Entries in the 'Midwest U.S.' Category

November 22, 2010

Actual Kahiki Fireplace and Moai on eBay

Filed under: History,Massive Moai,Midwest U.S.,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:39 am
Kahiki Fireplace
from the collection of Mata-ki-Te-rani

Before the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio was demolished in 2000, the Tsao family saved much of the decor, with the intention of reopening some day. (We all know how that went… pour one out for the Kahiki.) The massive flame-spouting moai created by Phil Keintz that flanked the entrance were salvaged, along with the iconic interior fireplace. In 2006, the family decided they no longer wanted them. One of the front moai is in the hands of Kahiki collector tikiskip, and the other and the fireplace have been with another Kahiki fan. They’re a little bit worse for the wear (which is understandable, how does one store a two-story-tall fireplace?). But they still exist! And now, they could be yours.

The owner of the moai and fireplace cannot store them any longer, and is offering them for sale on eBay. They are made of concrete, and very heavy: the fireplace is nearly 23 feet tall, and the moai is about 16 feet tall! While these are unusually meaningful artifacts of Polynesian Pop history, their large size means few people have the ability to handle them, so the purchase price could wind up being surprisingly affordable. Know anyone who’s planning to build a humongous tiki bar?


August 25, 2010

Columbus Dispatch Pays Tribute to the Kahiki

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:25 pm

Vintage rendering of the Kahiki interior, from the Columbus Dispatch

Can you believe it’s been ten years since the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus closed? Time flies when you’re cursing frozen egg rolls. Time doesn’t seem to have healed this wound… of all the lost and lamented tiki temples, the Kahiki is the most legendary, the most beloved. The Columbus Dispatch misses the Kahiki, too, and they’re paying tribute today. They tracked down a number of former employees and patrons to get their greatest Kahiki memories. There’s a nifty little gallery of ten images, and even a quiz to test your Kahiki knowledge.

It’s a thoughtful, honest and loving look back, but dang if it doesn’t make me cranky. Can you imagine the Mai-Kai-like love they would have in store for them if they were still open today? Oof. Frozen food? Really? That’s the lasting legacy? I want to just enjoy this look back, but it’s hard for me to overlook the still-too-fresh tragedy of it all.

Mahalo to Jeff Chenault for the tip!

December 29, 2006

Grass Shack: Pre-Kahiki Bamboo Joint

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Research,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:57 pm
Grass Shack matchbook, from the collection of uncle trav
Grass Shack matchbook, from the collection of uncle trav
Grass Shack matchbook
Grass Shack matchbook

This old matchbook from the Grass Shack caught the eye of its owner, uncle trav, one day recently. He found it a year ago, but only just now took notice of the address: 3583 E. Broad St. Columbus, Ohio. That’s the address of the legendary Kahiki Supper Club. He posted his matchbook on Tiki Central, and it turns out that the Grass Shack was owned by Kahiki founders Bill Sapp and Lee Henry, and it burned down in June 1958 or ’59, at Bill Sapp’s birthday party. Here’s the story, as it was related to Kahiki aficionado tikiskip:

The place did burn down, on Bills Birthday!
He told me he went home (party was still going on)
And got a call from sondro Conti, Bar Manager/drink inventer
Who said “Boss we got a fire here”
Bill said “well put it out”
Sondro called back and said “hey boss this things getting pretty big”
Bill “are we going to be open tomorrow?”
Sondro then called back and said.”Boss we no open tomorrow!”

They were going to start on the Kahiki the next day anyway.
Bill told me that they had matches with the raised boobs. I thought he was mistaken but there they are!

Another story from Bill Sapp, via tikiskip:

Mr Sapp did say that when they started the Kahiki
The fire marshal came in and said “you can’t use the thatch” Because it was a fire hazard.
They told him that they used fire proofing material on the thatch.
They then took him to the burned remains of the Grass Shack and showed him that everything but the thatch was burnt to a crisp!
So he let them use it.

A great matchbook, followed up by some great provenance, and some great stories, to boot.

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!

August 7, 2006

Massive Moai: Oklahoma

Filed under: History,Massive Moai,Midwest U.S.,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:14 pm
Postcard from the Suttles' Tiki Point, from the collection of SilverLine
Postcard from the Suttles’ Tiki Point, from the collection of SilverLine

For some reason, moai statues have a way of cropping up in the most unlikely and random places. One of these is the Moai that overlooks Courtyard Hollow, a small part of the Great Lake o’ the Cherokees, in Grove, Oklahoma. SilverLine posted the above postcard, which probably dates from the late ’60s, on Tiki Central, which is labeled “The Suttles’ Tiki Point, Located on Lake Road #6, Grove Oklahoma,” and tikijackelope and ZuluMagoo dug in to find what could be learned about it. Sure enough, the fellow’s still there. The moai may have been constructed in 1967 by Earl Suttle, who once owned the land it sits on. The moai may not be accessible by road, but it isn’t hard to get to by water, and ZuluMagoo has seen it in person and shared recent photos on Tiki Central.

August 5, 2006

Columbus: Hot Rod Hula Hop 2

Filed under: Events,Midwest U.S.,Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:08 pm
Hot Rod Hula Hop 2
Hot Rod Hula Hop 2

The Fraternal Order of Moai and Drifters Car Club of Columbus are throwing the second Hot Rod Hula Hop. It’s a two-day affair, starting Friday, August 18 with a “Feast of the Tiki Gods” at Tropical Bistro, with former Kahiki mixologist Jim tending the cash-only bar. A buffet-style luau dinner will be served, and the full menu will be available as well. Hawaiian guitarist Francis Llacuna will be performing, and “Sam” the Kahiki bar parrot will be on hand, as well. Tickets are $12 ($11 plus a $1 handling fee), and you’re encouraged to get yours quickly, as seating will be limited.

Saturday’s main event is happening at Largo’s Tavern, with five bands, three DJs, tiki carvings all around, vendors, cocktails, food and kustom rods galore. The lineup includes The Madeira, Fisherman (a huge favorite of mine), the CryptoKats, Knuckel Drager and the Crimson Cats. A custom event mug will be for sale at the event, which goes from noon until 2 a.m.

To learn more and get tickets, check out the Hot Rod Hula Hop website.

March 29, 2006

Kahiki Reincarnated as Strip Mall Chinese Buffet

Filed under: Midwest U.S.,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:22 pm
Smoking drink at Tropical Bistro, photo by Jeff Chenault
Smoking drink at Tropical Bistro,
photo by Jeff Chenault

There’s a whole lot of excitement in Ohio these days, at the discovery of a new restaurant with some strong ties to the celebrated Kahiki Supper Club.

The Kahiki, one of the grand dames of old tiki palaces, tragically closed in 2000. Earlier this year, Ngo and Soeng Thong opened up Tropical Bistro in Hilliard, Ohio, not far from the old Kahiki location. Ngo was a general manager at the Kahiki, and Soeng was a chef. They recruited the Kahiki’s Executive Chef, Mickey Cheung, to join them, along with other former Kahiki employees. They have opened their restaurant in an unassuming storefront in a humble strip mall, in a space that was last a typical Chinese buffet. Much of the decor in the place is from the buffet, and is thus pretty unremarkable, but there are a few pieces from the Kahiki, including a few tikis and a few lamps. What has Ohio tikiphiles all aflutter is the return of the Kahiki food and the Kahiki beverages, which are served with good old Kahiki hospitality.

The drink and food menus are reportedly exactly the same, right down to the same colorful drink images. The drinks are served with dry ice, and in tiki mugs. The quality of the food is reportedly even better than it had been at the Kahiki.

The Kahiki was famous for its grand interior, and that’s definitely missing at Tropical Bistro. But as James Teitelbaum, author of Tiki Road Trip, says:

Tropical Bistro is the only place within a 350 mile radius of the ground it stands on that serves a decent tropical drink.

Yeah, the place has a TiPSY factor of near zero, but hell, their cocktails are a miracle, and are the only ones worth drinking the in the state of Ohio… not to mention Kentucky, Indiana, or Pennsylvania.

And if anyone would know, it’s James. It’s not quite the celebrated return of the Kahiki that some have hoped for, but it’s a start. Jeff Chenault kicked off the frenzy with his discovery of this place, followed up with a review and some photos; he’s so excited about this place he can barely type straight. So, if you’ve got a hankering for a Smoking Eruption, head for Tropical Bistro.

August 26, 2005

The Gutting of the Kahiki

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:19 pm

In October of 2000, the famous Kahiki Supper Club, a building on the National Historic Register, was dismantled to make way for a Walgreen’s pharmacy. At the time, it was said that pieces of the Kahiki would be saved for a reopening of the restaurant in a new location. Some of these pieces are currently on display at the Kahiki frozen foods processing plant.

It is unclear how the recent death of the Kahiki’s last owner, Michael Tsao, might impact the idea of an eventual Kahiki reopening, but as the years have gone by, hope for the idea has frustratingly faded. Over the years, there has been increasing grousing about Tsao’s apparent duplicity in asserting the restaurant would be reopened. While it is certainly a disappointment, it was Tsao’s restaurant to do with what he pleased, and unless these folks were there supporting the venture with your dollars, dining there on a regular basis, the complaint is somewhat legless. Take this as a lesson: support your local Polynesian Pop!

TheMuggler has recently posted his picture gallery of the dismantling of the Kahiki on Tiki Central.


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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http://www.humuhumu.com
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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