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Tiki Central Forums Ľ Ľ Collecting Tiki Ľ Ľ Don the Beachcomber - The Locations (Updated 11-22-10)
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Don the Beachcomber - The Locations (Updated 11-22-10)
croe67
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Joined: Jan 05, 2003
Posts: 1086
From: Land of Cheese & Beer
Posted: 2010-08-27 09:10 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-12-15 00:29, Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:
Quote:

On 2009-10-20 05:28, Psycho Tiki D wrote:
Anyone out there have any idea when/where these were sold or what the history is on the design?


Picked these up on Saturday. I had seen the glasses before at the Alameda antique sale but did not know they were DTBC. A bit pricey from what I usually spend, but cool to have the box!

PTD



PTD - I think your glasses are from the 1960s, but I'm not sure exactly when. I found this small card stapled to the inside of a non-tiki restaurant menu from the 60s:



It could be that the glasses were provided to restaurants along with Don The Beachcomber mixes as part of a deal with Christian Brothers Brandy? Just guessing. In any case, that's still one of the coolest finds I've ever seen.





I've happened upon a couple full, unused cases over the years, and we really like using them in our home bar. One of the cases had an address label attached to the outside, making me wonder if you could buy them in the gift shop & would ship them home to you? Found 4 more glasses randomly a couple weeks ago in a vintage store, too.

Great glasses - would be a great, fairly inexpensive reproduction glass to make, too!
hint, hint


 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
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Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2010-10-26 6:02 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-10-28 12:13, TIKIBOSKO wrote:
I briefly covered this in my San Diego Tiki talk at the 07 Oasis, there was never a Don the Beachcomber at Vacation Village. Iíve spoken to several old timers who used to go there in the 60ís and they say there was (always) the Barefoot bar and a steak house/small bar but no Donís. If you look at Svenís list on page one of this thread there is no mention of a San Diego location until the 1970 (Harbor Island) so if there had been one here in the 60ís why not list it? Also if there was another restaurant at Vacation Village which building could have housed it?
The only piece of evidence (of a Donís at that location) that I have seen is the ONE matchbook that mentions it, but I have another ten match covers from there that donít.

Unless there is some new compelling evidence which I would be happy to acknowledge, this was just a mistake that got perpetuated up until now.

Bosko




It took some research, but I was finally able to solve the enigma of the Vacation Village location for Don The Beachcomber's in San Diego. Bosko was right - it didn't exist in the 60s or 70s, it came later.

First, here's the location at 1590 Harbor Island Drive (next to the Sheraton), that opened in June 1970:





I own the postcard above and the matchbook and they both state "Harbor Island".

Before I reveal the Vacation Village location, it might be helpful to give a little info on Vacation Village itself:

Vacation Village was built in 1962 by Hollywood film maker, former rabbi, and famous cynic, Jack Skirball. Skirball went from rabbi to filmmaker after he came to the conclusion that "you don't affect people very much by preaching to them."

He created Vacation Village on Mission Bay as a "Poor Man's Polynesia", where "natives paddle about not in canoes - but gondolas". It was supposed to be an inexpensive and convenient alternative to Tahiti, Hawaii or Africa. The beautiful lush lagoons were lit by tiki torches at night.





There was a floating bar that came to your bungalow door and there was also the underground Barefoot Bar, which Bosko mentioned, which was for casual dining and had live Belly Dancing shows. Here's a postcard of the Barefoot Bar from 1972:



However, despite it's Polynesian/African/Tropics theme, there is no mention was made of a Don The Beachcomber at this location through the 1960s or 70s. Here is a sampling of newspaper ads that make no mention of it:


1975


1977

From 1978 to 1979, the ads disappear from the local papers. Then in Sept 1980, in a Winnipeg Free Press article, giving the history of Vacation Village, and promoting it as a good vacation destination for Canadians, the author mentions some recent changes to the resort, including: "Don The Beachcomber's now occupies the old Barefoot Bar". The Bellydancing shows are no more.

Sure enough, the newspaper ads also start up again in 1980, but with Don's replacing the Barefoot Bar in the text:


1980


1983


Oct 1985

After the 1985 ad above, I can find no mention of Don's associated with the Vacation Village Hotel, so I suspect if must have closed around this time.

Thus, it looks like Don's opened some time between 1978 and 1980 and was gone by 1986.

I'd probably place Boris' matchbook at around this early 1980s time period as well:




So once again, here are the two San Diego locations:

Harbor Island


Vacation Village


Still hoping to find an image of the Barefoot Bar AFTER it became Don The Beachcomber's. I wonder what cosmetic changes were made.

Sabu





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[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-10-26 18:14 ]


 
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GROG
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Joined: Jun 21, 2006
Posts: 6920
From: Tujunga
Posted: 2010-10-26 6:36 pm   Permalink

Nice job sabu.

 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
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Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2010-10-26 11:11 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-10-24 16:24, Dustycajun wrote:
I recently acquired a collection of matchbooks from different Don the Beachcombers. I started looking into how many locations there were and what paper items (matchbooks, postcards, menus) were around for each location. Based on the listings contained on the back of the more modern matchbooks and the information I found on the web, I compiled the following list of 24 locations plus three locations that were advertised but never existed (organized by State).

1. Hollywood, California
2. Palm Springs, California
3. Marina Del Rey, California
4. San Jose/Santa Clara, California
5. Santa Barbara, California
6. Oxnard, California
7. Malibu, California
8. Corona Del Mar, California
9. San Diego, California (Harbor Island)

10. Waikiki, Hawaii
11. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
12. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

13. Denver, Colorado
14. Aurora, Colorado

15. Dallas, Texas
16. Houston, Texas

17. Las Vegas, Nevada
18. Chicago, Illinois
19. St. Paul, Minnesota
20. Seattle, Washington
21. W. Lafayette, Louisiana
22. ? Indiana (posted by Sven)




DC - my research indicates that numbers 21 & 22 are the same place. I found a 1982 wedding announcement in a Logansport, Indiana newspaper that said the rehearsal dinner was held at the Don The Beachcomber's in West Lafayette. Also that the bride graduated from nearby Purdue. I think that probably means the West Lafayette location was in Indiana.

I think the Wikipedia article with the Louisiana location is wrong. It should probably be Indiana.

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[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-10-26 23:18 ]


 
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arriano
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Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1303
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2010-10-27 08:17 am   Permalink

Good work, Sabu! The sad thing is, I was a kid living in Pacific Beach beginning in 1975 and I have no memory ever of a place called Don the Beachcomber. Funny thing is, it reverted back to the Barefoot Bar eventually because I do remember that in the '80s/'90s and it's still named that today.




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TIKIBOSKO
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Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 323
Posted: 2010-10-27 09:50 am   Permalink

Hey Sabu great job as usual, the whole Barefoot bar then Donís then back to Barefoot bar is nuts, Iíve never seen interior photos from any of the eras of the Barefoot Bar so it would be hard to say what they did or didnít do. It looked similar to the exterior photo you posted up (although much more lush) until a few years ago when they really denuded the place and made it contemporary style. Before that phase back 10-15 years the interior was all black and creepy there was a palmwood (?) Tiki around back and the war club door handle out front; I think the door handle was still there last time I went by.
As far as a ďPoor Mans PolynesiaĒ I think they used the term very loosely, everyplace on Mission Bay was technically ďPolynesianĒ. Although very cool Vacation Village had very little Polynesia that I have seen, it is a jumble of all kinds of styles that I presume were incorporated or added as the place grew over the years, Spanish, early California, that insane sculpture tower, the post and wave awning motif, I have a 60ís post card that had a barn yard petting zoo attraction where you fed ducks, itís all very eclectic. I covered some of this in my San Diego talk at Oasis and it looks like Iíll be doing another one this year.

Bosko


[ This Message was edited by: TIKIBOSKO 2010-10-27 09:54 ]


 
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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4431
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-10-27 10:51 am   Permalink

Bravo Sabu, you solved the Don The Beachcomber Vacation Village mystery - it did exist!

You are right about the West Lafayette location being in Indiana, here is a matchbook I have listing it.



I updated the list on page 1 to reflect these developments.

Here are a few cool photos of a luau being held in Donn Beach's backyard at his house in Encino. I copied them from an outdoor cookbook my friend bought at an antique store. You can see some tikis by the thatched hut.





DC


 
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Bora Boris
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Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2599
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2010-10-27 12:23 pm   Permalink

It's always nice to see this thread wake up again, it would be cool to see a similar one for Trader Vic's and The Steve Crane Kon Tiki's.

So who's going to list the Don's locations in order of appearance?

I vote for anyone but me.


 
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arriano
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Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1303
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2010-10-27 2:01 pm   Permalink

Should we count Hollywood twice? Wasn't the original 1934 bar located across the street from the restaurant that opened in '37?


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Sabu The Coconut Boy
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Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2010-10-27 5:43 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-10-27 09:50, TIKIBOSKO wrote:
there was a palmwood (?) Tiki around back and the war club door handle out front; I think the door handle was still there last time I went by.



I would suspect that the tiki and door handle were from the Don The Beachcomber incarnation, but not necessarily so. These photos which I'm linking from Mimi's "Arkiva Tropika" website are pre-Don's and they show the Barefoot Bar was serving Polynesian cocktails. But you're right about a mish-mash of tropical styles. I find many references stating that the Barefoot Bar was a great place for Bellydancing, (including an amusing story by
Helena Vlahos, who danced there in the 60s or 70s). So a South Seas-flavored bar with Middle-Eastern entertainment. Sounds intriguing.







DC - I need to find a copy of that outdoor cookbook! Those are great shots the perfect suburban tiki backyard. Do you think the girls are his daughters? I love the look of that brunette in the glasses. Your list of locations on page 1 is getting more precise all the time. I think it's probably the best Don The Beachcomber list on the internet now.

GROG & arriano - Thanks!


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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4431
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-01 4:54 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-10-27 14:01, arriano wrote:
Should we count Hollywood twice? Wasn't the original 1934 bar located across the street from the restaurant that opened in '37?




Arriano.

You are correct, there were two locations on McCadden Place, the small original Don's Beachcomber Bar that opened in 1934 and the second larger one that opened across the street in 1937. I updated the list on Page 1 to include both.

Quote:

On 2010-10-27 12:23, Bora Boris wrote:
So who's going to list the Don's locations in order of appearance?

I vote for anyone but me.



Bora Boris,

Ok I'll do it. I did some research this weekend and reorganized the Don the Beachcomber locations chronologically on page 1 of this thread. I still have some holes to fill, but I got opening dates and locations for 80% of the restaurants.

Some questions that need to be resolved.

1. How many locations were there in Waikiki?

The original Don the Beachcomber located on Kalakaua Avenue was built in 1947 before the International Market Place was even there. This is the thatched hut building located on the street as seen in this photo.



I have three different opening dates on this one. Sven's menu indicates 1946, Donn's biographical website indicates 1947, and the article I posted from the Saturday Evening Post indicates that it was set to open in 1948.

The Don the Beachcomber moved to the International Market Place after it was built sometime in 1957. Here is the postcard showing the original location in the Market Place.




We know that Duke Kahanamoku's moved into the Don The Beachcomber building as seen in this postcard from Mimi Paynes website.




Sooo Don the Beachcomber moved to a second location in the International Market Place. I am assuming this was the final location next to the Beachcomber Hotel. The date I have on this second location is 1971. Here is a matchbook showing this location.






Maybe Philip Roberts can help me out here.


2. What about the Denver Colorado locations.

I have two locations listed, one for Denver at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and another for Aurora. I don't think the Aurora location existed, but Tiki Road Trip II indicates that a Don The Beachcomber moved into the Denver Hilton after Trader Vic's left. I am thinking that this is the second Colorado location rather than Aurora.

Zulu Magoo, any input on this one?

I will continue to update the list on page as data becomes available.


DC


 
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uncle trav
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Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1820
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2010-11-02 08:34 am   Permalink

Fantastic research guys. I always love to see the pieces fit together. I saw this image from the Chicago location on ebay awhile back and thought it needed to be saved. Hope I didn't step on the winners toes by posting this. Dated 1954.




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Phillip Roberts
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Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1611
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2010-11-03 2:40 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-01 16:54, Dustycajun wrote:

Some questions that need to be resolved.

1. How many locations were there in Waikiki?

Maybe Phillip Roberts can help me out here.


Aloha,

I count 4, if you include the Colonel's Plantation Restaurant and Dagger Bar... (see below.)

Donn arrives in '46 in Waikiki. Wimberly builds him the 3 grass
shacks that comprise the first location in late '46/early '47 . Star-Bulletin says he's open for lunch in '48. (1) It appeared to be where Liberty House/Macy's is today on Kalakaua Avenue. These razed 2/25/57, as the Market Place opens...

The second one as seen in Mimi's postcard which became Duke Kahamamoku's on the Beach. (2) Donn sells it in '61 to the the Kinau Wilder family. Duke is installed as greeter and Kimo McVay-Wilder's act Don Ho headlines the room.

Donn moves to the other side of the Marketplace (3) where the Quicksilver shop is now and opens. Unclear, if this locale was known as an official "Don The Beachcombers." I think it was, but was also known as the "Colonel's Plantation Restaurant" housing the "Dagger bar" for a time.



Tourist at the International Market Place about 1962. Sign reads "Don the Beachcomber proudly presents Johnny Spenser and the Kona Coasters appearing in the Bora Bora Lounge."

Finally, your matchbook (4) is the shop at the Beachcomber Hotel.

1986 advertisment for New Years party there... from a tourist event's magazine...





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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4431
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-11-03 5:46 pm   Permalink

Philip Roberts,

Awesome info, thanks so much for helping fill in the blanks on the Waikiki Don the Beachcomber history. I knew you were the right man for the job. With that new information, we are up to 29 separate DTB locations - check Page 1 for the updated list.

Here is an ad I picked up showing the lagoon area of the Waikiki DTB.



What a description, I want to go there.



A nice fernwood Tiki overlooking the bridge.



DC


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-04 10:09 am   Permalink

What a perfect summation of Don's impact on Waikiki: Here he was, bringing all his Hollywood know-how to the Islands, to create what the the visitor expected Hawaii to be like.

I was intrigued by his terminology of "Memory" music and tried to dig up something on "Hawaiian Memory Music" and "Memory Music" in general, looked in my Hawaiian dictionary and Hawaiian Music history books, but nothing came up. I guess it was his term for "nostalgic" Hawaiian music, i.e. Hapa Haole.


 
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