Entries in the 'Central California' Category

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.

September 19, 2006

My Travels: Hooptylau 2006

Filed under: Central California,Events,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:44 pm
The Pollardville Chicken Jail
Bill & Michael in the Pollardville Chicken Jail
The gang at On Lock Sam's
The gang at On Lock Sam’s

Yee haw! This past weekend I was at Hooptylau, in California’s Central Valley. I saw the very best tiki there is to see in Stockton, Ripon, Modesto & Turlock. And there is some mighty fine tiki to be seen, indeed.

The first stop was On Lock Sam’s in Stockton, which has been in business since 1898(!), but the building it’s in dates from 1964. It’s undergone a very unfortunate remodel, but bits of charm remain — especially bartender Ray, who goes way back in the local Chinese & Polynesian restaurant scene. On Lock Sam’s is Chinese and not Polynesian, but it is neat.

Pollardville sign
Pollardville sign

The next stop was Pollardville, a roadside attraction that dates from the ’40s, on Highway 99 on the north side of Stockton. Pollardville started as a chicken stand, and grew into a full-on western sort-of ghost town (zombie town?) when they started moving buildings from other areas onto the property, including the Jamestown Jail, and the entire set from the 1958 western film “The Big Country.” In the mid-80s, the restaurant on the property burned down, and in 1987, they found a new building to replace it, which was our real reason for this stop on the tour… Stockton’s The Islander restaurant was moved from its spot in the heart of Stockton, to its final resting place in Pollardville, where it became the Pollardville Chicken Kitchen. The roofline screams “mid-century A-frame Polynesian restaurant!” while the interior screams “in 1987 we let the waitress with the most seniority decorate the place, and we haven’t changed it since!”

Former Stockton Islander building at Pollardville
Former Stockton Islander building at Pollardville

(more…)

August 28, 2006

Modesto: Hooptylau 2006

Filed under: Central California,Events,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:42 pm
Schmama Lama & me at Hooptylau 2004
Schmama Lama & me at Hooptylau 2004

It’s time once again for one of my very favorite tiki events, Hooptylau in California’s Central Valley. This event celebrates both the Central Valley’s rich tiki history, and its inherent trashiness. Attendees are invited to bust out their most questionable aloha wear, with the most outlandish winning prizes (this year’s challenge is to combine western wear with aloha wear). At last year’s event, we returned to our two rented vans after our visit to Minnie’s to find that we’d interrupted someone in the middle of siphoning gas out of them. Hoopty! This year, my mom, the Schmama Lama, will be joining us — she went to Hooptylau in 2004, and she’s been singing the Hooptylau theme song ever since.

It’s taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 16 & 17. Here’s this year’s schedule:

Martiki at Hooptylau 2004
Martiki at Hooptylau 2004
  1. On Lock Sam’s in Sacramento — not Polynesian, but an intruiguing old-school Chinese joint in downtown Stockton with “Mafioso curtain booths” — and they serve tropical drinks.
  2. Pollardville Chicken Kitchen — again, not Polynesian, but this building was once the great Islander in Stockton. In the mid-’80s, it was moved and turned into a fried chicken joint. It’s being demolished in the coming year, and we’ll visit it to pay our respects and load up on alcohol-absorbing greasy chicken.
  3. The Dark Marq Room — this is the home bar of Hooptylau hosts, the drunken hat and tikicleen. Enjoy their massive collection, heavy with Islander memorabilia, and some excellent mixology.
  4. Tropics Motel & Tiki Lounge — the Tropics was once one of the Ken Kimes chain (which included what is now the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs), and has some massive Ed Crissman rootball tikis. The motel has weekly rates, and there is usually some laundry out to dry on the chain link fence that separates it from its former bar, the Tiki Lounge. The Tiki Lounge is still operational, but smartly wants nothing to do with its former partner — today, it’s a semi-restored gay bar, with central fireplace and bamboo booths.
  5. Minnie’s — the queen bee of Central Valley tiki, Minnie’s would be a gem in any city. The Chinese food is surprisingly good, and the restaurant is full of not just tikis, but many oil and black velvet paintings by Burke Tyree. The drinks don’t match the quality of the food, but one drink — the Jerk — is a must-have for the uninitiated. It’s borderline hazing, but you’ve just gotta suck it up.

The next day, the gang is invited to a day of restoration at Jungle Trader’s Outpost, a lush backyard paradise (Jungle Trader is a landscaper) complete with a brand-new swimming pool.

As I hinted at above, the theme this year is Western-meets-Tiki, so get to brainstorming about how to work some dusty boots into your most garish aloha outfit. For full details, including how to get tickets, and where to stay, check out the thread on Tiki Central.

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.

August 26, 2005

Hooptylau — Central California’s Tiki Crawl

Filed under: Central California,Events,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:31 pm

Most of you are probably aware of The Hukilau, happening in early October in Ft. Lauderdale (and if you’re not, well thank goodness we’ve now fixed that!). However, the very next weekend California’s Central Valley area will be enjoying their own not-to-be-missed event, the 2nd Annual Hooptylau.

Hooptylau may not be able to boast so exotic and elegant a destination as the Mai Kai, but it’s no slouch in terms of history and tikiness. Destinations on the tour will include Modesto’s Tiki Lounge, which was once a part of the Modesto Tropics (former sister to what is now Palm Springs’ Caliente Tropics, location of the annual Oasis event) and where once can still see some great Ed Crissman tikis in the parking lot. The Tiki Lounge is small and has become a dive bar of sorts, but it still retains some fantastic details and structure, most notably in the form of lovely bamboo and thatch cozy booths, and beautiful wahine paintings.

Speaking of wahine paintings, the nearby Minnie’s Restaurant has an amazing collection of velvet and oil wahine paintings by Tyree, a protege of Leeteg. Minnie’s was once part of the same collection of restaurants that included the Stockton Islander, Torrance’s Latitude 20°, and Oxnard’s Trade Winds. Minnie’s has an impressive amount of tiki charm and remains a popular restaurant today. You may find it hard to leave without enjoying their Oyster Beef.

There is a fabulous home tiki bar in Ripon, the Dark Marq Room, that will also be included on the tour. Owned by Tiki Central’s The Drunken Hat and Tiki Cleen, this location will combine the 1-2 punch of Hat’s tasty mixology (Hat’s grog won the Oasis Mixology contest this year) with their amazing tiki collection and bar.

The Hooptylau organizers have fun with the Central Valley’s seedy reputation (one of last year’s highlights was the Worst Aloha Wear competition), but make no mistake — the destinations on this tour are top-notch and individually worth a visit.


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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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