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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge in the Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel, Denver, CO (bar)
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Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge in the Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel, Denver, CO (bar)
ZuluMagoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 26, 2002
Posts: 468
From: Denver, CO
Posted: 2005-10-17 9:39 pm   Permalink

Name:Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge in the Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel
Type:bar
Street:1100 East Colfax Ave.
City:Denver
State:CO
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
I had a little information and some paper items from this place, spent some time in the library doing research and ended up digging up some more info on this place.

The Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel opened for business on May 29, 1960. The restaurant in the hotel was called the Sword room and the bar was called the Tiki Lounge.








The Tiki Lounge operated from opening day of the hotel (1960) until 1970. In 1975 the hotel was bought by the Ramada chain and remodeled. The Tiki Lounge and the Sword room were renovated and all traces were lost.

On opening day, the hotel ran a 12 page advertisement spread in the Sunday paper with information and stories about the place. Here are a few excerpts from the DENVER POST (May 29, 1960).


Can't read, so here is the text

'TIKI' BAR DESIGNER PROMINENT
Eli Hedley, of Long Beach, Calif., who personally supervised the design and construction of the 'Tiki' lounge of the Heart O'Denver, is an honest to goodness 'beachcomber' who began his business by selling driftwood, nets and cut bottles along the beach near San Pedro, Calif.

When he first started, 20 years ago, he was assisted in the 'beachcombing' by his wife and four daughters.

Native of Vernon, Texas, Hedley attended Oaklahoma University then bought three small grocery stores, but went broke. He moved to to White Point, Calif., and began gathering items he could sell along the beach.

Soon he became aquainted with 'Don the Beachcomber' and for a time was associated with him in pioneering the development of Polynesian-typr bars.

Hedley bulit a house of driftwood by the sea in 1943 and lived there with his family, selling their wares until five years ago when he was assigned to do the decor for the Bazaar Building in Walt Disney's 'Adventureland'.

Today, he continues to operate three 'beachcomber' stores in Disneyland and his received picture stories in Life magazine and numerous other other journals.

His daughter, Marilyn, has written a book on 'How Daddy Became a Beachcomber,' about to be published and a motion picture about his career is in planning.[end]


Here is a closer picture, note the Suffering Bastard in the lower left corner


Here is a second story from the same spread (no picture)

EIGHT FOOT WATERFALL IN LOUNGE
The 'Tiki' lounge and bar at the Heart O'Denver was designed by Eli Hedley of Long Beach, Calif., a one-time associate of the original 'Don the Beachcomber' and himself a pioneer of Polynesian decor.

The lounge, which seats 68, features booths covered with island thatching to give the apperance of native huts.

Main eye-catcher of the room is an 8-foot carving of'Tiki', the Polynesian God, which serves as a waterfall.

Atop Tiki's head is a giant man-eating clam shell, from which the fountain originates. Water falls down across the Tiki's face into another clam shell he's holding, then into a six-foot rocky pool.

Background for this esemble is a wall of Colorado lava stone. The statue of Tiki was carved from volcanic stone mined inside a volcanic crater near the California-Nevada line, Hedley said.

The waterfall area has tasefull plantings. Other decor of the room includes shell mosaic panels on the walls and whale bones.

The main light fixture is an 18-foot Samoan outrigger canoe hewn by natives using stone adz and inverted over the bar.

Hedley created the design in collaboration with Dave Krohn, president of the Pioneer Restaurant Equipment Co., Long beach. He also designed the Tiki Bar in the Pueblo (Colorado) Continental Motor Hotel and the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. [end]

Sabu - Last time I looked thru your postcard collection in Palm Springs, I thought I remembered a postcard for the Continental in Pueblo (I know I have a small advertisement clipping for the place)

Anyway - I thought you folks might enjoy this look back into a piece of Denver Polynesian-Pop history......but wait, there's more.

Here's where the story gets even more interesting. When I heard the address for a recent tiki bar that opened here in Denver, I thought it sounded familiar, so I did this research. Turns out that the recently opened
Tiki Boyd's is located in EXACTLY the same spot as Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge. Not just the same hotel, but the same location, just 30 years later. This spot must have some serious tiki mojo, so I deceided to make a visit. My initial reaction a month ago when I heard about the bar was not to positive. Insert foot in mouth now. I spoke too soon. True, this is not the Mai Kai or even the Tiki Ti, but it does have charm. The drinks were good, the decor is nice and the exotica music (played on vinyl)is awesome. So here's to Tiki Boyd's and Eli Hedley for giving Denver two great tiki bars.



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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2789
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2005-10-18 07:01 am   Permalink

Nice research, Zulu.

Some wonderful paper ads there. Was the newspaper article on microfiche or did you actually get to see the old newspaper itself? I had forgotten that back in the 60s they used to refer to Giant Clams as "Man-eating Clams". That brings back memories of 35mm films in my elementary school classes showing a native pearl-diver getting his foot caught in a giant clam and drowning as the tide came in - pretty thrilling stuff to an 8-year-old kid with an adventurous streak.

I'll check my collection for the Continental in Pueblo and get back to you. Very cool post. Thanks!

Sabu

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[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2005-10-18 07:07 ]


 
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Tangaroa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1555
Posted: 2005-10-18 09:32 am   Permalink

Fascinating!

OK - so I keep hearing references to Eli having "stores" or "shops" at Disneyland in Adventureland - but in all my years of research, have never, ever seen proof of such. The Tiki Magazine issue on Hedley captions a photo as from Disneyland, but I am fairly sure it is mislabeled! Perhaps he just did the decor in the Bazaar in '55? Maybe Bamboo Ben should weigh in on this... If there was a (or 3?) shop(s) run by him in Adventureland, I'd love to see a photo of it!
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Molokai Mike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 26, 2003
Posts: 505
From: the birthplace of the Mai Tai
Posted: 2005-10-18 09:33 am   Permalink

[quote]
On 2005-10-17 21:39, ZuluMagoo wrote:
Turns out that the recently opened
Tiki Boyd's is located in EXACTLY the same spot as Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge. Not just the same hotel, but the same location, just 30 years later.

That is absolutely incredible. And to think that I was there last weekend, wondering where the Denver Tiki bars of 'yore were located. Great investigative research!!


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2005-10-19 1:56 pm   Permalink

Wow, that is uncanny! What a discovery! What did the people from Tiki Boyd's say about this?

We need to get them memorabilia from the TIKI LOUNGE for the place. I only know of a matchbook...


 
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mrsmiley
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 3170
From: Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 2005-10-19 3:32 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-10-19 13:56, bigbrotiki wrote:
Wow, that is uncanny! What a discovery! What did the people from Tiki Boyd's say about this?




On 2005-10-15 11:59, Conga Mike wrote:[/i]

the fact that they've taken a former sports bar (in the Ramada Inn) and gave it a Tiki make-over is a bold move. One less Sports bar and one more Tiki Bar in Denver - I'll drink to that !![/quote]

So to simplify the history of this space ; A tiki bar closed and eventually was replaced by a Sports bar which closed and was replaced by a TIKI BAR!!!
That is the most ZAZZ kind of Karma I can think of!!
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ZuluMagoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 26, 2002
Posts: 468
From: Denver, CO
Posted: 2005-10-19 7:43 pm   Permalink

I stopped by again tonight on my way home from work and and dropped off copies of all the above material for them to keep at the bar. Aaron (GM) and Boyd (designer) were not around, I but stayed for a few drinks and chatted with Brian the bartender. Turns out he designed the website, so I told him to feel free to use any of the material for a history page on the website. He seemed genuinely interested in the information.

Funny side note. The other
thread with the discussion about Denver Tiki got sidetracked by a conversation about Casa Bonita (a HIGHLY themed restaurant here in town). Boyd's now serves a pink tropical cocktail called the Casa Bonita. Go figure. I haven't tried it yet. Tonight I enjoyed a Storm Cloud and a Bronze Serpent with Martin Denny playing in the background.



[ This Message was edited by: ZuluMagoo 2005-10-19 19:44 ]


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exotica59
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 478
Posted: 2005-10-21 06:51 am   Permalink

Fantastic info. Unbelievable that a tiki bar replaced a sports bar. That's so cool!
Good work. Next trip out to CO. I'm stopping in.
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RevBambooBen
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Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7418
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2005-10-22 8:45 pm   Permalink

Zulu,

Glad to see some doing their homework. Eli's "Tiki Past" will prevail. Good job. 2 shakas up!!

Tang,

Eli never had a store at Disney. I lied. Ha!! Arrrrrrrr!!!

Get in touch with Kevin Kidney. He knows the truth!

( the first 7 years.)

That pic in Tiki Mag was a typo. That was the Island Trade Store in Mid Way City.

Sven,

When's that Beachcomber book coming out??
(aaaaaaaaaaaaRRR!!!)


 
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Modern Drunkard
Member

Joined: Jul 19, 2005
Posts: 5
From: Denver, CO
Posted: 2005-10-25 11:49 am   Permalink

Fantastic research, ZuluMagoo. I read the packet you dropped off at the bar over the weekend and was absolutely floored.

And I think you're dead on about the karmic implications, because the bar's return to grace as a Tiki lounge was entirely grassroots and organic. The owner and manager had no interest in Tiki whatsoever, they had to be slowly talked into it. Then Boyd seized the creative helm. He started with a sheet of reed grass and some bamboo, then, like a jungle encroaching on a corrupt civilization, more territory was captured day by day. He worked tirelessly, staff pitched in and helped paint and construct, complete strangers showed up bearing artifacts and albums. The renewal is by no means complete, but well on its way. And then to discover, thanks to you, that it is being built on the foundations of a forgotten Tiki temple.

Positively mind blowing.


 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1529
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2011-01-08 08:06 am   Permalink

More matchcovers. Wonder if the Sword Room was inside the Tartan Coffee House or replaced it








 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4074
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-05-17 9:40 pm   Permalink

At some point the Tiki Lounge turned into the Tiki Bar as shown on this menu from ebay.










DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-05-18 07:37 am   Permalink

Cool menu..now WHO is gonna get that one?

I especially like the last line: "Come often -We like you"


 
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nmartjc
Member

Joined: Jul 06, 2011
Posts: 1
Posted: 2011-07-06 6:56 pm   Permalink

Hi, I would like to see if the person who posted the articles about the Heart O Denver has copies they would like to share. My mom owned that hotel when I was a kid and I would love to have copies of the articles. Please email me at nmartjc@gmail.com Thanks so much

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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4074
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-05-27 11:17 am   Permalink

Here is a re-post of a few photos from Zulu Magoo's initial post that have shrunk.







And another Tiki Bar menu that borrowed the graphics from the Islands menu from Phoenix.






DC




 
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