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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Aku Aku, Toledo, OH (restaurant)
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Aku Aku, Toledo, OH (restaurant)
tikigreg
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1158
From: ClubTiki
Posted: 2006-12-13 07:53 am   Permalink

Name:Aku Aku
Type:Nightclub
Street:1111 West Bancroft
City:Toledo
State:OH
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
I came across this matchbook cover on ebay for the Aku Aku in Toledo:



A Google search for the Town House Motel turns up nothing, and a phone search for the number comes up as 'private or unlisted'. Anyone in Ohio want to do some gumshoe research?



[ This Message was edited by: tikigreg 2006-12-15 04:18 ]


 
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-12-13 09:37 am   Permalink

I don't know anything about that Aku Aku, but that's the logo tiki from the Luau 400 in New York. The Luau 400 mug is a black cylinder with that tiki mask on the front, painted in orange and purple/pink (it's cold paint, so it's often missing, making the mask look white). The logo could have been lifted, or perhaps the two were related.

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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-12-13 09:42 am   Permalink

I Googled for 1111 West Bancroft (and also 1111 W Bancroft), and the only hit I got was as an address listed on a resume -- perhaps apartments are on the site today.

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Capt'n Skully
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Joined: May 28, 2005
Posts: 404
From: The Lost Lagoon
Posted: 2006-12-13 10:17 am   Permalink

Owens.edu site had this blurb:

"During the early sixties, here in Toledo, a number of Toledo musicians got their break and had the opportunity to tour with the Glen Covington Trio. For Covington, originally from Kentucky, Louisville to be exact, Toledo became a mainstay. The Covington Trio performed at the old Aku-Aku Lounge on Monroe and Bancroft. Of course, the Aku-Aku, like many Toledo landmarks is vanished. In fact a Rally's fast food restaurant stands where the entrance to the Aku-Aku once rested. Local musicans like Butch Stewart (bassist), Swing Lee (drummer), Clifford Murphy (bassist), Claude Black (pianist), and Clanton Ellis (pianist) went on the road, played, or substituted in the Covington Trio. "


 
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-12-13 10:34 am   Permalink

Toledo online has this to say:

Quote:
When the Aku-Aku Club was the hot spot in town in the 60s, the Glen Covington Band was its house band, and Murphy played bass. It's hard to believe, but all the greats would headline at this Toledo club: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and even Vaughn Monroe.




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Humuhumu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-12-13 10:37 am   Permalink

Jackpot! An obituary about the owner gives lots of info:

Quote:
IRVING ‘SLICK’ SHAPIRO, 1920-2002
Ex-owner’s Aku-Aku Club drew crowds, raves

Irving "Slick" Shapiro, a former Toledo night club owner whose Aku-Aku club drew everyone from Toledo’s corporate elite to some of America’s best known mob figures of the 1970s, died yesterday at Medical College of Ohio Hospitals after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

The Toledo native had been in declining health since undergoing leg surgery last year. He had a kidney transplant four years ago.

A colorful bookmaking figure in his early years - he was arrested several times in the 1940s and 1950s for gambling - Mr. Shapiro opened the Aku-Aku in the Town House Motel in 1960, drawing some of the country’s top entertainers over the next decade.

Names like Duke Ellington, Henny Youngman, and Phyllis Diller drew sell-out crowds to the establishment at Monroe and Bancroft streets.

"There’s no question: He ran the last of the great clubs in this town," said Seymour Rothman, a retired Blade columnist. "There’s never been any place like that since. Not even close."

Chester Devenow, retired chairman of the former Sheller-Globe Corp., said Toledo will never see a place like the Aku-Aku club again.

"It was a gathering place for the top and bottom of society - the elite to the lowest characters that Toledo had to offer. It was the last important gathering place for the last generation of Toledo."

By the time it closed in 1970, it had became one of the city’s most popular clubs, drawing the city’s movers and shakers as well as some of the leaders of Detroit’s crime families, including Jack Tocco and Anthony Zerilli.

Gene Fodor, retired Toledo police detective who worked on organized crime, said the Aku-Aku drew everyone, "The top business people in the city, the politicians, and a lot of the mob, they used to come down from Detroit. It was a jewel of a place."

Described as a gracious host with a sense of humor, Mr. Shapiro often greeted people as they walked in the door. The Town House was part of same complex as the club.

The son of a Jewish Polish immigrant tailor, Mr. Shapiro was reared in Toledo’s Old West End. The family, which included one older sister, spent some years in Cleveland but returned here.

Like so many of his generation, he dropped out of school after the eighth grade and worked in various jobs until World War II when he was a medic in the Army. After he returned, Mr. Shapiro was frequently charged, five times in 1948 alone for keeping a gambling house at M&S Sports Center, 320 Monroe St. It was then that he picked up the nickname Slick for his quick hands at the card table.

He later operated five restaurants and clubs in Toledo from the 1950s to the early ’70s, including the Aku-Aku.

Others included Guiseppe’s Italian on Superior Street; the Embers supper club, on Secor Road near Monroe Street; the Gas Light Club (later the Lamplite Club), on West Central Avenue near Douglas Road, and the Granada Gardens on Monroe near Secor.

In the 1970s, Mr. Shapiro sold the Granada Gardens and moved to Las Vegas where he operated a cleaning supply manufacturing business. It was during his years in Nevada when he ran into more troubles with the law.

In 1971, he was accused of taking part in negotiations with Detroit crime families. He was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to conceal mob ownership of a Las Vegas casino and hotel.

In Las Vegas, he had three companies, including Alfa Chemical. Mr. Shapiro was heard on an FBI wiretap bragging that he had been entertaining the governor of New Mexico at the same time Alfa company was trying to get contracts with that state. He was accused of strong-arming several hotels to use his cleaning products. He was was never charged with a crime, however.

He enjoyed golf and belonged to the Indian Wells country club in California. As a teenager, he had been a featherweight boxer.

He moved to Palm Springs, Calif., in the 1970s, but returned to the Toledo area in 1998, living in Springfield Township.

Surviving are his sons, Greg, Myron, and Norman; sister, Alice Hart, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow in Walter Funeral Home, 4653 Glendale Ave., where the funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The family requests tributes to Calvary Assembly of God or the charity of the donor’s choice.


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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-12-13 10:56 am   Permalink

If found pictures on old eBay auctions of a menu, and a slightly different matchbook:




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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11153
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-12-13 12:01 pm   Permalink

Wow, what a history! Mob-Tiki, how cool...makes me wonder if there was any connection with the Las Vegas Aku Aku.
Now I really want to see pictures of the place, AND its illustrious owner. His life sounds like a goddamn' Martin Scorcese movie!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2006-12-13 13:32 ]


 
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Jeff Central
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Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1588
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2006-12-13 4:35 pm   Permalink

WOW!! Thanks for all the research everyone!! This is why TC rules. Research man, research!!!

I recently found out about the Aku Aku lounge on the back of a restaurant record recently. This was the first time I ever heard of it.

Veeeeery Cool

Now where's that damn time machine!!

Cheers and Mahalo,
Jeff


 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Central Poet Laureate

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2006-12-14 8:12 pm   Permalink

Yeah, the Aku Aku in Toledo definitely swiped the logo from the Luau 400. I've been watching for items from this place on eBay for a while. I've got the same photos as Humu.

There was once an auction for a classic 1960s cigarette lighter (one of those wide ones) in a custom box from this Aku Aku with that Luau 400 logo on it. It was brand new and mint and I hoped no one would spot it, but I got out-sniped at the end. If the person who got that cool lighter reads this board, would you post a photo? It was one of the more unique tiki items I've ever seen.

Sabu

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bifcozz
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Joined: Nov 17, 2004
Posts: 64
Posted: 2006-12-14 10:15 pm   Permalink



[ This Message was edited by: bifcozz 2007-02-09 21:38 ]


 
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Jeff Central
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1588
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2006-12-15 04:40 am   Permalink

Thanks bifcozz!!!

That is one cool menu!!!

Cheers,
Jeff


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11153
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-12-15 07:50 am   Permalink

...more on the menu art next week, when I get home!

 
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konakenny
Member

Joined: Nov 04, 2006
Posts: 8
From: Toledo, Ohio
Posted: 2006-12-31 7:50 pm   Permalink

I don't know if this helps, but here's the current google maps of the area. It is a Rally's last time I drove by.
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1111+West+Bancroft,+Toledo,+OH

Didn't know I was so close to "Tiki history"

Kenny


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11153
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-01-01 5:40 pm   Permalink

As promised, now that I am home, AND got a new scanner, here is some additional material:

To me, the study of Polynesian pop and Oceanic Art is about going back to the ORIGINS of all art. So, naturally, I am obsessed with the sources that midcentury designers used to create their Poly-pop objects. There were not that many South Sea Art books out in the 50s and early 60s (And NO books with purely Polynesian art, probably one reason why so many MELANESIAN carvings were used in Tiki restaurant decor).
One, "Arts of the South Seas", I am mentioning and showing on page 246/247 of the BOT, another (German) photo book simply entitled "Oceanic Art", published in the States in 1954 by Pantheon Books New York was THE blue print for many pieces carved by Oceanic Arts in Whittier, to grace the walls of such Tiki temples as the Kahiki and the Mai Kai.

I first recognized the menu cover carving on the Aku Aku menu as a PNG Tami spirit mask, such as this:



..and finally a search in my library yielded the definitive source, a German edition of a Hungarian Oceanic Art book:



Now this book came out in Europe in 1960, so the Aku Aku either used that, or the English edition, from a year later (now quite expensive!):
http://www.alibris.com/search/detail.cfm?chunk=25&mtype=&qtopic=Oceanic%20Art&qauth
=Tibor%20Bodrogi&qyear=1960&S=R&bid=8128870685&pbest=&pqtynew=&page=1&matches=1&qsort=r



Not only did they use the photos of the ceremonial ax and the shield on the menu's cover...



...but they also liberally helped themselves to all the line drawings and put them on the in- and outside of the menu,
here just a few of the many examples:







I hope you had as much fun matching images as I did, Happy New Year to all TCers!


PS: I just split up the URL for the Alibris book link, because I hate when the page gets all out of whack because of a lengthy URL, and I don't know how to scrunch them. Just copy and paste it together, if desired.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-01-02 11:50 ]


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