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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar ( *Image Heavy* ), San Francisco, CA (restaurant)
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The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar ( *Image Heavy* ), San Francisco, CA (restaurant)
Kailuageoff
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1504
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2008-08-16 01:27 am   Permalink

Marian and I visited last April when we were in town, and although the band was not playing, I have no idea what some of you are complaining about. I have been going to the Tonga Room since the early 1980's, and from what I saw on my latest visit the clean up was just that - not a remodel in any way. This is one of the few stand-out old Tiki joints left. Are the drinks Mai-Kai quality? No, but very few places can claim that. I prefer the feel of Tonga Room over the Emoryville Vics, which I found to be pretty sterile by comparison. If you are lover of old-school Tiki, go.

 
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donhonyc
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2003
Posts: 1173
From: The Quiet EAST Village
Posted: 2008-08-17 11:15 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-16 01:27, Kailuageoff wrote:
Marian and I visited last April when we were in town, and although the band was not playing, I have no idea what some of you are complaining about. I have been going to the Tonga Room since the early 1980's, and from what I saw on my latest visit the clean up was just that - not a remodel in any way. This is one of the few stand-out old Tiki joints left. Are the drinks Mai-Kai quality? No, but very few places can claim that. I prefer the feel of Tonga Room over the Emoryville Vics, which I found to be pretty sterile by comparison. If you are lover of old-school Tiki, go.



Agreed!


 
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TikiGardener
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1360
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2008-08-25 9:27 pm   Permalink

Indeed! Seriously.

I don't have the tiki traveling cred that some here do, but dang if I don't know that
between the sterile confines of Trader Vic's "modernisation" of tiki, or Tonga...
I kinda gotta say Tonga is gonna win out.

Anyone willing to say that The Las Vegas Trader Vics is better than Tonga, Bahooka, etc...
well lets step outside.... The tiddley winks show down will be on, and I wink a mean
tiddley...


 
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TikiGardener
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1360
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2008-08-26 8:45 pm   Permalink

And I do have to say that if you go to any tiki-joint and order a drink that is to your dis-satisfaction,
that maybe it might work to ask the bartender personally if he would mix a mai tai or any other drink, to your desires.
And if they do, tip them! They may not stop serving the company mix, but they may just ask the next guy how he likes his
drink. I seem to remember the days where it was kind of portrayed that good bartenders were expected to be like that.

Did this make sense?

It just seems that maybe we have more responsibility to our fellow tikiphiles (and ourselves). Any drink joint, tiki or otherwise,
is really only as good as its bartender when it boils down to it.

When that first drink isn't quite or wholly what you want... ask!!!

You might get a drink that you like, and the bar might get a more favorable review (more customers, maybe), and we won't keep reading about tiki-joints closing down.

Food. I have no idea how to change bad food. But dang if the place has kick-ass drinks, or a good bartneder, I'm frikkin' there, showing my support from the bottom of a Volcano Bowl!!!
At the very least you'll be helping out that bartender with a tip. And maybe getting your mai tai the way you want it in't so bad either.

And sure there may be Bartenders that are tools, but hey no tip for them!

Dunno, I ramble again...

Your mileage may vary...

(Edited to change "they" to "there" in the third to last sentence)

[ This Message was edited by: TikiGardener 2008-08-26 20:47 ]


 
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Kailuageoff
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1504
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2008-08-27 09:06 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-26 20:45, TikiGardener wrote:
And I do have to say that if you go to any tiki-joint and order a drink that is to your dis-satisfaction,
that maybe it might work to ask the bartender personally if he would mix a mai tai or any other drink, to your desires.
And if they do, tip them! They may not stop serving the company mix, but they may just ask the next guy how he likes his
drink. I seem to remember the days where it was kind of portrayed that good bartenders were expected to be like that.

Did this make sense?

It just seems that maybe we have more responsibility to our fellow tikiphiles (and ourselves). Any drink joint, tiki or otherwise,
is really only as good as its bartender when it boils down to it.

When that first drink isn't quite or wholly what you want... ask!!!

You might get a drink that you like, and the bar might get a more favorable review (more customers, maybe), and we won't keep reading about tiki-joints closing down.

Food. I have no idea how to change bad food. But dang if the place has kick-ass drinks, or a good bartneder, I'm frikkin' there, showing my support from the bottom of a Volcano Bowl!!!
At the very least you'll be helping out that bartender with a tip. And maybe getting your mai tai the way you want it in't so bad either.

And sure there may be Bartenders that are tools, but hey no tip for them!

Dunno, I ramble again...

Your mileage may vary...

(Edited to change "they" to "there" in the third to last sentence)

[ This Message was edited by: TikiGardener 2008-08-26 20:47 ]



There's a reason I always liked you from way back, Tiki Gardener.
Good post.
KG


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2008-08-27 10:31 am   Permalink

Well said TG. I can tell you that I frequent Waitiki in Orlando as often as I can even though the drinks are awful. Why? Because it's the only tiki place in town. So I have a beer (they can't screw that up) and gaze at the tiki art on the walls. I just have to go at certain times so as to avoid the cosmo-drinking 20 something crowd. I want the place to survive and I want them to improve. Next time I go, I'm taking some Don Tiki CDs in hopes they'll play them. A little improvement at a time.

Now, if I had the Tonga Room in my town, there is no doubt I would be there often. It's so visually stunning and such a rarity. Just go when the band's not playing. I'd even go so far as to order a Mai-Tai, excuse myself with it to the restroom, dump it out, and pour in a homemade one (from a flask embedded in my shoe, no doubt). Hmmmm... may have to try that at Waitiki.

Support your local tiki bar or it won't be there tomorrow!


 
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JenTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 16, 2006
Posts: 1827
From: An island in the bay
Posted: 2008-08-27 11:59 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-27 10:31, GatorRob wrote:
I'd even go so far as to order a Mai-Tai, excuse myself with it to the restroom, dump it out, and pour in a homemade one (from a flask embedded in my shoe, no doubt).


But why pay the Tonga Room's outrageous drink prices for a drink you can't drink?! Their drinks are bad. The service is bad (especially if you're with a group of more than 4). Good luck getting any of their bartenders to make a drink any way other than what corporate dictates!

Spend your drinking money at the places that know how to make a good drink! There are two tiki establishments just a short drive/ride across the bay that know how to make a fine cocktail, have pure atmospheric decor, and friendly, efficient service. The drink prices are much more reasonable than they are at Tonga, and the quality is 100 times better!

I'll admit I would be sad if the Tonga Room closed down, or changed format more than it already has, just because of sentimental attachments to what the room once was, but I wouldn't lose more than a night's sleep over it. However, if Trader Vic's in Emeryville or Forbidden Island closed, my faith in all things good and right would be shaken. Those are the places that "get it". Hell, one of them started it! Support the venues that do it right. Make suggestions to the ones that get it wrong and hope they'll make changes (but don't bank on it). I guess I should be thankful that the Tonga Room even exists still in the current "update and recreate" corporate hotel mentality. But they're missing the mark in so many ways that it's just hard to encourage people to go there for anything more than a look around anymore.

Sorry if that got a bit "rambly," but my frustrations are getting the best of me this morning.


[ This Message was edited by: JenTiki 2008-08-27 12:01 ]


 
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TikiGardener
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1360
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2008-08-27 3:32 pm   Permalink

As said your mileage ( or service experiences ) may vary. I have, so far, not had a bad service experience at The Tonga Room. Sorry you did. Did you talk to anyone in a supervisory role? Talk to someone further up the customer service chain of command? They tend not to like complaints... and usually if you are cogent and not too frothy at the mouth, they tend to be agreeable folks. Sometimes issuing freebies and possibly passing it down the chain of command so that the staff buck up and work on their people skills. It is after all a people oriented business, and nobody likes to be unemployed.

I do not doubt that Forbidden Island is a stellar joint. And if it were one block off of my route home, I'd be there quite frequently. But it isn't, and I get the sense that The entirety of F.I. would fit under that A-Frame section of Tonga. No slam there at all, so please don't perceive it as such.

But, as the old C.S.B. commercial said;"You'll never know what you can do, until you try."

And as to drinks... everybody has a different palate. And if you don't ask, you'll never know if it actually works. Silver in the palm always seems to get at least some sort of co-operative response.

Hukilau comes to mind, I asked if they could mix me a firefly ala Bahooka. You know why I like Hukilau? Because the bartender didnt know what it was but said if I knew the ingredients, that they would be happy to... So anybody know whats in a firelfly?
I wanna tip that bartender something good, and get my drink the way I like it.

Your mileage may vary...

TG
http://www.exotic-tiki-gardens.com

P.S. If I hadn't been told that Tonga had "renovated" I wouldn't have noticed...

[ This Message was edited by: tikigardener 2008-08-27 16:45 ]

AND!!! I've said this before as an idea. Places like Hukilau which are skinny on actual tikis, well I intend at some point to bring them a good tiki for their display. At the very least they will have one more tiki, and maybe I'll get even friendlier service than I already get. Now I doubt Tonga would accept one, but I'll bet some smaller joints would love an additional tiki. And might show their thanks in various ways. Bahooka comes to mind, I think that there was a thread where I mentioned it about someone saying they didnt have enough tikis there....

I'm not trying to convert anyone, or get into a pissing match. Quite simply, putting my two cents out there.

[ This Message was edited by: TikiGardener 2008-08-27 16:53 ]


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JenTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 16, 2006
Posts: 1827
From: An island in the bay
Posted: 2008-08-27 4:55 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-27 15:32, TikiGardener wrote:
I have, so far, not had a bad service experience at The Tonga Room. Sorry you did. Did you talk to anyone in a supervisory role? Talk to someone further up the customer service chain of command? They tend not to like complaints... and usually if you are cogent and not too frothy at the mouth, they tend to be agreeable folks. Sometimes issuing freebies and possibly passing it down the chain of command so that the staff buck up and work on their people skills. It is after all a people oriented business, and nobody likes to be unemployed.


Actually, yes, I have spoken to people further up the chain of command, AND their bosses. Got the same line of crap from all of them. Got me nowhere, even when I suggested that my group of 16 people would be inclined to take our business elsewhere without ordering a single drink. Even when I'm in a small group of 2 or 4 people, the server frequently gets the order wrong, and takes ages to come back to take an order for a second round, conveniently waiting until a minute or two past 7:00 when Happy Hour prices end. My poor service experiences at the Tonga Room are definitely more the rule, rather than the exception. If it had been a one-time thing, I wouldn't have bothered posting about it here.


 
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TikiGardener
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1360
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2008-08-27 8:10 pm   Permalink

I am sorry that you seem to have had nothing but bad service at the Tonga Room.

The last time I was there, my daughter and I went for happy hour. We got there well into happy hour.
The bar was packed. And yet we managed to get three rounds in, the last one taken 5 minutes after
happy hour was over, and yet our server charged us happy hour price.

The previous time we went, we split the spicy tofu plate. Now I'm vegetarian, and that and the
mushroom spring rolls are the only thing I can eat there. I don't mind. Yes it would be nice if
they had more vegetarian fare, and if it was a bit cheaper, but we split the tab and had a grand time with
friendly and attentive service.

My only run in with any service people was when I was taking shots and the main man old me I couldn't
unless my party was in it. And his reason was that the patrons "don't like it". Which means to me that some
people don't like ending up in other peoples pictures. Which I understand. So I just did it on the sly and made
sure if he saw me, it was of the decor and not the patrons.

And who knows, I've yet to ask them to change a drink, as my daughter and I both found them enjoyable and effective!

I like it some don't, and I think thats where it comes down. Just like Black Liquorice, some people think its the
bees knees, while I think it tastes like roofing tar smells on a hot summer day...
TG
http://www.exotic-tiki-gardens.com

And the service thing reminds me of this one waitress at this Mexican food place I like to eat at occassionally.
I had been used to this one very kind and pleasant lady as my server, but one day I got this woman that spilled drinks,
ran into the table more than once and brought me a chicken enchillada when I had asked for cheese. So as each error occurred,
the tip percentage went down in my mind. I had the misfortune to get her a few more times and did the same thing each time. She got
a tip as I know what its like to count on tips, but I knew she had to be getting the same treatment from others, because
the tip is one area of control you have. And sure enough, one day I saw that I had her as my server. Dread filled my heart
as I saw myself having to go through it all again. But she made sure to repeat my order back to me twice, engaged in banter,
and was very pleasant to me and my daughter ( we enjoy dining if you couldn't tell ) , and was amazing. We watched her at her other tables
and sure enough, at each table she did the same. I'd like to think that we had something to do with it, as I think everyone deserves
a few chances. Its that empathy thing. As bad as her service was at the begining, I really felt bad thinking of this woman
losing her source of income.

Dunno. rambling again... But I think I was making some sort of point in there...
And if it were Burrito Central I'd name the place! Its awesome!!!




[ This Message was edited by: TikiGardener 2008-08-27 20:22 ]


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dogbytes
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 2242
From: seattle, wa
Posted: 2008-08-28 12:50 am   Permalink

just back from an wonderful evening in the Tonga Room. i brought my 84 yr old Uncle Richard, cousin greg, Uncle Fred and Auntie Elsie.. our waiter was a curt chinese dude, who we could barely understand, he wasnt very attentive, but he gave us free rice even though 2 in our group had the appitizer for an entree!

the pro photographer came by when one of our group was away, and i guess he went to develop film, so we couldnt wait around. so our waiter got us all in focus and took a nice group photo.

we had a flaming dessert. i have no idea what it was, i just asked our waiter for a 'dessert on fire".. he made sure there was plenty of booze in the chocolate cup to make a huge fire.

only auntie else had a drink, Tom Collins, and she got darned tipsy, and enjoyed her cocktail.

the cheezy filipino trio was playing the same set i remember from a few years ago.. and we ALL sang along to 'fly me to the moon'. i think $5 per person isnt unreasonable for a cover..

i love this place, the remodel seems like just a deep cleaning ~ i didnt notice anything missing, perhaps there were fewer thunderstorms.. other than that..

ive enjoyed all our visits to the tonga room..and it was nice to bring folks who havent been there in 30 plus years ~ and watch them have fun too.



 
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MrBaliHai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 01, 2002
Posts: 797
Posted: 2008-10-29 4:00 pm   Permalink

Here are a couple of vintage Tonga Room postcards I found today.



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Coco Joe
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2008
Posts: 721
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2008-10-29 4:06 pm   Permalink

That first postcard is awesome! I've never seen that picture before

 
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Unga Bunga
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5808
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2009-03-09 11:34 am   Permalink

Chris Isaak Record Release Party At The Tonga Room

Very weird video.


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bigtikidude
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 8849
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2009-03-10 10:06 am   Permalink

wow how cool is that.
would have loved to have been there for that.
I'm a big Fan of the Early Chris Isaak stuff.

Jeff(bigtikidude)


 
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