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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Tonga Room SF (Not) to be demolished?
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Tonga Room SF (Not) to be demolished?
Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3533
From: HELL
Posted: 2008-12-11 05:27 am   Permalink


... Aye!!!....down with the tonga room i say!!!! down with it all !!!!!!!!! aaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!
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LOL Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 06, 2007
Posts: 932
From: San Diegoish
Posted: 2008-12-11 4:21 pm   Permalink

What's the genesis of this rumor? Is there any foundation to it at all?

 
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2009-01-23 06:37 am   Permalink

Latest news from the Fairmont, and I'd call it promising:

From the SF Chronicle:

1_23_09

Ever dream about living in the Fairmont Hotel, with its beautiful bay views and easy access to the Tonga Room? You just may get the chance.

Owner Maritz Wolff & Co. intends to do an environmental study of a plan to convert 226 hotel rooms into condominiums in the Fairmont tower, the 1961 addition to the storied 1907 hotel.

Plans call for deconstructing the tower and replacing its rooms with as many as 160 condos, which could range in size from 1,700 to 2,000 square feet. Entire floors - at a whopping 7,500 square feet - also may be available, according to company spokeswoman Susan Sagy.

Sagy declined to name a price for the new digs, but in the past couple of years, new condos in luxury hotels have sold for more than $1 million. And that doesn't factor in the monthly condo fees.

She said the project would not add any height or bulk to the existing tower, which rises from atop Nob Hill at the corner of Sacramento and Powell streets.

The project would take several years to get through the city bureaucracy, and current economic trends may have changed by then, Sagy said. The condo notion also reflects Maritz Wolff's belief that large convention-oriented hotel business has migrated South of Market and that the Fairmont should be geared toward tourists.

"The Fairmont is better as a smaller size, grande dame of boutique hotels," Sagy said.

Discussions about condo conversions at the Fairmont started in 2005 but were tripped up by a temporary moratorium and city legislation limiting the number of hotel rooms that can be converted each year.

- Robert Selna

___________

Conversion of the existing 1961 tower would seem to me to be more optimistic for Tonga than a demolition.


 
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tikibars
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 2024
From: Aku Hall, Chicago
Posted: 2009-02-19 11:40 pm   Permalink

I received a letter from one of my contacts today:


Thu, 19 Feb 2009

"As you are one of nation's formost authorities on Tiki bars, I feel it is my obligation to inform you the historic Tonga Room at the San Francisco Fairmont is scheduled to be demolished.

I live [very near to] to the Fairmont, and am an historical architect and member of the Society Of Commercial Archeology. The developers are planning a new condominium project on the back of the Fairmont. They are obligated to present it to owners within 300' of the project .. When they gave their presentation they didn't volunteer the information, but I asked if the Tonga Room would survive and they said no.

The project is in an early stage of approvals. Now is the time to act. Here is the status of the project. In California we have the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The project sponsors have to provide an Environmental Impact Report (EIR.) The project has to look at any impact on cultural resources of the project. The public is asked to provide input on the scope of the EIR. In the letter from my homeowners association we declared that the Tonga Room was of historic significance, and the impact of its demolition should be studied.

Unfortunately the neighbors are more concerned with the exterior appearance and compatibility with the surrounding Beaux Arts structures.

Thus I feel it is imperative to tap into a national concern for saving the Tonga Room. If we can prove the significance, and show a ground swell of national concern and support, I can present that to the local Historical Preservation Commission, Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors.

Can you suggest a way to communicate with people who understand the importance the Tonga Room, and get them to rally to save it?

Tiki bars may come and go, but that tropical rain strom will be gone forever!

I appreciate your time and suggestions."




I explained to her that we've seen this before, several times, and that all prior efforts to save these places have come to naught.

But it is great to know that there are finally serious architectural historians who recognize the importance of tiki, and care about saving it.






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arriano
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Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1303
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2009-02-20 10:33 am   Permalink

A friend of mine dined at the Tonga Room a couple of weeks ago and I asked him to ask someone there whether it was true it might be closed. He asked his waitress and her reply was, "That's bullshit." Which I think is a funny thing for a waitress to say.

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dangergirl299
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Feb 18, 2003
Posts: 893
From: Bay Area
Posted: 2009-02-20 10:38 am   Permalink

Here is the info I found online regarding the CEQA process the SF Planning Commission has to approve:

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/2008.0081E_950_Mason_NOA.pdf

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/2008.0081E_950_Mason_NOP.pdf (the second link is 50 pages and takes a while to load; if you compare the proposed East-West Section with the Existing East-West Section you see there is no Tonga Room in the proposal).

Send an email TODAY (deadline is Feb 20) to: Devyani.Jain@sfgov.org urging the Planning Dept to not approve the project unless the historic Tonga Room is specifically included in the retention of the historic Hotel building. Also at 415-575-9051.

Written comments should be cc'd by mail to Bill Wycko, Environmental Review Officer, or SF Planning Dept, 16560 Mission St Suite 400, SF, CA 94103-2479. (Email bill.wycko@sfgov.org)

You can also call the Project Sponsor, Fairmont Hotel Company at 310-966-2370 or environment@fairmont.com or news@fairmont.com. Mail address: 220 MONTGOMERY STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94104.

If you know anyone in the Bay Area newspaper or tv news biz, it would be good to contact them too.




[ This Message was edited by: dangergirl299 2009-02-20 10:47 ]

[ This Message was edited by: dangergirl299 2009-02-20 10:49 ]

[ This Message was edited by: dangergirl299 2009-02-20 10:51 ]

[ This Message was edited by: dangergirl299 2009-02-20 14:32 ]


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dangergirl299
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Feb 18, 2003
Posts: 893
From: Bay Area
Posted: 2009-02-20 11:47 am   Permalink

Here is the text of what I just sent to the Planning Dept:

Dear San Francisco Planning Department:

This letter is a formal objection to the 950 Mason Street – Fairmont Hotel Revitalization and Residential Tower Project that the Fairmont Hotel Company – San Francisco LP has proposed. I urge the Planning Department to deny approval of the project unless the historic restaurant the Tonga Room is included in the mandate to retain the historic hotel building.

The historic San Francisco Fairmont Hotel is wildly popular because it has maintained much of its original pre-art deco interior. The Fairmont Hotel’s landmark Polynesian restaurant the Tonga Room has been drawing fans since the last 1940s. This is one of the last un-remodeled original “tiki” restaurants in California and certainly the most elaborate. The Tonga room has a man-made lake in the middle, and delights guests with periodic thunder storms and rain showers.

The history of the Tonga Room is as compelling as the rest of the historic Fairmont building that is slated to be retained. In 1929 an indoor swimming pool was added to the historic 1902 building. In the late 1940’s, people going to take a dip in the 'Fairmont Plunge' were entranced to find themselves aboard the 'S.S. Tonga,' which provided a nautical atmosphere, along with exotic drinks accompanied by Chinese food. The S.S. Tonga evolved into the Tonga Room, with its musical boat in the middle of the pool, tiki huts under which patrons can enjoy a refreshing Mai-Tai, and an exotic menu reflecting the South Sea & Asian ambiance. A gleaming dance floor provides space for guests to dance which was originally the deck of the historic S.S. Forrester, one of the last of the tall ships that plied the route between San Francisco and the South Sea Islands.

World-renown for its original tiki chic, The Tonga Room has enchanted guests with its tropical decor, frothy libations and Asian cuisine for over 60 years. The eclectic Polynesian ambiance features a live band performing from a thatch-covered barge on the pool, a historic dance floor built from the remains of the S.S. Forester, and periodic light tropical rainstorms, complete with thunder and lightening....indoors! Following a $1 million restoration, The Tonga Room has rekindled the excitement of its unique and time-honored décor to recapture the glory of one of the nation’s first tiki palaces. Today, The Tonga Room is riding the wave of the tiki revival and recently has been recognized as one of the nation's hottest bars by InStyle, Gourmet, Travel & Leisure, Harper's Bazaar and Wallpaper magazines as well as The Food Network. As part of the marble-lined historic Fairmont Hotel, the Tonga Room has enchanted royalty and U.S. Presidents since 1945.

TikiCentral.com, which has over 9,000 members worldwide, is shocked and dismayed at the possibility that the Tonga Room would be demolished to make way for some overpriced condominium tower. (See
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=30385&forum=1&start=0&50) This website has over 700 posts alone discussing and admiring the Tonga Room. Tiki Central organizes an annual Tiki Bar Crawl of the Bay Area, which always spotlights the Tonga Room, and draws guests from all over the world. (See http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/10/tiki-is-back-cocktails-drinks-hawaiian.html). In addition, popular website yelp.com has received over 400 reviews of the Tonga Room, almost 100 of which stated that the Tonga Room was “of my very favorite tiki bars in the country” (emphasis added).

The historic Fairmont Hotel, which houses the Tonga Room, has survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 as well as the depression and neglect during World War II. It would be a deep shame on San Francisco to lose this significant artifact to an overpriced condominium complex for the ultra-rich, a dubious endeavor in today’s economy.

As an attorney who has litigated CEQA cases, I am very concerned about the propriety of approving a project that seeks to demolish such an integral part of San Francisco’s history and draw, as well as lack of notice to the public at large. Please send me notification of any further hearings or deadlines for public comment on this matter.

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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2009-02-20 1:15 pm   Permalink

WRITE TODAY!



 
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Polynesiac
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 29, 2004
Posts: 2085
From: San Pedro, CA
Posted: 2009-02-20 1:50 pm   Permalink

message sent - thanks everyone for getting the ball rolling!

Tiki-bars, I'm glad you were sent that letter - I'm excited to know that historical architects want to save tiki bars!
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Unga Bunga
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5824
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2009-02-20 2:00 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-02-20 10:33, arriano wrote:
He asked his waitress and her reply was, "That's bullshit." Which I think is a funny thing for a waitress to say.



I tell that to a customer when they want to split a drink for two.

One thing about the Tonga, they do have some disgruntled employees.


 
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Haole'akamai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 2273
From: The Polynesian Port of NOLA
Posted: 2009-02-20 2:12 pm   Permalink

Maybe this time?

 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2009-02-20 2:54 pm   Permalink

I sent mine and passed the word to all my friends. Thanks for the links dangergirl!

 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2009-02-20 2:54 pm   Permalink

I sent mine and passed the word to all my friends. Thanks for the links dangergirl!

 
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Hiphipahula
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: May 27, 2006
Posts: 2426
From: The Valley! Female, leo,fav color pink.
Posted: 2009-02-21 4:51 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-12-10 22:55, Unga Bunga wrote:
Well, if they ARE shutting down the Tonga, let's have a party
before they shut it down without notice, like they did with the last three other classics that closeed.



Greatly saddened at the possible outcome. I feel a road trip coming on. Anyone else from SoCal interested?
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chiwito
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 26, 2008
Posts: 86
From: the Pacific island of Alameda
Posted: 2009-02-21 10:32 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-02-21 16:51, Hiphipahula wrote:
Quote:

On 2008-12-10 22:55, Unga Bunga wrote:
Well, if they ARE shutting down the Tonga, let's have a party
before they shut it down without notice, like they did with the last three other classics that closeed.



Greatly saddened at the possible outcome. I feel a road trip coming on. Anyone else from SoCal interested?




I'm from NorCal [Alameda] but will happily join in with any get together of TCers at the Tonga Room.

chiwito

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