Entries in the 'Trader Vic’s' Category

September 18, 2006

Opportunity to Comment on Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s Demolition

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:58 pm
Entrance to Beverly Hills Trader Vic's
Entrance to Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s

The city of Beverly Hills has released a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the proposed re-development of the Beverly Hilton hotel, which currently houses the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. As previously reported here, here, and here, the current plans call for the demolition of the tower holding Trader Vic’s, to make room for luxury condominiums. A public scoping meeting is scheduled for tonight:

Monday, Sept 18th, 2006
6:30 to 8:30pm
Public Library Auditorium, Second Floor
444 North Rexford Drive
Beverly Hills, CA

The outline of the plan will be given at tonight’s meeting, and the public will have an opportunity to comment. If you can’t get to the meeting tonight, fear not: the city is also requesting written comments. The comments should be sent ASAP, as the EIR begins on October 11. Here’s the address:

City of Beverly Hills
Department of Community Development
455 North Rexford Drive, Room G-40
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Attn: Donna Jerex, Senior Planner

Emailed comments can be sent to HiltonHotelComments@beverlyhills.org

September 7, 2006

Kon-Tiki in Kuwait City

Filed under: Middle East,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 8:53 pm
Kon-Tiki in Kuwait City, photo from Dan in the Desert
Kon-Tiki in Kuwait City, photo from Dan in the Desert

The above photo of Kon-Tiki comes from the website of Dan in the Desert, a civilian working in the Middle East. I first came across his post about this unusual restaurant in Kuwait City last December. He made only passing reference to it, and I still don’t know a lot about the place, but today I finally got off my duff and got it entered into Critiki.

Kon-Tiki, from the Radisson SAS website
Kon-Tiki, from the
Radisson SAS website

Kon-Tiki is just a restaurant — alcohol is a big kapu in Kuwait. It is indeed a Polynesian restaurant, and you can just almost see what appears to be a tiki on the wall in this photo. The really striking thing about this restaurant, though, is that it sits directly beneath an authentic Kuwaiti dhow that is in permanent dry-dock. That dramatic curved wall and ceiling is actually the hull of a ship. That ship is called the Al Boom, and it holds a steakhouse. The Kon-Tiki is at the Radisson SAS Hotel, which is in Salwa, a sort of suburb of Kuwait City, and it is right on the Persian Gulf. There is also a simple website for the hotel, which has this small picture, but it doesn’t reveal much more about this unusual Polynesian restaurant.

Many people are unaware that Polynesian restaurants are not uncommon in the Middle East; in fact, Trader Vic’s has nine Middle East locations — there are currently only seven operating in the United States.

August 28, 2006

Video of Trader Vic’s in Atlanta

Filed under: Atlanta,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 10:38 am
Still from TripSmarter.com video of Trader Vic's in Atlanta
Still from TripSmarter.com video of Trader Vic’s in Atlanta

Martiki dug up this 4-1/2 minute video on TripSmarter.com of my favorite of all the stateside Trader Vic’s, the one in Atlanta. The Atlanta Trader Vic’s opened in 30 years ago, in 1976, and unlike many older Polynesian restaurants, it thankfully hasn’t been remodeled, and remains a dark, moody and mysterious place — it’s a great example of an ideal Tiki restaurant. The video has a couple of annoying aspects — the camera moves around too much and too quickly, where I would have rather seen nice, long panning shots of the restaurant. There is a brief appearance by Tiki Road Trip author James Teitelbaum, mis-identified as “John.” The host of the clip apparently went through the same “make it perky, but keep it bland!” traning they seem to put every personality from HGTV & Food Network through. All that aside, it does give a decent look at one of my favorite restaurants. If you want to see more of the Atlanta Trader Vic’s, I have a bunch of photos on Critiki from my trip there in 2004, when (thanks to pablus & Tiki Kiliki) I had the opportunity to photograph the restaurant when it was empty.

UPDATE: James “John” Teitelbaum has chimed in on the Tiki Central thread, turns out he has no memory whatsoever of being interviewed for this video. Just goes to show, give ol’ Teitelbaum a few Mai Tais, and he’s game for just about anything. Next time I see him, I’m totally going to bring a marionnette, some lederhosen and a viking helmet. The kind with blond braided pigtails attached.

August 1, 2006

New Trader Vic’s Concept: Mai Tai Bars

Filed under: Continental Europe,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 5:59 pm
Trader Vic's Mai Tai Bar
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Bar

I learned on the Tiki Talk blog about Trader Vic’s intention of starting a new line of their restaurants, called Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Bars. They’re scaled-back versions of Trader Vic’s restaurants, featuring a large drink menu, but a very small food menu centered on appetizers, with a few sandwichy-type items. Most notably absent is the hallmark Chinese ovens; these suckers are large and not easy to install, work with, or design around, so while it feels sad to see a Chinese oven-less Trader Vic’s, it does make sense.

In theory, the scaled-back concept could also be installed in smaller locations, which would hopefully be a lower risk to the company and any franchise investors, and could weather the stormy restaurant business a bit better. Most intriguing to me: a smaller size means the decorating budget goes a lot further; sadly, the concept sketches on the Trader Vic’s website look disappointingly bland (although they indicate an intention to have some nice, big tikis at these Mai Tai Bars). A March 2006 article in Nation’s Restaurant News stated that the new Mai Tai Bars are aiming for a 50-50 ratio between food and beverage sales, vs. 60% food to 40% drinks at a typical Trader Vic’s.

As earlier reported on Humu Kon Tiki, Trader Vic’s Palo Alto relaunched its bar area as a “Mai Tai Bar,” which made no sense at the time — the changes to the space were laughably minimal, the only real change was the addition of a few boring items to the food menu (woodfired pizza?). While I’m still a bit puzzled by the Palo Alto remodel effort, it does make a bit more sense now if they were using it as a sort of test ground for the Mai Tai Bar concept, as an attempt to appeal to an after-work crowd.

Another interesting angle to all this: Palo Alto Trader Vic’s has had some pretty decent live music in the bar area, and it looks like this is another part of the new Mai Tai Bar concept.

The first official Mai Tai Bar has opened just outside of Estepona, Spain; no word yet on what it’s like. Any tiki-lovin’ Spaniards care to report?

May 3, 2006

Scenes from I Am Cuba on YouTube

Filed under: Cuba,History,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:44 pm
Scene from I Am Cuba, captured by surf-n-turf
Scene from I Am Cuba,
captured by surf-n-turf

I’ve mentioned the visually stunning 1964 propaganda film I Am Cuba a couple times here on Humu Kon Tiki, and now you can see it for yourself. It’s been available from Netflix for some time, but now the companion documentary about the making of the film is available, too, and both films are reportedly available from Comcast’s OnDemand download service for digital cable subscribers. There are a few screenshots on Tiki Central of the tiki bar scenes, courtesy of surf-n-turf. A peek at this fantastic film has also been put up onto YouTube, including the legendary opening sequence at a midcentury-modern hotel, and severals scenes that take place in a tiki bar. The Havana Trader Vic’s is almost certainly what’s being nodded to in these scenes, and the decor used was likely borrowed from there for use in staging the set — the restaurant by that time had become the government-run El Polinesio, which is still operating today, and is said to still have much of the decor. Special thanks to Mr. Bali Hai for the YouTube heads-up and link collection.

April 7, 2006

Save Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 2:29 pm

The Los Angeles Conservancy’s Modern Committee is organizing to work to halt the demise of the historic Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. As Adrienne Biondo, chairwoman of ModCom, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, “I’ve gotten calls nationwide. It’s not an issue that’s going to go away.”

Oasis West Realty (the group behind the plan to demolish Trader Vic’s) spokeswoman Marie Garvey told the Los Angeles Times “We understand that a lot of people are fond of Trader Vic’s, but very few people frequent the restaurant. It’s just not a viable business, and hasn’t been for many years.” This runs directly contrary to the current trend, which has seen not only new tiki bars spring up around the world, but specifically new Trader Vic’s locations, which can only dream of having the history, charm and decor of the Beverly Hills location. Trader Vic’s has played a prominent role in Hollywood nightlife from the time it opened in 1955 to today (it is still the site of huge afterparties every year after the Golden Globe awards); it is hardly a dying restaurant. I’ve personally been in that Trader Vic’s plenty of times and have seen it quite packed. It sounds to me more like wishful thinking, hoping that no one cares enough about this restaurant that happens to be situated right where they want to put their new towers.

The Los Angeles Conservancy and their Modern Committe (a.k.a. ModCom) need your help. They have already held one emergency meeting to get the ball rolling, and they now need volunteers. The groups behind the plans to demolish Trader Vic’s need to hear the word that it will not go unnoticed. To get involved, email savebhtv@humuhumu.com.

April 2, 2006

Rare Trader Vic’s and Disneyland Items on eBay

Filed under: Disney,Shopping,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 11:32 am

There are a couple of rare items up on eBay at the moment that may be of interest to tikiphiles:

Trader Vic's display case
Trader Vic’s display case

This item is available only for pickup, which is great if you live in the San Francisco area (the item is in Oakland), not so great if you’re across the country. It’s an outdoor display case, probably used for displaying menus at a Trader Vic’s. It has the modern lettering on it, so it’s probably not too old. According to the story it came with, a janitor for Trader Vic’s took it when the location where it was used closed. If the janitor worked for a restaurant here in the Bay Area, that would mean it was the San Francisco location; however the Trader Vic’s warehouse is in the East Bay, so if the janitor worked for Trader Vic’s headquarters, it could have come in from any of the locations that have closed over the past ten years or so. It’s certainly an unusual Trader Vic’s collectible!

Vintage Enchanted Tiki Room Host Shirt
Vintage Enchanted Tiki Room Host Shirt

The other item is this very rare original, vintage Enchanted Tiki Room Host Shirt, in green. This is the shirt that will be available in reproduction form next week from Disney, but there’s nothing like owning the original. The fabric pattern on the original shirt is a little bit smaller, and a little bit brighter. I prefer this green version to the purple version, which I’ve seen more often.

March 31, 2006

San Francisco: Trader Vic’s Tiki Party Book Signing

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Shopping,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 10:25 pm

Trader Vic’s is having another book signing party for Trader Vic’s Tiki Party, by Steve Siegelman. The book has over 100 tropical drink recipes, including some of the old Trader Vic’s favorites, and some food recipes, too. The book signing is at Trader Vic’s San Francisco, at 555 Golden Gate Ave (just west of Van Ness). Party attendees will get one free Mai Tai, and can enjoy complimentary pupus. Attendance is limited to only 100 people, and you must RSVP in advance by calling (415) 775-6300.

March 30, 2006

Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s to Be Demolished

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:32 pm
Vintage postcard from Trader Vic's Beverly Hills, from the collection of Mimi Payne
Vintage postcard from Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills,
from the collection of Mimi Payne

I first reported on the rumored demise of the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s two months ago, and today comes some more solid evidence. The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that plans have been developed to demolish the restaurant, along with some surrounding structures, to put up two new 13-story towers. The towers would hold a mix of condominiums and hotel rooms, and would dramatically change the appearance of the Santa Monica & Wilshire Blvd intersection where the Trader Vic’s logo currently dominates. The Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s is the oldest location, having opened in 1955. The Beverly Hilton hotel was purchased two years ago by Beny Alagem, co-founder of Packard Bell, from Merv Griffin, who had owned the property for many years.

A timeframe for the project is not included in the report, but the plan is up for review at next Tuesday’s city council meeting.

March 14, 2006

Mondays at San Francisco Trader Vic’s — Still Going Strong

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 9:37 pm
Tikis in the bar at San Francisco Trader Vic's
Tikis in the bar at
San Francisco Trader Vic’s

Just about every week, someone says to me, “Are you still going to Trader Vic’s on Mondays? Because I’m going to be in town on a business trip…” Yep, we sure are. As a matter of fact, since we started going in mid-October, we’ve only missed one week. It’s a rotating cast of characters — a few of us make it every week, some make it every other week or once a month, and there are always new faces coming through. Often it’s folks in from out of town, sometimes people we’re meeting for the first time, and lots of old friends, too. Great drinks, great food, great company, great conversation… what’s not to like?

The San Francisco Trader Vic’s is on Golden Gate Ave, just east of Van Ness. Parking is easy to come by on the street. There’s typically someone there by 7 p.m. or so, and we get there by about 7:30 and often stay until close. Come on by, and I’ll lift a drink with you.

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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

- Website Design and Programming

- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s massive Polynesian Pop collection

Barefoot Bloggin’
A surfin’, ukein’, freewheelin’ monkey boy

Beachbum Berry
Author of Grog Log and Intoxica!, and one of my dearest drinkin’ buddies

Blog from the user interface designer extraordinaire

Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

Dumb Angel
A look at the 1960s Los Angeles mod, pop, surf, and music scene

Eye of the Goof
Pop culture with a tiki tinge

Forbidden Island
My Wednesday hangout, the Bay Area’s best tiki bar

Humuhumu’s Life in Photos
Pictures of my adventures

I build websites

Junkyard Clubhouse
Random interesting things from Humuhumu & Hanford Lemoore

Kevin Kidney
Kevin loves tiki, I love Kevin, you will too

Tiki links galore

Mai Tai Online
Montreal-based tiki ‘zine

Tiki Mug Collection Organizer

The Jab
Follow the way of the jab

Tiki Bar TV
Public Access meets Modern Drunkard

Tiki Central
Community forums

Tiki Magazine
Periodical publication covering the wide world of Tiki

Tiki Talk
Hot Lava’s Tiki Blog