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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Da Big Kahuna - Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Da Big Kahuna - Jacksonville Beach, Florida
AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 999
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2014-07-17 06:32 am   Permalink

Name: Da Big Kahuna
Type: Restaurant/Bar
Street: 528 1st Street North
City: Jacksonville Beach
State: Florida
Zip: 32250
Country: USA
Phone: Tel: 904-595-5613
Fax: 904-595-5156
Email:
admin@dabigkahuna.net
Web: http://www.dabigkahuna.net

Status: DEFUNCT - observed as of July, 13th, 2014. It likely closed a few weeks earlier. Da Big Kahuna soft-opened on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

Description:
It was a great idea to bring a successful restaurant from Honolulu and Ft. Lauderdale and build it in the up-and-coming beach resort community of Jacksonville Beach. The interior was outfitted with some truly awesome tiki carvings from a local Jacksonville Beach carver who is also a TC member. But the place didn't last.

This place was exciting initially because it contained elements of *real* tiki, but unfortunately those were only the pretty wrappings on the outside. Inside, the restaurant suffered from several things:
* Staff had little or no knowledge of tiki and that made it "just another
place for folks to eat, drink, and party."
* The bar was typically staffed by low-end but very friendly bartenders.
Generally they would not know what mixology was if it bit them on their
butts.
* A somewhat cheesy, almost Jimmy Buffett-like, interior which was quite "thin."
It looked like the converted store-front that it was despite previously
having been a pretty cool Brazilian steak house.

But the food was good, especially the Hawaiian favorite "Loco Moco." And anything with their pulled pork was also very good.

Northeast Florida Tiki Central members met up there 2 or 3 times before it became obvious that the place was just too thin to make it a regular stop. With the growth of craft cocktail bars serving *real* Mai Tais and other great drinks very close by, the bar at Da Big Kahuna quickly became a place good for little more than watching cute beach bartenders pushing their infused fruity drinks made with crappy food-supplier house-brand flavored spirits.

The carved tikis alone made this place a welcome addition to the beach. But the owners misreading the true interests and desires of potential customers eventually turned this into a basic college bar and restaurant. They missed attracting the higher-end demographic who would have generated repeat business, who would have brought their friends, and helped the place stay open and continue to grow and develop. There is a lot of money at the beaches, so they were located in a good market. But some entrepreneurial magic was missing and that seems to have contributed to the rapid demise of this establishment.

Northeast Florida needs to see the return of tiki, and Da Big Kahuna was a great start. I was disappointed when I saw that it had closed, but I almost instantly realized that I had stopped going there in favor of the other craft cocktail bars which opened in Northeast Florida during the past three and four years.


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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 999
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2014-07-17 07:34 am   Permalink

I have asked that this thread be moved to "Locating Tiki" where it belongs. I'm not sure why, but I did make a mistake when I opened this new thread. (Yes, I'm sober, so I can't blame that!)

After the move to "Locating Tiki" I will come back and edit this post and provide some photos of Da Big Kahuna while it was in operation and also at least one photo of the place closed and stripped of all content.


 
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Sunny&Rummy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2014-07-17 08:22 am   Permalink

I saw on a morning walk during Hukilau that there was one of these Da Big Kahunas in the two-story entertainment on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. I went up to check it out and it looked a lot like you describe. Nice Tiki window dressing (90% fiberglass and plastic, not wood carvings) and a good looking food menu but pretty sterile and generic otherwise.

A couple of weeks ago driving up US 1 from Stuart I saw another Da Big Kahunas from the road and decided to stop and give it a try. Alas, when I walked up to the restaurant I discovered it was closed and had been stripped like the Jacksonville site. Maybe the closures are a corporate decision rather than a local one?


 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 999
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2014-07-17 10:58 am   Permalink

Sunny&Rummy, thanks for the extra info.

The closures could have been a corporate decision, but I doubt they would do it if they had been making money in those locations. As of this morning the Jacksonville Beach site was still listed on the Da Big Kahuna web site as "open."

I thought the beautiful carved tikis would have been shipped to the Fort Lauderdale location. But they were so beautiful and elaborate that it would not surprise me if they ended up in the lobby of the corporate office or in the home of the owner(s). Seriously, the tikis were awesome. I'll look up the name of the carver here on TC and post that info later.

The other possibility is that those tikis may be stored temporarily until they open another location somewhere else.

Sadly, to be successful, the Da Big Kahuna restaurants seem to require a busy tourist-rich environment where people come in droves and don't have high standards. Waikiki and Ft. Lauderdale are two such locations.


 
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howlinowl
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2008
Posts: 142
From: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Posted: 2014-07-17 4:33 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2014-07-17 08:22, Sunny&Rummy wrote:
I saw on a morning walk during Hukilau that there was one of these Da Big Kahunas in the two-story entertainment on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. I went up to check it out and it looked a lot like you describe. Nice Tiki window dressing (90% fiberglass and plastic, not wood carvings) and a good looking food menu but pretty sterile and generic otherwise.

A couple of weeks ago driving up US 1 from Stuart I saw another Da Big Kahunas from the road and decided to stop and give it a try. Alas, when I walked up to the restaurant I discovered it was closed and had been stripped like the Jacksonville site. Maybe the closures are a corporate decision rather than a local one?



Just to set the record straight, the restaurant north of Stuart (in Jensen Beach) was actually called "Big Kahuna", and was not affiliated with "Da Big Kahuna". I had thought of stopping by while it was still open, but the reviews online were far less than stellar. I still have tentative plans to stop off at "Da Big Kahuna" in Lauderdale next time I'm down that way and have time to stop by (if their still open then).

howlinowl


 
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Sunny&Rummy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2014-07-20 09:26 am   Permalink

Thanks for the clarification. The facade did not look much like the Lauderdale one but I calked it up to the plasti-tiki dressings having been carted away already after the place closed.

Now that I discovered how easy it is to make killer kalua pig at home in the slow cooker it is less imparative that I find a local Hawaiian themed restaurant to get my fix.


 
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