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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Hawaii Kai, New York, NY (restaurant)
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Hawaii Kai, New York, NY (restaurant)
Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5038
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2010-08-21 09:11 am   Permalink



I have recorded and uploaded the LP, "The Exotic Sounds of the Hawaii Kai"
HERE.
_________________

Announcing Swank Pad and Crazy Al's Molokai Maiden!


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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1779
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2010-08-22 08:10 am   Permalink

Thanks Swanky!! That's some good stuff.

[ This Message was edited by: uncle trav 2010-08-22 08:10 ]


 
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senioraqua
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 11, 2004
Posts: 404
From: Tampa, FL
Posted: 2011-03-04 06:21 am   Permalink

I purchased some of the Lanai mugs awhile back on eBay and have been interested as to why this bar was so short lived under this name and changed to Hawaii Kai. I found articles that shed some light on the time line.

March 24th '61 - Monte Prosser (restaurateur and Broadway producer) and Joe Kipness (Broadway producer and business man) are opening the Lanai together.


March 28th '61 - Work is still being done on the bar and it looks like Joe Kipness has the main stake in Lanai.


Dec. 6th '61 - Monte left NYC for Vegas.


Jan. 17 '62 - Joe is now full owner of Lanai and changed the
name to Hawaii Kai.


Here are a couple articles on Monte Prosser during the era of the Lanai. Sounds like Monte had bad luck with gambling on horses and the success of Broadway shows. I read somewhere that the mob even took The Copa from him. Guess he thought his luck would be better rolling the dice in Vegas.






[ This Message was edited by: senioraqua 2011-03-04 06:40 ]

[ This Message was edited by: senioraqua 2011-03-04 06:41 ]


 
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senioraqua
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 11, 2004
Posts: 404
From: Tampa, FL
Posted: 2011-03-04 06:38 am   Permalink

THEN & NOW THE HAWAII KAI

By Anthony Connors

Sunday, January 24th 1999, 2:05AM

Movie memorabilia. Rock guitars. Poi? The premise behind theme restaurants can be just about anything. Think Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe.However, long before anyone had ever heard of Sylvester Stallone or Jimi Hendrix, folks were lining up at Broadway's Polynesian paradise The Hawaii Kai.

Located at 1638 Broadway, in the Winter Garden Theater building, the Hawaii Kai, which was billed as "the world's greatest Polynesian restaurant," was a nonstop luau. Undulating waitresses in sarongs served roast pig, poi and other island delicacies in an atmosphere of caged exotic birds, tropical flowers, murals and more. Hula girls instructed diners on the proper techniques of that native dance, and staffers delighted and informed with native songs and island lore. Conga lines formed on the dining-room floor as the music blared and guests sang along.Never mind the snow outside, inside the weather was always tropical.

The Big Kahuna of the Hawaii Kai was a guy named Joe Kipness, a pudgy-faced fellow who was about as far from Polynesian as one could get.Born in Russia in 1911, his family came to the United States when Joe was a little boy. He held a number of jobs from amateur boxer to garment manufacturer and Broadway producer before going into the restaurant biz in 1961. His first place, the Lanai Restaurant, folded after several months. The experience, though, served him well a few months later when he opened the Hawaii Kai.

A precursor of today's theme restaurants, the Hawaii Kai had a souvenir shop where diners could purchase mementos of their visit. They also served a number of Polynesian novelty drinks. The most elaborate one was a volcano a rum punch concoction in a bowl that had a ceramic cone in which sterno was placed and then ignited. This one was a hot seller!

In 1972, Kipness said aloha to the Hawaii Kai, selling it to a pair of businessmen. It remained open for another 15 years before closing in 1988. Today, the site is home to Backstage Memories, a theater gift shop.
----------------------------------------------------------------

I know the facts are kind of sketchy, but did he say they put sterno in the middle of a scorpion bowl? Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11131
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-03-04 3:30 pm   Permalink

Also note that as late as in 1999, the word "Tiki" was not used once.

 
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senioraqua
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 11, 2004
Posts: 404
From: Tampa, FL
Posted: 2011-03-06 6:54 pm   Permalink

Good point Sven. The wahine's mask is not tiki at all, but is a comedy/tragedy face which plays on the Broadway theater theme.

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11131
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-03-06 11:34 pm   Permalink

Thank you for those great articles, senioraqua!

Just to clarify: I did not want to suggest that the Hawaii Kai was not Tiki (though they really did not have a logo Tiki), just point out that the term "Tiki" was not used as a descriptive designation for these places even as late as 1999, simply because it did not exist in the public discourse as a name for the genre.


 
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senioraqua
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 11, 2004
Posts: 404
From: Tampa, FL
Posted: 2011-03-07 04:00 am   Permalink

I should have stated my intention was to add a footnote targeted just about the Lanai logo and not a broad take on Hawaii Kai.


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4272
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-09-09 12:56 am   Permalink

Found this old photo of the exterior entrance to the Hawaii Kai and Pee Wee the doorman on-line with the following caption:

"Former Birdland emcee, Pee Wee, who paced like a hen at the entrance of Hawaii Kai since 1960, adjacent to the Winter Garden."




Some nice Tikis & lava rock, not to mention Pee Wee.

DC




 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4272
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-09-09 11:28 am   Permalink

Here is another photo from the internet showing the Schiess family having dinner at the Hawaii Kai. Great shot of the youngest son hamming it up for the camera with the glare from dour Dad!




A nice look at the interior decorations and some of the Hawaii Kai gear in action on the table.

DC


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4272
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-05-23 8:03 pm   Permalink

I picked up an oversized postcard from the Hawaii Kai that shows a few new views of the restaurant.

The card was like a bad wine, cheap and a bit thrashed.



You can see the Tikis at the entrance here.



A nice view of a dining room.



The bar.


And the band stage.


DC



 
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sneakyjack
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 25, 2004
Posts: 1036
From: NYC Area
Posted: 2012-05-23 9:28 pm   Permalink

cool^

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4272
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-05-24 4:46 pm   Permalink

Thanks Sneakyjack.

Here is the back of the postcard with the descriptions of each view.



DC


 
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Queen Kamehameha
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 21, 2003
Posts: 1410
From: So Cal
Posted: 2012-05-24 5:49 pm   Permalink

I went there many times as a kid and adult. my first visit was 1968. It was a magical place. The doorman was not a nice person(lil person) The food was great, the shows were great. They used that locaion to film the tiki bar sceen in Good Fellows I heard. It has gone the way of all cool places.

I went to luau 400 once too, but it burned down in 60's, why do so may of these places burn down?


 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1542
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2012-05-24 6:08 pm   Permalink

Maybe they burned down from flaming drinks? There are a lot of interior shots including the diarama behind the bar in the movie "Suffering Bastards"

 
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