Joined: Apr 03, 2002
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
|Posted: 2007-01-02 11:34 am  Permalink|
I'll have to make a new entry, as, what I just found out is concerning the Atlanta Luau.
I just got off the phone with Carling Dinkler III. His father was the one who built the Luau in Atlanta. He thinks it was in 1955-56. He said his Dad had a passion for the restaurant business though he owned all the hotels through Carling Sr. It was Jr who had the hotel restaurants brought in house and run by the Dinklers. He had this secret idea up his sleeve for a long time and had been to New York and Chicago and inspired by Trader Vic's he built the Luau across from the Piedmont Hosptial in Midtown Atlanta. He said it was a very modern structure and very new and innovative. Nothing like it in the lazy southern city of Atlanta. People were lined up to get in. They won awards for their food and they brought a lot of the crew from Chicago's Trader Vic's down to work there. He said it was designed by a New Orleans architectural firm of Curtis - Davis, who also designed the Superdome. He says Arthur Davis is deceased, but Buster Curtis is still around. The head of the Luau died recently, but he is contacting the widow to see if she has any scrapbooks or anything. He does not.
He said there were moats inside and you had to cross bridges to get to your table. They had a "Chopsticks Club" and they would burn your name into bamboo and when you came in to eat, they put the bamboo on a rack out front so people knew you were in the restaurant.
It was his Dad that put the Surf Rider in the Nashville Dinkler and he said also the Saint Charles in New Orleans had a Polynesian restaurant.
The Luau was a great business, as we all know, due to the gross profit margin of cheap rum drinks sold at high prices. The Luau was open for only two years when they sold it at great profit to the Dobb's. They used it as a sort of blueprint to open all the other Dobb's House Luaus around airports where they were located. That was in 1959 he thinks. That doesn't jive with the 2 years and opening in 1955. But it narrows things down a bit if someone in Atlanta hits the library archives to research it.
"Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant" the book