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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki Don the Beachcomber - The Locations (Updated 11-22-10)
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Don the Beachcomber - The Locations (Updated 11-22-10)
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-10 4:13 pm   Permalink

Bigbro,

That is a cool coin bank thingy. I did a little matchbook forensics to see how the Waikiki location fit into the Don the Beachcomber chain.

The early matchbooks list the various locations without mention of Donn's restaurant in Waikiki.



This goes on all the way up until Marina Del Rey and San Diego which were open in 1970.


Then, when the final Waikiki location opened at the Beachcomber Hotel in 1971, the matchbook style changed and the Waikiki location begins to appear. The Getty Corporation must have been involved with the move to the Beachcomber Hotel.




There was even a DTB corporate matchbook made for the Beachcomber Hotel location.




The Waikiki location also shows up on the matchbook for the Lahaina DTB.




Arriano,

This matchbook shows the Don the Beachcomber locations at their peak. There were 17 restaurants operating under the Don the Beachcomber banner. I would put this in the early 1980's (Vacation Village opened in 1980 and West Lafayette was open in 1982). The restaurants began closing in the mid to late 1980's. My research shows that Santa Barbara lasted until 1989.





A few more photos from Hawaii,

Another shot of the original DTB.




An interior photo showing two Leteeg paintings on the wall that was posted by Sabu some time back.





DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11197
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-10 4:51 pm   Permalink

Interressan! But I wuz talking 'bout the Kalakaua Ave and Int. Marketplace locations started and owned by Don himself after his luvely wife Sunny ousted him from the mainland rights on their places and the brand name.

 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1546
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2010-11-10 7:48 pm   Permalink

I hope this clears up the earlier post about the photo from Hollywood or Bust. It is from the movie. It is in the opening credits (thus not a set), but not in the movie. Here are a few shots from a VHS that I have...










Not a great movie but.....the quality is not always in the script. Some great shots of vintage Vegas + lots of local shots (Hidden Valley.....Ventura County.....between Thousand Oaks and Malibu....home of Sophia Loren & many other stars + Lake Sherwood-Tiger Woods....Wayne Gretzgy. The area subs for the East Coast countryside)


 
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Unga Bunga
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5820
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2010-11-10 11:00 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-10 16:13, Dustycajun wrote:


DC



DC,
Coolest photo I have seen in (TC) years!

(are TC years like dog years? not sure..)


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11197
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-11 07:52 am   Permalink

Thank you Bongo thank you, oh master movie researcher! I can lay one more perplexing Poly pop mystery to rest. That's what I get for fast-forwarding thru it on U-Tube. That whole title sequence is great for LA scenery - and Ekberg costumes!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gD6IOjYVjM

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aquarj
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1083
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2010-11-11 11:18 pm   Permalink

With apologies for distracting from some of the more appealing shots on this great thread, here's another angle on the groovy purple DTB's at the Sahara.



And a closeup. Who's the band - Billy who and the whats?


Back to more familiar decorative territory, here's an 80s shot of the location in the Waikiki Beachcomber hotel.



-Randy


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-12 7:30 pm   Permalink

Randy,

Thanks for the post. So those moonscape structures at the Sahara were supposed to be "delightful little huts"!


Here is a photo of the Don the Beachcomber stand at DCA Hollywood and Dine when it was open.




DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11197
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-12 7:37 pm   Permalink

I was inspired to go and dig up these photos of the Palm Springs location that I took in the late 90s, when the building was still sitting there, empty:

For comparison from an earlier page:


Full shot of the entrance:


closer shot of entrance:


closer shot of Tiki column and the cool torch on the roof. Amazingly so, three of those torches (see rendering above, on the right corner) are still on top of the otherwise generically renovated building today:


A word about this style of Tiki column: Because of their inferior design (kinda crude and totem pole-like) they did not interest me, but in retrospect, historically speaking, they seem to be sort of a transition piece between Pre-Tiki and full-fledged Tiki style from the early to the mid-50s, I would call them (bear with me here) "Pre-Tiki Tikis"


Don the Beachcomber franchises remained pretty Tiki-less even into the Tiki-era, except for his Cannibal carvings, which Donn took with him to Hawaii. It was not until later that the much more authentic Tahitian/Marquesan Tiki posts and statues were employed, by Trader Vic that is.

In Vic's early places, like the Seattle location, built in 1947 and expanded in the early 50s: Vic used similarly crude columns, here at their gift shop at the Outrigger:



Two of these were for sale at the big Trader Vic's warehouse sale:



Artistically not that amazing, but historically an important step in the evolution of Tiki style.
And in case anybody feels that I am insulting the poor Tiki columns, or being a nit-picker, just take a deep breath, and click on a party thread. This is heavy Tiki archeology talk.


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-11-12 21:43 ]


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-13 08:53 am   Permalink

Sven,

Great photos, thanks for digging through your archives and finding those. Amazing that the Tiki pole sat there in Palm Springs for so long.

I was looking through my menus and found one from the first Waikiki Don the Beachcombers that had pictures of the three grass huts that Wimberly built for Donn.

The Crossroad Bazaar



The High Talking Chiefs Hut



And the Tahitian Dining Hut, all centered around the Queen's Royal Gardens.



DC


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-22 8:47 pm   Permalink

I asked Zulu Magoo to research the Denver Don The Beachcomber locations and boy did he come through with the info!

The Denver Don the Beachcomber history is intertwined with Trader Vic's. Trader Vic's opened as an Outrigger restaurant at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in downtown Denver in 1962, and then changed to the "Trader Vic's" name later as all the Outrigger's did.

Trader Vic's moved from the Cosmopolitan to the Hilton Hotel in 1978. Shortly thereafter, Don the Beachcomber moved into the Cosmo using the Vic's decor as the backdrop. Here is an news clip announcing the news, a later ad and a photo (all courtesy of Zulu).








So now we had Vic's at the Hilton and Don's at the Cosmo. Don decides to raise Vic and opens another restaurant at the Ramada in Aurora in 1981. Here is the ad provided by Zulu.



Phone book showing TWO Don's in Denver.



Denver was quite a Tiki mecca for the early 80's.

The final chapter. Vic's leaves the Hilton hotel in 1985 and Don the Beachcomber moves in 1986 for a few years.

There is more to this story, to be continued.....


DC

(Thanks again to Zulu Magoo for all of the amazing research).


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-28 10:54 am   Permalink

I found a Life magazine article from 1946 with a great photo story on a birthday party hosted by Donn at his Encino Plantation.

The cover photo of the big Luau spread.



The story.



Donn greeting the guests.


The Pig.



Party at the pool.



The celebrities - love the Tarzan look.









The "cake"




One of Donn's early tree-houses.



Probably my favorite photo - Donn welcoming Stephen Crane and a hot date. Talk about a couple of heavyweights.




Donn sure knew how to throw a party!

DC








 
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Bora Boris
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2588
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2010-11-28 12:25 pm   Permalink

Nice work DC,

what I've been wondering about that house for a while is how do we find the address to see if it's still standing?


 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1290
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2010-12-15 1:08 pm   Permalink

It's worth investigating this claim about Ernie's Place and if maybe it was in the same location as the original Don's Beachcomber Bar. If Ernest Gantt did own Ernie's Place, it should probably be added to the list.

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=6795&forum=10&start=225&234


_________________
"I am Lono!" -- Hunter S. Thompson


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11197
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-12-15 1:45 pm   Permalink

DC, I had missed that LIFE mag post, what an excellent find! Love the pool photo. And now we know where Crane got his early inspiration for the Luau from: Like everybody else, from Don!

To find out about Ernie's, I would simply ask Art Snyder, he is in the know about Donn Beach history.

Here is a nice press clipping/ rendering about the Marina Del Rey Beachcomber and their expansion plans, from the O.A. archives:





 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4354
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-12-16 4:27 pm   Permalink

Bigbro,

Thanks for posting that rendering, it's great to see to old UFO buildings.

Here is a link to the story that Zulu Magoo put together for the Denver Trader Vic's connection to Don the Beachcomber. Zulu did a great job putting this together.

http://tikiarchitecture.blogspot.com/

Another interesting twist, the contents of the Don the Beachcomber in the Cosmo Hotel were sold off and ended up in another restaurant in Denver......called the Beachcomber!



DC


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