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Tiki Central Forums Home Tiki Bars The Forbidden Maya Tai, San Diego
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The Forbidden Maya Tai, San Diego
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-11-22 09:53 am   Permalink

I've been working on my home bar for a little bit. Maya, my wife, is not the biggest tiki fan (I know, I know), and she wasn't a fan of adding a bar to the tiki corner in the living room. I decided to clean out the garage to build a bar there. At first she was excited- that there'd be room to park her car in the garage, then grumbled when she heard the news. We discussed, then in discussing the bar name she was somehow placated (through her own idea): including her in the bar name.

So, introducing "The Maya Tai Grotto." (or, possibly, "The Forbidden Maya Tai." (would love any thoughts on the name, I'm torn. Maya said no to "The Forbidden Maya Tai Grotto"). Some of the photos are not necessarily in order, but I tried to post them in an order so the build would make sense.

It's a 1.5 car garage that was filled with boxes, tools, surfboards, and more. I decided to divide it in half, so we can still use the garage for storage. I've yet to build the dividers (these will most likely be temporary hanging ones that will clamp to the wooden beams). It's been an interesting process, and I've been inspired by all of the bars I've seen on this thread. I've tried to work with some existing parts of the garage, modify some things, and build whatever I can myself.

Before (bar side):

Additional seating side:

(yes, it was a big mess, this was in the middle of my clearing out all the crap that had piled up in there- including a worktable for pottery, tools, and more).

Framed out the bar using 2x2s, didn't see the need for 2x4s, and the price was right. The bar is 5' wide, with a 4' (total) return, enough for seating for 5.

Skinned it and put shelving inside. Originally I was going to install a sink on the left hand/ return side (w/o running water). I was planning on running a PVC tube to a 5 gallon bucket underneath. Grand plans, and an easy build, but wanted to keep more counterspace. The space for the "sink" (dump bucket) is still there. I'll eventually add some drawers to this side.

I then added risers and a bar counter (no photos of it before). I then started burning the top counter:

Then brushed it, and stained it:

I did a polyurethane coat to the lower bar (semi-gloss), but wanted to embed photos in the bar top- as many have done here. I used a mix of old brochures, ads, and other images. I bought a whole lot of resin bar top mix, and tested it to see how it worked. This was essential- I ended up using a lot more catalyst/ starter to have it go off faster.

Poured the resin. In retrospect, I shouldn't have used any tape- which got embedded into the resin. Grrrr. Looked good, though.

I wanted to cover up the "bad" edge, so wanted to add some half round bamboo to hide it. I shot a dowel into the bar top, then (later) shot the bamboo into that.

I used bamboo panelling for the front facade. I liked using this since I could use the excess pieces to mask the wood on the front of shelves.

Thinking about wall art, I started jig sawing some cut outs, inspired by a wall divider I saw in Palm Springs last year. I later saw than Dawn Frasier had cut out a similar piece that's hanging on her wall.

Needed to work on the wall behind the bar, which was going to have shelving for mugs, booze, and more. While I didn't want to have a rattan heavy bar, I decided to use it for texture. I painted some exposed areas blue- I was following Bamboo Ben's advice: no white walls.


I used darker bamboo to hide the seams. I was having some trouble with my garage door opener, so decided to leave it exposed, just mitered around it.

There was some pre-existing shelving in the garage- I had cut some of it away when we first moved into this house to put up larger metal shelving (more storage), but had pulled those out to put in the bar. I decided to keep what was there, and use that as a base for other shelves. I had gotten a bunch of pallet wood from my office park, and started burning it. I also found out that instead of sanding the white paint off of the original garage shelving (that had been there for 20+ years) I could burn it. Warning: using a torch on old (most likely lead) paint is a bad idea. I did this late one night w/o a respirator and felt like crap.


Instead of brackets, I went for a "floating" shelf for some additional shelves. I used a long 3/8 threaded rod and bolted it to the steel holding up the garage door frame (slightly risky but figured it would be okay- I could hang on it and it wouldn't budge).

Then added shelves. The other side is held up by some 1x2s I shot into the pre-existing shelf.

I used some burned pallet wood as a background for the pre-existing shelf. I had to add shelves which I had cut out a few years ago.

That got me up until yesterday. I was building a test bar stool while keeping my eyes on craigslist. New lumber is expensive, and not the best for the environment. I found bar stools I liked on craigslist and picked them up last night. They're old wood, blue vinyl, and only needed a little bit of work. When I got home I added a few more shelves, some test lighting (one string light and one LED tape color changing set from Costco, not so cheap but oh so cool), and loaded up some of the mugs.

I then pushed the chairs in for the photo:

(The garage door was open). Now I have to keep going, finalize the lighting, hang some more art, and add rattan to the door going into the house (and over the dartboard). I have a glass door fridge that I bought a long time ago for my business and never used, that will get rattan-wrapped and will go behind the bar.

The carved wood pieces are finished, and will find a home somewhere:

I also need to build some dividers so people can enjoy the bar w/o looking at tools and laundry. Surfboards will remain open, just for easier access to them.

Thanks for looking.... and your feedback

Will post some photos of the opposite wall as I can further along. Building in a garage has been interesting. I originally wanted to build a fake wall with a door so I could raise the garage door and enter directly (not through the house). Still might happen.

[ This Message was edited by: TikiAno 2013-11-29 22:59 ]

[ This Message was edited by: TikiAno 2014-01-08 09:01 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 28, 2012
Posts: 137
Posted: 2013-11-22 12:31 pm   Permalink

Inspiring work! Thanks for all the photos.

Hmm.. thinking about my garage.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 03, 2009
Posts: 519
From: Whittier, CA
Posted: 2013-11-22 12:43 pm   Permalink

Very nice job. I liked the way you added the dowel for the half round bamboo. I will try that technique on my next bar build. Both names you selected are very cool, I especially like the sound of the Forbidden Maya Tai. Keep the pictures coming.


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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 9257
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2013-11-22 12:59 pm   Permalink

Only in America do we park our valuable cars on the street and store our worthless crap in the garage
I went to Chichen Itza a couple years ago and enjoyed the Mayan artwork and architecture. When I saw "Maya" in the bar name, I thought it might be a Tiki/Mayan fusion

Looks great David, very cool! Keep up the good work
"I want you to shake the freak tree and invite anyone that drops to the ground. Dwarfs and giants, magicians, Zulu tribesmen, contortionists, fire eaters... and priests. We're going to need to confess" Freddy Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-11-22 3:52 pm   Permalink

Destro, thanks! TikiVato, the dowel helps- adds some support. I was trying to figure out how to add half rounds to the edge, and the owner of Sunset Bamboo (supplier here in SD) suggested that.

Mike, ha, that's exactly what Maya says! (And she said it again after I told her what you wrote). While there won't be much mainland Mexican influence, there will definitely be some Baja entering the bar. Surfing monkeys will definitely be there.. and I hope to make some Surfing Monkey mugs, too.... I'm going to have to have you over to build some mechanized magic....

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 20, 2006
Posts: 993
Posted: 2013-11-22 7:37 pm   Permalink

Lookin' good!

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 6166
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2013-11-23 7:46 pm   Permalink

Looking good...Tikis Tikis Tikis!!! Nice job on the bar...keep the pictures coming.
"Oh waiter, another cocktail please!!!"

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Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 1860
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-11-25 1:57 pm   Permalink

Looks like you have been busy! Great job so far, keep up the good work buddy.

I would recommend something to brace your mugs in case of an earthquake. On some of my simpler displays I use a rope half way up the mug to hold them back from falling and dying. It doesn't take away from the look of the display and it is an extra protection in case the ground shakes. Maybe I am just paranoid, or maybe they ARE after me

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-11-29 1:05 pm   Permalink

Thanks bamalamalu & Vampiress. Yes, more tikis are coming. I have a number of wall pieces that will be moved in (in other parts of the house), plus two 4x4 columns that I need to attack with my router. Not in any order, next steps include:
- Hanging art
- Building shelf/ display for bowls (separate from mug shelves).
- Additional lighting
- more moving of crap around garage to make more room
- building riser for glass door fridge, and fridge camouflaging/ rattan-ment
- work on opposite side of the room
- construct room dividers

Treg/ Luna, earthquake proofing is a good idea. Ii haven't done much to secure though even pushing the mugs back a bit (the shelves are fairly deep) will help. That or putting pillows in front of them. Either way, watch your back, man.

More pics soon (I hope). Thanks for looking, and I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 1320
From: NJ
Posted: 2013-11-29 5:57 pm   Permalink

TikiAno -

Great work so far. I like you're burning technique. I haven't burnt anything yet, it makes me nervous. I like the Forbidden Maya-Tai too. Hopefully Tiki will grow on her. My husband doesn't love tiki like I love tiki but he loves me and wants to make me happy and he loves to build stuff so it works for us.

Keep posting pictures. We love to follow bar building progress!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-11-29 10:58 pm   Permalink

Installed more lighting today- now matching LED lighting on the bar shelves- these can change color, from solids...

in a range of colors...

These can also transition from color to color, which might work, depending on how the rest of the lighting installation goes. One remote can communicate w/ each system at the same time (even though they're not connected in line w/ each other). The LED strips are secured to the shelf, removing the rope light that was previously on one side of the shelves.

It was going to work as an "under bar" light. I put triangles as supports for the upper bar (cut down 2x6s), but this prevented me from an easy run around the perimeter. I took a 7/8" spade bit and cut through a few of these triangles, then ran the rope light through the holes. Still need to secure it in a few areas.

Ended up having a cool effect as two bracketsat the corners hold the rope light perfectly in place. I'll have to add something on the front corner of the bar, methinks.

I drilled a hole in the wall-side of the bar and ran the rope light to help brighten up the behind-the-bar area. Lighting is getting there, need a bit more ambience from above so people can see their way around the place- plus I wouldn't mind some spots to highlight a few pieces of art that will be go up soon (I worked in lighting for many years, so this is the most fun and equally most frustrating part (since I can't afford all of the lighting I want to add).

Built a riser for the glass door refrigerator and ran power across the ceiling and down the wall. There's unfortunately no pre-existing outlets around the bar area so have to run extension cords creatively. I hung one large bamboo curtain (for a patio) which is the beginning of a divider to split the garage into a drinking and working area.

Thanks for all the name votes, I agree, I dig the "Forbidden Maya Tai" too.

Lori, as much as she's not a fan of tiki in the house, she's pretty stoked on the bar- just so long as there's still room for "stuff" in the garage. Getting her to drink anything other than (large volumes of) wine is tough, but I'm working on a few drinks that are not rum-centric for her to enjoy. I'll post up an early drink menu soon....

Thanks for lookin'.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 8149
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2013-11-30 2:12 pm   Permalink

Ano- lookin sweet
When's da party?

Worst sound ever, slurp of an empty tiki mug through my straw!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-12-01 5:46 pm   Permalink

Jon, ha- let me know when you're in town again, maybe it'll be ready by then.

It was time to make the room dividers. Part of the garage will remain a garage, but I don't want guests to be looking at my toolbox, storage shelves, or washer dryer when having a drink. I purchased an 8' wide bamboo shade from the Depot and hung it from the framework of the garage ceiling- but it wasn't long enough to span the garage. I wanted/ needed something that could be opened or closed to divide the space when necessary. I decided to make X-Large sized z screens (shoji-like) that were a little more tropical.

First I built a simple frame out of 1x2s.

Then I gusseted the corners for strength:

Then I skinned the frames out with fabric. I used a staple gun and tape. I used to stretch materials off frames for years when I was in the film business, so used the same technique. I didn't want to cut the fabric down any more so measured out the frame to fit the fabric. If you secure the "middle" of each side you can then pull the fabric out to make it taut. Depending on the material, it's a good idea to put a tab of duct tape, which will prevent the staple from slowly tearing through the fabric- almost like a lock washer for the staple. I chose particularly bold aloha print fabrics- they can always be changed if I get tired of my choices. The frames are large- one is 5' x8', the other 42" x 8'. They are hinged together and they will stand upright if they are opened at a 45 degree angle (or so), just what I need to divide the space. Here's a close up of the two frames hinged together:

I had bought some additional fabric to highlight other areas, and used one small piece to put behind one of the wooden pieces I cut out (and stained). I shot pieces of dark bamboo around the edges to frame the fabric (this is on the opposite wall of the bar, which I haven't shown yet).:

Worked a little more on the lighting in the ceiling. It was a tough decision to hang lighting for the garage door being up or down- obviously I lose a lot of options with the door open/ up (you can see the channel in other pictures). It's pretty cold in San Diego in the winter (okay, warmer than a lot of other places) but there's no reason to spend time at the bar with the garage door up. I decided to hang lights tight to the ceiling. I had bought some small metal shaded lamps that I always wanted to hang above the bar. I couldn't put them at the height I originally wanted, so attached them close to the ceiling. I put a dimmer in line with them so I can play with the light levels. I also took a strand of 100 LED white dome lights to act as stars in the ceiling. It doesn't cover a lot of area but gives off quite a bit of light. They're almost a little too blue, so might add a dimmer for these, too- though not sure if I can dim XMas lights...

Thanks for looking!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 29, 2013
Posts: 69
From: Sydney Australia
Posted: 2013-12-02 4:35 pm   Permalink

Nice work.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1351
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2013-12-04 08:59 am   Permalink

Thanks, TikiSpeer- means a lot, your bar is off the charts good. One day I'll be half as good with my router as you...

Tiny bits of progress- secured all of the rope lighting under the bar and re-ran some electrical. Finally got an opportunity to hang the parrot I picked up at the Bahooka before it closed- it's slightly off balance, so had to add some black cord to get it to stand upright on its perch. Whenever I look at this parrot I'll think of the Bahooka- and Rufus... and want a carrot.

I also added bamboo paneling to a glass door fridge that's behind the bar. I burned a wooden crate (picked up from Michael's) and put it on top of the fridge. Originally I was going to use the lowest wall shelf for booze, but realize I need (a lot) more room for mugs. For now (some) liquor will be displayed in the crate- it's an easier reach, anyway....

We had our work holiday dinner last night, and my employees got me a bottle of Ballast Point Three Sheets Rum and a six pack of Ballast Point Sculpin- getting ready for a lot of San Diego local beer and spirits at the Forbidden Maya Tai, not to mention some homemade syrups and ginger beer.

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