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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Bob Lee's Islander in Boston
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Bob Lee's Islander in Boston
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-07-23 6:38 pm   Permalink

Whoa! That's gotta go into "The Look of Tiki", man! That's like dining INSIDE a Hawaiian shirt!

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4314
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-07-23 7:46 pm   Permalink

Sven,

Definitely one of the wildest interiors I have ever seen. What is this "The Look of Tiki" you speak of????


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-07-23 8:36 pm   Permalink

My next book, on Tiki/Tapa/Pacific pattern/abstract modernist/ GARISH! .....Aloha shirts.

 
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TabooDan
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2004
Posts: 641
From: BC, Canada
Posted: 2008-07-23 9:42 pm   Permalink

Check out the Tiki Mugs and menu on the tables.
That was probably one of the craziest looking Tiki establishments I have seen!!!

Thanks for the pictures!!


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4314
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-07-23 10:02 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-04-13 11:46, the drunken hat wrote:

anyone know what year bob lee's was opened? also is bob lee's lantern house owned by the same bob lee?




I found this interesting bit of history on Bob Lee's Islander. It seems as though Bob started out as the Lantern House and then switched to the Islander. When was it the Aloha Lounge and Restaurant from my previous postcard?


"I remember Bob Lee's Islander as the best Polynesian/Chinese Restaurant in Boston. When I was a first year art student in 1960 we would venture to Chinatown at least two times a week to Bob Lee's for lunch. Being art students, a young Bob Lee who was renovating his father's restaurant then called Bob Lee's Lantern House proudly showed us what was being done to the new restaurant...a true departure from the dimly lighted 40s style Lantern House. A large canvas curtain separated the old from the new additional space now being renovated into a lavish tropical paradise with waterfalls, bridges over running streams with goldfish. Large tropical peacock chairs filled the many exotic rooms with sounds of Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman enhancing the decor. Now called Bob Lee's Islander, lines waited for hours every Friday and Saturday nights around the block to get in after the nightclubs closed. Bob Lee would be standing at the bamboo framed door, his black hair slicked back and dressed in a tuxedo welcoming his female patrons with a Hawaiian Lei and the familiar "Welcome to Bobby Lee's Islander" We became regulars at Bob Lee's, knew the bartender Jimmy and many of us were known to Bob Lee on a first name basis. We were always brought to the front of the waiting line which impressed our dates. Bob Lee's Islander flourished into two decades, however, Bob Lee who was very popular in Chinatown and had the title of "The Unofficial Mayor of Chinatown", got into a lot of very serious financial trouble. As a result of his many business and personal problems his restaurant and himself aged rapidly over the last years of operation. A new decade arrived where restaurants dropped the "Polynesian" and went back to "Chinese". Bob Lee left the United States and went back to China after his "dream" restaurant failed where he died an old man. Every time I listen to Martin Denny's "Quiet Village" or Arthur Lyman's "Taboo" LP (always played at Bob Lee's ) I go back to that fabulous place in a 1960s Boston Chinatown that was the "Best of the Best" in it's day."



 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4314
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-07-23 11:55 pm   Permalink

OK, so I'm going a little Bob Lee crazy today. I found pics of the menu and the mug that TabooDan noticed in the postcard.








 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4314
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-07-24 12:16 am   Permalink

My last Bob Lee post today. Bob Lee rocks!

This must be papa Bob Lee at the Lantern House.











 
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Jeff Central
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1593
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2008-07-24 02:12 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-07-23 18:38, bigbrotiki wrote:
Whoa! That's gotta go into "The Look of Tiki", man! That's like dining INSIDE a Hawaiian shirt!



WOW!!!



It's like a psychedelic Tiki freakout!!!!

Could you imagine drinking in that place after a few mai tais!!

They even have the Tiki logo hidden throughout the carpet! Amazing!!!

Thanks for sharing dustycajun!

Cheers and Mahalo,
Jeff


[ This Message was edited by: Jeff Central 2008-07-24 02:14 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Jeff Central 2008-07-24 02:15 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-07-24 08:48 am   Permalink

....and actual witness statements that Marty and Arty were played in a Polynesian restaurant, that is amazing! This was not as self-evident as we tend to believe nowadays.

Interesting how the new look of Bob Lee's menu mirrors the colors and lay out of the old one. It must have been the same menu designer who seemed too have been better versed in Asian style, judging by the fact that the Maori logo Tiki looks like a guy in make up --not unlike a Kabuki actor.
I am noting this effeminate look because it seems even more evident in the inside of the menu for the South Pacific in Hallandale, Florida, which curiously swiped the Bob Lee menu Tiki:



...a design which, if we look at the rendering of the South Pacific on page 74 of Tiki Modern, was even meant to grace their oracle tower in giant form!


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-07-24 09:14 am   Permalink

One thing I find fascinating about Bob Lee's in particular is the fact that it does not contain one inkling of decor by either Witco, Oceanic Arts, OR, (which would have made sense because they were THE Chinese restaurant outfitters on the East Coast) from Orchids of Hawaii. Every bit of the decor seems to have been custom made, also judging by the repeating masks and patterns on the moldings. Nowhere else did I ever see the Paul Marshall mug design used for Tiki poles. This place seems to have been a complete "inside Boston Chinatown" job all done by Bob Lee's cronies (just like the menu), which makes even more sense when reading his history:

On 2008-07-23 22:02, Dustycajun quoted:
"....Bob Lee who was very popular in Chinatown and had the title of "The Unofficial Mayor of Chinatown", got into a lot of very serious financial trouble. As a result of his many business and personal ...."

What a fate to have to go back to China after owning all this Polynesian paradise splendor. Maybe he shared Hop Louie's weakness for gambling? And why are so many Chinese Poly pop joint operators named "Lee"?



[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-07-24 09:39 ]


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2008-07-24 10:14 am   Permalink

It's great to hear that exotica was played in the restaurant. Other than live performances, this is the first time I've heard of exotica music being played in a mid-century tiki establishment. What a trip that must have been listening to Taboo under that ceiling!

Great thread guys.


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2008-07-24 10:19 am   Permalink

This fella looks rather imposing. Wish we could make out the details.



 
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Austin_Tiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 31, 2008
Posts: 49
From: I'll give you three chances to guess
Posted: 2008-07-24 10:30 am   Permalink

This thread is going to give someone a seizure.

 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3521
From: HELL
Posted: 2008-07-24 11:11 am   Permalink

bob lee ran into financial trouble...cause he spent too much money on paint!!

 
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tikiyaki
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 2708
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
Posted: 2008-07-24 11:23 am   Permalink

The ceiling looks an awful lot like the cover of Tiki Modern.



 
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