Entries in the 'Arkiva Tropika' Category

November 22, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,History,Los Angeles,Midwest Canada,San Francisco,Tiki,Washington, D.C. — Humuhumu @ 4:16 pm

I’m a bit late with my weekly roundup of gaze-worthy items from Arkiva Tropika… but better late than never!

Postcard from the Beachcomber in Winnipeg, from Arkiva Tropika
Postcard from the Beachcomber in Winnipeg, from Arkiva Tropika

This postcard, from the Beachcomber in Winnipeg, Manitoba, gives a great view of a typical, middle-of-the-road Polynesian restaurant from the 1960s. This restaurant was no Trader Vic’s, or Kon-Tiki, or Kona Kai, or Mai Kai, or Kahiki, or any other of the famous, big-name restaurants. But, as was the case with virtually all Polynesian restaurants of the day, details were not skimped on — massive faux palm trees beneath a “star lit sky” create a full-fledged [i]scene[/i]. There are glass floats and other beachcomber lamps (including a lovely one covered in tapa), bamboo and matting envelop a dining alcove, and a decorative, open steak pit lets diners watch the master chefs at work. It’s hard to conceive, but this was simply a very typical Polynesian restaurant — this level of theming was every bit the norm, which is what makes these restaurants so fascinating. Mimi has more detailed views of this postcard on Arkiva Tropika.

Detail from 1952 cocktail menu from Lanai in San Mateo, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail from 1952 cocktail menu from Lanai in San Mateo, from Arkiva Tropika

This 1952 cocktail menu from the Lanai in San Mateo appeals to me for a number of reasons. First of all, I love the art style (I can’t help but wonder if the artist was inspired by an early Don the Beachcomber menu, as I was when I created the design for Humu Kon Tiki). Secondly, the Lanai was in our neck of the woods, and probably would be our watering hole of choice if it was still around today. Thirdly, the drinks on the menu are true classics, with drinks likely lifted (the names, if not the recipes) from those created by Don the Beachcomber. The Sidewinder’s Fang is served today at Forbidden Island, using the same recipe that was once served at the Lanai (I had one last night, they’re yummy).

Detail from '60s cocktail menu from Doc's Place in Toronto, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail from ’60s cocktail menu from Doc’s Place in Toronto, from Arkiva Tropika

My interest in this 1960s cocktail menu from Doc’s Place in Toronto has more to do with my love of lettering than my love of tiki. This menu is an excellent example of the difference real hand lettering makes over the over-used mock-hand lettering fonts of today. Look at the two places the word “Swizzle” is used — look at the “zz” in particular. Each “z” is different. There are a lot of “G”s on the page, too, and you can really see the difference there. This is where a font typically falls down. Sometimes a font will at least provide two variations of a letter, which helps a lot, but it still doesn’t really have the character and life that true hand lettering does. I’m a font fiend — I am crazy for a good font — but they have to be used with good judgement, and if this same menu was recreated with a hand-lettered font, it would look corporate and dull. I wish more people would just take the time to hand letter things — it’s a dying art. (Mea culpa — I’ve not done much hand lettering, as my attempts have been less than glorious — but that’s all the more reason to practice!)

Page from 1956 cocktail menu from the Luau in Beverly Hills, from Arkiva Tropika
Page from 1956 cocktail menu from the Luau in Beverly Hills, from Arkiva Tropika

This 1956 cocktail menu from the Luau in Beverly Hills is gorgeous — it’s not unusual to see neat illustrations of the drinks on cocktail menus, but a menu full of illustrations of this size and quality is rare. Not entirely surprising — the mugs from the Luau were also detailed, colorful affairs of high quality, designed by Gabe Florian, and are among the most highly-sought vintage mugs. Restauranteur Stephen Crane went on to create the popular Kon-Tiki chain of restaurants for Sheraton hotels.

Menu from an unknown Bali Hai, from Arkiva Tropika
Menu from an unknown Bali Hai, from Arkiva Tropika

Thanks to the popularity of the 1958 film South Pacific (based on the Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway musical, in turn based on the James Michener book), the name “Bali Hai” sprung up all over the place in the early ’60s, and naturally a number of Polynesian restaurants adopted the name. Like the mystical island from the film, this Bali Hai is extremely elusive — Mimi has both a dinner menu and a cocktail menu, and neither give any hint as to where it was located. The menu advertises a “Pit of Eternal Fire,” but odds are not good that it is actually still burning. Mimi has taken the time to type up some of the text from the menus; “florid” seems a tad insufficient, but it’s certainly apt.

Menu from Luau Hut in Washington, D.C., from Arkiva Tropika
Menu from Luau Hut in Washington, D.C., from Arkiva Tropika

As Mimi has noted on Arkiva Tropika, this menu from the Luau Hut in Washington, D.C. is a good example of something that was pretty common during the golden age of tiki — ripping off of menu imagery. The tiki on the cover of this menu was certainly lifted from a menu for the Kahiki in Columbus; this is the Kahiki’s famous signature fireplace. There are many examples of this sort of graphic “borrowing;” it rarely, if ever, created a legal issue, as the imagery was taken from far-flung restaurants, and the risk of getting caught was low. Today, the risk is much higher, and this sort of lifting doesn’t happen nearly as often.

We’re already halfway into a new week of great Arkiva Tropika posts — be sure to check them out yourself!

November 11, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Central California,Hawaii,History,Las Vegas,San Diego,San Francisco,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 5:54 pm

A weekly review of my favorite among the many items Mimi Payne has posted to her Arkiva Tropika website in the past seven days:

Trader Vic's Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika
Trader Vic’s Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a souvenir Trading License, given to customers in the ’40s at Trader Vic’s, granting the recipient “trading privileges.” This one was granted in 1945 to a couple after having dinner & a scorpion at the Oakland location.

Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a bit hard to make out here, but I love this bit from a menu from the Islander in Stockton. “The Gourmet Deluxe Dinner” (“For those discriminating people”) cost $4.75 per person, and was served with a bottle of Paul Masson Rose Wine. Also: “The Islander is available for private parties, fashion shows or any special activity.”

Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika
Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika

This 1952 dinner menu, from the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, is just dag-flippity gorgeous. The artwork and color palette look like they could have come straight from a vintage rayon aloha shirt. The Halekulani, and its famous House Without a Key restaurant & bar, are still operating today.

'60s or '70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s or ’70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

With the sad news about the remodeling of the Islands Restaurant at San Diego’s Hanalei Hotel this week, Mimi pulled out a lot of great Hanalei & Islands items from her collection. Above is a great postcard from the ’60s or ’70s, showing how the front of the hotel used to look, including its famous sign, which was sadly removed a few years back.

'60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

This brochure from the 1960s has lots of full-color pictures from the Hanalei’s heyday, inclulding views of the Islands Restaurant.

'60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

Another postcard from the Hanalei has two different views of the Islands Restaurant.

Page from a '60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika
Page from a ’60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika

And this ’60s cocktail menu, from the early days of the Islands restaurant, features some fantastic illustrations of tropical cocktails.

'60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika

Another item inspired by a recent closing — this 1960s appetizer menu is from the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, which was part of the Stardust Casino for 20 years. Aku Aku closed in 1980, but the Stardust closed just last week.

'60s postcard from Trader Vic's in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard from Trader Vic’s in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika

This postcard shows the exterior entrance to the Trader Vic’s in Seattle, which was in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (today it’s the Westin). The Seattle location was Vic’s second restaurant, after the original Oakland location; it was initially named the Outrigger, and was renamed Trader Vic’s later on to be consistent with the rest of the chain. This picture is from the 1960s. Trader Vic’s used birdcage lamps like these in several locations; when the Seattle Trader Vic’s closed in 1992, some of these lamps went to the then-new Crocodile Cafe a few blocks north, where they can still be seen today — perhaps even the lamps in this very postcard!

Gadzooks, Mimi went on a posting rampage this week! This is truly just a smidge of all the great things she posted — be sure to check it all out yourself at Arkiva Tropika.

November 4, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Daytona Beach,History,Las Vegas,Midwest U.S.,New York,Portland,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 3:52 pm

Mimi Payne keeps adding great items from her collection to Arkiva Tropika — she adds cool things too frequently for me to post about it every time, and I can’t not post about the wonderful things she’s sharing, so there’s only one thing for it: a weekly roundup. This is just a small fraction of the items she’s posted this week; if you like these, make sure to check out Arkiva Tropika yourself, and you’ll be over the moon.

1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a 1954 drink menu from the Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicolette in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There was another Waikiki Room across town, in the Hotel Leamington. I love the woodgrain backdrop of the menu, and the tiki is simple, but beautifullly illustrated. Inside, the menu has full-color photos of the drinks, rather than the more commonly seen drawings. Very cool!

1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic's, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic’s, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a lovely postcard view of the Portland Trader Vic’s, which was in the Hotel Benson. I have no idea what that carved thing in the foreground with the white thingy on top could be.

1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

Without a doubt, hands down, no contest, this is my favorite bit of Polynesian Pop imagery anywhere. That woman is just gorgeous. I want her tattoed on me. I want to be her. She even makes the menacing dark cloudy figure seem like something you can’t be bothered to be concerned about. Who could possibly be distracted by a 50-foot angry genie when you’ve got that woman mezmerizing you? Oh yeah, there’s a neat building in the back, too. Seriously, aside from the beautiful woman, it’s a nice, simple composition that conveys a mood without having to try too hard. Beautiful. This image can also be seen at the beginning of the Book of Tiki.

Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This fan is an unusual item, although Mimi has a few fans in her collection. It comes from the Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas. The Aku Aku closed long ago, but the Stardust closed just this past Wednesday. I like the rendering of the Aku Aku moai as an Asian brush painting, and I like the muted colors.

Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

And straight from muted colors, we have color overload, with food, no less. Look at this — this is every classic ’60s food cliche in one spread. I’ll just let it speak for itself, since I wouldn’t be heard over its screaming, anyhow.

1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This menu is interesting to me not so much because of the design, but because this is from a place I’ve been to, that’s still operating today. The Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach still has a Polynesian floor show and restaurant, but this menu comes from the small coffee shop just off the hotel’s lobby. Today, the coffee shop is run by the same family that performs the floor show at night; it’s kind of fun to be served your hangover-healing coffee by the same woman who was hulaing for you the night before. Gives it a sort of end-of-Wizard-of-Oz feeling. Another interesting thing about this menu is that while it’s from the coffee shop, and has “Good Morning” printed in the decorative border, the paper insert is a dinner menu, which seems a little odd.

Check out Arkiva Tropika for more — much, much more — stuff just like this!


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Humuhumu
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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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