for a variety of crimes including murder and kidnapping.
In its '60s heyday, the Tropics, especially its Congo Room steakhouse and underground Cellar bar, attracted the celebrities of the era who lived and vacationed in Palm Springs, including members of the Rat Pack. The front of the resort held a Sambo's coffee shop. In later years, the Cellar bar was closed, and the Congo Room became the Reef Bar.
The Tropics fell into rough times in the '80s, attracting unsavory characters who disrespected the hotel. The hotel was rescued by new owners in 2000, and after a $2.2 million renovation, it was restored to its former tiki glory.
A couple years later the Reef Bar was remodeled to bring it up to speed with the newly refreshed hotel, with bamboo work by Bamboo Ben. In 2006, the Reef Bar was transferred to independent owners, and was called Hawaiian Bill's.
In 2009, the Reef Bar/Hawaiian Bill's had been gutted of all tiki details, and the hotel was advertising the restaurant/bar space on site as available for lease. They were planning on making some major architectural changes to the building, including the removal of an A-frame entrance to the bar and restaurant. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
In 2015, new hotel owners reinvested in the tiki theming, having the artist Bosko complete large tiki signs ringing the courtyard, representing different Polynesian islands. The grounds still have several detailed vintage tikis by carver Ed Crissman.
In February 2017, Rory Snyder took over and refreshed The Reef Bar overlooking the pool.
In Summer of 2022, Snyder added Sancho's Mexican Restaurant and a second bar, Le Fern.
*This site was the original host of the ever-growing Tiki Oasis event (2001-2005), before it moved to the San Diego Crowne Plaza (2006-2019), and was briefly held at San Diego's Paradise Point (2020) before moving to San Diego's Town and Country in 2021.
**Since 2009, Caliente Tropics resort has been host to the annual Tiki Caliente event (as well as other tiki events like Circa Caliente) which some describe as a smaller and more intimate version of what Tiki Oasis is like now. The resort also sees a great deal of traffic during Palm Springs' Modern Week.
Devil's Reef is a fully-themed tiki bar in the Triangle/St. Helens neighborhood of Tacoma, from the owners of the nearby but now-closed Tacoma Cabana, Jason Alexander and Robyn Murphy. Tacoma Cabana was much-celebrated, and Devil's Reef is the next-generation evolution, where Alexander and Murphy are able to lean even deeper into their strengths in creating a great environment for enjoying excellent tropical beverages. An extensive rum list and tropical drink menu is offered. The decor plays with the darker side of tiki, combining the couple's affection for both Polynesian Pop and H.P. Lovecraft. Devil's Reef opened on January 19, 2018. Tacoma Cabana was closed in September of that year, so that Alexander and Murphy could focus their whole efforts on Devil's Reef.
Owner Brad Owens opened Hale Tiki at the beginning of April 2004. The densely decorated interior was created by Dave "Basement Kahuna" Wolfe, Bamboo Ben, Tim Glazner and Crazy Al Evans. Much of the decor came from Oceanic Arts, and donations to the interior were made by many Tiki Centralites.
Unlike most newer tiki bars, with Hale Tiki Owens aimed to recreate an authentic tiki bar experience, with authentic drink recipes, and even music played from lps.
Hale Tiki went through some highs and lows: it opened to much enthusiasm and fanfare, and initially was both popular with the locals and with visiting tikiphiles who raved about the quality of the drinks and decor. Opinion of Owens, however, suffered greatly when many who ordered Hale Tiki mugs and shirts did not receive them, or any information about them, for many months. A business feud with Basement Kahuna also seemed to impact the mana of the place, with reports that in recent months the drink quality had gone south significantly.
Hale Tiki closed in February 2006.
This classic Hawaiian hotel with striking views of Diamond Head near the beach of Waikiki was built in 1955 by famed American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, and was originally named Kaiser's Hawaiian Village. The property began with a few buildings, but rapidly expanded, with soaring towers eventually contributing to Waikiki's skyline. The Rainbow Tower in particular is a local landmark. Kaiser also built a nearby geodesic dome auditorium, the Kaiser Aluminum Dome, where some Exotica classics were recorded. Martin Denny played regularly in the Shell Bar, and for a couple of years Arthur Lyman played here with him. Hilton purchased the hotel in 1961, and still owns it today.
There is currently no tiki bar here, but you can get tropical cocktails at the Tropics Bar & Grill.
*Original Cocktail Menu shown below.
Hugman's Oasis and House of Má, the new tiki bar and restaurant concepts from Esquire Tavern owner Chris Hill, opened in April 2021 in downtown San Antonio's Historic Witte Building.
Named for Robert H. H. Hugman, the architect responsible for the creation of San Antonio's River Walk, the bar occupies the building's river level. The restaurant, focused on Vietnamese homestyle cooking, is located at street level.
Bamboo Ben did the build-out on Hugman's Oasis, which features glass floats, bamboo trim, black lava, neon lit fountains, a ton of skulls (including skull chandeliers!) and a wall of hand-carved and painted tiki panels similar to the ones installed by Bosko at False Idol in San Diego.
Hugman's bar menu features drinks such as the Bermuda Triangle, a tropical rum-based sipper, and a Piñagroni, a pineapple take on a traditional Negroni. House of Má features separate libations including the Old Siam and Soi Cowboy.
Opened in May 2012 by the owners behind The Sugar Cane cocktail bar in London's Clapham Junction.
According to their website:
"Kona Kai is a Tropical cocktail bar that promises to transport you to the shores of the South Pacific. Renowned for its spectacular signature cocktails made with premium spirits, home-made infusions and tropical ingredients.
Designed and built by the famous Cheeky Tiki designers, Kona Kai has become a port of pleasure for many Londoners! So why don't you come in and see for yourselves.
Typically, we play range of music, Charts, Hip Hop, House and some old school mash-ups."
KonTiki is a restaurant and bar located in the Old Town section of Nrnberg, in old fishermen's houses along the Pegnitz river. It originally opened in 1978; a fire in January 2002 forced the KonTiki to close, after replacing some of the damaged furnishings with new replacements it reopened in the summer of 2002. KonTiki features a restaurant (Polynesien World), and two bars (Sea Bar and Tiki Bar). The space is elaborately decorated, with beachcomber lighting, rock walls, bamboo and plenty of carved details.
La Mariana Sailing Club is the last remaining bastion of true original Polynesian Pop in Hawaii. It opened in 1955, and over the years, it has become a sort of museum of Waikiki's tiki past: the tikis here came out of the Kon-Tiki in the Sheraton-Waikiki, lamps came from the Trader Vic's, and tables and chairs came from Don the Beachcomber. Original owner Annette La Mariana Nahinu ran the operation until her death in 2008. La Mariana features a lively piano bar, and guests can join in on the singing.
La Mariana's original location was 50 yards from its current location; it moved in 1973. There is an 80-boat slip attached to the restaurant which sits on Ke'ehi Lagoon.
After a 2-year-long shuttering because of COVID, La Mariana re-opened on May 31st, 2022. During the shutdowns, Gecko made many renovations and they did much to the front of the house and bar, including the addition of a new point-of-sale system. This was a soft re-open with many ongoing renovations still taking place, especially in back of house.
Mauna Loa was Mexico City's contribution to the mid-century world of glorious, immersive Polynesian restaurants. Through a classic A-frame entry, visitors were greeted by a central pool populated with live pink flamingoes, and were entertained by a full Polynesian floor show production.
Collectors are very familiar with the amazing graphics on the Mauna Loa menu and the variety of custom mugs and swizzles for this location as well.
This location now appears to be an office building.
*NOTE -- There was briefly another more modern Mauna Loa elsewhere in Mexico City (at St. Jerome 240) that opened after the first (Hamburg 172) caught fire in 1966.
Porco Lounge & Tiki Room opened in Cleveland's historic Tremont neighborhood in October 2013. Owner Stefan Was let his passion for tiki lead him into the hospitality business. Porco Lounge is the first tiki bar in Cleveland since the Kon-Tiki closed in 1976. Was used elements from the Kon-Tiki in the decor for Porco, including some lamps and bamboo from the restaurant. Also used for decor are Was' collections of swizzle sticks and tiki mugs. Was hired Shannon Smith to lead the bar program, bringing his background in craft cocktails with him, resulting in a menu of finely crafted tiki drinks.
This tiki bar in South London's Clapham Junction, with decor by Cheekytiki, opened in 2007. It has an impressive amount of decor, including an A-frame style entrance, plenty of tiki carvings, a cave-like area, ceilings covered in netting and glass fish floats, and a series of individual huts with booths for patrons.
The Jungle Bird opened October 23rd, 2016 in Midtown Sacramento. The bar and restaurant is owned by Melissa and Tyler Williams (of Sacramento's Tank House) and Buddy Newby. The decor includes lauhala and bamboo, with a few large tikis. There is an outdoor patio. A full menu of tropical drinks, including many classics, is available. The small food menu has a mix of old school Polynesian and modern Asian-Pacific fare, including a Pu-Pu Platter.
Note: No association with Jungle Bird bar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which made the Asian Top 50 bars list in 2018-2019. That bar is more of a rum bar than a tiki bar. However both started in 2016 and the "Jungle Bird" name seems to hold steady across the globe!
The Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn is a tiki bar and restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, it opened in November 2010. It is divided into two levels: the downstairs is the Tiki Bar, and the upstairs is the midcentury modern Kitsch Inn, serving Thai food. The drink menu is a mix of classic Tiki cocktails and modern originals, served in unique tiki mugs made by Garnet McCulloch of Fireworks Studio.
There was a sister location, also in Glasgow, called The Pacific (closed in 2017).
Tiki-Ko opened in Bakersfield in June 2016, and is owned by Roy Scarazzo and Sonya Gamargo. The interior, designed and built by Danny "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo, features vintage Witco pieces, beachcomber lamps, turquoise blue upholstery, and artwork by Tiki tOny. A full slate of traditional tropical cocktails is on offer, and there is a souvenir logo coconut mug available.
In June 2021, The Sinking Ship, a downstairs bar level, was opened. This basement bar, which has a capacity of 70 — more than twice the upstairs bar — has a mix of first come, first served seating (tables, no bar seats) and seven reserved areas, which can accommodate parties of two (like Quint's Cove) up to eight guests (Banana Crate Booth, which requires a $100 deposit good toward the bar tab). The entrance for The Sinking Ship is a few doors down from the main Tiki-Ko entrance at the corner.
When it originally opened (@2005-2006), this bar had a great cartoonish logo tiki (and matching mug) that were designed by Squid. However, the overall feel of the place had more of a dive college beer bar vibe -- accentuated by the televisions turned to sports shows, the Corona beer pennant banners strung around the white ceiling, and the neon bar signs for Pacifico beer. Vodka (much more than rum) took up a substantial portion of the back bar and while they did have a menu of tiki drinks, they skewed towards the sweet concoctions typical before the craft cocktail revolution. There was some bamboo on the pillar room supports and bar itself, but this was still more of a beach bar and grill with its yellow and light blue painted walls. In fact, their sign logo used to read "Hukilounge" but was changed to "Bar and Grill" which made more sense.
The original owner, Tom Davies (Tiki Tom), sold his share in 2006. That original owner then opened another Tiki Tom's in nearby Oakland in 2008 which subsequently burned down. The two restaurants were otherwise unconnected.
The new logo is now an outrigger canoe as seen on the front entrance.
Tiki Tom's had a huge tiki makeover, courtesy of Bamboo Ben, and re-opened on August 24th, 2021. The interior decor is much improved and now several walls have been covered in nautical style planks (caulked with black pitch), the ceiling is festooned with amazing tiki lamps, nets, flotsam & jetsam, and select tiki artwork that can be seen in every nook and cranny. The interior is much darker and mysterious with multi-colored mood lighting as well.
The cocktail menu is also more in line with what discerning tikiphiles have come to appreciate from craft cocktail tiki bars.
Established in 1958, the Tonga Hut is a small bar in the middle of the San Fernando Valley with some absolutely fantastic tiki decor, with a bamboo-ridged drop ceiling, lovely green booths and some great carvings. "Big Mo" the moai lurks just inside the front door. Towards the back is the "Drooling Bastard" tiki fountain which is overseen by the many placards from patrons who have passed the Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard test to drink every cocktail in Beachbum Berry's Grog Log (at the Tonga Hut) within one year.
In May 2021 the back parking lot was transformed into a garden area with tent canopy and the back entrance was graced with a new Kirby tiki mask.
In 2013, the owners opened a second location in Palm Springs.
Trade Winds was erected by developer Martin "Bud" Smith, and opened March 4th, 1964. It quickly became the hot place to be in town.
The restaurant had a lagoon leading up to a soaring A-frame entrance; inside were a series of themed rooms, including a central gazebo-shaped structure, the Samoa Hut/Tiki Temple. The predominant theme was Polynesian, but some of the rooms included an East Indies room, a Sadie Thompson room, and a Zanzibar room, all designed by 20th Century Fox designer Fred Moninger, and decorated by Ione Keenan. There were many tikis, carved by Richard M. Ellis. There was a Polynesian floor show.
Some time in the 1960s, Hop Louie (of Latitude 20 in Torrance, Minnie's in Modesto and the Islander in Stockton) took over the restaurant. In the late '70s, it became a Don the Beachcomber.
In later years, it became Coconut Joe's Warehouse Restaurant, and then later still around 1981, it became Hawaiian Cowboy (some of the decor was removed to make room for a mechanical bull and a BBQ pit. About a year later, it became an ice cream parlor, and in 1984, the building was demolished. The site is now a road.
Brass Monkey Tiki Bar opened at the end of 2009.
The bar has a rockabilly-tinged flavor to it, but is solidly tiki, too. Carefully-constructed cocktails are served in tiki mugs. The decor is relatively spare for a tiki bar, but there are a few pufferfish lamps, and a bamboo-covered ceiling. There's frequent live music.
In 2018, a new sister location, Brass Monkey Esbjerg, opened its doors, but appears to have closed some time at the end of 2021 and then re-opened in August 2022 under a new name as The Tiki Hut.
Opened in 1958.
A classic tropical resort hotel on Mission Bay. Originally built by the Scripps family as a Spanish Colonial style summer house, the buildings were rebuilt in a Hawaiian Colonial style in the late '50s to better fit in with the tropical grounds. The hotel's been renovated many times since then without losing its Tiki touches.
Throughout the decades, the Evans family has gone to great lengths to import traditional Pacific Island art. All of the ethnic art including spears, personal jewelry, hand-woven rugs, and warrior shields are from New Guinea and were made prior to World War II. As you face the front desk, look above and you will see a very large tapa cloth made of Mulberry bark. It is from the New Hebrides Islands located off the coast of New Guinea. When this piece was commissioned, it was the largest one done since 1920 and took many different island families over a year to make. The wood that makes up the front desk is called Black Koa wood, which is native to the Tahitian Islands. The totem poles throughout the property were handcrafted in Bali specifically for the Catamaran. As you approach the stairs on the way to the Atoll restaurant, look to your left and you will see a large carving encased in glass that looks like a stool. This piece of art is known as the "speaking stool." It was found by Michael Rockefeller in a headhunter village in 1961. This stool is the second largest one known in existence.