July 26, 2006

Bamboo Hut Tiki’s Provenance Revealed?

Filed under: Central California,History,Research,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:25 pm
Large tiki at Bamboo Hut
Large tiki at Bamboo Hut

When creating the souvenir passport for this year’s Tiki Crawl, I paid a rare visit to the Bamboo Hut’s website, and noticed a mention that the large tiki near the entrance is from “1948.” It doesn’t say anything else about it — where it came from, how they got it, or whether perhaps it’s supposed to look like a tiki that could be from 1948. 1948 — that’s pretty darned old, and I thought perhaps it could be a typo. In the course of conversation this weekend, I learned from someone (Will the Thrill, I think) that they’d heard when Bamboo Hut opened in 1999 that the tiki had come from some old Chinese restaurant up in Sacramento that had closed. We couldn’t figure out which place it was, no names we could come up with jogged his memory.

I did, however, remember a great thread on Tiki Central that Sabu the Coconut Boy had started about a number of similar-looking tiki signs (I posted about it here on Humu Kon Tiki in February). While we were at Bamboo Hut on Friday I made sure to get some good pictures of the tiki, and just now I finally caught a moment to dig up that old thread and compare.

Coral Reef napkin
Coral Reef napkin

Sure enough, not only does this tiki echo the look of the tikis in those other signs, one of the places that seemed to have a logo that matched is the Coral Reef, a Cantonese restaurant in Sacramento. Pictured here is a napkin that shows the logo tiki, which looks to be a near-perfect match for this old tiki.

I must admit — I’m not a big fan of the design of the tiki — I honestly thought it was something they’d hacked together with plaster. But knowing it might have an interesting history, while it may not make it more attractive, does make it (and Bamboo Hut) a ton more cool, and the simpleness of the design makes a lot more sense when you understand that it was intended to be viewed from many, many yards away.

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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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