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BOITE
A New Sanctuary for Tiki Worshipers
By JULIA CHAPLIN

ITH the recent swell of surfing as a subject of pop culture, it's only fitting that retro tiki lounges with flaming Scorpion Bowls and waterfalls would be riding the next wave. Waikiki Wally's, a restaurant and lounge in the East Village that opened on Thursday night, has all the trappings of postwar Polynesia but with the souped-up kitsch of the television-rerun generation.

The owner, Hayne Suthon, also owns Lucky Cheng's, a restaurant with a Chinese drag-queen theme around the corner on First Avenue. Quirky playfulness is in no short supply. Waikiki Wally's sports colored puffer fish lanterns, angry-tiki totems and a mural of Waikiki Beach with big plastic palms sticking out. The bartenders wear surfer hair and flip-flops. When customers arrive, a host in a shell necklace drapes leis around their necks.

"This place is awesome," said Don Ho, the Hawaiian singer, who had flown in from the islands to perform at the opening. He was dressed to kill: a tropical shirt, white slacks and white platform loafers. "It's loaded with girls," said Mr. Ho, looking through his prescription aviator glasses at the waitresses in skimpy sarongs.

Although Ms. Suthon remembers downing mai tais at Trader Vic's before it closed its bamboo doors in the early 1990's, that's not where she got the idea for a tiki lounge. "I do theme restaurants," she said, "and when I thought about what was missing in New York, it was so obvious." She combed "The Book of Tiki," by Sven A. Kirsten (Taschen, 2000). Most of the Polynesian décor was found on the Internet, including a live cockatoo named Wally.

Jackie Brown, 55, a hard-core Don Ho fan from Richmond, Va., who has attended over 100 of his concerts, leaned against the bamboo bar. There was a plastic mini-diorama of Don the Beachcomber (one of the first Polynesian restaurants in America) encased in glass. "It's better than the bars in Waikiki," Ms. Brown said, sipping a piña colada. "The orchids even look real."

Across the room, Lola Schnabel, a daughter of the artist Julian Schnabel, took in the 1950's surfboard hanging above the palm-roofed bar. "I like the surf vibe," she said. "My whole family surfs."

At another table, Richie Rich, a designer for the Heatherette label, was sharing a pu pu platter with the actress Tina Louise, who played Ginger on "Gilligan's Island."

"It's like a faux vacation, and you don't have to get any sun and ruin your skin," Mr. Rich said.

Ms. Louise leaned forward in her low-cut leopard-print top, batting her trademark eyelashes. "The only island I like is Manhattan," she said.

Mr. Ho, who refused to perform until everyone finished eating, finally climbed onto a stage set up next to the waterfall. His assistant flicked on an orchestral background loop and he began crooning his hit "Tiny Bubbles."

Damn...I am so upset...I used to live a BLOCK AWAY from where this place is located...I moved away a couple of years ago....Sigh...such is life...Grey

I really like waikiki wally's and I can say that the food (mostly fish/lobster)is great. It seems trendy from the article, but every time I've been there (weekends and weekdays), it's a laid-back crowd.

T

OK, I will be in the city this Wed (10/2) with some friends for a trade show. I have decided that WE WILL go to Waikiki Wally's, atleast for drinks. I want to know who has been there? Is it cool to hang out at the bar? or is it more of a dinner crowd? Also I hope the drinks are good we probably won't eat dinner there.
Thanks in advance!

I liked it too. I think the article was a bit strange because it seems mostly baout opening night. I agree w/ Cat; its very laid back. The food is yummy too, which is surprising for a east village "theme" restaurant.

Try to go out to Zombie Hut in Brooklyn..it had great drinks and a good vibe too.

Have fun this week, unfortunatly I ama out of town, otherwise I would see you there!

Inky

I liked it too. I think the article was a bit strange because it seems mostly baout opening night. I agree w/ Cat; its very laid back. The food is yummy too, which is surprising for a east village "theme" restaurant.

Try to go out to Zombie Hut in Brooklyn..it had great drinks and a good vibe too.

Have fun this week, unfortunatly I ama out of town, otherwise I would see you there!

Inky

MC

The bar at Waikiki wally's is a happening place. It's not just a place for eating. Drinks come in mug, scorpian bowl, and volcano bowl sizes. But darn it, when are they going to get those long straws! I recommend the Rum Runner (light and dark rums, kurant liquor). The mai tai is not so hot, zombie is strong! There is an interesting tiki drink with mint in it (different from a mojito) which is tasty but I forgot the name.
Enjoy!

T

Hey manic and inky thanks for the info. I love things that are...

:music: laaaiiidd back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.... :music:

I will probably be there in the early evening hours on Wed, so if anyone wants to meet up with me please do and yell out Tiki Central and I'll find you!

MC

I love the snoop dog reference.
(I'm a big fan of Eminem, myself)

anyhow, Wednesday is the season premiere of the stupid show I'm addicted to, Amazing Race. Maybe afterwards ( after 10pm), I'll swing by. I live really close by. I'll put on a blue hawaiian print beach hat, how about that?

T

Well, I don't know when I will get there... or how late I'll be there???

It will be enough just to get these nerd... er, I mean friends of mine just to GO to WW's I hope they will dig it enough to stay awhile. Hopefully, I will be there at the same time!!

ps: definitely Doggie Style all the way! :)

S

Hey Tikimug,

Cat and Inky basically said it all, but be sure to try the Zombie! It only takes one...or maybe two to get you there! I went on a Tuesday, and it was pretty mellow with a few people hangin' out at the bar and not too many for dinner. Friday night was packed and the place definitely had a great vibe. Friendly staff, good food, good people, and strong Zombies!

Don't miss it, and if possible, definitely try to meet Manic Cat!

Guaranteed tiki fun!

Aloha,

Arty

T

OK I somehow survived my night at WW's (and numerous other bars). Things are alittle hazy this morning, but I want to thank everyone who gave me the info to this place. The descriptions were right on.

Waikiki Wally's is a very cool place. I loved it, very laid back and mellow it really had a cool vibe. We took over the little dinning room there, and the staff was very friendly I just told them to bring out a couple of volcano bowls for us to share, one was a mai-tai (which wasn't that great) and I'm not sure what the other one was but that was very yummy. I also had one those tiki "mojto" minty things and that was good. I'm glad this morning that I didn't get to try a zombie. :wink:

Hopefully I'll get there again! Right now I just need to find me some asprins!

[ Edited by: Lance Samason 2007-07-06 15:17 ]

MC

Tiki Mug,
I showed up last night at WW. Why didn't we meet up? I was there at 10:45-11pm until midnight. I was at the bar and then the side room. Too bad. I had the mojito thingie, called Wally's Downfall, and it was yummy. Plus a rum Runner. Definately enough for getting a good buzz. They are picking up the notion that the music needs improvement. Last night, whenever a song from Lilo and Stitch (don't get me wrong, I like the movie, but the music isn't made for drinking) came on the bartender automatically fast forwarded to the next song. the service is still crazy! It is charmingly disorganized to the point that they usually forget to ask you to pay! (we had to responsibly leave some cash at our table) They moved us from our seating in the dinning area, despite the place was empty, just because we weren;t eating. That's reasonable but they are still working on suavity with their service. But so what, it makes it a bit tacky, that's all!

T

Hey manic I'm sorry we didn't meet up I think we stumbled out of there around 10:00 or so. We had a bunch of appetizers and stuff I thought the food was good, there were about ten of us causing havoc in the side room. I remember hearing some cool exotica tunes but as this was our third bar things were definitely in full swing if you know what I mean! Alot is still hazy with me. Here I scaned their business card, I thought it looked cool.

Just got back from NYC last night and was lucky enough to get to Waikiki Wally's on Tuesday night. First off, I have to apologize to Manic Cat for violating my creed about notifying other Tiki Centralites when in town (I really wasn't sure if I could get there due to time pressures, and didn't want to embarrass myself.) Anyway that said, I agree with what others have written. The place is well-done, intimate and friendly with good drinks.
When I was there an older oriental guy was wearing a plastic lei on his head and jumping from table to table asking everybody how they liked their food. I said, "you must be the owner," and he got this silly grin on his face and nodded like he had been busy all afternoon working on drink recipes.
I had a Scorpion that tasted just right and a really fine Mai-Tai. For dinner, I ordered the snapper. It was served like a miniature crispy fish -- with the head and tail upturned and intact -- on top of some coconut flavored rice. Ono stuff.
As for decorations, I liked the Moais out front and the war clubs and tiki's inside. The puffer fish lamps looked just like the ones back home. Also, the bamboo and thatching were first-class. The waterfall and the Cockatoo were just okay because the lighting was too bright in the waterfall room and too dark in the exotic fowl room (birds go to sleep in the dark). Musically, they were right on. I heard Denny, Lyman and Don Tiki, plus some vintage hapa haole tunes. Actually, it was the best recorded music I've come across in a tiki bar. My only atmospheric complaint was, as said previously... the lighting didn't feel quite right. Fortunately, that can be fixed with the flip of a switch.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2002-10-03 20:23 ]

T

hey there NY area Tiki fans
I'm opening a Tiki bar on 538 14th st. between Ave. A & B in Manhattan in the space that was Barmacy for those who are familiar with that area/bar. It's going to be called Otto's Shrunken Head. We're open right now while we're transforming from old bar to new bar and you guys are invited to come take a look at the process. We're having a grand opening party on the 19th of October and hope to have evrtything done by then. It'll be a kind of rock-n-roll Tiki Bar w/ live music and DJs.
Hope to see you guys at the grand opening if not beforehand. if you come down ask for me I'll give you the 3 cent tour
steve
Otto's Shrunken Head


**Poly-Pop ***

Bartender, make mine a glass of WATAHHH!!!!!

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop 2013-02-04 20:55 ]

T

hey
Crazy Al Evans from APE who's carving some Tikis for me told me to post an announcement of the opening on this board so here it is. Is it spam? I'm not familiar with the "House Rules"


*** * * The Polynesian Popster * * ***

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop on 2002-10-07 15:21 ]

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop 2013-02-04 20:55 ]

MC

I think that NYC Tiki needs all the advertisement it can get! If PolynesianPop and others do not mind, can you "spam" your post in the archival thread "New York City TIKI." I would like to see that thread as a nice library/one-stop source of NYC's tiki scene. Thanks.
I can't make the 19th opening (I'm going to a wedding) but I live in Lower East Side so I'll definately be visiting you soon!
Wait...you say it's open NOW!!! yayayayayayayayaya!!! I'm coming by tonight!!! Honestly--I'll ask for you Steven.
Manic Cat
(Lena)

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