Entries in the 'Trader Vic’s' Category

April 3, 2007

Papua New Guinea Art in Menlo Park

Filed under: Art,San Francisco,Shopping,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 6:18 pm
Papua New Guinea tiki at Xanadu Gallery
Papua New Guinea tiki at Xanadu Gallery

This past weekend, we stumbled across a little gallery that has a wonderful collection of Papua New Guinea art. It’s called Xanadu Gallery, and it’s in Menlo Park, just north of Stanford University. It’s owned by the same fellow who is part owner of the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s, and he was responsible for the Papua New Guinea art on display there. That makes three different spots full of Papua New Guinea art, all within just a couple of miles: the Trader Vic’s, the sculpture garden at Stanford, and Xanadu Gallery. The Stanford sculpture garden is unrelated to the other two.

Most of the art was from Papua New Guinea, but there were also examples of Tahitian and Marquesan art, including a gorgeous outrigger canoe. There were tikis, masks, war clubs, drums, canoes… just an overwhelming array of gorgeous tiki art. About 1/2 – 1/3 of it was for sale, the rest is part of the owner’s private collection. I’ve posted a bunch of pictures in a thread on Tiki Central, and also at Humuhumu’s Life in Photos. There is another Xanadu Gallery location in San Francisco with even more art, hopefully I’ll get a chance to check it out soon.

March 2, 2007

After 20 Years, the Triumphant Return of Trader Vic’s to Dallas!

Filed under: Dallas,Florida Panhandle,History,Massive Moai,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 4:26 pm
Formikahini enjoys a Mai Tai at the Dallas Trader Vic's, photo by Kenike
Formikahini enjoys a Mai Tai at the Dallas Trader Vic’s, photo by Kenike

Very, very exciting times in Dallas… the long-anticipated day has finally arrived, and the Dallas Trader Vic’s has reopened. The great news, the fabulous news, the pinch-me-I’m-dreaming news, is that they’ve worked hard to keep it intact. Some updates and repairs had to be made, but the architect working on the project, William Baker of Jones Baker Interior + Architecture, took care to preserve the original look as much as possible, including tracking down vintage fixtures, matching the original carpet, and having carvers reproduce original panels. (William Baker is also working on the interiors of the new Destin, Florida Trader Vic’s location.)

Dallas Trader Vic's, photo by Kenike
Dallas Trader Vic’s, photo by Kenike

Tiki Centralites Kenike and Formikahini (pictured above) have posted their trip report from a soft-opening night at the Dallas Trader Vic’s. These two are hard-boiled tikiphiles, with a discerning eye — and they’ve come away more than pleased. The pictures tell the story: the Dallas Trader Vic’s is quite possibly now the best of the stateside Trader Vic’s. It’s gorgeous, people.

The bar at Dallas Trader Vic's, photo by Kenike
The bar at Dallas Trader Vic’s, photo by Kenike
Dallas Star cocktail, photo by Kenike
Dallas Blue Star cocktail, photo by Kenike

In keeping with Trader Vic’s tradition (hooray for Trader Vic’s tradition!), a new drink has been created to commemorate the opening: the Dallas Blue Star, pictured here in a photo from Kenike. The drink has tequila, agave nectar, cointreau, lime juice and is garnished with a star fruit slice — very pretty. Formikahini notes that the drink is a bit sweeter than is her preference, but points out that you get to keep this glass, a Dallas Trader Vic’s exclusive, which is essentially a taller, more slender variation on the classic Mai Tai glass.

Original massive moai at Dallas Trader Vic's, photo by Kenike
Original massive moai at Dallas Trader Vic’s, photo by Kenike

Kenike and Formikahini were treated to a full tour of the restaurant, including a rare visit with this massive moai, carved by Barney West, which stood guard at Trader Vic’s for many years until the restaurant closed. The moai is not in the greatest shape, but is currently being restored with hopes of returning it to its proper post once more.

I could go on and on and on… this is so exciting to see. This is what a tiki bar should look like. Bravo to everyone involved in making this happen — it probably wasn’t always easy, and there probably was more than a bit of convincing involved. Thank you for your efforts! Thanks also to Kenike and Formikahini for doing such a wonderful job of documenting the opening for those of us who can’t be there in person. It’s making me want to check air fares to Dallas….

To see more of Kenike’s excellent pictures, and hear more details (including the fascinating backstory on that Barney West moai), be sure to check out this thread on Tiki Central. The Trader Vic’s Dallas website also has more pictures.

February 1, 2007

Trader Vic’s Coming to Florida Panhandle

Filed under: Florida Panhandle,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 4:10 pm
Site of Trader Vic's in Destin, Florida, from vrbo.com
Site of Trader Vic’s in Destin, Florida,
from vrbo.com

Some out-of-nowhere news: Trader Vic’s is opening next month in Destin, Florida, in the state’s panhandle. It’s part of the new Palms of Destin resort — the Palms website makes only vague references to a “themed” restaurant, but doesn’t mention Trader Vic’s anywhere. However, Craigslist ads are looking for a Sous Chef to work under Executive Chef Juan Palerm, and the Trader Vic’s website now has a page for the Destin location (with no information beyond “March 2007″). Someone who owns one of the condos has their unit up for rental, advertised here, with mentions of Trader Vic’s (and “Traitor Vic’s”), including this photograph of the purported location. I’m not sure the location could look less tiki unless it was a parking garage, but we can hope that this picture is pre-tikification.

It’s seems strange to me that the word has come out about this location so late in the game; I can’t help but wonder if this is a quickie marriage. The new San Francisco, Bellevue and Scottsdale locations have been criticized for their relatively spare decoration; I’m getting tired of saying resignedly, “well, at least you can get a decent Mai Tai.” Please, please, please let this location be a good one.

Thanks to GatorRob for the tip-off!

January 28, 2007

Trader Vic’s Roundup

Filed under: Asia,Chicago,Dallas,Las Vegas,Middle East,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:46 am

Here’s an update on some of the Trader Vic’s openings currently slated, from the Trader Vic’s website:

Shanghai, China – Opened on New Year’s Eve

Dallas – February, 2007 (it’s been pushed back many times, but February 11 is the most recent date)

Las Vegas – in June, 2007

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Bar in Dubai – April, 2007

Chicago – late 2007 (This has been pushed back quite a bit — their initial estimate was that it would be open by now. There have been rumblings of union troubles (I don’t know of which sort) causing some delays.)

Doha, Qatar – late 2007

Amman, Jordan – late 2007

Beijing, China – late 2007

Earlier Trader Vic’s opening reports on Humu Kon Tiki:

Trader Vic’s Kuwait?

Filed under: Middle East,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:00 am
Trader Vic's Kuwait press release, from Kuwait Unplugged
Trader Vic’s Kuwait press release,
from Kuwait Unplugged

Humu Kon Tiki reader Misbas recently made a comment on a post about the Kon Tiki in Kuwait:

The Kon Tiki is a Polynesian-style restaurant in the Trader Vic’s mode, and the food is actually very good, if somewhat pricey. Speaking of Trader Vic’s, a company here has announced plans to open one in Kuwait. Imagine that, A TV’s sans alcohol — the spectre is both comical and depressing at the same time! The other Trader Vic’s locations in the Gulf (Bahrain, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Al-Ain and Oman) do a bang-up business, but all serve the big “A”.

Interesting… a quick search turned up this post on the Kuwait Unplugged blog:

Trader Vic’s is well known around the world as a tourist trap specializing in luridly colored cocktails (the Mai Tai being its most famous), with tacky umbrellas and weirdly shaped glasses. The food is secondary… it’s not bad, but it’s also not the main reason people go there.

Now Trader Vic’s is the latest entry in the never-ending race to import totally unsuitable franchises to Kuwait. What would be the point if they can’t serve their signature cocktails?

And the press release… words fail me!

Kuwait Unplugged has a full-size image of the printed press release above… words fail me as well, but for an entirely different reason. Can someone who can read Arabic help me out?

I’m also not up enough on the restaurant & (non)bar scene in the Middle East, so I don’t feel like I’m in a position to say whether or not this is a good move on Trader Vic’s part, but I have to agree that I don’t get it, especially if the decor is as sparse as the newer Trader Vic’s I’ve seen here stateside. Heck, I’m not even sure if Bongo Bongo Soup is halal.

January 26, 2007

Latest News on Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 7:28 pm
1950s postcard from Trader Vic's Beverly Hills, from the collection of Mimi Payne
1950s postcard from Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills, from the collection of Mimi Payne

A bunch of news erupted last week (and lots of links to my blog — thanks for that!). Here’s a quick roundup:

Plans have been changed — condos are out, Waldorf is in
When word first broke one year ago here on Humu Kon Tiki that the Trader Vic’s was threatened, the plans called for the corner of Wilshire & Santa Monica (where the Trader Vic’s sits on Hilton property) to be turned into a new tower of condominiums. The LA Times reports the developers have found significant resistance from the community, and have now revised their plan. The condo idea has been tossed, and instead they will build a 120-room Waldorf hotel on the spot. The plans still call for the Trader Vic’s to be demolished. The new plans will likely be voted on in the fall of 2007.

Trader Vic’s is considering a move
When the Trader Vic’s in Chicago tragically closed under similar circumstances in 2005, they immedieately made plans to save as much of the decor as possible, and move into a new Chicago location, partnered with Harry Carey restaurants. In July, my sources at Trader Vic’s told me that this would likely be the case in Bevely Hills, as well, and that appears to have been confirmed last week by John Maatta, who is on the board of directors, per a report from Franklin Avenue. The jury is still out on how well this has worked in Chicago: the new location hasn’t opened, and as far as I know, hasn’t even been announced. It’s better to have a new Vic’s than no Vic’s at all, but make no mistake — the new Vic’s will not have the same character, by a longshot. There’s simply no recreating 50+ years of history. The loss of the original Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s would be a tragedy, period.

How to act to save the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s
I wish I had a single, clear, easy thing you can do, but it’s not quite that easy. There is a growing groundswell of resistance, from many different sides, to the Hilton developments, so you’re in good company. Because there are so many different sorts of folks who want to save the Trader Vic’s (which is a good thing!), the effort looks a bit like a hydra at the moment. Just pick a head, or two, or three, and run with them. The best bet right now would be to get in contact with the LA Conservancy’s Modern Committee. The LA Conservancy has experience with historic sites threatened by new development, and have made some great strides in saving Los Angeles landmarks. The Modern Committee’s discussion about the Trader Vic’s is here. There are, naturally, also folks at Tiki Central who are trying to figure out how best to act, and are starting to dovetail with the Mod Com efforts. You can follow the Tiki Central thread here. And of course, there’s the option of contacting the City of Beverly Hills directly, they’ve created an email address just for comments about this project: HiltonHotelComments@beverlyhills.org. Throw your hat into the various rings, and be ready to be part of the action once the plans of attack come together. Let everyone know you’re there to help.

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 6, 2006

New York Trader Vic’s Tikis Headed to Portland

Filed under: History,New York,Portland,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 9:42 am
Robert Volz with tikis from New York Trader Vic's
Robert Volz with tikis from New York Trader Vic’s

A wild, almost too-good-to-be-true story came to me from Robert Volz yesterday. Robert is the owner of the new Thatch bar in Portland (development is well underway, and the bar will be opening soon, hopefully). Robert has already had some fantastic scores of items for use in his new bar, including original Armet & Davis booths from a local Denny’s that was one of the last midcentury Denny’s in the nation to be remodeled, and all of the decor from the local Jasmine Tree restaurant that recently closed.

Robert, who was once editor of a magazine for scooter enthusiasts, recently took part in a coast-to-coast scooter race. (Yep — from Pacific City, Oregon to Orange, New Jersey in ten days, on a scooter.) Once he was in New Jersey, it was clear that he wasn’t going to be one of the top finishers, so when he saw a sign saying “Restaurant Auction Today,” he decided to take a breather. In between the kitchen equipment and other typical restaurant fixtures were eight tikis. Not just any tikis, really honkin’ big tikis. And they were reported to be from the New York City Trader Vic’s. Robert said:

The funny thing, is that no one bid on the eight large statues that used to be in the NYC Trader Vic’s in the Plaza Hotel.

After no takers on several, I wrote a note to the auctioneer who passed it onto the the manager. The note was a ridiculously low offer for all of them.

To my surprise, I got them all.

Back of one of Robert Volz's Trader Vic's tikis
Back of one of Robert Volz’s
Trader Vic’s tikis

Now, as I said at the top of the story — too good to be true. But I think in this case that it could very well be true. For one, two of the tikis are the same design as the Trader Vic’s salt & pepper shakers, and have “TRADER VIC’S” carved in the back of them — which anyone can do, but the carving doesn’t look fresh. For another, the tikis look somewhat consistent with (though larger than) some tikis Trader Vic’s still has in their possession, as seen when they loaned them out for the San Francisco Airport tiki exhibit.

If these tikis did indeed come from Trader Vic’s, it’s likely they date to 1965, when the Trader Vic’s moved from the Savoy Hotel to the Plaza Hotel; when Donald Trump bought the building in 1989, he closed the Trader Vic’s. These tikis have been somehwere — probably a warehouse — ever since.

Shipping these fellas back across the country was no small feat — shipping was quoted to Robert at $3,200, so he rented a van and drove all the way to New Jersey and back to get them himself. He says these guys are all going into Thatch, where they will get to hang out with the three massive cannibal tikis from the Portland Kon-Tiki he scored from the Jasmine Tree. To learn more about Thatch, check out this thread on Tiki Central, and this one where Robert asks a bit about one of the tikis.

UPDATE — Perhaps a bit too good to be true, after all. Sven Kirsten and Tim “Swanky” Glazner have weighed in on Tiki Central, and they’re of the opinion that these are more recent carvings (Sven speculates that perhaps these were rounded up for a proposed re-opening of Trader Vic’s in New York that didn’t happen).

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!

September 24, 2006

They Just Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

Filed under: Phoenix,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:36 am
Scottsdale Trader Vic's, photo by Jackie Mercandetti for the Phoenix New Times
Scottsdale Trader Vic’s,
photo by Jackie Mercandetti
for the Phoenix New Times

This summer, Trader Vic’s returned to Scottsdale — Scottsdale’s original Vic’s operated from 1962 to 1990, and it was a legendary fixture on the local restaurant scene. However, the Phoenix New Times’ review of the new Scottsdale Trader Vic’s is a very interesting read (emphasis is mine):

I was hoping for a more straightforward experience — either a pan or a rave — but Trader Vic’s left me on a bamboo fence, both in terms of the food and the mood. The place felt slick and shiny and spacious. That’s a mistake. Flickering torches are only sexy in the dark, so I wasn’t keen on the high industrial ceiling and too-bright halogen lights.

The starkly missing sense of mystery at the newer Trader Vic’s locations is a common lamentation among tikiphiles, but it is interesting to now see that sentiment spelled out so plainly in a restaurant review. Trader Vic’s has an immense advantage in their strong brand recognition — time and again when explaining Polynesian Pop to someone, they will perk up and say “oh, you mean like Trader Vic’s!” and go on to relate a story of how much fun they had there years and years ago. That’s a powerful thing for a restaurant to have on its side. The Phoenix New Times reviewer, Michele Laudig, clearly had an expectation, and it wasn’t delivered on — and she can’t be alone. Why on earth would Trader Vic’s want to dilute the meaning of its brand?

Bellevue Trader Vic's, photo by Tracy Anderson
Bellevue Trader Vic’s, photo by Tracy Anderson

Take the new Bellevue Trader Vic’s, pictured above. Does that look like a place that is going to transport you to an exotic land? Does that look like a place where a drink can be a vacation in a glass? I’ve seen dry cleaners with more character.

This comes at a time when the appreciation of Polynesian Pop is reaching new heights. With articles like the one in American Heritage Magazine last month, the awareness of Tiki is growing much wider, and not just as an ironic goof on the past — it’s a growing understanding that it doesn’t have to be tacky, that it can be tasteful, elegant, and fun in a way that is more about intrigue than camp. People are looking for an immersive experience again — they’re looking for a place that lets them cast away their cares, in favor of some time spent in another world, one that is full of dark corners and details to be discovered. These are things that Trader Vic’s once mastered, and no organization is better poised to take advantage of that. That’s what makes it so painful to see them drop the ball.

Restaurants are a risky business, to be sure, and expensive. But if you’re going to bother to play the game, you’ve got to be willing to take risks that allow you stand out from the pack. I know it can be done, because Forbidden Island did it — in a much smaller space, yes, but also with an infinitesimally smaller budget than Trader Vic’s has at its disposal. Today’s modern Trader Vic’s aren’t delivering the kind of dining experiences that you reminisce about decades later. That’s a terrible shame.


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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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