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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Kona Kai, Philadelphia, PA (restaurant)
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Kona Kai, Philadelphia, PA (restaurant)
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4247
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2009-11-14 5:06 pm   Permalink

Name:Kona Kai
Type:restaurant
Street:Marriot t Hotel
City:Philadelphia
State:PA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:unknown

Description:
Was surprised that there was not a thread started for the Kona Kai Restaurant at the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia. One of the powerhouse Tiki places and the flagship of the Kona Kai restaurants that Marriott started to keep up with Trader Vic's at the Hilton Hotels and the Kon Tiki restaurants at the Sheraton Hotels.

I have several postcards:







Nice logo on the back.


A great black and white photo from the internet:


Here are some of the signature swizzles:


Some menus courtesy of Mimi's website and Tiki Room:






Bigbro has a lot of great stuff too, maybe can add?

DC



 
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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1761
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2009-11-14 7:09 pm   Permalink

Fantastic DC. Got to love the classic Kona Kai.

 
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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1761
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2009-11-15 06:02 am   Permalink

Dusty, Here are a couple of shots from my collection. A matchbook and a shaker. I had these posted on the thread for the KC location as well but the items could have come from the Pa location as the bigger establishments used some of the same items to cross-polynate (just came up with that) their restaurants.






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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4247
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2009-11-15 07:31 am   Permalink

Trav,

That matchbook and salt shaker show the iconic Kona Kai Tiki figure. It was also used on the mugs, as shown here from Tatoo and Tiki Nomad on Ooga Mooga.










The Kona Kai also poly-nated (love your new word!) salt and pepper sets from other places like the Luau



And Skipper Kent's/Kahiki



(from Ooga Mooga collections).

DC


 
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abstractiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2009-11-15 07:44 am   Permalink

I am also surprised that a Tiki place of this stature and notoriety was not documented on Locating Tiki before. Great pics, good job Dusty!

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11098
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-15 3:27 pm   Permalink

The plethora of logo Tiki artifacts shown above is a good example of how much material can still be found out in the field. I wish I would have had one of those menus, the full figure mug, or this cup...



...when I chose the Kona Kai Tiki as an example for the logo Tiki in the BOT. I also had not fully realized how much of it was based on the Trader Vic logo Tiki:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=24081&forum=1&start=0

The Kona Kai Tiki's most discernible difference to the TV Tiki is the squared-off, knobby chin. So who is responsible for that version? It was drawn by Irving Weisenberg:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=6&forum=1&vpost=13951

Unfortunately, not much was heard from Maui Matt since. ( It always KILLS me when I re-read his line:
"He used to have tons of artwork from things he did, but I believe they are no longer around. I think I have more stuff than his son...").

But there is a lot of documentation on the Philly Kona Kai around, actually:
First off, the amazing spec rendering Irving Weisenberg did for it when it was still called the Hale Tiki on Page 53 of the BOT, one of the most iconic images to fuel the Tiki revival. In the left lower corner we can clearly see his signature. And the proof that the Hale Tiki became the Kona Kai is found in Irving's rendering of the entrance Tiki, which clearly was the blueprint for the menu, matchbook, mug and S&P shaker Tiki.

I spread Kona Kai material throughout the BOT, beginning with an interior blueprint on page 19, a Tiki pole blueprint as background for pages 64/65, the specific Kona Kai pages 140-143, and another Tiki blueprint on pages 245. All this had been lent to me for the book by the architect, Eldon Davis, the surviving partner of Armet & Davis, known for their innovative Googie Coffee shop architecture (and Tiki temples like the Tahitian Village, the Tropicana Fresno, the Steve Crane Kon Tikis, and the Playa Del Rey Polynesian Village apartments). Here he is at his 90th birthday, with Googie author Alan Hess, at Pann's Coffeshop (around two years ago):





And here are some of the blueprints. All renderings were done by Irving Weisenberg. I do not know of any other Tiki restaurant that had the Tikis drawn up by a designer in such painstaking detail (interestingly, none resembled the logo Tiki in the Hale Tiki drawing):







Now we know who did the sculpting and fiberglass mold for the PNG gable figure: Jim Casey:



http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=12142&forum=1&start=15

But what I do NOT know is who executed the other carvings, actually VERY close to the original specs. Compare:





Another enduring mystery is HOW did one of these guys end up in the Eugene Savage mural at Daimons in Glendale!!?:



Now a while back, Tiki Nomad posted pics of the artifacts when the place closed in the 1986:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=24802&forum=5&vpost=318008

Nomad knew where they were stored for a while on the East Coast:



Some of the above carvings luckily found their way back here to a collector friend of mine:



But the big question remains: WHERE did all those gorgeous freestanding Tikis go? They are not in Tiki Nomad's pictures anymore, and there really are no good photos of them. Here we see the exterior entrance ones (see first blueprint on top), too small to really appreciate them:



And then there is ONE photo of which I am dying to find a good quality print of. It is the Kona Kai entrance lobby, and I only ever saw it as part of a collage in the Armet & Davis offices:



I zoomed into the collage and brought up the exposure, so we can appreciate what a glamourous Tiki Temple this must have been:



What I would give for that photo! Tiki at the peak of the style! Part of the proscenium made it back to LA, but the two Tikis? The one on the right clearly is the one in blueprint Nr. 2 on top of this post.

And then there are other aspects about the Kona Kai we would have loved to have seen. The back bar diorama which was painted on layered glass sheets so dimming certain lights allowed dawn to dusk effects:



And the gardens, in their Japanese-like modernity....



To cheer everybody up, here's one more early spec rendering by Irving Weisenberg, (obviously the name was not set yet):



All in all, Marriott's Philadelphia Kona Kai, as the flag ship of the chain, was certainly one of the great accomplishments of Tiki Style.
(Question: Does someone here remember which early 80s teenage movie comedy used it as location again?)


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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2009-11-15 3:48 pm   Permalink

DC, thanks for starting this thread. Go figure that there wasn't one already. Sven, I haven't seen this much Tiki eye candy in quite a while! I was just about to post the interior photo Monkeyman found a few years ago (one of my absolute favorites) when you unloaded with all these wonderful images. As grainy as it is, that lobby photo is really something. And I had no idea someone ended up with so many of the surviving Kona Kai carvings. Actually, I really had no idea they survived at all. I dearly hope they are not sitting in a dusty dark corner of some storage room somewhere.

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4247
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2009-11-15 5:19 pm   Permalink

Bigbro,

I knew you had a treasure trove of Kona Kai goods, awesome stuff, thanks for that great post!

Here is another little postcard that shows a rendering of the entrance hut in front of the hotel.



DC


 
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8FT Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 30, 2003
Posts: 1222
From: Kansas City, MO
Posted: 2009-11-16 5:27 pm   Permalink

Man, I wish we had this much info. and interior shots of the KC locations! Well, maybe some day. Now here's another item for the photo gallery of KK items:


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Tiki-Kate
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 21, 2003
Posts: 1700
From: Yucaipa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-16 6:22 pm   Permalink

One more blueprint shot.



 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11098
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-18 09:22 am   Permalink

That must be the ones that Zulu Magoo copied. I am glad he works in city planning, so had access to a good blueprint copier.

Here are two scans for completeness:

The original Hale Tiki/ Kona Kai A-frame rendering by Irving Weisenberg,



....and a close up of his logo Tiki drawing. I sure would love to find the original painting!



 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11098
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-18 09:25 am   Permalink

Oh, and I would also love to see a zoom-in scan of the entrance and gardens on this postcard from Sabu:






 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2792
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2009-11-18 09:58 am   Permalink

Alas, that was another one that escaped me. All I salvaged was the eBay photo.


 
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Tiki-Kate
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 21, 2003
Posts: 1700
From: Yucaipa, CA
Posted: 2009-11-18 10:17 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-11-18 09:22, bigbrotiki wrote:
That must be the ones that Zulu Magoo copied. I am glad he works in city planning, so had access to a good blueprint copier.



Yep. I took pictures of all of the Kona Kai blueprints that he had on display at the Mai Kai during Hukilau in 2008.


 
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1961surf
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2007
Posts: 1919
From: Newport Beach, Ca .
Posted: 2009-11-18 10:32 am   Permalink

I am in awe of all the awesome pics and depictions,another fine post by DC.
Sven your contribution to this thread is much appreciated .
Do we know more about the rise and fall of the Kona Kai .
When it opened and when it closed , and what is there now ?


 
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