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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » "Building a Tiki Experience - What's important, and how to do it?"
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"Building a Tiki Experience - What's important, and how to do it?"
HaleTiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 03, 2017
Posts: 25
Posted: 2017-03-09 4:04 pm   Permalink

I'm doing some pre-lim market research on what makes an effective tiki bar. What better place to ask that question than here?

If you could give the following a ranking from 1-10 (1 being lowest importance) on the importance of each of the following that would be helpful.

1. Cocktail flavor
2. Cocktail strength
3. Originality
4. "Staying True" to the classics
5. Distinctive food
6. Encompassing atmosphere
7. Tiki mugs
8. Friendly staff/bartenders
9. Ensuring there are no distractions from theme
10. Music

Mahalo!

[ This Message was edited by: HaleTiki 2017-03-13 12:10 ]


 
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Trader Tom
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 26, 2006
Posts: 892
From: West Hills, CA
Posted: 2017-03-09 6:46 pm   Permalink



This is a screen capture of the ratings used on Critiki that most people refer to when ranking establishments.

https://critiki.com

"Cocktail Strength" in your list is something I'd be careful about. "Cocktail Balance" is more important in a cocktail than just making everything strong. There are some weaker drinks that are quite good, but they are balanced. Same with strong ones.

Otherwise, the list looks pretty good. You might compare it to the list above which has a lot of overlap but slightly different wording.

"Tilt" is that certain something or indefinable quality that makes a place a little extra special. It might be a sense of historicity or personal preference but it allows one to rank a place a bit higher and claim it is better than the sum of its parts.



[ This Message was edited by: Trader Tom 2017-03-09 18:51 ]


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woofmutt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 2639
From: Seattilite Telstar
Posted: 2017-03-09 7:47 pm   Permalink

I mainly care about atmosphere which for me includes decor, music, staff, and no intrusions such as TV (especially sprots) (yeah, I meant sprots) or windows on the real world or gawdam-monkey-friggin karaoke.

I no longer seek or expect quality cocktails when out and about so I'm fine with well drinks and beer. I'd rather have quality Americana or Chinese American food than quasi-Polynesian fare.

I love the Alibi in Porltand as it has my preferred perpetual twilight bar atmosphere and has a great Reuben. The music can suck and the tropical drinks during all my visits were half-assed at best, but when I go I'm usually there for at least 2 hours. Unless I went late and the gawdam-monkey-friggin karaoke starts up.
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HaleTiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 03, 2017
Posts: 25
Posted: 2017-03-09 9:56 pm   Permalink

I've been on Critiki and even reviewed most of the bars I've been to on there. I guess I was just wondering that if I had a limited amount of start up cash (which I probably will unless I get lucky) what should I prioritize?

I've posed this question to others on reddit and got a similar response to the first two answers so far. That decor is the most important. I totally agree with that. I just want to see if that continues to hold true and maybe what I should focus on after that.

Looking forward to hearing other responses.


 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 2198
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2017-03-10 06:36 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2017-03-09 21:56, HaleTiki wrote:
...if I had a limited amount of start up cash (which I probably will unless I get lucky) what should I prioritize?



Here's my input.
Don't let the lack of startup capital get totally in the way. Do the best you can with what you have and avoid the very low end Party City stuff.

Quote:

I've posed this question to others on reddit and got a similar response to the first two answers so far. That decor is the most important. I totally agree with that. I just want to see if that continues to hold true and maybe what I should focus on after that.



Avoid the mistake of serving crappy drinks, and here's why:
1) Some folks (like me, and a good percentage of the folks who "get" tiki) really appreciate good cocktails. Sitting in a decent or developing tiki environment with crappy drinks will (to me) fall way short of a full and memorable experience. And I HATE paying $12 for a shitty tiki drink. Believe me, that's a problem in my city, and I hate forking over big bucks and getting crap to drink.
2) Today there is NO EXCUSE to serve bad drinks. We have Jeff Berry, Martin Cate, and a number of others with STELLAR tiki and rum drink recipe books. Just by using some of their published recipes you can elevate yourself above MOST of the bars in any city. Then you can innovate LATER after you've developed a following with good cocktails. HONOR your guest by serving good cocktails. To do otherwise is cheating them of a very incredible cocktail experience which they are willing to pay for cuz they can't get it anywhere else.

Then, for your atmosphere, good music is essential. Transport your guests mentally and visually outside to remote islands. Dampen noise if you are busy and draw crowds - use lots of thatch and soft goods on the walls to absorb and break up sound. Bamboo Ben, for example, excels at this and it's just a part of the mojo which he brings to his creations.

Also for atmosphere, good lighting is also essential. People need to read their menus, and that can be tough to achieve, but they also appreciate soft light to match the mood set by music and visual décor.

Try to avoid sucking at it. The more compromises you make, the less memorable (and less valuable) your guest experience will be. Your product is not just tiki - it is a whole guest experience. This also means DON'T BUILD IT UNLESS YOU GET IT AT MOSTLY RIGHT. Why go half way and fail? Go far enough to be decently good at it (be credible!) and enjoy success, then keep ramping it up on a regular basis until you're done. Tease your guests with improvements. Avoid starting out on the road to "tiki roadkill" - start out on the road to tiki success.

If you are planning to build something, we here all very much want you to succeed. Read these forums and get a feel for what works and what doesn't. Learn from those who have failed, and from those who are limping along. Ask questions. Then kick ass and count us among your supporters and friends.

I hope that helps and that we'll get to share a good Mai Tai and Zombie someday to celebrate your success. Cheers!


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 4528
Posted: 2017-03-10 07:35 am   Permalink

Well at the Kahiki in the last days, think last eight or more years.

The drinks were not great Jim did do an ok job on the drinks and tasted every one with a straw to make sure of that fact.
He would put the straw in the drink cap the top with one finger and do it that way.

BUT people would go to the Kahiki to see Skip, man he was a riot!
Skips drinks were so strong that I had to drink Bud or not be able to walk.

The food at that time was known to be not great as well.

You went to the Kahiki because it was so cool, part of history and FUN.

Fu*k the drinks who cares! most of us make better drinks at home.
That whole Craft hand made cocktail thing is a advertising tag line to pry money out of you.

Now Tiki Ti does make great drinks and it's not hype IMHO.
Am sure there are others as well.

But these days the owners of these places allow the people who work for them to treat their business like it is there own private party, So for many who go to these places it's not that great as they wait for the bartender to come as he entertains his or her friends.

Grass Skirt does this and it's on the yelp reviews and it still goes on.

So it's about going out and having a good time in the end.
Who wants to go out, be blown off by some half a$$ bartender that was sellin carpet last week.



 
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Or Got Rum?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 29, 2009
Posts: 507
From: Wisconsin
Posted: 2017-03-10 07:41 am   Permalink

11. Have plenty of Cash.

 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 2198
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:19 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2017-03-10 07:35, tikiskip wrote:
Fu*k the drinks who cares! most of us make better drinks at home.
That whole Craft hand made cocktail thing is a advertising tag line to pry money out of you.



Skip, you're making a few of us cry, hahaha! The Kahiki was an awesome and cavernous place, and yes, they had a ton of history. The Kahiki was a LEGACY tiki bar. They left a huge impression on whoever visited, and life-long memories. I don't think that's what the originator of this thread has been telling us he may be able to do.

Pardon a brief detour, but I am wondering if HaleTiki really set out to watch us attempt to "crystallize" much of Tiki Central in a single Reader's Digest sort of thread. That would be a helluva social experiment which I can imagine someone with a bit of cheek would enjoy coming up with. This is NOT the first time someone has skipped doing all the research here on this site and just thrown themselves onto all of us for "help." Can I get an "amen?" That's right, I actually notice this sort of potential shenanigan when it seems to come up. Just saying it's possible -- I'm not really in any way calling anybody out on this. It is an amusing thought to me though, so I guess I am gently poking HaleTiki in the ribs for ONLY HAVING MADE TWO POSTS TOTAL as of this writing, and he has a very blank profile. It does makes me wonder if HaleTiki is really someone else who is intentionally anonymous for research purposes. As in - someone who actually may be a design student, for example? Or actually works for Schussler Creative? Or Daroff Design Group? (OMG! I said it!) Or maybe I'm just in the mood for a great conspiracy theory? I'm rambling... haha...

For the record, there is a new tiki bar in my city with developing music and pretty darn good atmosphere. And I can't bring myself to go there very much because I have to count that I'll rack up a $40 tab every time I go and get watery crappy drinks for that money.

Good drinks are a "connector" to people who otherwise may not (initially) have a whole lot to go on when they discover a new place. But I *will* go to a shitty-looking dive bar if the drinks are good. And I have an established track record of not going to a great-looking tiki bar if the drinks are dismal. Why? Even though I do have what I'm told is one of the largest (by selection and number of bottles) home bars in my city, there just isn't a good substitute for a good tiki bar with good tropical drinks and good people who go there and also appreciate them and the camaraderie. This package is the true "value" to guests and it is a union of multiple aspects of the overall experience.

I hope I made some sense there... Maybe I even contributed a little of value?


 
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Or Got Rum?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 29, 2009
Posts: 507
From: Wisconsin
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:31 am   Permalink

Ace, I often think the same thing about the "test" aspect....like the student who asked, then answered (or questioned the responses) her own questions. Skip, I am jealous of you vast experience with the Kahiki....it must have been amazing. As far as my brief $ comment to Hale, I have owned and or been involved in concepts where to build and maintain business you CANNOT be chasing your tail, or throwing good money after bad. I love great atmosphere and authenticity, but a GREAT well trained staff that makes me feel "WELCOMED and valued" goes a damn long way with me.

 
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HaleTiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 03, 2017
Posts: 25
Posted: 2017-03-10 09:18 am   Permalink

Quote:

Pardon a brief detour, but I am wondering if HaleTiki really set out to watch us attempt to "crystallize" much of Tiki Central in a single Reader's Digest sort of thread. That would be a helluva social experiment which I can imagine someone with a bit of cheek would enjoy coming up with. This is NOT the first time someone has skipped doing all the research here on this site and just thrown themselves onto all of us for "help." Can I get an "amen?" That's right, I actually notice this sort of potential shenanigan when it seems to come up. Just saying it's possible -- I'm not really in any way calling anybody out on this. It is an amusing thought to me though, so I guess I am gently poking HaleTiki in the ribs for ONLY HAVING MADE TWO POSTS TOTAL as of this writing, and he has a very blank profile. It does makes me wonder if HaleTiki is really someone else who is intentionally anonymous for research purposes. As in - someone who actually may be a design student, for example? Or actually works for Schussler Creative? Or Daroff Design Group? (OMG! I said it!) Or maybe I'm just in the mood for a great conspiracy theory? I'm rambling... haha...

For the record, there is a new tiki bar in my city with developing music and pretty darn good atmosphere. And I can't bring myself to go there very much because I have to count that I'll rack up a $40 tab every time I go and get watery crappy drinks for that money.

Good drinks are a "connector" to people who otherwise may not (initially) have a whole lot to go on when they discover a new place. But I *will* go to a shitty-looking dive bar if the drinks are good. And I have an established track record of not going to a great-looking tiki bar if the drinks are dismal. Why? Even though I do have what I'm told is one of the largest (by selection and number of bottles) home bars in my city, there just isn't a good substitute for a good tiki bar with good tropical drinks and good people who go there and also appreciate them and the camaraderie. This package is the true "value" to guests and it is a union of multiple aspects of the overall experience.

I hope I made some sense there... Maybe I even contributed a little of value?



Okay definitely a lot of value here and in the post you responded to.

First. I want to lay it out there that I am not a design student and I didn't meant to just hop in here and hope for divine wisdom striking from on high. I realize that I have a new account and no one knows me yet because I have yet to participate outside of this thread really. But I have been lurking, doing research, and picking up important books in the background for quite awhile now. The Smuggler's Cove book for instance is what made me believe that I might be able to actually pull this off if I apply myself correctly.

I am smart enough to realize though that there are people with much more wisdom and tiki knowledge out there than I. For instance I've visited Oceanic Arts and reached out to Bamboo Ben already but I know there are things I don't know. Which is why you find me here asking a pretty open ended question to spur discussion.

Using mostly known recipes to start out in order to make sure my drinks are of quality enough is what I was currently planning. It's good to know I was on the right track there.


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 4528
Posted: 2017-03-10 10:46 am   Permalink

"The Kahiki was a LEGACY tiki bar"

See that's just it you CAN'T make or buy that, it only comes with age.
And if you last that long along the way you do learn something too.

People start to cut you slack after you have been around forever.
Although my small diner is dying because the new owner just does not get it.

"Skip, I am jealous of your vast experience with the Kahiki"
Well it was cool but to tell the truth we went to the bar and drank and laughed with Skip the bartender, would have had as much fun if we were out back by the dumpster.

How many times have you gone to a place or even an event and seen people bored out of their skull? on their cell phones?
That is a fail, they may not come back.

Now remember the bar you liked most around yer college days, remember the great cocktails?
or even the great food they had, you were lucky to get burnt popcorn.
You went there cuz it was fun, had lots o girls, and not many frat dicks(unless you were a frat dick)
But heck we liked the small gritty bars, with pool tables.
Travel Agency,Crazy Mama's, Thirsty "I", Mean Mr. Mustards.

We are older but if it is a fun place it won't matter that much about the drinks or food.
I would rather have cheap ok drinks than $15.00 bucks for a drink that's great.
Get that booze flowin people will get happy and you will make money plus your patrons won't be all nervous about that huge bar bill that's on it's way at the end of the night.

I'll go $15.00 on vacation or special events but not at the bar I go to all the time.

If your not in say New Orleans or a Vacation spot you won't get people playing fast and loose with their cash, you need regulars!


 
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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 915
From: Austin
Posted: 2017-03-10 12:41 pm   Permalink

A good tiki bar is all encompassing. I don't think you can skimp on any one factor and be a success. And if "Cocktail Strength" is one of your criteria, perhaps a tiki bar isn't the right venture for you. Certainly there should be some potent drinks on the menu but you don't want your patrons getting belligerent and disturbing other guests or hammered so quickly they don't order a second drink. It's about having well balanced, delicious cocktails that justify the $12-15 price tag and encourage folks to spent time and money there and make them eager to keep coming back to explore that awesome menu. Especially if you're an upstart and don't have a several decade long legacy behind you, there's no excuse for not making drinks as good or better than us tikiphiles can make at home. One's that will blow away newcomers. To get us out of the house and into your bar, we need more than just great drinks, we need the complete experience.

To that point, a tiki bar should offer something memorable. An escape from the mundane work a day world. Poorly made drinks, unknowledgeable or unfriendly staff, half-assed decor and improper music all take away from the fantasy you should be projecting.

The Smuggler's book was encouraging to me as well. But Martin had a looong path that led to Forbidden Island and Smuggler's Cove, including time at Trader Vic's where he learned the in's and out's of the industry, plus he has an extensive knowledge of rum and a complete understanding of how to craft cocktails.

Do you have any experience bartending or running a business?

What city are you looking to open your bar?

[ This Message was edited by: mikehooker 2017-03-10 12:42 ]


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 4528
Posted: 2017-03-10 2:34 pm   Permalink

Then again what TC true tiki people want may not be what is sellin.
Party City stores are going up every day, We hate that brand of tiki.
Jimmy Buffet is playing all the time his name is on everything his brand is
hot, many here hate it.
Taboo cove in Las Vegas as well as Trader Vic's in Vegas, And MANY trader Vic's
are out.
And Taboo Cove was cool! done by Bosko I think.

Truly cool old tiki mugs like Hoffman first gen Kahiki SELLS FOR LESS THAN SOME NEW SH!T!
Now that one blows my mind.

For me I do like the Ma Kai style of décor and I would say go full bore or don't
do it at all.
That tiki pretty, tiki lite and or tiki Indonesia just don't cut it for me.

Also Kahiki was not doing that well at the end, it was when they said it was going out that Kahiki got busy again.

Kahiki may have gone out any way, plus the Hukilau may have saved the Mai Kai as well who knows.


 
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HaleTiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 03, 2017
Posts: 25
Posted: 2017-03-10 2:56 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2017-03-10 12:41, mikehooker wrote:
To that point, a tiki bar should offer something memorable. An escape from the mundane work a day world. Poorly made drinks, unknowledgeable or unfriendly staff, half-assed decor and improper music all take away from the fantasy you should be projecting.

Do you have any experience bartending or running a business?

What city are you looking to open your bar?

[ This Message was edited by: mikehooker 2017-03-10 12:42 ]



When I wrote 'cocktail strength' I guess I meant how strongly do they remind you of the tiki drinks they should be. Not necessarily how much alcohol was in them.

I definitely want to offer something memorable. I've been working on my business plan and my SWOT analysis of this idea and the main thing that keeps coming up in my mind is that I want this place to be different. I want it to stand out from the surrounding bars. A place people talk about because of the decor, drinks, friendly staff. I have it in my mind to create an atmosphere where things happen similar to Trader Sam's even.

As far as experience. I have business experience, but none from actually working behind a bar. I plan on addressing this weakness through a well chosen hire that I would definitely not skimp on.

As far as location, I don't really know if I want to say that yet if that's okay? I feel like the location will provide me ample opportunities to lure in guests. I think the market is ready for a high end tiki bar and I don't want to feel like I have to rush to market to beat someone else there by giving it away. Maybe that's just me being overly paranoid though.


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 4528
Posted: 2017-03-10 5:28 pm   Permalink

What is a SWOT analysis in business?
SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT matrix) is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and is a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture. A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a company, product, place, industry, or person.


 
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