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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki the lost chapter: Hop Louie and the Stockton Islander (image heavy)
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the lost chapter: Hop Louie and the Stockton Islander (image heavy)
tobunga
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Joined: Apr 12, 2008
Posts: 1037
Posted: 2010-05-28 10:16 pm   Permalink

I saw that abstractiki had posted today and I couldn't wait to check out the pix!

WOW! What an incredibly rare glimpse into the Islander when it was up and running!

The big, colorful wall designs look like those from the matchbook and business card, but blown up that gigantic, they remind me of Mayan temple carvings!

Was that wall across from the bar? I can't make out their relation from the photos. I was trying to figure it out from what I remember actually standing in (after sneaking into) the Islander building earlier this year, but then I remembered that Latitude 20 didn't make the move out to Pollardville.

I didn't see any tiki mugs... do you know if they were still using them then? Can you ask Jo? (And does she have any Bumatay mugs she doesn't want?)
I guess all those ashtrays on the bar had Islander logos on them, though... wonder what happened to all the furniture? Those bar stools would be cool to track down...

AWESOME sleuthing, abstract!

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[ This Message was edited by: tobunga 2010-05-28 22:24 ]


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tikicleen
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Joined: Nov 11, 2003
Posts: 329
From: ripon: almond capital yet no orgeat
Posted: 2010-05-29 09:11 am   Permalink

wow! i sure wasnt expecting to see the graphics from tommy lee's matchbook on the wall of the latitude 20 - painted and all. what a time warp!

thanks to jo and david for posting these gems.

maybe you could ask jo why the islander was always advertised as "theater restaurant" on all of tommy lee's advertisements? it mentions they had "theater acts" which always sort of puzzled me.

also, does she remember the most popular drinks ordered? any memory of receipes? does she remember the bumatay mug and what went in it? was it even used during her time there?
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abstractiki
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Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2010-05-29 09:25 am   Permalink

Thanks Tobunga, before I forget, Jo saw your Islander pendant and really loved it! I think that wall was across from the bar but I'll have to get clarification on that and get back to you.

Jo said she used to make Mai Tais in the bucket mugs all the time. Here is one in this picture, filed with straws I think.



She does have some mugs and bowl packed away but she couldn't find them before we had our meeting.

That menu was so cool it was in great condition. She told me she only had it by accident. She took it home one night so her family would know what to order when they came for a dinner and then it got moved aside and she never ended up bringing it back to the restaurant.

Those bar stools would be great to have in a home tiki bar. The bar reminds me of the the vintage bar in the upstairs lounge at Minnie's.

On my first expedition to the Islander I found a square table and thought nothing of it. Then after analyzing the photos I had discovered I thought that this might be an original table from the Islander. On my second expedition i took pictures to compare them. It was an original table. The Formica wood grain top was even the same as the walls of the old phone booth. At the time I made this comparison photo but never posted about this find.




The next time I went back I was going to salvage the table but it was gone.





 
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abstractiki
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Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2010-05-29 10:20 am   Permalink

Tikicleen, you're welcome. Time warp indeed. When I met with her said she still can make a great Mai Tai and even does Hula Dancing. I will forward the questions to Jo and get back to ya.

 
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tobunga
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Joined: Apr 12, 2008
Posts: 1037
Posted: 2010-05-31 7:20 pm   Permalink

Hey abstract, just wondering how you met up with Jo... what a fount of Islander info she is!

I went back for a closer look at the pix, and I saw another bucket mug doing straw holder duty, plus a menu, and possibly a peanut mug and maybe a bowl?


If you look at the shelf behind Jo, right where her elbow is pointing, there appears to be something tiki bowl-like there. Wonder if that smoking lady was lighting up with Islander matches?

Can you ask Jo what mai tai recipe they used? Did they make the Trader Vic's version there? Would be great to get the recipe and try a tiki cocktail from the Islander! (Or any Islander recipe she can remember!)

Bummer about the Islander table, but at least you got the phone!

I can send Jo a pendant, if she wants one! Lemme know!
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abstractiki
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Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2010-05-31 10:43 pm   Permalink

She got my contact info from the guy i bought the Islander Bamboo from. I think she was searching the internet for islander stuff and stumbled upon his post to sell it. She wanted bamboo as a memento and i just started asking questions and struck gold.

The graphics on the walls at the Latitude 20 were already there when she was hired in 76. They were across from the bar. When she would be looking at the dance floor off to the right was a raised DJ area. At one time, the Latitude had a popular local radio personality working there. I think she told me it was David Allen Kram when I interviewed her.

Soon after being hired she got a raise to $2.50 hr.

There was a passage or door from the Latitude to the Islander on the inside but customers had to go through the main outside doors if they wanted to go from the latitude to the Islander. She thinks the door was either through the bar or the side of the bar.

Some of the groups were comedy acts like the Funny Farm but most were musical groups and she doesn't remember any theater type plays and stuff like that.

She made a mean Islander Mai Tai, but hasn't made one of those for over 28 years + and has forgotten the recipe, but she would love to have a copy if any one finds one. The Islander side was the side that made most of the drinks with the mugs. She doesn't know what the drink was that went into the bumatay mug unfortunately.

The most popular drinks were Mai Tai's, Hurricane, Coconut punch, Pi Yi. Wan Fu, if you had lots of money, you could buy the Scorpion.

There were always a few bouncers at the door and Nehi sat at the entrance so he could see who was coming in and oversee everything. He was usually seen with a big cigar.

Tobunga the gift of one of your pendants is very aloha spirit and I think that's so cool, I will let her know and be sending you PM.

I think that's Lemon Hart Rum on the very left of that pic also. love that Lemon Hart


 
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abstractiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2011-04-03 08:31 am   Permalink

A while back I managed to track down the son of Dick Degrande (the last owner of the Islander). He was friendly and answered my questions but the interview shed no new light on the Islander story. At least now I can check him off my list of leads and put that angle to rest. He is still in the catering/food business locally. He was involved starting his own career and family when his dad owned the Islander and only went there a few times.

On another note I was asked to post this Stockton Record newspaper article by a friend and employee of Tommy Lee.

Headline: Former owner of Islander restaurant dies

By Audrey Cooper Record Staff Writer
September 20, 2002 12:01 AM

Tommy Lee's Islander restaurant
and nightclub -- with Polynesian decor, thatched-roof stage, Easter Island-style
mugs, waiters in Hawaiian shirts and lounge acts -- was a staple of Stockton's
late-night entertainment in the 1960s and '70s.

Most longtime Stockton residents at some point hid in the dimly lit club, sucking down punch-bowl-sized drinks garnished with floating gardenias.

Lee, the hot spot's gregarious owner from 1966 to 1980, died Sunday of heart problems at an assisted-care home. He was 87.

Just before Lee's birth, his Chinese parents boarded a freighter to start a new life in the United States. Lee was born on the ship midtrip and had to be naturalized as a United States citizen, although this country was the first dry land he ever touched.

A friend persuaded Lee in 1938 to move to Stockton. In 1940, the two opened the Daylite Market, working up to 16 hours a day. That market became the Diamond D Meat Co., which was later blended into the Centro Mart chain.

Lee bought The Islander from restaurateur Hop Louie, who had hired architect Warren Wong to design the building to resemble a shipwreck on a sandy beach. In 1986, four years after The Islander permanently closed its doors, the abandoned building was moved from its Lincoln Center location to a spot off Highway 99 and Eight Mile Road.

It now houses the Chicken Kitchen and stands in front of the Pollardville Ghost Town, a collection of Western-style movie sets open to visitors on weekends. Tower Records sits on the old Islander site.

Islander patron Jack Canote, 77, remembered having "a drink or two at the Islander."

Canote said Lee had a good sense of humor and loved his business.

"I don't know for sure, but I always heard that we won the place in a crap game. I also heard he lost it in a crap game, too," said Canote, a former Record advertising employee.

That urban legend, though likely untrue, helped add to the mystique of the Islander, where velvet paintings of ####### Tahitian women complemented the flaming torches outside and the outrigger canoe hanging over customers' heads. Fire-waving hula dancers and Sinatra-style lounge singer Frankie Fanelli were equally at home at the adjoining club, called Latitude 20.

"Oh, my gosh. The Islander. I wouldn't want anyone to know how much time I spent there," said Stockton resident Bobbie Wallinger, 60. She remembered it as Stockton's lone nightclub for several years and the city's version of the Fairmont Hotel's Zombie Room or Trader Vic's in San Francisco.

"Tommy Lee was gregarious. I think he really was a showman in almost a Barnum sense. But like Barnum, he was someone who made people truly happy," she said.

Harold Lee, a friend of Tommy Lee's for more than 40 years, remembered his friend as a hard worker who would take afternoon naps to rest in the middle of his 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. shifts. The Islander closed only on Christmas.

The Islander, sometimes called the Camelot of Stockton, employed many new immigrants, some of whom still work in Chinese restaurants in the area. Tommy Lee, who also owned the Chinatown restaurant Shangri-Lee, rented an apartment for his employees, said daughter Valerie Acoba, a drama teacher at Edison High School.

Lee was a past president of the Lee Family Association, a board member of the Cathay Club and a member of Seniors In Retirement. In addition to Acoba, he is survived by his siblings, Louis Lee of Virginia and Junna Elliott of Oregon; children Clifford Lee of San Francisco and Phyllis Lee of Wisconsin; and granddaughter, Gwendolyn Acoba-Moran of Los Angeles.

Visitation is scheduled for today from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Chapel of the Palms funeral home. The funeral will be Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

LEE: He was 87.



 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11104
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-04-03 09:58 am   Permalink

Aaaah, the "Camelot of Stockton"! Indeed!

And "Shangri-Lee", that is hilarious.


 
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Phillip Roberts
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Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1592
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2011-11-29 11:18 pm   Permalink

Aloha Tiki Vixen,

Quote:

On 2005-07-20 18:07, tikivixen wrote:
you've just helped fill in a HUGE Chris Isaak missing link for me. Neato! Thanks! I'd love to hear any of his or Kenny's reminiscences...



Really? 2005? Seriously? This post was only 6 years ago? My original comment was Lost in the change from Fake Web name to Real name. Seems like just Yesterday though. I think the gist of it was that, those guys are old friends, (I saw their first show at the ON-Broadway in SF and often at Nightbreak Rock and Sushi Sundays on Haight in the day. Oh and and the Silvertone release party where they played on the raft at the Tonga Room) and I'd ask the "PRIDE OF STOCKTON" about the Islander at my first possible opportunity. This is my chance. This thread has grown since then and seeing how "Tiki Stolen at Minnie's" is a hot topic, thought I'd bump this up.

Tomorrow (2011) in Honolulu, I have been invited to see the Chris Isaak Show at the Arena by the guys. I will be bringing signed copies of my book, Waikiki Tiki: Art, History and Photographs for Chris and Kenny Dale. I will certaintly quiz "The PRIDE OF STOCKTON CALIFORNIA" on the Islander. Stay tuned for updates.

BTW, any one see Chris on AMC subbing for their usual host last month? He did a great job!

best,

Phillip

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[ This Message was edited by: Phillip Roberts 2011-11-29 23:26 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Phillip Roberts 2011-11-29 23:29 ]


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quickiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 29, 2005
Posts: 140
From: Stockton, CA
Posted: 2011-11-30 3:11 pm   Permalink

I'm a huge fan of Chris Isaak as well. When I first moved to Stockton, one of the first friends I had was a girl by the name of Lori, whom I worked with and was also a close childhood friend and sometimes roommate of Chris. My wife and I socialized with her a lot and she was always trying to introduce me to Chris, a struggling musician at the time because she wanted him to see some of my work (I was a struggling illustrator and graphic artist at the time as well), but as luck would have it, our paths never seemed to cross. Lori also worked as a cocktail waitress after her nine to five job at you guessed it, the Islander. She would invite her gang of buddies over there when she worked at the place, although I never did run into him (at least there). He definitely has ties to the place though, and I'm sure Lori fronted him many drinks when she worked the at the Islander. Lori in fact, was there when the placed closed and would often lament to me how she was screwed out of her wages when they locked the doors.

Chris even revealed his tiki side when he was selling T-shirts at some of his early shows with his name superimposed over Moari Easter Island head graphics. I later learned it was probably an homage to an apartment building near UOP (in Stockton) that had huge 12' faux pumice stone Moari heads at its entrance. I think they may even still be in existance, but the hood over there is a little sketchy these days.


 
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Luckydesigns
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Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2166
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2011-11-30 4:38 pm   Permalink

I went to college at UOP and first discovered that Bali Hai Apartments tiki for myself, back in '97 and I posted about it here in '03. http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=5864&forum=2

Abstractiki found this image a little while back.





This is the tiki more recently...






I'm a big fan of Chris Isaak too. He also went to UOP.
He wore this tiki for a long time in the early days. I always wondered if it was because of the proliferation of tiki that exsisted around Stockton.





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Chuck Tatum is Tiki
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Joined: May 12, 2011
Posts: 1674
From: Southern Cailifornia
Posted: 2011-11-30 4:47 pm   Permalink

Chris Isaak borrowed a Girlfriend once & still hasn't returned her!

 
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msteeln
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Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 280
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-11-30 11:21 pm   Permalink

So Phil, how was the show? I coulda/woulda/shoulda been there, but no...

 
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Phillip Roberts
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1592
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2011-12-02 11:37 am   Permalink

Aloha,

Chris put on a great show despite being a bit sick. Sadly, I didn't get to quiz him about the Stockton Islander because he was feeling ill. Hopefully next time.
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4247
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-06-14 10:08 am   Permalink

Simply put, one of the best TC threads ever!

I picked up this matchbook from the early days of the Islander.




The back has a nice write up from Hop Louie.




And this thread would not be complete without a photo of Eric October's wonderful Islander painting framed in Islander bamboo.





DC


 
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