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Trader Vic's is coming back
Kawentzmann
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 254
From: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 2002-11-14 1:30 pm   Permalink

Now, my prayers are answered: TV Berlin!
If they are really ready by 2003, I was a TV orphan for only one year, I guess I can’t complain!

KK


 
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Tiki Chris
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1543
From: London
Posted: 2002-11-15 06:04 am   Permalink

Quote:

[i]On 2002-11-05 16:06, Trader Woody wrote

. . . they aren't going to suddenly go for the mullet dollar . . .

Trader Woody



Actually going for the "mullet dollar" might not be such a bad idea. I mean, sure, looking at it straight on, the "mullet dollar" may appear to fall short, but upon a closer, more thorough examination, one can clearly see that the value of the "mullet dollar" extends far beyond not only its own expected value, but beyond that of more common types of "dollars".

So, although I'm generally against Trader Vic's going for the "mullet dollar", I can't say that I would blame them for giving it a try.



 
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2002-11-18 3:40 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2002-11-13 14:33, PolynesianPop wrote:
Bigbro, do you know if the construction of the TV in Palo Alto is a result of the resurgence? If I'm correct, this was the first new TV in a loooooong time. If so, then I think it could be assumed that TV's to be constructed in the future will follow the same designs...

It almost looks like someone over there forgot what their mystique was all about.





OK- here's the story with Palo Alto. In 1997, I worked for an export company that also owned a chain of Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. These were managed by Gary Hirano who had been with the Trader Vic's empire for about 25 years and was lured away to run these Japanese restaurants. When he left, he was the manager at Emeryville. He and I used to talk at length about the restaurant business and Vic's in general(Yes, the old man was cantankerous) because it was much more interesting than my job. As a result, I left the firm, but stayed in touch with Gary.

Meanwhile, at Dinah's Garden Hotel in Palo Alto....

Dinah's was opened by a very wealthy man who purchased the old hotel on El Camino and renovated it to luxury standards, improved the grounds with koi ponds and what not, and filled all the rooms and spaces with his own collection of Asian/Southeast Asian/South Pacific antiques. After a certain amount of time, he wanted to expand to offer an upscale restaurant on the grounds. So in front, he built this tremendous, vaguely arts & crafts looking facility, with a huge kitchen, conference & catering facilities, elevators to lower level dressing rooms and bathrooms (to accomodate weddings and such), etc. It's huge. Basically, it was a case of "If you build it, they will come." Unfortunately, they didn't come.

For a time, they were negotiating with Puck to bring in a Spago's, but it fell through and ended up opening down the street. Several other high end restauranteurs were courted for years and nothing was ever inked. Then, he got in touch with the Vic's family and made the pitch. Vic's was wary for a time, but was looking to try a new concept in the US, where, as we know, things were stagnant. The owner of Dinah's wanted to display many of his pieces and thought the Vic's concept was complimentary to his art. (Most of the art is his, actually) Vic's felt the same way and saw it as a way to remain upscale and avoid the appearance of camp. But Vic's is still essentially conservative and didn't want to change the menu or the drinks to satisfy many of the old timers, particularly the elderly customers who had enjoyed Vic's SF for years but hated driving to Emeryville, as they now lived in upscale peninsula enclaves like Hillsborough. So, Vic's called Gary to head up the enterprise and lure him away from the Japanese chain.

Gary and I met again in 1998-1999 to discuss the possibility of my investing in the operation. We went together to Palo Alto and looked at blueprints, discussed plans, looked at the mural that had been commissioned, etc. Let me assure you that enthusiasts like us and tiki traditions were the furthest things from the company and Gary's minds. When I would talk about "the scene", or that I collected old menus, he looked at me like I was crazy. I tried to talk him into torches out front. It was a no go. I could see clearly then that this was going to be a much different animal. He was also making a big push to make this place a cash cow for conferences and weddings. When I suggested, politely, that the menu was, shall we say, dated, he couldn't believe I was serious. (I'm glad to see they did make a few updates). Looking at the financials, though, it still looked like a good investment and I wanted to move forward.

To make a long story a little shorter, we parted ways when he made it clear to me that my paltry (relatively) investment was not of interest to him. He said he would rather just worry about a handful of large investors than several smaller ones, and he had no trouble lining up the big ones (including several 49ers). I really wish that I had gotten on board. But such is life. I know it's not paying out the projected dividends, but it's doing OK, which is about all you can hope for at Bay Area restaurants these days.


And that's the rest of the story.


It will be interesting to see what they do with future designs. They might very well go the way of Palo Alto, trying to keep things very modern and contemporary. Or they could ride the resurgence and go traditional.

If I had to guess, I would bet on the former. The board of directors are in no way interested in being perceived as cheesy or campy, and they wish to maintain their reputation for high quality service for affluent customers. Plus, it sounds as if they're keeping our Sven at arms length, perhaps wishing to distance themselves from the past and, er, "the lunatic fringe."


Comments & questions are welcome.

-martin


 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2002-11-18 4:03 pm   Permalink

Interesting insider story, Martin. Thanks for filling us in.

I sure hope the Palo Alto TV was not a precursor to more new TVs with the same decor. I still have faith that they will stick with the old Polynesian/Nautical formula in new restaurants. I tend to believe that the Palo Alto TV was a one-time deal, in order to please both Trader Vic's (by using their drink and food menu) and the owner of Dinah's (by using his art collection and existing comtemporary restaurant).
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PolynesianPop
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2369
From: Corona, Ca
Posted: 2002-11-18 8:15 pm   Permalink

Quote:
If I had to guess, I would bet on the former. The board of directors are in no way interested in being perceived as cheesy or campy, and they wish to maintain their reputation for high quality service for affluent customers. Plus, it sounds as if they're keeping our Sven at arms length, perhaps wishing to distance themselves from the past and, er, "the lunatic fringe."



Martin,
Interesting perspective on this. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling about their future plans for expansion. For some reason, I'm having a weird vibe about it and agree with your logic - let's hope we're both wrong. I like the traditional TV style as much as the rest, but times have changed and what's cool to us is camp to others. I'll cross my fingers...


_________________

Poly-Pop *



Bartender, make mine a glass of WATAHHH!!!!!


 
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Kailuageoff
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1504
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2002-12-19 11:19 am   Permalink

When my wahine was at Trader Vic's Atlanta on Tuesday night, they gave her a drink menu and a dinner menu, explaining they were getting new menus and didn't need them anymore. I wonder what's up with that 'cause I sure would hate to see them change the artwork, and tiki knows we don't want a price increase on drinks.

 
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Talkie-Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 05, 2002
Posts: 193
From: Hendersonville. N.C
Posted: 2002-12-19 12:34 pm   Permalink

Thats Great! When I lived in Dallas I would always go pagst the old T.V. in old Dallas Hilton now it's owned by Tom Hicks ( people say that he bought it because his kids trashed it) he owns the Dallas stars, and has intrests in the Rangers, and used to own most of Dr Pepper but I lived Just a couple of blocks away and always liked the easter Island head
(I always was thinking of ways to steal it usuly compriseing of renting a crane) but anyway he owns it so I dont think its going to work out
its a really cool place though I hear you can rent it out for parties and such ( though I wouldn't )


 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5065
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2002-12-19 12:41 pm   Permalink

I do not know Sven and Hans of TV corporate, but our BigBro does, so he can answer these questions.

They do very much value the history. And when we had Hukilau 2002 there, and we brought 400+ "fanatics" into the place, not only were they for it, they actually made it happen! The untold back story of Hukilau 2002 is that the Atlanta Vic's is the only one with managers not trained and picked by corporate. The manager we were dealing with, at the last minute (well, 3 days from the last minute) decided we could not have our event. Then amended it to say we had to pay him $2000. Hans was on vacation at the time but gave the go ahead on paying the fee for us. That was one awesome moment for us and we are greatly in their debt.

So, they may be changing with the times, but I must say they are not against those of us who love the old traditions.
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2002-12-31 12:19 am   Permalink

As an update, I'd like to say that on our way out of Trader Vic's Emeryville on the 100th b-day night, Claudette, the legendary maitre'd, told us:

"As far as I'm concerned, you guys ARE Trader Vic's."

-martin


 
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Cultjam
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 21, 2002
Posts: 367
From: Phoenix, Arizona
Posted: 2003-04-04 4:32 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2002-11-03 08:59, bigbrotiki wrote:
I am thrilled to report that...Trader Vic's, ...is not only planning new outlets in New York, but also San Francisco, Philadelphia, Scottsdale Arizona, Waikiki, and Berlin.
[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-11-03 09:15 ]



Update on plans for Trader Vic's in Scottsdale:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/0402nevalleyho02z8-CP.html



Here's more on the Valley Ho renovation:

http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2002/06/10/story7.html


[ This Message was edited by: Cultjam on 2003-04-04 16:42 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Cultjam on 2003-04-04 16:44 ]


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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2003-04-04 5:08 pm   Permalink

Here's a photo I found on the web of the site. Anyone have any better pictures?


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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2003-04-04 5:12 pm   Permalink

"Nassikus and Lyon are studying old photos taken during the property's heyday to replicate as much of the original look as possible."

Scottsdale firm Allen & Philp Architects has been contracted to help with the redesign.

But perhaps more important to its restoration will be the interior design. Nassikas said Westroc will seek a firm that specializes in mid-century replication to help with the redevelopment."

Hooray!
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limptiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2003
Posts: 137
From: bay area
Posted: 2003-04-04 6:13 pm   Permalink

Hello folks, I am new. I have to say that the current version of TV in Palo Alto is horrid- if that is where they want to take the brand good luck. They were cheesy back in the day and without the cheese there isn't much left. And why remove it now in the cheesiest country on earth in what promises to be the century of cheese? Trying to be positive.

 
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donhonyc
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2003
Posts: 1173
From: The Quiet EAST Village
Posted: 2003-04-04 11:14 pm   Permalink

Great news. Just hope the one they open in NYC is as cool as the original/vintage versions. If you ask me they should just re-open the TV's they had in The Plaza Hotel and just pick up where they left off. Let me just say that I never saw the original TV's in The Plaza, but I heard it was awesome.

Here's my plan for the grand re-opening: No redesign! Screw catering to 'contemporary design'. Just un-earth the place, flick the lights back on, and let the love flow baby!


 
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MakeDaMug
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 1182
From: behind a cluttered desk
Posted: 2003-04-05 01:26 am   Permalink

Has anyone tried the Trader Vic's CHEESE bings? They are AWESOME, some of the best cheese I've ever had!!

 
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