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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Trader Vic's Lounge in BH
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Trader Vic's Lounge in BH
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5316
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2007-05-14 09:42 am   Permalink

Good lord. Where is reality around here? Everyone is talking as though tikiphiles are the target demographic for Trader Vic's and all decisions whould be based on that. Hell, we likely account for less than a tenth of a percent of their business! You might suggest that it is the aesthetic we love that draws all the others there to some degree. That may be partly true, but, clearly, it is not the exact truth. Locations that are far from the tikiphiles dark tiki bar architype are flourishing despite your poo poos of them.

A well meaning idea has turned into a caustic, absurd, negative, stupid bunch of propoganda. You'd think somebody killed your puppy with a hoe.

I especially detest the list of people who are bashing the TVL and anyone who likes it at all without every having been there! Taking the opportunity to make some craptacularly dogmatic arguments that have no basis except in some sort of tiki-er than thou flagilating.

This is sickening.

"Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant" the book

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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Feb 24, 2005
Posts: 1954
From: TheSoccerTikiGrotto, Island of LongBeach
Posted: 2007-05-14 09:47 am   Permalink

Too many bagging on the place! Too many personal attacks! Go have a drink and get over yourselves! Either you like it or you don't. Quit trying to dissuade others from checking it out for themselves. It's not cheap, so if you're cheap don't go. It's not the old Trader Vic's, so if that's the only thing you're looking for don't go. Simple enough? This thread was to introduce the place to everyone, not become a forum for baggin on it!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11597
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-05-14 10:07 am   Permalink

Ha Swanky, what a great rant, it really cracked me up! You are right, but if we would be mature, pragmatic realists, we wouldn't be into Tiki!
Our proud motto should be "Why grow up when you can be a Tiki lover!"

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 26, 2007
Posts: 27
From: Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 2007-05-14 10:08 am   Permalink

I went and checked out the lounge for lunch this weekend. The sandwich I had from Circa 55 was pretty bland, but the mai tais were still just as tasty, and the lounge actually looks pretty great. I've always been a fan of crashing hotel pool bars, and this one is a particularly classy, relaxing way to catch some rays and enjoy world-class tiki drinks this summer. Highly recommended.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1110
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2007-05-14 11:10 am   Permalink

Our proud motto should be "Why grow up when you can be a Tiki lover!"

Less virtual reality, more ritual virility!


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1025
From: Redondo Beach
Posted: 2007-05-14 11:37 am   Permalink


On 2007-05-14 09:24, bigtikidude wrote:

On 2007-05-13 00:45, PiPhiRho wrote:
neo-tiki atmosphere including a DJ playing some nice jazz tunes out of iTunes on his mac notebook.

Now can you see why I said what I did?
Paul mentioned a DJ / or music being played on a iTunes player, before anybody else said there was a DJ playing Vinyl.

I still say that if your going to have a DJ its gotta be Vinyl or CDs.
if your gonna have a ipod, hide it somewhere and let it go by itself.


[ This Message was edited by: bigtikidude 2007-05-14 09:25 ]

Mac Notebook, ie laptop, with iTunes. NOT ipod. He had turntables, but at the time I saw him spinning no vinyl. A CD is a source of digital music just at itunes is. Why is a CD an acceptable music source but a computer with stored digital fines is not? It is still going through a sound system and I think it sounded really good. But what the DJ was using to play music is ultimately irrelevant to this discussion anyway. Yeah, it wasn't DJ Lee playing from his extensive collection of 45s. It wasn't "retro" and it wasn't authentic old school Tiki. The TV Lounge really isn't either. It is a very modern simulation of retro tiki. I claim that is *IS* Neo-Tiki. It's just new-tiki with a few vintage items.

Look, if you judge the lounge on it's own merits without comparing it to the old restaurant (just yards away) then you would say the the Trader Vic's lounge is one of the best examples of a neo-tiki bar. If you compare it to the old restaurant, the it is going to compare unfavorably on all the attributes that apply to old-school Polynesian Pop.

What it is is an excellent modern tiki lounge with great drinks and a great atmosphere.

What it is not is the old Trader Vic's.

Accept the change or not. Patronize the new place or not. The change has happened anyway and there is nothing that can be done about it at this point. When the Waldorf comes in to replace the Hilton likely Trader Vic's will be gone altogether. We can only hope then that Trader Vic's will choose to reopen the restaurant elsewhere in the area. The new restaurant, if there ever is one, will not be the old one either. Sven is very much correct when he talks about "Devolution." Tiki will change or it will die completely.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1368
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2007-05-14 1:02 pm   Permalink

Being a Dj is an active attempt to use ones knowledge of their music collection, whatever the format, and weaving a tapestry of moods and "colours" that fits the room, and the crowd.

If you're using a pair of ipods, but actively adjusting to the mood and crowd, then you are dj'ing. If you just hit random play with crossfade, that is not "Dj-ing".

My half cents worth on the subject of dj-ing.

Being one myself.

Not seeing what the "DJ" in question was doing, thats about all I can venture.

[ This Message was edited by: TikiGardener 2007-05-14 13:03 ]

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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 04, 2005
Posts: 3450
From: Mission (Impossible) Viejo, Ca
Posted: 2007-05-14 1:44 pm   Permalink

The DJ Friday Night was DJ El Dopa and he did have records spinning and cds too. I saw them with my own eyes. His new interest is Exotica/Lounge Music. I talked to him for a while and he said that he is building up his collection with these kinds of tunes. He gave me one of his cards and I told him that I would spread his information around. The sound system in the Lounge and around the Pool was excellent.

[ This Message was edited by: WooHooWahine 2007-05-14 13:46 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2007-05-14 10:35 pm   Permalink

Yes he did have vinyl.


Life is a state of mind

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2004
Posts: 590
From: NOHO, CA
Posted: 2007-05-14 11:09 pm   Permalink

Looks like "El Dopa" was adjusting to a new genre of music as fast as the Krell Mind-Booster can ramp him up.

The whole thing's a paste-up; yet in callous times, who can complain when the principal staff's still working, the food still comes on fire, and what-the-heck-the-pool's-right-there (even if the drinks are inexplicably steeper)?

The only problem for some of us, is that this "transference" takes away from all of us the actual space we once shared with 20th Century dynasty, and the venue's original creator, VBergeron. Not to mope about it, but Libby and I won't be having our anniversary in the Garden Room this year. We resolutely cherish our memories of our fantastic reception in the late TV's BH's GR, but it's gone forever now, inn'it?

Amazing how fast Benny embraced Trader Vic's as a brand in the last two weeks, inn'it?


"Don't let it be forgot,
That once there was a Spot,
Where Blowfish all wore sunglasses,
and Tiki-times were hot..."

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 9222
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2007-05-15 10:35 am   Permalink

Ok so I got my behind over to the TVL yesterday around 4 pm.
I figured if I was gonna comment on this, I needed to have a good grasp of what was going on there.
Between being in Circa 55 about 2 months ago, and seeing the pics people have posted I kinda had an idea of how it was gonna look. But I thought that in person it was a tid bit better, but not much. Over all I think the decore
needs to be done up way more. its too light and airy. needs to be darker, more wood, more stuff. Loose the orange paint on the ceiling. and those square lamps above the bar have to go. its too late 60's and doesn't vibe right, with what tiki decore they have. Would I be happy to see a new tiki bar like that open, yeah sure why not. Is it a decent replacement for the now gone Trader Vics, (hell no). but we gotta make the best of it or boycott it, and I thought boycotting was kinda silly.
So I got there, and asked Mike(I think it was/big white guy/not small Asian
bar tender) for a Mai Tai, old style/from Scratch. He used the bottled mix.
Dumbass. So im sitting there ready to be throughly unimpressed. When in walks
Alphine(or Alfee)as some know him. hes been at TVs about 20 years if I recall
corectly, and I(and some of my friends) have become one of his biggest fans.
He really knows how to do the TVs drinks right. Where some of the other guys
are kinda so so. Anyways he said he had taken 2 weeks off, and Sun. was his first day back. He said they have him working Banquet rooms(crime in my book)
but if they are short staffed at the bar they call him over. He said that he was really happy to see me and that he was worried that some of us real drink fans would have thought he had been let go. I guess others had been asking about him too, and the management told him that people were asking about him.
I asked if we should call the place and request that we'd like him in the Bar
more often. He said sure, that it wouldnt hurt. So back to my Mai tai, it tasted ok, as if a from the mix Mai tai should taste. But Alfee rolled his eyes when I told him that Mike had not made it from scratch. And he went on to explain the difference to him.
So after awhile My friends Jon Paul(tiki mag photo guy) and his girlfriend Marie showed up. They were very excited to see/hear that Alfee was there too.
But were very hesitant about coming back. We ordered 2 Navy grogs, and I think Marie had a Fog cutter. Just superb!!!! The best drinks I can ever ask for. We went outside by the pool after a few minutes. They discussed how the first time they were there it was not such a good experience.( Many Factors I wont go into, as they may not be PC enough for TC.) But we agreed that having the right drinks, sitting by the pool,under the 100ft. palm trees, and in good company that it was not a horrible thing. Yes the prices have gone up, and made my wallet scream, every time I opened it. But for a once in awhile treat it is worth it.
About an hour or so later, a guy came over to JP and asked if he was Jon Paul from the tiki magazine. He said his name was Marc, or PremEx on TC.
So we asked him to join us, and proceeded to get our drink on, and discuss all things about the new and old TVs, as well as many other things. Like all the TV's that Marc has been to around the world with his work trips.
There was some teen event by the pool for a few hours, and they had hip hop playing, and there was a lot of talking through a PA, and it didn't really help to make us feel real comfortable, but the drinks helped,and they were done shortly. and we asked that the Hawaiian music be turned back on. I think they put on Santana or something similar. Better than hip hop. Around 10 pm I decided I needed to get going.
So in summary, its definetly not Trader Vics, as the old resturant bar was. But with Good friends, and Good drinks courtesy of Alfee, it was very tolleralble. I will go back.
But I hope that they do plan to open a full resturant and Bar else where.

good to meet you Prem Ex(Marc) hope to see you around again.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 335
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2007-05-15 2:40 pm   Permalink


On 2007-05-15 10:35, bigtikidude wrote:
good to meet you Prem Ex(Marc) hope to see you around again.

You too! And Jon Paul and Marie. Great to run into you and Thanks for letting me join you.


On 2007-05-15 10:35, bigtikidude wrote:
Between being in Circa 55 about 2 months ago, and seeing the pics people have posted I kinda had an idea of how it was gonna look. But I thought that in person it was a tid bit better, but not much.

I kind of went the other way. I usually feel pictures don't do a place justice, and from the pictures posted here, I expected the place to look better in person. I was disappointed. IMHO, it looks just like the old Circa 55 "W Hotel"ish lounge (that I had drinks at on several occasions) with a light tropical/tiki overlay.

To me..except for one or two very small sections of the indoor portion...it was very sterile. But especially outside. Pretty much your standard upscale hotel patio furniture and some space heaters. Inside there were a handful of thinly scattered artifacts (a mix of newly acquired and from the old Trader Vics), a few booths and wall panels from Vic's...and the rest still had the old Circa 55 "new-age" look to it, IMHO.

Here's a view of the inside portion:

Contrary to earlier reports of the televisions playing surf scenes...this day they were all playing either sports, or MSNBC. You might be able to make out the baseball game playing in the photo above.

Here's the main row of booths:

The far carving on the left is from the old Traders...the other 3 (only 2 shown above) are newly acquired, I was told.

Here's looking the other direction at the rest of the booths. All 3 in this shot are the newly acquired pieces:

This one booth sort of sits apart from the others, and has some of the wall paneling from Vic's behind it:

A view of the bar from where first I sat, looking out to the patio:

And another shot of the bar, which just happened to capture Marie, Jon Paul, and BigTikiDude about an hour before I even officially met them! Also in the foreground is Alfie working his magic:

A shot of the indoor tables, and the few token tidbits hanging from the ceiling:

Now on to the totally generic outdoor patio of Trader Vic's Lounge:

And another view:


As evening comes...darkness, some lighting, good company, and brain function impairment ...might help hide some of the flaws and shortcomings of the whole set-up. YMMV.

Best place to be for any tiki/Traders vibe there might be...is indoors, IMHO. Outdoors is just the same old Beverly Hilton pool lounge, as nice as that might be. Except for the drinks if made by one of the talented bartenders from the old Trader Vic's. Which transitions my review from the physical place itself...to the staff, bar, service, and food.

I have to be very delicate here...as I know some might read these boards and think that some of the staff may have talked to me and pushed their opinions or agendas upon me. Let me state that I deliberately didn't chit-chat with any of them. I wanted to review and report my experiences from strictly how I observed them. And observe them I did.

In my hour and a half at the bar...I (and another total stranger sitting near me) noticed a distinct attitude on behalf of some of the newer younger TVL staff...towards the older Trader Vic's staff. I don't know what's going on...perhaps the younger ones are senior because they worked at the bar when it was Circa 55, and could even be a union thing. But there was noticeable looking down the nose and rolling of the eyes on the part of some of the newer staff, when they interacted with the older. The older ones were sooooo going out of their way to please both customers and their fellow workers, that I wanted to lean over the bar and tell Mr. HandsomeBartender/Lead, "These guys are ARTISTS buddy. YOU should pay attention to how THEY work! At least show them some respect!"

It probably didn't help that almost every time Mr. HandsomeBartender/Lead asked someone if he could help them, that the usual response was, "I'd like to wait for Alfie." So, so, so, many of the customers knew the old timers and wanted their services. So I can kinda see why Mr. HandsomeBartender/Lead would be frustrated. To the point that for much of the night, it looked like some of these talented older artists were assigned support duties like fetching ice and supplies, to where it became rather difficult to catch them when they could work their magic. At no time did these older workers complain or show the slightest body language that they were anything less than pleased to do whatever was asked of them.

And magic the old timers did work! Fantastic drinks and a pleasure to watch them create them. From these talented artists...the drinks are worth the price.

I ordered a spare-rib pupu, and it was excellent and very much like those from the old Chinese ovens. No disappointment there either.

Service was excellent all around. Judy the Assistant Manager was warm and friendly. Eve noticed my Reyn Spooner Trader Vic's shirt, and commented "I know that shirt!." I've never seen so many black suited hotel executives and management hover around a place in my life. Some stayed constantly. Others came in an out...new faces all the time. These "suits" outnumbered the customers! And that's not to mention the emotionless Security dudes all over the place. I swear this one guy must have been wearing Depends! He didn't move from his post one time in the 5 hours I was there!

But of course the real reason I stayed 5 hours and dropped over a C Note into the hotel and Trader's coffers...was the company. Good company can lead to a great time at even the most mundane of places. I'm not saying Trader Vic's Lounge was mundane. It was a very nice hotel and pool bar. But the company I met that night is really what made me enjoy myself and stay much longer than I normally would in such a place.

So that's my review. Great drinks IF you get the right guys. So-so to downright dull on the decor inside. Virtually no change from Circa 55 Lounge on the outside. Unless you count the nighttime surf video being projected on one wall and the glow from the Trader Vic's Lounge neon sign. Expensive. Like...really expensive. From some previous reports here...I was expecting it to be better than I actually found it. IMHO...it was not.

But to those that never knew or could appreciate what the old Trader Vic's was...they'll probably never know the difference and/or will likely think this "Trader Vic's Lounge" is the best or even better than the original at the Beverly Hilton.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 9222
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2007-05-15 8:06 pm   Permalink

great review, well worded. I wish I could write like that.
you said what I wanted to say.

It was great to meet you too, and thanks for the compliment, on us being great company. I really enjoyed your stories too.

The thing that I really want to point out is,
Even The Trader Vics that some new form the mid 80's till now, was not what the
Trader Vics was, and to compare this new lounge to the newer TVs' is sad, and
then to think of the old one, that is just down right a crime.
Not that I saw the old one, just the post card that Sven posted.


[ This Message was edited by: bigtikidude 2007-05-15 20:22 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 27, 2006
Posts: 2445
From: The Valley!
Posted: 2007-05-18 02:02 am   Permalink

Well I haven't been yet so I guess that opens me up to having rotten tomatoes thrown at me too I'm about a week behind here but looking at the pic's, & reading up, Quote, unquote I don't think "Mr. Bergeron" would be pleased at all. A TV closed & a mod bar with a couple artifacts took a name. I am glad jobs were saved & everyone looks like they are enjoying themselves, no harm. I want to be happy & positive too, so I will hope some more great changes are yet to happen! Good things in store, they just opened & we are just a small part of business true, never the less & they are spinning good tunes it sounds like & pouring great drinks! This is tiki Central so you can expect criticism, fair enough it's all about the Tiki here. I don't see offence in all the criticism going on, People are protective & passionate about their tiki world & this is the forum for it, if not here then where? Let TC vent ... Anyway, I have a few bucks in my pocket & can drink anywhere I want & that still doesn't make it a "Tiki" Bar or one I care about being in(less it was non tiki related), Hip looking joint though. Bottom line we lost a icon, we knew it was going to happen, but, "when one door closes, another one.....? Now drink up kids, it's all fun!

[ This Message was edited by: Hiphipahula 2007-05-18 11:42 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 22, 2004
Posts: 756
From: L.A. baby!
Posted: 2007-05-18 10:49 am   Permalink

Come on people! This discussion had devolved down into who does and doesn't have the right to close their place. THAT'S NOT THE POINT. If you go back and really take the entire entries in this and the other thread about Trader Vic's abrupt closing, and look at the posts in the whole, its about losing an icon--both in terms of tiki (which we love) and an L.A. landmark. It is a loss and people express their feelings differnetly; Some are apathetic, some are angry, some are militant, some are just sad. But for god sakes, its not about land use rights...ultimately. Its about the loss of a beloved icon.


"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." -- Dean Martin

[ This Message was edited by: Digitiki 2007-05-18 10:51 ]

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