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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Trader Vic's to open in Florida!
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Trader Vic's to open in Florida!
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1784
From: Orlando
Posted: 2007-07-25 3:54 pm   Permalink

Well, I got the chance to visit the new Trader Vic's in the Destin corner of the Redneck Riviera (it's okay, I can say that, I grew up there). I had high hopes that even though the place didn't look like the Atlanta or Dallas Vic's, it would be able to match them in quality of drinks, food and service. Boy were my hopes dashed in a hurry.

First off though, the place looks nice for a slick, contemporary take on a Polynesian restaurant. The indoor bar is attractive, with monkey pod tables scattered around. The dining room is cozy, featuring half circle booths, tables, tapa-ish wall hangings and a brick oven. The outdoor bar is servicable, if rather bland. And scattered around the inside and out are a host of Balinese pseudo-tikis.

Then I met the manager, who is full of enthusiasm about his new place. He talked about how he's met Sven Kirsten, how he was at the Dallas Vic's when it was being renovated, etc. I thought "Hey, this guy knows his stuff. Maybe there's hope."

We ordered a round: Tiki Puka Puka, Mai-Tai, Zombie, Vic's Grog. The Puka Puka was just okay, but a pale imitation of what I've tasted in Atlanta. The Mai-Tai was servicable. The Zombie and Vic's Grog were putrid. Someone forgot to tell them that the Zombie is supposed to be a strong drink. It had the color and taste of Kool Aid.

Next came the appetizers, 5 or 6 of them. Several were ice cold. The little butanes under the serving plates weren't lit. We told the waitress, who said "Oh, okay. I guess I'll go get a lighter." Uh, yeah. Duh.

The manager came over to me and wanted an "honest opinion" from me. I reluctantly gave it to him. He said liability in Florida keeps him from putting too much alcohol in the drinks (Huh?). Then he mentioned the Doctor Funk's Son and that it's too strong to be on the menu, but they will make them on request. So I requested it. I think he was trying to impress me because he went behind the bar and made it himself. I was all ready for something special. I take a few sips and my companions ask me how it is. "Terrible."

To top it all off, every time the door to the patio opened, we were bombarded with the sounds of a live band playing Southern Rock. And this band was playing LOUD. How many people would pay $40 for a steak in an upscale-looking restaurant while having their ears assaulted with Sweet Home Alabama at 90 decibels?! From the sparse number of diners we saw on that Saturday night, not many. I jokingly said the band sounds like it would be more at home down the street at the Hog's Breath bar. Later on, our waitress commented to us on how she liked the band and that they hired them away from the Hog's Breath bar. I'm not joking.

We all agreed we'd never go back unless they miraculously fix all the problems. I'm not holding my breath.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 09, 2006
Posts: 891
From: Largo, Floriduh
Posted: 2007-07-25 6:48 pm   Permalink


On 2007-02-19 14:30, TikiLaLe wrote:
Mr. Gator Rob
I do hope you have a good drink at TV.. Let's not hope for some blond surfer pouring pre-mix drinks ....
Florida it's not the humidity it's the stupidity !!!!!

When I hung at the Trader Vics @ the Plaza Hotel in the 80's ....The bartender was in his 50's he was a 'professional bartender' the drinks where perfect ... the bill was outrageous ... but it was the 80's i was young and lived in NYC.

Florida is a joke but the weather is beautiful .... and the booze is cheap !!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11594
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-07-25 7:49 pm   Permalink


On 2007-07-25 15:54, GatorRob wrote:

Then I met the manager, who is full of enthusiasm about his new place. He talked about how he's met Sven Kirsten, how he was at the Dallas Vic's when it was being renovated, etc. I thought "Hey, this guy knows his stuff. Maybe there's hope."

Did he say which other Vic's he worked at before, or where we met? I only remember meeting a few TV managers in my travels...Chicago...Berlin...Atlanta....Hamburg...where else?...who is he?....hmmm
It breaks my heart to hear such a review, but I commend you on telling him your honest opinion, if WE don't do it, who will? We might get written off as Tiki snobs, but we should stick to our standards.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 11, 2006
Posts: 814
From: SoCal
Posted: 2007-07-25 8:07 pm   Permalink

Too funny. Head over to Hog's Breath and ask Steve Gordon, the bartender, to make you a Mai Tai. I bet it comes out better


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1784
From: Orlando
Posted: 2007-07-26 09:41 am   Permalink

Sven - Well, I hope I didn't sound too snobbish. He was pressing me for an "honest" opinion though, so I obliged. Sad thing is, he knows something about the history of Trader Vic's, so you'd think he'd know how to get it right, but something is clearly getting lost in the translation. But to answer your question, his name is Russel Hedrick according to the Vic's website and I recall that sounds right. He's from Scottsdale, AZ so I think he worked in some capacity at the new Vic's there. I'll PM you a photo.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2006
Posts: 435
From: Mobile, AL
Posted: 2007-07-26 11:13 am   Permalink

GatorRob, I hate to hear that you had a crappy expereince in Destin. My wife and I met my folks down there a few weeks ago and while I agree with you on the Decor and the Band, our food and Mai Tai's were great, our service was impeccable, and we got to free $20 gift certificates to boot. It's not the ATL Trader Vics in atmoshpere, our food and drinks were on par with it. The caveat to this is we did have the oyster appetizer that was pretty rough, and my menehune juice from the outside bar was prety blah. Overall though are experience was great, enough so that we sent My wife's sister and her family over there last weekend and they thought it was great as well.
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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1784
From: Orlando
Posted: 2007-07-26 2:22 pm   Permalink

frostiki, several members of my family had been there on a couple of different occasions and their opinion was generally negative. But I talked them into going again anyway, and I wish I hadn't. Found this review. Mostly it's positive talking about the food (we didn't have any entrees so I can't comment on them). It says nothing really about the quality of the drinks, not that I'd trust most reviewers on drink quality. But at the bottom of the review she says "Service was poor. Our server was unfamiliar with both the drink and food menus, conveyed incorrect information, and improperly identified items that came to the table." This was our experience. When I ordered a Tiki Puka Puka, the waitress said "A what? Where is it on the menu?" She heard me. She just didn't know what it was. The problem with the area is there just isn't a stable pool of professional wait staff. Most servers are 20-somethings who will be there one month, gone the next. Look at the staff at the Mai-Kai or Atlanta Vic's. Many have been there for years.

I'm glad your experience was good though. Wish I could say the same.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 447
From: Dayton, Ohio
Posted: 2007-07-31 5:47 pm   Permalink

Wow. I was so excited about T.V. being in Destin (my home away from home). Still, we may try it out when we go back down, but when there are so many great places to eat and spend your money, I doubt that Vic's will fit into our busy eating schedule.
Thanks for the reviews.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 637
From: Melbourne Beach, FL
Posted: 2007-08-07 9:46 pm   Permalink

sucks to hear about the service, etc.

I have to say, I'm a tiki snob, but I don't exactly hate that decor- its kinda modernish and minimal, which I like about as much as the thatch-overload style when done well.

However, the southern rock thing was a trip-killer for me.. I won't be doing the long haul up there from Melbourne Beach anytime soon after that nugget of info.

Sucks- they should know what theyre doing- think of all the money dropped into that place.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 17, 2005
Posts: 358
From: Fort Lauderdale
Posted: 2007-10-10 1:50 pm   Permalink

I stumbled upon the website for a radiostation (Coast 93.3 in Destin, Florida) that has 50% off gift certificates available for the Destin Trader Vic ($50 certificate for $25, plus a 3.50 processing fee). Here is the link: http://wncv.cumulus-deals.com/index.php?index_type=promo-detail&pid=29981

They have 15 certificates available. There are good and bad aspects of it. First, you can use the certificates to purchase alcohol (unlike many of these type of radio station half-off restaurant gift certificates) and you can buy 2 of them. However, the bad part is that you cannot use any unused portion of the certfificate on subsequent visit (which may not be a bad thing if you are definiately going to be eating/drinking at least $50 worth of food and drinks. If you are going buy one of these certificates, just make sure that you plan on that, and don't expect to go there and buy a couple drinks on several occassions.

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