Joined: Apr 11, 2002
From: Aku Hall, Chicago
|Posted: 2006-02-07 3:14 pm  Permalink|
Here's the scoop:
Hans Richter of Trader Vic's, and Harry Caray's widow did a little ceremony on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant at 12:30. A guy named Chris did a brief sSamoan fire knife dance afterwards. There were about 20 people there watching - ABC news, a half dozen photographers, local DJ Steve Dahl, and yours truly, representing for the ohana.
Then things moved indoors to the bar area of Harry Caray's. Richter and Dahl gave short speeches, two girls did a total of three hula dances, and then there were press photo ops with Richter, Dahl, the various Caray's investors, and the hula girls.
The mai tais were served in the standard TVs mai tai glass, with a special inscription around the top edge of the glass - it said something to the effect of "passing the torch - 2006". Obsessive collectors will want to score this variation soon, before the new TVs opens.
It was a pretty good approximation on the drink, but as the bartenders were new at making it, they haven't quite nailed it yet. I am sure they will.
Richter said two interesting things - first, they definitely do not have a location yet, but they are actively searching and want to open ASAP. The other was that (I will paraphrase him) tradition and history are important, and with the recent near-simultaneous losses of Marshall Fields, the Berghoff, Trader Vic's and other Chicago institutions, "part of the city dies with these traditions". He is concerned about keeping these traditions alive.
Afterwards, I cornered three of the investors and had a nice chat with them. Two guys and a woman, all of them very nice. They were interested in hearing about the Tiki culture, which was news to them. They had no idea about us - until today! They seemed really interested as I told them about Hukilau and Oasis, Tiki News, BOT, TC, Tabu Tiki Night, and of course set them up with a copy of TRT.
I told them point-blank that a lot of people have been concerned that the new Trader Vic's would end up some sort of Tiki Bar-sports bar hybrid, as I waved my hand at the THIRTEEN televisions surrounding us in the bar, and all of the neon Lite beer signs.
The main fella was agahst, and as he made a circle with his index finger and thumb (representing a zero), he told me, emphatically, that there would be "zero percent" sports bar/Harry Caray's influence on the new Trader Vic's.
His compadre chimed in with an opinion supporting what Richter said about history, and then went on to say that they felt that a sports bar is a sports bar and a tiki bar is a tiki bar. They get the difference. Then the gal they were with (also one of the owners) started asking me what makes a great tiki bar... well, don't ask me that qestion unless you have some time to kill! But she listened intently.
They had a good laugh when I told them stories about some of Steve Crane's famous girlfriends/wives, Trader Vic telling people he lost his leg to a shark (it was really polio), and some other stuff, just trying to give them a sense of history in a colorful way - I think they're on our team, and I have a good feeling about the new Vic's.
Over and out!