Entries in the 'Seattle' Category

January 7, 2006

I Am Cuba Screening in Seattle

Filed under: Cuba,Events,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 11:09 pm

One of my favorite movies, I Am Cuba, is currently being shown at the Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I Am Cuba was produced by Russia during the height of U.S./Russia/Cuba tensions in the early sixties. It is a fascinating look at pre-revolution Cuba through the eyes of the Russian government, from a post-revolution point of view (complete with the requisite Ugly Americans). Aside from the very interesting social commentary, cinematically is is breathtaking. The black & white film uses special filters that give the palm trees an eerie, silvery appearance that is quite striking. Near the beginning of the film is a jaw-dropping sequence showing scenes from around a very modern hotel, all taken in just one take — it must be seen to be believed. Early on there is a scene that takes place in a tiki bar. It almost certainly is a sound-stage, but elements from the set were taken from the Trader Vic’s in Havana, in particular the bird-cage lamps can be recognized as Trader Vic’s classics. The restaurant is still there, but is no longer a Trader Vic’s, and is now called El Polinesio. It is in the Hotel Cuba Libre, the same modern hotel featured in the beginning of I Am Cuba.

I Am Cuba made the art house circuit in the early ’90s, and now is making the rounds again with a new print and soundtrack. Showings are at 6:30 and 9:15 through next Thursday the 12th.

December 16, 2005

Trader Vic’s Update: Chicago, Bellevue, Scottsdale, Las Vegas and Dallas

Filed under: Chicago,Dallas,Las Vegas,News,Phoenix,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 8:12 pm
Postcard from Chicago Trader Vic's, from the collection of Mimi Payne
Postcard from Chicago Trader Vic’s, from the collection of Mimi Payne

There’s been a lot of news on the Trader Vic’s front, time for a roundup:

Trader Vic’s Chicago: As previously reported, the Chicago Trader Vic’s location will be closing for good on New Year’s Eve. The sad and frustrating tale of its demise has been widely reported, but here’s the short version: the new owners of the Palmer Hilton are crappy. This Trader Vic’s location is one of the oldest — it would have celebrated 50 years in 2007 — and the Trader Vic’s organization is disappointed. Reports state that the interior is being preserved as much as possible, and saved for a future installation in Chicago. The Trader Vic’s organization appears to have fast-tracked getting another Trader Vic’s restaurant in Chicago, and the Harry Caray’s restaurant group has announced their intention to run the new restaurant. Hard to say if this is an actual signed deal, or what the time frames are, but it sounds intriguing. Meanwhile, the latest reports on visits to the Chicago Trader Vic’s paint a bleak picture — shoddy, typo-ridden menus, non-existent service, and abysmal drinks. Farewell, Chicago Trader Vic’s, I hope to meet you again under better circumstances.

Trader Vic’s Bellevue: Now for better news. The new Trader Vic’s restaurant in Bellevue (outside Seattle) appears to be progressing nicely. I happened to be at the San Francisco Trader Vic’s when designers were reviewing samples; if what I saw was any indication, expect to see some very nice bamboo. The Trader Vic’s Bellevue website says March 2005 is the opening date, I’ve heard April 1, but of course these dates tend to be squishy. The new Bellevue Vic’s is located in the Liberty Square complex across from Bellevue Square mall, and is located adjacent to a Westin hotel. The restaurant has a main dining area and two private dining rooms, and takes up nearly 8,000 sq. ft. of space.

Trader Vic’s Scottsdale: Scottsdale is also gearing up for a springtime return of Trader Vic’s. A great vintage hotel, Valley Ho, has been undergoing renovations. The new Valley Ho will include a freestanding Trader Vic’s restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. Due to open in May 2006 but with Belleuve opening in March/April, I wouldn’t be surprised if this got pushed back a bit.

Trader Vic’s Las Vegas: The ink is barely dry on this one, but Vegas moves quickly… I’m excited to hear how this one comes along. This new Trader Vic’s will be part of the remodel of what is currently the Aladdin Hotel’s Desert Passage mall. With the Aladdin becoming a Planet Hollywood casino, the theme for the mall will be changing. The Trader Vic’s space is reportedly quite large, and will have a front entrance directly on the strip, across from the Bellagio. With the work just getting started, it’s too soon to pinpoint an opening date, but think late 2006/early 2007. Along those same lines, don’t get too attached to it once it opens… Vegas is a place where time has no meaning, and a restaurant open three years is considered dated.

Trader Vic’s Dallas: Earlier this year there were some rumblings about Trader Vic’s coming back to Dallas. Actually, it was more than rumblings, an investor announced the plans and it was reported on in the press, but it turns out it may have been premature. There are no real plans to open a location in Dallas that I’m aware of, but clearly we’re living in a time when such a thing isn’t out of the question. Don’t loseWeight Exercise hope, but don’t hold your breath, either.

All told, things are looking up!

November 7, 2005

Selector Lopaka Tuesday Nights in Seattle

Filed under: Music,People,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:24 pm
Selector Lopaka
Selector Lopaka

When I lived in Seattle, I often could be found on Tuesday nights enjoying the musical soundscapes of Selector Lopaka at Fu Kun Wu in Old Ballard. Fu Kun Wu is the bar for the restaurant Thaiku; Fu Kun Wu is themed as an old Chinese apothocary, and is very well done. The environment is a perfect match for Selector Lopaka’s music, which starts early in the evening with great Exotica, Hawaiian and lounge classics, and gradually and seamlessly shifts later into more modern beats with a light sprinkling of great reggae (I love it, and I’m not a reggae fan). On top of all that, the drinks at Fu Kun Wu are unusual and delightful — my favorite was always the Radiant Flower, a light, crisp, gin-based concoction. Food from Thaiku is available in the bar until 9:30. For the winter season, Selector Lopaka is shifting up his DJ set to be a bit earlier — from 6 p.m. until 9ish.

October 20, 2005

Leilani Lanes To Be Demolished in Spring 2006

Filed under: News,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:44 am

Sad news from Seattle… according to an article in the Seattle Times, Leilani Lanes has been sold to a real estate developer, who plans to demolish it to make way for an apartment and retail complex. Leilani Lanes, open since 1961, had been owned by a collective of families; the same group also owns the non-tiki but very cool Sunset Lanes in Seattle, which has not been sold. Leilani Lanes was sold for $6.25 million to Michael R. Mastro, who also bought the adjoining property. Mastro plans to build a new complex with 363 apartment units and 62,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. Leilani Lanes will be open until March 2006.

Now I’m kicking myself doubly for forgetting to bring my camera when we visited Leilani Lanes last month, as it’s very unlikely I’ll get to see it again before it’s gone. I would guess that the Witco there will be spoken for very quickly, if it’s not gone already. Someone, get some pics, stat!

August 25, 2005

Trader Vic’s Adding Locations

Filed under: Las Vegas,News,San Francisco,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:52 pm

After closing many locations during the mid-’90s, Trader Vic’s is now opening new ones. Trader Vic’s had continued to expand outside the United States, but the situation here had looked bleak. A few years back a new location opened in Palo Alto to lukewarm reviews, and a new location in San Francisco opened a few months ago.

The latest new locations that have been confirmed are Bellevue (just East of Seattle) and Las Vegas, with other cities rumored to be targets for more expansion. If the new San Francisco location is any indication, the new restaurants will have plenty of tiki but will not have the same dark, intimate feel. Picture a cross between an old Trader Vic’s and a Roy’s.

Rethinking Leilani Lanes

Filed under: My Travels,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:11 am

On a recent return visit to my hometown, Seattle, I happened to pop into Leilani Lanes, an old bowling alley in the north end of town. I’d spent many a tipsy early-20s evening at Leilani Lanes, and for years I’ve been steering tikiphiles away from it, saying any cool stuff must have been torn out.

Boy, was I wrong: the building itself is actually pretty impressive, not showy by Southern California standards, but considering its location and how far away from the city center it was when it was built in the ’60s, it’s not bad at all. The fountain in the lobby is still nicely tiled and working. Most amazingly, I’d totally missed the tikis on site. There is a large tiki bolted right to the front entrance, and a matching one just behind the fountain after entering. There are a couple of tiki masks mounted on the front desk where you get your shoes. There are two purple painted crapola tikis on either side of the lanes, but the bar is the real prize: the bathroom hallway on that side has three large Witco tiki pieces. Even beyond this, the bar area is pretty darned cool. The seats are in decent shape, the hammered-metal freestanding fireplace was in use, and it even had a semi-hidden water feature still operating underneath it.

It seems, though, that the bar at Leilani Lanes has been mounting some sort of World Record attempt for longest karaoke night — I think they’ve been having someone in there singing nonstop since 1994. This, combined with the wretched carpet, is the only reason I can think of that made me think it wasn’t a worthwhile tiki location. Regardless, I’ve changed my tune, and updated Critiki accordingly.


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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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