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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Aku Aku, Toledo, OH (restaurant)
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Aku Aku, Toledo, OH (restaurant)
bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2007-01-17 05:05 am   Permalink

Aku Aku Toledo, Ohio (restaurant)

Town House Motel/Aku-Aku opened December 1960.
Closed as the Town House Motel 1972
Went into receivership 1972.
Reopened as The University Inn in Sept. 1973
Used as a trucker's hotel until 1984.
Vacant from 1984 until demolition in 1989.
Rally's Fast Food now occupies site.

I never had the opportunity to go to the Aku Aku but I must have drove past the building a million times long after it closed and never fully appreciated it's impact on local history until long after it was demolished. I knew several people who went there in it's heyday. I remember seeing menus and other memorabilia from the Aku Aku that some friends of mine had on their basement wall. They were gone by 2002 when the house was being sold. Didn't know what happened to them. I remember working in the neighborhood in the late 1980's not long before it was demolished in 1989. An entire window of one of the hotel rooms was missing exposing the worn interior of the room. My one regret is that I took no photographs of the place. It was a nice building typical of the era. There is no doubt that it would still be around today if only it had been built in a better neighborhood. Why that area was chosen is a mystery. The area was already in decline and the mass exodus to suburbia in the following decades further sealed the fate of the complex. Today a Rally's occupies the area where the entrance to the hotel and restaurant once stood. Update 8-30-2012...the rest of the property is now being developed for a Family Dollar Store. Visiting the site I found that a chuck of the old hotel swimming pool had been unearthed with it's blue paint largely intact. I took a piece of it with me. Also found were a couple of pieces of the brick that once adorned the facade of the building where the hotel lobby and Aku Aku stood. Most of the debris from the demolition was scraped away. To illustrate how bad the neighborhood has become...while sitting in my truck in the Rally's parking lot two men were going from car to car looking for money.






Article announcing construction of motel. May 1960.


Artist conception of new motel. May 1960. The driveway entrance as shown in the drawing is pretty close to the driveway entrance of Rally's today.

Grand opening December 13, 1960. Jack E. Leonard would make another appearance in 1969. See below. Interestingly the last ad as shown below was listed in the blade almost 10 years from the day that the Aku Aku had first opened.


1961 Henny Youngman.


1961 Carmen McRae.


1961 Phyllis Diller.


July 4, 1962 ad.


1963 Glen Covington





1963. Notice in the small print Tony Celeste and his orchestra. In the mid to late '60's Tony Celeste had his own club in North Toledo



















The Playboys. 1965. Notice in this ad that they advertise the opening of 31 penthouse suites. A third story was added 1964/1965. It was built on "stilts" in that it did not rely on the first and second floor for support.





Artist rendering of new addition. 1964. This is a view from the southeast corner of the rear of the property.





View of southeast corner as it appears today. Lot's of overgrowth from trees and weeds since it was demolished in 1989. Aside from a brand new school built behind the property the rest of the neighborhood has gone to pot.






Article detailing addition of third floor.






Erskin Hawkins 1965.







Earl Bostic September 13, 1965. Earl Bostic died after suffering a heart attack while performing in Rochester, NY on October 24, 1965 just over a month after his Toledo engagement.







Glen Miller Orchestra 1966. According to the article below, the hotel clerk was robbed of $60.00 during this show.







Si Zentner 1966







The Four Step Brothers 1966. You can see them perform in the Jerry Lewis movie "The Patsy".






The Count Basie Orchestra October 10, 1966. Their first of four appearances.






I was unable to do a complete research of late 1966 thru early 1967 because there was a strike on the Blade newspaper and consequently no ads were to be found for this time period. I have no idea who may have appeared here during the period of the strike.






Woody Herman 1967







Ad announcing Harry James band. 1967







Harry James 1967







Morey King 1967







Stan Kenton 1967








Bernie Allen 1967. Bernie Allen appeared with a partner shortly after the Aku Aku opened in 1960 under the name Allen and Rossi. Bernie Allen appeared again in 1968.







Count Basie's second appearance 1967.








Frank Fontaine 1968.








Count Basie's third appearance 1968. Notice the announcement of Harry James' band in their second appearance.







1968. It appears that Frank Jr. and NOT his father played the Aku-Aku after all. In fact Frank Jr. made two additional appearances in 1969! (see below)







Johnny Ginger 1969







Buddy Rich 1969








Coming attractions 1969







Duke Ellington 1969







Frank Sinatra Jr. 1969







Jack E. Leonard 1969. A guy who worked there as a houseboy said that he carried Mr. Leonard's luggage to his room on the third floor...it took him three trips and Mr. Leonard gave him a quarter tip. He said he gave it back to him.







Pee Wee Hunt 1970







Sonny King 1970. Evidently Sonny King was a bigger name than I figured. He was quite a draw in Las Vegas. Check out his video on YouTube.






1969 was quite a year for entertainers. Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Duke Ellington each made two appearances in 1969. Many other well known artist also appeared in 1969.






Researching the balance of 1970 turns up very little. The biggest name to appear at the Aku Aku in 1970 was a fourth and final appearance by the Count Basie Band on September 11,12, 1970. Glen Covington made one last appearance late 1970 also.







The last ad, December 1970. According to the articles below the Aku Aku was still opened but no longer featured big named entertainers. This remained in effect until the complex closed in early 1973. This ad appeared almost 10 years to the day that the first ad appeared announcing it's grand opening.





A newspaper article discussing foreclosure of property 1972.






1973 New management part 1






1973 New management part 2







September 1989 Farewell Aku Aku part 1







Farewell part 2






Farewell part 3






Farewell part 4








Next stop a drive-in restaurant...The area to the right was where the hotel lobby entrance stood. Further right was the Aku Aku entrance.




Another view of the entrance site.





Looking norhteast along Bancroft towards the old Aku-Aku site.



Looking from the southwest corner of the Town House Motel property towards the norhteast corner where the Aku-Aku stood. The block wall is all that remains of the original building construction. Notice all the growth of trees and such over the years of neglect...almost 20 years since it was demolished. Compare this with the article above showing a drawing of the rear of the complex in 1965.

1960-1964 entertainers.



1969 Showcase cover.


Matchbook from the Town House Motel




















[ This Message was edited by: bdzmusicprod 2008-06-17 04:45 ]

[ This Message was edited by: bdzmusicprod 2008-07-15 04:57 ]

[ This Message was edited by: bdzmusicprod 2011-03-25 04:46 ]

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[ This Message was edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-08-30 05:22 ]

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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-02-08 09:20 am   Permalink

Very cool research, thank you. Now that we know the place was originally supposed to be called the Stardust, the Vegas connection is certain: Stardust--Aku Aku!

And I love the surrounding entertainment ads just as much as the Aku Aku ones themselves, WHERE is my time machine!


 
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gonzo
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 06, 2003
Posts: 77
Posted: 2007-02-08 10:25 am   Permalink

During my high school years (Devillbis Class of 80) I lived about 3 miles from this place. In 1976 the entire area was pretty scary. Lots of burned out houses and a very busy Church's fried chicken stand. I havent been back in a long time (humming welcome back kotter to myself).

My dad recalls across the block from the Aku the Swayne feild (now Krogers) where the Mudhens played and also the famous Jack Dempsey fight tool place. If they were still alive I would call and ask if they ever went down to the Aku.

Its hard to recall the glory days of a city such as Toledo. Toledo and Detroit were once the equivalent of silicon valley. Sadly the Old West End architecture is crumbling away. Devilllbis high is closed. After 4 generations in Toledo I left as well.

The entire midsection of this country is rotting away. When its all finally burned down and hauled away to be recycled for freeway expansion will the country realise whats been lost.

Does the railroad bridge still have "The Sign of Vibration" graffiti on it . I remember the security guard at Devillbiss who used to chase us kids around for smoking weed had something to do with the University Inn. He looked like Cannon from the TV show and so thats what we called him.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-03-27 1:55 pm   Permalink

Jeez! Who did NOT perform at the Aku Aku, is the question! Those Vegas mob ties sure brought in the talent! Or was there any indication Toledo was going to be the new entertainment capital of middle America?

 
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Aku Aku Babe
Member

Joined: May 08, 2007
Posts: 1
Posted: 2007-05-10 8:02 pm   Permalink

The Aku Aku was everything a Tiki restaurant should be. I had many dinners there, enjoyed the entertainment, and greeted the New Year several times. The place definitely had an aura as did the owner, Slick Shapiro. After discovering this site, I contacted several acquaintances and was digging around for information about Slick. Even though everyone knew him, they didn't know much more than what the obit. covered. I did find out that he was supplying towels to the hotels while in Las Vegas. I'm sure he was involved in more. Toledo was a hot bed for mob activity, and it was kind of a safe haven.

Everyone that was anyone went to the Aku Aku. There were lawyers, union guys, working girls, and lots of gamblers.

It was vacant several years before they tore it down. I always hoped that someone else would try to reopen it--but that didn't happen. When they bulldozed it, I went that evening, crossed the safety line and picked up about 5 bricks. I have them today. I have a couple of Tiki drink mugs, but I can't swear that they came fromt the Aku Aku. I've had them for a long time, and they could have come from somewhere else..but I doubt it. Thanks for the trip back in time, and if I was a little interested in Tikis, I am now a fan. If I turn up anything else, I will share it. I love your site.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-05-10 9:24 pm   Permalink

Cool! I wonder if there is a Luau 400-style mug that says Aku Aku on it...

 
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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-08-26 04:38 am   Permalink

Regarding the Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant I found out fairly recently that one of my business contacts is the friend of one of Irv Shapiro's sons. I asked her if she would ask him if he had any photographs of the place that I could use to post on this web site. She did ask him and he told her that he has nothing in his possession and that he had no memories about the Aku Aku as he was a child when his father ran the place.
So...what seemed like a good lead kind of fizzled out. In the mean time I'll keep searching for photographs.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-08-27 01:58 am   Permalink

That is too bad, that place and its owner are such classic examples of Tiki Lounge culture.

 
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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-09-16 04:46 am   Permalink

Update on the Aku Aku in Toledo. I was able to contact the son of Sonny King who appeared at the Aku Aku in 1970. He shared some delightful stories about his father and his association with Jimmy Durante and the "Rat Pack". It would have been a wonderful experience to have seen this man perform.
Further research reveals that the style of architecture of the Aku Aku was called "googie" which was popular throughout the 1950's and early 1960's. Still no photographs to share as of yet.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-09-16 10:00 am   Permalink

Aaah! Sonny King, my hero: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=ys4U6e_WeF0&NR=1

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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-10-24 1:18 pm   Permalink

Found a listing for the Town House Motel from a 1967 Quality Courts Hotel listings. Pretty cool! Top price for a room was ONLY $22.00! Notice too that they do mention banquet rooms, Restaurant, cocktail lounge, night club and entertainment nightly. Call now to make a reservation...I wish! Also interesting is the map shows I-75 and I-475 as a work in progress. Actually the interstate was not completed until around 1972-1973. Still no pictures of the Town House Motel as of yet. I've checked Flickr and turned up nothing for Toledo except a postcard of the Commodore Perry Motor Inn from the late 1960's.

 
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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-10-24 1:31 pm   Permalink

I got to talk with a friend recently who had memories of going to the Aku Aku. She wanted to specifically see Earl Bostic perform there in 1965. Earl Bostic had come into the restaurant that she and her husband owned and mentioned to her husband that he did not see any of his records in their juke box. He later told his wife of the meeting and was upset that he did not call her out to meet him. When he was back in Toledo for the 1965 appearance her husband was in the hospital so they couldn't go. He promised to take her the next time he came to Toledo. They never did get to see him perform...Earl Bostic died about a month later while performing at the Midtown Plaza in Rochester, NY. Incidently my friend has no memorabilia from the Aku. Struck out again!
Earl Bostic's 1965 appearance at the Aku Aku.


 
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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-11-11 05:12 am   Permalink



Here is a copy of a photo from Showcase magazine 1969 showing Irv Shapiro (standing) next to a table full of guest enjoying themselves at The Aku Aku. Irv Shapiro was the manager/owner of the Aku Aku from it's opening in 1960 until early 1971.
Unfortunately you cannot see any details of the interior decor but at least this is a good step in the right direction.


 
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bdzmusicprod
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 19
Posted: 2008-12-09 05:05 am   Permalink

This is an article showing the final phase of the Town House Motel property as a trucker's motel. The Aku Aku had been reduced to an ordinary restaurant.











 
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McSwanky
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 13, 2009
Posts: 11
From: The Glass City
Posted: 2009-06-28 4:44 pm   Permalink

I have been searching for years for memorabilia from the Aku Aku to no avail. Although I haven't ever found any merchandise, I have heard some neat stories, but nothing really new compared to what is posted here. To say that Slick had some mob ties would be a severe understatement. From the rumors I have heard, every kind of back-alley crime you wanted to get involved in was happening there- prostitution, running numbers, anything you could think of. It was a major front between Detroit and Cleveland, conveniently located within 10 minutes of a major port.
I have been trying to find out how Slick was associated with the Stardust in Vegas. He was born and bred in Toledo, so I would love to see the connection. I am assuming some sort of mob tie?!
Rumor is that he was also actually pretty well acquainted with the Sinatra family.
_________________


 
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