FEATURES | MUSIC | BOOKS | DRINKS | FORUMS | GAMES | LINKS | ABOUT


advertise on Tiki Central

Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop
  [Edit Profile]  [Edit Preferences]  [Search] [Sign Up]
[Personal Messages]  [Member List]  [Help/FAQ]  [Rules]  [Login]
Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Samoa, Cocoa Beach, FL (restaurant)
Goto page ( Previous Page 1 | 2 | 3 Next Page )
Samoa, Cocoa Beach, FL (restaurant)
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-06-06 11:50 am   Permalink

My heartfelt apologies to Chris (TornadoTiki) for cropping off her byline and, equally unforgivable, for failing to recognize that she wrote the article. It was superbly done and really captured not only the facts but the feel of the Space Coast from those early years. I know, as I've been in the rocket business more than 30 years myself, and lived part of my youth here. She truly nailed it.

-Tom


 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiHardBop
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Posts: 423
From: Rockledge, FL
Posted: 2011-06-07 09:39 am   Permalink

You may have to buy her a tropical beverage to make up for it!!!

 
View Profile of TikiHardBop Send a personal message to TikiHardBop  Goto the website of TikiHardBop     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-06-07 10:15 am   Permalink

Looks like several additions to my Mai-Kai tab will be in order...

 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-15 6:06 pm   Permalink

DC, I came across a postcard for the Samoa that appears identical on the front to the one you posted, but with no mention of a Vero Beach location on the back...







For comparison, here's the back of your postcard...




My research suggests that the "Mr. Guy" who handled phone reservations was Guy Hevia, the owner of the Samoa.

What's really interesting is the address for the Vero Beach Samoa location: 10 Royal Palm Blvd was also the same address as The Little Hut in another TC thread of yours...

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=33155&forum=2&vpost=469787&hilite=10 royal palm blvd


So, what came first... The Little Hut? Probably, as its postcard was postmarked April 11, 1960, and the Samoa began operation circa early 1960s. So it would seem that the Samoa just took over an existing Tiki restaurant. When I checked the Indian River County Property Appraiser's web site, the online sales records didn't go back very far, but they did state that the building was constructed in 1934.

-Tom


 View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4356
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-09-16 07:54 am   Permalink

Tiki Tom D. Nice detective work on the second address, interesting to see the Samoa took over the Little Hut. That is some "Hermit Crabbing" as Bora Boris likes to say. The Don the Beachcomber chain did that extensively in the early 1970s.

Also missed this post of yours previously, great photo of the street sign. Wonder what that looked like lit up at night?



DC


 
View Profile of Dustycajun Send a personal message to Dustycajun      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-16 2:11 pm   Permalink

DC, I'll keep looking for more Samoa photos among the local historical society's collection.

The Samoa’s entertainment was true to its Poly pop origins up until the fall of 1967, when, according to this article, “the club burned its grass hula skirts... and went topless a-go-go”...

Florida Today January 5, 1968



Before the change, Samoa floor shows included such entertainers as Samoan Chief Falatugatuga John Alailima fire eating and doing the “Nifo Oti” or dance of the Dangerous Knife as part of his South Pacific Polynesian Revue that also included Hawaiian and Tahitian dancers...

Florida Today September 15, 1972



As part of the entertainment format change, the Samoa built what later became known as their “Sexatronic Runway,” but in this Florida Today ad, it was referred to as the “only Electric Burlesque Runway in Central Florida”...

January 17, 1968



Here are a couple of Florida Today newspaper photos that are representative of the devolved entertainment format at the Samoa...

March 8, 1968



April 30, 1969



A lament on the state of Space Coast entertainment options at the time...

Florida Today May 9, 1968



Here were the qualifications for being a go-go girl at the Samoa (Eddie Mode was the Samoa manager at that time, along with Guy Hevia, the owner)...

Florida Today April 27, 1968



Apparently the local demand for go-go girls was high, as the stated qualifications seem to diminish with time...

Florida Today June 4, 1968



When there had been a launch, those steely-eyed rocket men, who represented a considerable proportion of the Samoa’s clientele, couldn’t let go of work, to the consternation of the entertainers…

Florida Today January 24, 1968





The show at the Samoa occasionally wandered from the exotic to the bizarre in an effort to keep the business going. Submitted in evidence is “Serpentina”...

Florida Today June 14, 1968



Here’s a Serpentina ad...

Florida Today June 14, 1968



Note in the ad that the Samoa is also heralding the return of “our famous Chinese Chef Sammy Gong and his Polynesian cuisine.”

Continually trying to find the sweet spot, the Samoa once again tweaked its entertainment format (there’s a typo in the article: Guy “Herin” is actually “Hevia”)...

Florida Today April 25, 1968








Shows were always revolving among the other area clubs...

Florida Today July 11, 1968




Florida Today August 3, 1968



The Space Coast business climate was tough in 1968, but far worse days lay ahead in the early 1970s. The Apollo 1 tragedy on the Pad had occurred in January of the year before. Uncrewed Apollo test flights resumed in November 1967 and finished in April 1968. The first crewed Apollo launch (Apollo 7) was in October 1968, followed by that dramatic first lunar orbiting mission of Apollo 8 on Christmas of 1968...

Florida Today November 12, 1968







Next, the Samoa and the sports scene beyond a-go-go...

-Tom


 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-17 2:29 pm   Permalink

Eddie Mode, Samoa manager (not owner as the article states), sponsored a winning Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team under the "Samoa Lounge of Cocoa Beach" banner, starting in the 1967-68 season...

Florida Today January 28, 1968









The Samoa team went on to win the state and regional tournaments, as well as the first round of the National AAU Basketball Tournament. I recall reading that they fell to another contender later in the tournament, but consider that a Tiki-sponsored basketball team came oh-so-close to being the national champions in 1969...

Florida Today March 26, 1969




Next, management and more format changes ahead at the Samoa...

-Tom


 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-18 11:04 am   Permalink

We’ll never independently be able to judge just how good “The Amazon Tigress” was, but according to Eddie Mode, manager of the Samoa, “she’s one of the best we’ve ever had!”

Florida Today August 28, 1969



Eddie Mode worked with other area night clubs to keep his entertainers and even his colleagues (competitors) afloat...

Florida Today September 24, 1968



The Samoa owner, Guy Hevia, and his colleagues from other area night clubs bid adieu to Eddie Mode and his wife in what was undoubtedly both an emotional and a raucous send-off...

Florida Today October 7, 1969





Guy Hevia, Samoa owner and manager (after Eddie Mode’s departure), decided that it was again time to make some changes at the Samoa to differentiate his place from the competition. So, he tore down the “Sexatronic Runway” and constructed the largest dance floor in Cocoa Beach, replacing topless a-go-go dancers with entertainers such as Tiare, who performed Hawaiian and Tahitian numbers...

Florida Today January 31, 1970







Business was slow at all the Cocoa Beach area night clubs in April of 1970, exacerbated by the ongoing and riveting suspense of Apollo 13. Apparently, the Samoa had not yet totally discontinued their topless acts, as this article indicates...

Florida Today April 21, 1970








Next, an article re-confirming that the Samoa really was giving up its topless act...

Florida Today May 9, 1970




Next, the Samoa fades, but not before experiencing a brief nova stage...

-Tom


 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-19 2:39 pm   Permalink

In the summer of 1970, the Samoa was sold to an energetic veteran of the Space Coast nightclub scene, Johnny Esposito. He renamed the Samoa to Johnny’s and operated it as owner-manager...

Florida Today August 20, 1970





Johnny’s featured quite an array of entertainment and was unique in hosting the first female topless pool shooter at Cocoa Beach. This article also states that Johnny Esposito brought Louis Armstrong and Tiny Tim to the Space Coast...

Florida Today April 15, 1971











By 1972, Johnny Esposito had evidently moved on, as Johnny’s disappeared from the weekly entertainment guide.

In early 1973, this tax delinquency notice appeared...

Florida Today April 24, 1973




All subsequent articles referenced the Samoa in past tense. Here’s a retrospective on the way things were...

Florida Today December 6, 1972









Though it was the 1970s and Tiki devolution was clearly well advanced along the Space Coast, Poly pop still had its allure, as evidenced by this 1974 Florida Today ad for a Titusville mall sales celebration that included a Polynesian Revue and a Wayne Coombs’ Tiki carving exhibition...

July 12, 1974



Johnny Esposito passed away in April of this year at age 79. After leaving the Space Coast to return to Atlanta, he started Johnny’s Hideaway in 1979, a successor to his popular Cocoa Beach nightclub of the same name. Over thirty years later it evidently remains an Atlanta icon. Here are several memorial articles by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution...

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/johnnys-hideaway-founder-dies-899810.html

http://www.ajc.com/news/john-esposito-sr-79-905152.html?cxtype=rss_news_81960

Johnny Esposito



-Tom
_________________


 View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-20 5:39 pm   Permalink

So, where was the Samoa located? Several of the earlier posts had suggested the site of the present day Wakulla Suites at 3550 N Atlantic Ave, a place that has a definite Tiki look to it from the street. However, all of the postcards, ads, et cetera gave the location of the Samoa as “100 feet south of the 520 [or Cocoa] Causeway on A1A.” The Wakulla is over 2000 feet (about a half mile) south of the SR 520 Causeway on A1A (N Atlantic Ave), so that’s a bit too far even allowing for some exaggeration or rounding off of the distance.

Wakulla Suites



Another post asserted that the Samoa was where the Ron Jon Surf Shop is currently located, at 4151 N Atlantic Ave. I support this as being correct based on the information that follows, although the online Brevard County Property Appraiser’s real estate records don’t go back far enough to explicitly prove this.

Ron Jon Surf Shop of Cocoa Beach



If we use dead reckoning on a copy of the 1949 Cocoa Ocean Beach subdivision plat (still in effect for this part of Cocoa Beach), literally applying the “100 feet south of SR 520 Causeway” address, here’s what you come up with...






The Brevard County property records indicate that the original building on this site dates from 1956 and is currently owned by Ron Jon Surf Shop of Florida Inc. Though at first this location seems a viable possibility, further research shows it to be unlikely. The original building on this site has been extensively remodeled and is currently the home of the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum, using space donated by Ron Jon’s, and it also hosts the Ron Jon Water Sports store, just north of the main Ron Jon store...

Cocoa Beach Surf Museum in Ron Jon Water Sports Store



If one examines the 1960’s street photo of A1A with the Samoa sign posted earlier in this thread, you can see that between the Samoa and the Crossway Inn, there is another motel (hard to read, but the name looks like “Executive Motel”), with a street sign and presumably a street separating the two...




As the Crossway Inn location appears in the online Brevard County official records, it can be used as a reference point...




I also ran across this Florida Today ad for an auto garage at 136 Marion Lane that stated it was located behind the Samoa Lounge. A quick check of the online records database sited the auto garage at Lot 14, Block 15, marked on the plat excerpt above, supporting the photo-inferred Samoa location.

September 22, 1968



Finally, after looking at more than a hundred newspaper citations on the Samoa, I ran across the only item that I’ve ever seen with an explicit Samoa street address, 4145 N Atlantic Ave, in this Florida Today ad...

April 30, 1968



That address would locate the Samoa in the southern block of lots now encompassed by the Ron Jon Surf Shop main store. That’s more than 400 feet south of the 520 Causeway, so distance estimating evidently was not a strength for the folks at the Samoa.

Then I came across this 1985 article that confirms that the old Samoa site is now the location of Ron Jon’s...

Florida Today February 28, 1985






That concludes what I’ve been able to find thus far. While quite a bit of archival news material was unearthed on the Samoa from the late 1960s until its sunset in the early 1970s, the beginnings and early history remain a bit of a mystery. So here’s an opportunity for others to join in and complete the story...

-Tom


 
View Profile of TikiTomD Send a personal message to TikiTomD      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
TikiHardBop
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Posts: 423
From: Rockledge, FL
Posted: 2011-09-21 10:16 am   Permalink

Awesome work, as usual!!! It was good to see old Milt's ugly mugshot again!

I would really, really like to know what the deal was with the "topless female pool shooter". Did you pay to play against her? Did she play solo and everybody else just watched? What? What? Inquiring minds want to know!!!


 
View Profile of TikiHardBop Send a personal message to TikiHardBop  Goto the website of TikiHardBop     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
fatuhiva
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 634
From: Melbourne Beach, FL
Posted: 2012-06-22 7:53 pm   Permalink

Wow this thread was a great read.

Thanks for all your hard work digging up that ancient info!


 
View Profile of fatuhiva Send a personal message to fatuhiva      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11206
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-06-23 04:22 am   Permalink

Yes, if you take the time (a fraction of the time that Tom spent researching this) to really view each clipping, this is indeed a good read. The history of the Space Coast lounge scene - all those names and live acts, amazing! Reminds me a little of that great Aku Aku Toledo, Ohio thread...

 
View Profile of bigbrotiki Send a personal message to bigbrotiki  Goto the website of bigbrotiki     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4356
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2013-04-05 3:41 pm   Permalink

Picked up this matchbook from the Samoa for a better scan. Thought it would be good to bump this great research thread.






DC


 
View Profile of Dustycajun Send a personal message to Dustycajun      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
hang10tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 3960
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2013-04-05 9:37 pm   Permalink

Dusty the paper god

 
View Profile of hang10tiki Send a personal message to hang10tiki      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Goto page ( Previous Page 1 | 2 | 3 Next Page )
U-Moderate:
  
v1.5

[ About Tiki Central | Contact Tiki Central | Advertise on Tiki Central ]
(c) 2000-2014 Tikiroom.com (tm), Tiki Central (tm)

Credits & copyright infomation