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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » What is the oldest tiki restaurant still in existence?
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What is the oldest tiki restaurant still in existence?
TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 981
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-04-28 09:33 am   Permalink

Now that the Bahooka has closed, I'm curious what the oldest original existing tiki restaurant is?

[ This Message was edited by: TikiTacky 2013-04-28 09:34 ]


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2646
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-04-28 09:49 am   Permalink

I would say the Mai Kai since it's been at the same location with the same ownership/brand since the late 1950's. Damon's in Glendale, CA was established in 1937 but moved in 1990. Don the Beachcomber in Sunset Beach was originally Sam's Seafood that opened in 1960, but still a few years after the Mai Kai. Next would be the TV in Emeryville which opened in 1972 I think.

 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2646
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-04-28 09:58 am   Permalink

Also maybe the Alibi in Portland which dates back to the 1940's. They do serve food there but I think most would consider it more of a lounge. Unlike the places mentioned in my previous post, I don't think minors are allowed inside.

EDIT - Oh crap, I forgot about the Tonga Room. That place evolved from a cruise ship theme beginning in the 1940's (30's ?) so I'm not sure when it officially became "Tiki".

2nd EDIT - Wait, I think we can safely say the Bali Hai in San Diego which opened several years prior to the Mai Kai.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2013-04-28 10:15 ]


 
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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 981
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-04-28 10:51 am   Permalink

According to their website, Bali Hai opened in 1955.

The Alibi dates to 1947, and their website isn't much newer, since it lists their LaserDisc Karaoke!

Tonga Room dates to 1945, although they had a $1,000,000 refurbishing not too long ago. Still, they seem to be the oldest so far!

[ This Message was edited by: TikiTacky 2013-04-28 10:54 ]

[ This Message was edited by: TikiTacky 2013-04-28 10:57 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-28 11:51 am   Permalink

And both, Alibi and Tonga Room, went full Tiki relatively late in the 60s/70s. Bahooka was not the oldest, the original location had been closed long before....the same goes for Sam's Seafood/Don's, it turned Tiki down the line...

It is quite shocking to think there is no place left that is older than the Mai Kai, which opened just after Christmas 1956, so really it opened in 1957. If nobody can think of an existing Tiki temple older than 1957 (I can't at the moment) then the Mai Kai is not only the grandest, most original Tiki temple, but also the oldest still open.



 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-28 11:54 am   Permalink

Hmmmm. The big Bali Hai question is: When was it opened as The Hut (from Christian's Hut) and when did it become the Bali Hai?

 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-28 12:12 pm   Permalink

The Bali Hai web site says:

"The landmark restaurant, located on the northern tip of Shelter Island, is a chic, sleek Polynesian paradise opened in 1955 by San Diego restaurateur Tom Ham. Bali Hai was the island’s first “tiki temple,” named after the song popularized by the musical “South Pacific,” and remains one of the largest remaining original tiki temples."

I remember hearing that Tom Ham was working for the Hut, and took it over when the business faltered for unknown reasons - I just don't remember when. I guess that back history is not glamorous enough, or why would the Bali Hai keep the origin of the "Goof" and the Mr. Bali Hai (?) a mystery...in a kind of incomplete grammar, as the complete paragraph goes:

"The creation of two famous tiki icons: Mr. Bali Hai, a large wood sculpture at the front entrance greeting guests, and “The Goof,” a playful and mysterious remnant that has stood guard on the roof of the restaurant for over five decades."


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
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From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-04-28 12:44 pm   Permalink

I was under the impression that the Thorton's built in Ft. Lauderdale based on the Tiki over saturation in San Diego. The Bum wrote in "Sippin' Safari"...

"The brother's location of choice was San Diego, but that city already had the Luau Room at the Hotel Del Coronado and the Bali Hai on Shelter Island."

Not sure if it was literally the Bali Hai at that time.


 
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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4084
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2013-04-28 1:04 pm   Permalink

This article from September 1955 confirms that it was called the Bali Hai before the Mai Kai opened.



The Hut from 1954.




Of course Tradr Sams in San Francisco opened in the 1930s.

DC


 
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tikicoma
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Jan 16, 2010
Posts: 351
From: wakinekona
Posted: 2013-04-28 2:17 pm   Permalink

Hum... the Tahitian Room in Richland WA has been open since 1952.



Though only the lounge is tropical/tiki. The restaurant decor is chinese light and, JOHN-O, it's still serving the same chinese food that it served 1/2 a century ago. In this case maybe not such a good thing. It's definitely not a tiki palace but it's always been a restaurant.

aloha, tikicoma

[ This Message was edited by: tikicoma 2013-04-28 14:41 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-28 2:43 pm   Permalink

Cool, great time frame lock for the Bali Hai, Scott.

The Tahitian doesn't exactly qualify as a "Tiki temple"....but the categorization is difficult, and perhaps this shows there are other forgotten Polynesian hideaways in remote places we're not thinking about....


 
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Unga Bunga
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Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5792
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2013-04-29 08:57 am   Permalink

Trad'r Sam San Francisco ~ 1930's


 
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arriano
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Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1239
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2013-04-29 09:42 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-04-29 08:57, Unga Bunga wrote:
Trad'r Sam San Francisco ~ 1930's



Excuse my ignorance, but is Trad'r Sam a restaurant, or a bar only?
_________________
"I am Lono!" -- Hunter S. Thompson


 
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Unga Bunga
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Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5792
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2013-04-29 09:53 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-04-29 09:42, arriano wrote:
Quote:

On 2013-04-29 08:57, Unga Bunga wrote:
Trad'r Sam San Francisco ~ 1930's



Excuse my ignorance, but is Trad'r Sam a restaurant, or a bar only?




Ah! I skimmed the thread title too fast.
I think they have appetizers, but I wouldn't order food from there if they do/did.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-29 10:23 am   Permalink

It is not a TIKI bar either...but I assume the question was really aiming at what the oldest original POLYNESIAN-style joint in the US is. So Tradr Sam's is a pretty good candidate.

 
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