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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Trader Vic's, Dallas, TX (restaurant)
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Trader Vic's, Dallas, TX (restaurant)
Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-03-01 7:58 pm   Permalink

Name:Trader Vic's
Type:restaurant
Street:5330 Mockingbird Lane
City:Dallas
State:TX
Zip:75206
country:USA
Phone:214-823-0600
Status: closed
Description:

Originally open from 1967-1989 as part of the Dallas Hilton, the restaurant has reopened in 2007 as part of the Hotel Palomar. Most of the classic décor remained and was restored to it’s original splendor.

But, inevitably, mismanagement and an overall lack of vision contributed to dwindling customers, and on January 11, 2010, after being forced to close due to some burst pipes, the owner decided to keep it closed. Currently there are plans to convert it to retail space.

[ This Message was edited by: Kenike 2010-03-28 14:36 ]


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-03-01 7:59 pm   Permalink

Trader Vic’s has finally made its long-awaited return to Dallas!

After 18 years of being entombed in its original location, Trade Vic’s has reemerged mostly intact. Anything that was still usable was kept and restored…right down to the carpeting.

The original restaurant existed from 1967–1989 as part of the Dallas Hilton. Although closed, the restaurant with all of its décor remained and was occasionally rented out for private parties. In 2004, the dilapidated remains of the Hilton was purchased by two Dallas firms, and so began an $80 million redevelopment of the property. The old Hilton was remodeled and expanded and became the
Hotel Palomar.

Palomar co-owners Kip Sowden and Jeff Berry (not that one) then formed Realty America Hospitality Group to be run by Rusty Fenton. The company then bought the franchise rights for Trader Vic’s and the road to reopening was underway.

One last look at the original Trader Vic’s building just as construction began in 2005. Additions to the Palomar would soon obstruct this view completely.



The entrance as it appears today.





First, every inch of the entire restaurant was photographed and then it’s contents removed and restored. Anything that could still be used was used as long as it was up to code. The carpeting in the main dining room was a total loss so the pattern was reproduced and replaced. Some of the original lighting was falling apart and unusable, but several of the well weathered lamps were returned to their original locations.



More pics of the interior:













Formikahini enjoying her very first mai tai at the Dallas Trader Vic’s:



Here is the private dining room that seats 10. On the walls are lots and lots of TV memorabilia, including a dining award the restaurant received in 1989 (the year they closed).





The big tiki out front is from a company called Asia America who imported it from New Guinea.



Chicagoans will recognize this chandelier as once belonging to the Chicago Trader Vic’s location that recently closed.



The “official” opening date is March 1st. In the meantime, Formikahini, myself and my wife Eva were fortunate enough to attend a “mock service” before the official opening date.


The Moai

The moai that once guarded over the old Trader Vics remained out front for many, many years until one day it just disappeared. Where it went and what happened to it remained a mystery for a few years until this article appeared in the January 2005 issue of D Magazine:

Joe Hunt was the man who took the tiki. As a kid, his father used to take him to Trader Vic’s. So the local financial consultant offered to buy it from the hotel for $2,400. But then things got weird. The hotel—which was owned by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s organization and which was part of his plan to establish peace on earth through transcendental meditation—backed out of the deal. Hunt sued. The Maharishi’s people never showed up in court. And a judge awarded the tiki to Hunt, who carted it off to a friend’s warehouse in Ennis.

But then the hotel sued Hunt, and Hunt was forced to return the tiki to the hotel’s heavies in May 2003. But the statue never made it to its rightful post, and its whereabouts remained a mystery to all but a few of the Maharishi’s operatives.


After the purchase of the hotel in 2004, the original plan was to restore the moai and auction it off with the proceeds going to Special Olympics. Formikahini and I inquired about the status of the moai while talking to Rusty Fenton the night of the mock service. He told us what they would really like to do is return it to the front of Trader Vic’s once the restoration is complete. He then added, “Would you like to see it?”

We were then led out of Trader Vic’s and to the “secret location” where the moai is currently being worked on. Its condition for the most part is not great, and its future still uncertain, but THERE IT WAS...a giant 3000lb piece of tiki history laying anesthetized and awaiting surgery.







While we were there I spotted the old and now broken Trader Vic’s sign. The other side apparently is not broken but I didn’t try to move it to get a picture.





HUGE MAHALOZ to Rusty Fenton, Rock Gennaro, Sven Koch, Eve Bergeron, our waiter Shawn and to all the staff at Trader Vic’s for their hospitality and willingness to let us explore just about anywhere we wanted. It was an honor to be one of the first to dine at the new/old Trader Vic’s and it was an evening we won’t soon forget!


[ This Message was edited by: Kenike 2010-01-18 01:52 ]


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Formikahini
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 1502
From: Houston, Texotica
Posted: 2007-03-01 8:00 pm   Permalink

After several disappointing date changes, the many postponings of the preview/practice run party night were worth it! This is summary of the highlights for Kenike, his lovely wife Eva, and me.

The Décor:
As Kenike’s photographs attest, the sealing of the doors since its closing saved this location from the ravages of senseless gutting suffered by so many tiki treasures. Instead, it seems pristine (not that I ever saw the original). There is nothing cheesy or non-fitting. Even the newly added entrance hallway seems original. Huge bamboo rafters & support poles and endless tapa cloth cover everything. There are also several nice old photos of Mr. Bergeron himself, as well as artists’ sketches of the original Suffering Bastard - and soon, a photograph of Kenike and me (as we were the *only* appropriately attired guests at this pre-opening party!!). The cocktail waitresses’ dresses were also very sharp: Chinese-inspired, and kind of sexy with being sleazy. Hats off to the musical choices, too. We heard only soft, island tunes. No Buffet.

The Drinks:
Starting with perfect Mai Tai’s (not too sweet, delicious murky-brown color), we worked our way through the traditional libations and one brand-new one: The Dallas Star. Although it is sweeter than I’d prefer, I shall nonetheless be getting one every time I go back; you get to keep the glass, which is only available in Dallas . Resembling the tapa cloth printed Mai Tai glass, this one is taller, slimmer and has a couple of stars in the tapa design, as well as the recipe printed in the design.

The Food:
Delicious. We started with fried calamari and jalapeno cheese poppers (very creamy-cheesy). Next came salads, Ahi Tuna Poke (which was fall-apart tender) and the perennial favorite: creamy spinach and oyster based Bongo Bongo soup. The last had Kenike moaning with pleasure. (“Orgasmic!” he wrote on the comment card.) Our entrees were melt-in-your-mouth sea bass, very tasty duck and chicken curry. Very pleasant surprises for me were the diverse mixture of greens and the Javanese dressing on the TV’s salad, plus the peanut butter, uh – dip? – for the flatbread. “-Er, peanut butter?” Eva feared Skippy and had to be coaxed into trying it; she was very glad she did. Think Thai, not Jif. Very addictive. Like we hadn’t eaten enough already. Oh, dessert. Because somehow we thought we could still stuff one more bite in our mouths a la Mr. Creosote, we ordered one order of fried banana fritters with vanilla bean ice cream. Although not as knee-weakening as the Bananas Foster at Northern Virginia’s now-departed Honolulu (*sniff*), the fritters were very good. I’d prefer more ice cream and less “cream” accompanying the bananas, but I’m not complaining.

The service:
Opening night jitters for the staff translated into bend-over-backwards service. Some had minimal experience, while others were well seasoned. But all were obviously excited to be a part of this historic event. I won’t expect such pampered catering on subsequent visits, but I’m happy with the tone set. Trader Vic’s Dallas wants to please. The bulk of the staff does not yet know the drink menu thoroughly, nor what drinks come in what mugs (something we tiki geeks all want to know), but I believe this will happen . After all, it takes time to drink the whole menu a few times through – enough to memorize all of them

Disco Trader Vic’s?:
The restaurant shares walls with the also-newly-refurbished Palomar Hotel. This means that when a fire alarm gets pulled in the hotel, it sounds in Trader Vic’s. Which it did. Which it has every night since they’ve been in there, according to the nervous but very eager-to-please staff. We did not have to evacuate at the alarm, but the strobe stayed on for a while. QUITE a while. It was a slow strobe, so the disco effects were minimal. Eva suggested lowering disco balls in front of each strobe to maximize them. I think they should echo the same giant clamshell light effect that’s on the walls; put smaller clamshells over the strobes. It will make them softer, while still emitting a pulsing light. Gently throbbing clams.

Special surprises:
Manager Rusty Fenton and Sven Koch, VP of US and German TV’s, took the two of us on a tour of the entire restaurant. I do mean, entire. As in, we went inside the tandoori ovens room (and came out deliciously smoky smelling). And through the kitchen (where saw the first ever female head TV’s chef). And after dessert, the biggest, BIGGEST treat of all. As in 15 or 20 feet tall big: we were led to the Top Secret location of the original giant Moai statue, still in a state of evolving repair. Since it will be displayed when finished, I suggest embedding a global positioning satellite chip to preclude any more mystery disappearances. It was extremely gratifying to see that the management finds it important to not only have an outstanding 4-Star restaurant, but also to maintain the traditions that make people like us go out of our way to patronize (and emulate in our homes!) places such as Trader Vic’s.

Looking forward to Destin, now.

Did we mention that *several* more Trader Vic’s are in the works?


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-03-01 8:13 pm   Permalink

Here’s a few extra pics from our visit on the 24th:

The tandoori ovens



A peek inside the kitchen



Trader Vics Passion Punch, a Fogutter and a Zombie





Banana Fritters for dessert & a Black Stripe (in the skull mug).






_________________


[ This Message was edited by: Kenike 2010-11-22 15:51 ]


 
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PremEx
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 301
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2007-03-01 10:12 pm   Permalink

I am soooooooooo jealous!

Thanks to both of you for the great report and pictures. Such good news! And good to hear in the other thread that their phones have been ringing off the hook requesting reservations.

Anxious to see the rest of your pictures soon!


 
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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-03-02 12:17 am   Permalink

Oh man! I'm hyped and so is my wahine!

Great job on the report and pics! Man, being a sign maker, I would love to restore that sign. Or even have it for my own home bar

We need to figure out when we want to do this and set a date with them so they know we are coming. I wonder if we'll have more people show to over fill the private room?

_________________


Texas Tikiphiles Unite!

[ This Message was edited by: Unkle John 2007-03-02 00:21 ]


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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-03-02 10:30 am   Permalink

Great report and photos! So glad to see something restored for a change rather than demolished or "updated". The place really looks spectacular. Here's hoping Destin looks as good.

On a side note, is that Gilligan's Island playing on the tube behind the bar? Too funny...


 
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Formikahini
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 1502
From: Houston, Texotica
Posted: 2007-03-02 11:33 am   Permalink

Hahaha!
Yes, GatorRob, Good eye! Gilligan's Island played continually behind the bar, but no sound. And only the black and white era. It was the only "modernization" (ha!) in the joint and I found it slightly distracting only because I wanted to watch it.


 
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rugbymatt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2005
Posts: 1203
From: Sacramento
Posted: 2007-03-02 1:39 pm   Permalink

Hey the rugby team from Philly (my new club) is playing down there against Dallas Harlequins (my old club) on 5 May in a Super League match. I am planning on tagging along as an "old boy" and will be going to Trader Vic's at least on the Friday evening if not both Friday and Saturday. Maybe I can meet up with some of the local Ohana on my visit.

 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-03-02 3:04 pm   Permalink

Hey y'all - Just wanted to say that even though I've been a Floridian since 1978, the Dallas Trader Vic's is of particular interest to me because all of my family is from Texas (Mom was born in Midland, Dad's parents were from Odessa, Dad went to Tech and A&M, my sister went to Southwest Texas State University). I also spent a couple of years of my youth in Del Rio and 3 years in San Antonio. And during the Staubach years, I was a HUGE Cowboys fan. Too Tall Jones, Golden Richards... ah, those were the years....

Sorry, no tiki to this post. Just waxing nostalgic.


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-03-03 05:51 am   Permalink

In all the excitement of the opening, I for one totally forgot about how the opportunity to attend the mock service came about in the first place. BIG THANKS to Otto von Stroheim for putting us in contact with the folks at Trader Vics. Certainly without his commitment to all things tiki and keeping us informed with the Tiki News emails this would have been a missed opportunity. We were certainly honored to be part of it.

Thanks again Otto!!
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Humuhumu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3624
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2007-03-03 1:17 pm   Permalink

Thank you so much, Kenike & Formikahini, for your very detailed report on the Dallas Trader Vic's! I'm so very, very happy to see how beautiful it is -- based on these pictures, I would say that this is now the most beautiful of the stateside Trader Vic's (possibly beating out Atlanta). I have *got* to see it in person. Congratulations to all the tikiphiles in Texas -- your patient wait for tiki has been rewarded, in a big way!

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Critiki - Ooga-Mooga - Humu Kon Tiki


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midnite
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1230
From: 37? 47' N, 122? 26' W
Posted: 2007-03-03 2:05 pm   Permalink

Very good news, indeed. Great reports from everyone, am happy to read the positive feedback. Excellent snappies as well. Kudos!



That's what a Vic's is supposed to look like, if anyone were to ask me. I recognize the guy I chatted with at SF Vic's, he was there for training earlier this year. The dining area looks great, reminds me of London, and good ole Chicago. I dig the quilted green vinyl(?) used in the bar front and the dining area. Plus the typically Vic's use of tapa cloth. Wow, well done. Superb, I must say.



Hmm, this looks interesting. That cocktail is a different color, that's for sure. Must try, must try. I wished I traveled, would certainly like to visit. Oh wait. Well, I usually breeze through Houston a few times a year, but Dallas is doable. I mean, Texas is not that big, Dallas couldn't be too far away. Not like Alameda or anything.

So happy to see the powers that be did such a fine job with this Vic's. It has the look I most often associate with a Trader Vic's. Some of these fine pics look like they could be old postcard shots from long gone Vic's.

Cheers to the "new" Vic's!
Lonestar midnite


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-03-04 01:47 am   Permalink

Quote:
I recognize the guy I chatted with at SF Vic's, he was there for training earlier this year.



That’s Roberto! I chatted with him for a few minutes last night. He mentioned several Tiki Central folks by name and sends his regards.


The missing pictures in the first post at the top of the page have been filled in (the entrance, the chandelier, etc).

Here’s a few more pics from my most recent visit:

Just inside the entry way



Another from the lounge area across from the bar



These windows used to face outside at the old TV. Additions to the Palomar are now in front of it.



My first Trader Vic’s Grog…don’t let the empty bar stools fool you. I was there early. By 6:30 the place was PACKED.



A payphone? Here’s what the plaque on the wall says:

ELVIS WAS IN THE BUILDING
The King used this phone while in town for his LET ME TAKE YOU HOME tour on June 6th, 1975




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basylica
Member

Joined: Feb 15, 2007
Posts: 2
Posted: 2007-03-05 08:22 am   Permalink

Actually, the firealarm strobes are for TV, not the palomar. We've been over here suffering all the fire strobes for the last couple weeks during TV's fire safty inspections. We passed ours months ago. I'm still ticking from weeks of strobing lights and alarms sounding for hours on end!

Gez, I can't believe thats the same place!! It's amazing.
When the palomar opened, the kitchen was just this giant scary cave, and TV? ugh. Scarier!
I didn't recognize the place after they did their magic!


 
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