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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Fiji Island, Roanoke, VA (restaurant)
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Fiji Island, Roanoke, VA (restaurant)
Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2004-07-08 1:07 pm   Permalink

Name: Fiji Island
Type: restaurant
Street: 627 Townside Road
City: Roanoke
State: VA
Zip: 24014-2213
country: USA
Phone: 540-343-2522
Status: operational

http://www.fijiislandroanoke.com/

Description:
this polynesian/chinese restaurant sits on the relative outskirts of this remote Virginia town. the tikis per square yard was relatively low, but the hostess desk had a tiki mask backlit with a red lightbulb, there was matting, bamboo and murals on the walls, and the classic if amateurish menu included a full line of drinks and polynesian food.

opened in 1972 (or before?), currently owned by Charles Chang, originially of Taiwan.


it appears that the venue is kept going by a music club in the basement: http://www.theclubatfiji.com/MainPage.htm

[ This Message was edited by: Johnny Dollar 2011-10-27 06:08 ]


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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2004-10-02 2:37 pm   Permalink

As promised, we made it to Fiji Island en route [from instead of] to Hukilau 2004. All in all, my vague recollections of the place were met by a better experience than I had remembered.

Fiji Island sits up off the main commercial strip (Franklin), and the view from the road is mainly of the roadside architecture of this sign.





The building’s entrance presents the aspect of having perhaps been a straight-up chinese restaurant that might have been tikified at a later date. We cannot verify or deny this. The building both inside and out has this chinese/tiki hybrid feeling. It pretty much works… All tikis are painted in Disney-esque style, probably not unlike those as originally at the Honolulu in Alexandria, Virginia.





Details of the entrance and door tikis.







The lobby presents these views straight on, and the “Tiki Room” sign to the left. The masks are clearly less Polynesian than “other,” but the bamboo and fake waterfall work together with all the parts. Sadly the mask on the maitre’d stand no longer had the backlit red lightbulb as I originally recalled.






These pictures don’t do entire justice to the interior. The low lighting doesn’t draw attention to the ceiling tiles, which aren’t so blazingly white until you take a flash photo










All the exterior walls are painted black instead of matting, and there is a preponderance of chinese red on woodwork, but again the low light levels worked with it. There were quite a few backlit murals, some of cartoonish tikis like on the menu, and another of a abstract dragon/countryside.

The soundtrack sounded like the same exotica soundtrack as at the Honolulu. It was loud enough to get the proper vibe – but be warned, toward the end of our stay the music venue in the basement started creating some less than exotic sounds.



The drinks are served in either the relatively vintage (i.e. not modern made in china version) “grasshopper” mug (no markings), bamboo mugs, and I saw white wahine mugs and “ipo bowls” behind the bar but did not see any service with those. Several of the drinks came in large glass bowls. The quality of the drinks was okay, not terribly strong but the Mai Tai was a close cousin to the Honolulu Mai Tai, and the Fogcutter was pretty dead on if not a tad sweeter. The garnishes were about average, but hey, they were there.


Each folded napkin placesetting had a plastic lei (whee!). The Pu-Pu “Plate” was sufficiently blazing and the Pu-Pus were about average to good, with the beef sates being the best of the selections.

Waikiki Kitty and I split the Crispy Duck that was really good and brought a tear to our eyes in its recollection of the Honolulu crispy duck.

SADLY, although bananas flambé was on the menu, they did not have the proper ingredients!!! We were very disappointed about that. When we return I swear we will call with reservations and a request that they have bananas in the kitchen.


To sum it up,

we found the Fiji Island to be a close cousin to the Honolulu. That would be the not quite so pretty or graceful cousin, but a strong family resemblance The size was about three times that of the Honolulu, and its presence in a rather remote town probably owes to its continued existence. The locals love it, and in speaking to some original customers, found that it is more than three decades old, and at one time had a sister restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia at the Holiday Inn. Our waiter and the visible staff were all asian (-americans?) and professed no knowledge of Tiki Road Trip or any self-aware tiki culture. Out waiter appeared pleased with the notion that someone might travel from out of town to visit the place . The food was decent, the drinks not so expertly mixologized as from a former Trader Vic’s bartender (go figure), but the tiki décor (except for the red phallic tikis - ?) and soundtrack appear from the same era as the Honolulu. We don’t expect droves of people to travel for hours to visit Fiji Island, but we found it to be a fascinating bit of urban archaeology, and would visit it regularly if it did not require five-plus hours of driving to get to it…



Speaking of travel and accommodations,











as an added attraction, a period-appropriate “Motor Lodge” is down the hill and across the street from the Fiji Island. We dug on the pink sinks, commode and bathtub. It was a fun addendum to the experience, so we thought we’d include it.

Aloha!


_________________


[ This Message was edited by: Johnny Dollar 2010-01-30 12:41 ]


 
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WillTiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 29, 2004
Posts: 56
Posted: 2004-10-05 3:12 pm   Permalink

First of all, just so ya know J$, WillTiki here is the same person as Will on the MDDCtiki forum.
On to the post...
The "sister" restaurant in Charlottesville is the place I first remember seeing anything Tiki. I was born in Charlottesville, but we moved away when I was 2. When we would return to visit relatives, we almost always went to this place for Chinese food since it was such a treat then. You see, we lived on the "Eastern Shore" (Delaware+ Maryland+ Virignia = DelMarVa) which at the time had only your basic local seafood and steak restaurants. I was fascinated by the decor, the drink mugs etc.
Cut to me as a student at the University of Virginia (YouVeeAy)I commandeered my freshman dorm RA as driver and dragged a whole heard of folks to the place for dinner and DRINKS. As yes, my first Tiki hangover...
The waiters here did not seem to even know that ID should be checked let alone do so.
We had an absolute blast and went back for repeat performances throughout college even though beer reigned supreme otherwise during those years. I will definitely trek to Roanoke for a little nostalgic nosh and nip.
Thanks J$


 
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polynesian posh boy
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 26, 2004
Posts: 85
Posted: 2004-10-14 1:34 pm   Permalink

Wow! Time to pull out the tiki magnifying glass. C'ville is my hometown and I didn't know there was a tiki bar. The closest reminents I could find was "Ming Dynasty" It was formally "That Steak Place" in the 70's and even today it has the bordello red velvet wallpaper. There is a tiny bar in it and the bar has some tiki mugs but that is it. You can't drink in the bar; it simply stands as "Ode to Tiki" So I thought the trip was over but then I found out The Cavalier Inn had a tiki bar in the 70's. By the way the Holiday Inn turned its restaurant into a Red Lobster and now it is Days Inn. The old Days Inn is the new Holiday Inn. Welcome to my confusing town but no tiki in it today.

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4996
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-01-30 09:50 am   Permalink

I had come across these images of the matchbook and menu from Fiji Island and had originally assumed they were from the the Fiji Island in Maumee, Ohio.





After figuring out that the matchbook was the same design as the ones from the South Pacific Restaurants located in Arlington, Virginia and Silver Springs, Maryland its pretty clear that they are from the Fiji Island in Roanoke. I wonder if they were originally owned by the same family.



Here are some current photos from the restaurant website.










Anybody been lately?

DC


 
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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2010-01-30 12:46 pm   Permalink

damn dustyc! you compelled me to dig back into the memory banks. have not been there since 2004 (6 years! damnnnn) but i reposted the photos we took when we visited there last (see above).

good call on the SP / FI connection! fascinating web of history we uncover, the more we dig!

j$
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4996
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-01-30 12:56 pm   Permalink

J$,

Thanks for re posting your old photos, I was bummed to see all of the red Xs when I opened the thread, those are great.

You need to get a search party organized and take a trip to see how the place is holding up.

South Pacific = Fiji Island. Tiki Transmission Tradition!

DC


 
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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2010-02-06 04:50 am   Permalink

ok i contacted willtiki who had made that comment above about the charlottesville tiki establishment. he does not have a name for the place as of yet, but here is what we do know:

the polynesian / chinese restaurant was next to, and loosely associated with the white house motel on route 250 in charlottesville. the restaurant was between the white house motel and the town and country motor lodge. the motels and restaurant buildings are no longer there - that commercial strip has become infested with car dealerships. their addresses were

white house motel
1448 richmond road, charlottesville, va 22911

town and country motor lodge
1344 richmond road, charlottesville, va 22911

so... i guess we can say, "they paved the air-conditioned paradise, and put up a parking lot."

other snippets of info are:

Quote:
I know it was open and serving fiercely strong drinks as late as the beginning of my first year (Fall of 1982) since a bunch of us went there with my dorm R.A. Oh how times have changed. I was 17 no one else was older that 19, and my RA was buying all of us strong cocktails!



a bit more research turned this up...
http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2004/04/15/COVERmoderne3.2.html
is the existing building listed on that site as "the aloha restaurant" our lost tiki establishment? i'll have to ask willtiki.

the aloha restaurant is now a kia dealership - the building is ca. 1955-1956, designed by architect stanislaw makielski.




[ This Message was edited by: Johnny Dollar 2010-02-06 05:31 ]


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ChefMike
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 35
From: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Posted: 2010-02-06 08:19 am   Permalink



[ This Message was edited by: ChefMike 2010-02-06 08:28 ]


 
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ChefMike
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 35
From: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Posted: 2010-02-06 2:59 pm   Permalink

I think this may be it...just a phone number though
http://www.activediner.com/Chinese-Gourmet-Restaurant/restaurant/Charlottesville/VA/US/profile/21646

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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2010-02-07 06:09 am   Permalink

yeah, chefmike, that's definitely the location... i have put a message into the architectural historian in that link above to see what she might know about the establishment.

 
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WyrdNet
Member

Joined: Mar 06, 2010
Posts: 5
Posted: 2010-03-07 06:34 am   Permalink

The Aloha Restaurant in Charlotteville was the first place I discovered Tiki. I took a date there in about 1981, and when I graduated from UVA in 1982, my whole family went there to celebrate.

This was a large, clean restaurant with a fair amount of bamboo and thatch, but not over the top. Lots of tiki touches, typically Americanized Chinese food that I remember as being very good, and great drinks. The only drink I remember the taste of was the scorpion, still one of my favorites.

Although it's hard for me to compare with such an early experience, Aloha set the standard for me. Later in the 80s, I visited Hawaii Kai in NYC, and in the 90s, Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, Trader Vic's in Hollywood, Honolulu in Alexandria, VA, and Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus. And many more after that, from Honolulu to Koblenz. (I'll have to post links to my essays... I'm new to this site. I had some entries in Tiki Road Trip too.)

Between the highs and lows, Aloha holds its own, and I don't think I would be alone in that opinion.

I don't think I have any pictures from there, I'll post a photo of a matchbook when I get a chance.


 
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WyrdNet
Member

Joined: Mar 06, 2010
Posts: 5
Posted: 2010-03-07 06:40 am   Permalink

Crap, there's a tiki restaurant in Roanoke?!!

I was just there LAST WEEK, and would have made the pilgrimage had I BUTT KNOWN. Won't be back until next year, if Pele doesn't strike me down first for the sleight.


 
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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3058
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2010-03-07 08:11 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-03-07 06:34, WyrdNet wrote:
The Aloha Restaurant in Charlotteville was the first place I discovered Tiki. I took a date there in about 1981, and when I graduated from UVA in 1982, my whole family went there to celebrate.

This was a large, clean restaurant with a fair amount of bamboo and thatch, but not over the top. Lots of tiki touches, typically Americanized Chinese food that I remember as being very good, and great drinks. The only drink I remember the taste of was the scorpion, still one of my favorites.

Although it's hard for me to compare with such an early experience, Aloha set the standard for me. Later in the 80s, I visited Hawaii Kai in NYC, and in the 90s, Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, Trader Vic's in Hollywood, Honolulu in Alexandria, VA, and Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus. And many more after that, from Honolulu to Koblenz. (I'll have to post links to my essays... I'm new to this site. I had some entries in Tiki Road Trip too.)

Between the highs and lows, Aloha holds its own, and I don't think I would be alone in that opinion.

I don't think I have any pictures from there, I'll post a photo of a matchbook when I get a chance.



that would be kick ass, wyrdnet! thanks for filling in more history!


 
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WyrdNet
Member

Joined: Mar 06, 2010
Posts: 5
Posted: 2010-03-07 8:15 pm   Permalink

Here is my souvenir of the Aloha Restaurant, a matchbook. Front, back, and inside shown. Compare location shown on map with other research in thread above.







Note that the book has a shiny silver finish, almost like chrome.

[ This Message was edited by: WyrdNet 2010-03-07 20:19 ]


 
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