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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Howdy / new tikibar possible in Portland OR
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Howdy / new tikibar possible in Portland OR
Mai Tai Greg
Member

Joined: Mar 21, 2008
Posts: 2
Posted: 2008-03-21 02:13 am   Permalink

Hello, I'm Greg in Portland, Oregon. I have a dream and it's a tiki bar, and it's gonna be mine. I am an experienced bar manager and a refugee from the technology industry. There are two tiki bars here in Portland, the high-volume Alibi on Interstate Avenue, and the very well-executed Thatch on NE Broadway. Interestingly enough the proprietor of Thatch had the same idea that I had, quite independent of me, and implemented it well ahead of me about one year ago. Both of these bars are very different from one another, as mine will be different as well, and in another, as-yet-indeterminate part of town. I plan to use this site to get smarter as I gear up to follow my passion and I look forward to meeting some of you and receiving your wisdom and encouragement, and one day, pouring you something rum-based. Be well.

[ This Message was edited by: Mai Tai Greg 2008-03-23 22:52 ]


 
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RevBambooBen
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7919
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2008-03-21 04:23 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-03-21 02:13, Mai Tai Greg wrote:
Hello, I'm Greg in Portland, Oregon. I have a dream and it's a tiki bar, and it's gonna be mine. I am an experienced bar manager and a refugee from the technology industry. There are two tiki bars here in Portland, the high-volume Alibi on Interstate Avenue, and the very well-executed Thatch on NE Broadway. Interestingly enough the proprietor of Thatch had the same idea that I had, quite independent of me, and implemented it well ahead of me about one year ago. Both of these bars are very different from one another, as mine will be different as well, and in another, as-yet-indeterminate part of town. I plan to use this site to get smarter as I gear up to follow my passion and I look forward to meeting some of you and receiving your wisdom and encouragement, and one day, pouring you something rum-based. Be well.



Always room for more tiki !!

Welcome.
_________________


Bamboo Ben
Tiki Bars I've designed/built. TikiCat, Royal Hawaiian, Kona Club, Frankie's Tiki Room, Pacific Seas, Don the Beachcomber,Forbidden Island, Kon Tiki Tucson, Tiki No,etc....


 
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tikiyaki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 2722
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
Posted: 2008-03-21 08:43 am   Permalink

E Komo Mai Tiki Greg.

You want wisdom ?

1. Hire Bamboo Ben to do your Bamboo, thatch, and any other woodwork....He's the MAN !

2. Don't Play Jimmy Buffett in your establishment

3. Don't skimp on the drinks...use the good stuff.

4. Get a custom Tiki Mug made for your bar with the name on it. The kids in here love that stuff.

5. Post your progress here, the kids in here LOVE that stuff too

Encouragement ?

F*ckin A', another TIKI Bar...HELL YES !!!!

Good Luck in your new business venture !


 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5313
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2008-03-21 09:16 am   Permalink

I spent about a year researching and talking to everyone in the business, tiki and non-tiki. The Headhunter Lounge was my plan. I can sum up the best advice I got. Keep it small and managable. If you do food, make it support the drinks. Make sure you emphasize not just the quality taste of a good drink, but make sure you work a great presentation. Make sure you have drinks that people see and say "I want that!" Always have a drink for two and a drink for four on the menu. One for romance one for friends. Fire and smoke. Embrace all that beach stuff too in its way. Corona. Yes. Buffet? Sure, if your customers like it. Just plan for a small bar and kitchen footprint that can be managed by the fewest people. Keep overhead low. Emphasize the great cocktails with your food and drink menu. That keeps the profit margin high. Make sure no one comes in and doesn't have to try one of those incredible cocktails they have heard about. Make them look, smell and taste good and make them an experience.

High margins, low overhead.


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The Gnomon
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 01, 2007
Posts: 1293
From: MD-DC-VA
Posted: 2008-03-21 09:58 am   Permalink

If you build a better Mai Tai, the tiki world will beat a path to your door.

 
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JenTiki
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jun 16, 2006
Posts: 2345
From: Home of the best rum collection in NC
Posted: 2008-03-21 10:11 am   Permalink

Go to Forbidden Island in Alameda, California, to see how it should be done. It has only been open just short of two years, but it feels like they've been doing this forever. In reality, the owners, and managers have been doing it forever in great establishments like Trader Vic's and the Conga Lounge. Hire people who know, and appreciate, the genre.

Definitely hire Bamboo Ben to do your interiors. There is no one else on this planet who can do a tiki interior like Ben does. It's in his blood, literally. Decide what your "theme" is, and be faithful to it. If you decide to go with a polynesian theme, leave out the parrots, reggae, and Jimmy Buffet. You'll have a little more leeway if you call it a "nautical" theme. But if you start bringing in a bunch of pirate and caribbean stuff, then it's no longer a "tiki" bar.

Do not compromise on the quality of the drinks. The drinks will be the reason many people return. Make the bartenders measure the ingredients to ensure consistency in the quality of the cocktails. Use the best, freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. Don't worry about how much you'll have to charge for the drink to make it the best it can be. The right clientele will be willing to pay a couple extra bucks for a quality cocktail.

Make sure your staff treats the customer with a spirit of "aloha." The first contact with a customer should be a very friendly greeting within moments of them walking in the door, and every interaction thereafter should make the customer feel like they are a friend in your home, not an intrusion in the server's day.

If you are going to have live entertainment, or even recorded music, a jukebox, etc., it too should keep with the theme. Don't play Madonna and Aerosmith in your tiki bar. Exotica, surf, lounge, even a little rockabilly are okay. Current rock, R&B, etc. are just wrong.

I am not, and never have been, a bar owner or employee. I'm not the person who can tell you anything about the business part of having a successful tiki bar. But I know what makes me want to go back to some places, and what will make me run screaming from others. So take these opinions for whatever they're worth to you.

Good luck in your venture!


 
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mrexotica
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 22, 2007
Posts: 33
Posted: 2008-03-21 11:04 am   Permalink

don't fgorget the virgins!

 
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Melintur
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 23, 2002
Posts: 305
From: Portland, OR
Posted: 2008-03-21 11:34 am   Permalink

Hi Greg, Welcome to Tiki in Portland.



[ This Message was edited by: Melintur 2008-03-21 11:34 ]


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BrickHorn
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 03, 2005
Posts: 178
From: Texas
Posted: 2008-03-21 3:23 pm   Permalink

My advice is that you rethink your location. Instead of Portland, open your bar in Austin, TX.

 
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Mai Tai Greg
Member

Joined: Mar 21, 2008
Posts: 2
Posted: 2008-03-21 10:05 pm   Permalink

Thank you all so much. Keep it coming. I am amazed by Tiki Central. I will keep you all posted- it may take a little while.

 
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tikiyaki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 2722
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
Posted: 2008-03-21 11:31 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-03-21 10:11, JenTiki wrote:
Go to Forbidden Island in Alameda, California, to see how it should be done. It has only been open just short of two years, but it feels like they've been doing this forever. In reality, the owners, and managers have been doing it forever in great establishments like Trader Vic's and the Conga Lounge. Hire people who know, and appreciate, the genre.

Definitely hire Bamboo Ben to do your interiors. There is no one else on this planet who can do a tiki interior like Ben does. It's in his blood, literally. Decide what your "theme" is, and be faithful to it. If you decide to go with a polynesian theme, leave out the parrots, reggae, and Jimmy Buffet. You'll have a little more leeway if you call it a "nautical" theme. But if you start bringing in a bunch of pirate and caribbean stuff, then it's no longer a "tiki" bar.

Do not compromise on the quality of the drinks. The drinks will be the reason many people return. Make the bartenders measure the ingredients to ensure consistency in the quality of the cocktails. Use the best, freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. Don't worry about how much you'll have to charge for the drink to make it the best it can be. The right clientele will be willing to pay a couple extra bucks for a quality cocktail.

Make sure your staff treats the customer with a spirit of "aloha." The first contact with a customer should be a very friendly greeting within moments of them walking in the door, and every interaction thereafter should make the customer feel like they are a friend in your home, not an intrusion in the server's day.

If you are going to have live entertainment, or even recorded music, a jukebox, etc., it too should keep with the theme. Don't play Madonna and Aerosmith in your tiki bar. Exotica, surf, lounge, even a little rockabilly are okay. Current rock, R&B, etc. are just wrong.

I am not, and never have been, a bar owner or employee. I'm not the person who can tell you anything about the business part of having a successful tiki bar. But I know what makes me want to go back to some places, and what will make me run screaming from others. So take these opinions for whatever they're worth to you.

Good luck in your venture!



Amen Jen....

It's amazing how NO Tiki bars play the right music. I love old Aerosmith and classic stoner rock as much as the next guy, but for a Tiki Bar, it just ruins the atmosphere.

And, yes, even worse is the hip hop and current crap in a Tiki Situation. Nothing says "ALOHA" less than some guy talkin about "bitches and Ho's, and how much money he got off the guy he just "busted a cap" in.

Just leave it out of the juke box entirely.

Te drinks, the decor, the music it all needs to be right.

Ok, off the soapbox now...

Good Luck Mai Tai Greg, we're all rootin for ya.






 
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Tai Won On
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 246
From: San Jose Island
Posted: 2008-03-23 10:06 am   Permalink

Welcome Greg,
I don't have any new insight to add but just wanted to reinforce what JenTiki and the others said.
They all had valid and important advice.

People often ask us why we drive an hour to go to a tiki bar in Alameda (Forbidden Island).
"Can't you find a tiki bar closer to home?"
They don't get it.

Forbidden Island does it right. Do they cater only to the Tiki Crowd? Hell no. But when us Tiki Central people come in, they make us feel welcome and appreciated.
Add in the fact that the TC Ohana hang out there, the staff is great, decor is unbelievable, and all the drinks are top notch; you start to understand why people drive long distances to get there.

Good luck and once again welcome.


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1784
From: Orlando
Posted: 2008-03-23 10:49 am   Permalink

Learn from the mistakes of those who have failed in the past:

Kahiki Moon

Taboo Cove

Hale Tiki (divert your eyes BK)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

By the way, I think you will get more responses to your thread if you rename the subject line to something more appropriate to the topic than "Howdy". I ignored the thread for a while until I saw a fair number of responses. Best of luck...


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Bongo Bungalow
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 1295
From: Indiana
Posted: 2008-03-24 03:19 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-03-21 02:13, Mai Tai Greg wrote:
Hello, I'm Greg in Portland, Oregon. I have a dream and it's a tiki bar, and it's gonna be mine. I am an experienced bar manager and a refugee from the technology industry. There are two tiki bars here in Portland, the high-volume Alibi on Interstate Avenue, and the very well-executed Thatch on NE Broadway. Interestingly enough the proprietor of Thatch had the same idea that I had, quite independent of me, and implemented it well ahead of me about one year ago. Both of these bars are very different from one another, as mine will be different as well, and in another, as-yet-indeterminate part of town. I plan to use this site to get smarter as I gear up to follow my passion and I look forward to meeting some of you and receiving your wisdom and encouragement, and one day, pouring you something rum-based. Be well.



Never been to Portland. Can it really support three tiki bars? You've been in the bar business, so you know the difference between a dream and a business plan. The demand in the market for what is your personal dream will largely determine its success. Wish you only great things Greg!


 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5313
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2008-03-24 06:32 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-03-23 10:49, GatorRob wrote:
Learn from the mistakes of those who have failed in the past:

Kahiki Moon

Taboo Cove

Hale Tiki (divert your eyes BK)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

By the way, I think you will get more responses to your thread if you rename the subject line to something more appropriate to the topic than "Howdy". I ignored the thread for a while until I saw a fair number of responses. Best of luck...



Just so you know, I talked to the owners of Kahiki Moon and Hale Tiki about what they would do differently and what worked and didn't when I made my business plan. If you want to hear my condensed version, I'll help you however I can. Heck, I'll send you my business plan!
_________________

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


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