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I am thrilled to report that at the Palm Springs Preservation Society event this weekend Peter Seeley, grandson of the Trader and exec at Trader Vic's, announced that thanks to renewed interest in Tiki culture, his company is not only planning new outlets in New York, but also San Francisco, Philadelphia, Scottsdale Arizona, Waikiki, and Berlin.

I could not get a definite answer as to how traditional these franchises are going to be, but I believe more so than the Palo Alto one.
The Tikis will supposedly be carved in Asia, from the original Barney West ones still in the company's posession.

We know the mugs will be top notch thanks to Holden Westland's Tiki Farm.

Mai Tais to the world!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-11-03 09:15 ]

T

I was just wondering when they were going to do that... It seemed a shame that the Toronto Trader Vic's closed just before the 'revival'. Will they bring it back here too? That would be swee-e-e-e-t. I would personally make sure they were well patronized!

M

That's excellent news, bigbro. I have corresponded with Pete regarding some TV collectibles. He does a good job of trying to "return" some rarer items to the company's collection.

I am eager to see a San Francisco TV return...was just by the old location this weekend. That is just excellent news.

Cheers,
midnite :drink:

T
thejab posted on Sun, Nov 3, 2002 1:49 PM

That is wonderful news, indeed. I heard a rumor that they were considering opening a new Vic's in Las Vegas, but I have not confirmed it. However, it seems more likely now.

Welcome back, Maxton!

M

They're deep into getting Berlin up and running by Spring of next year. We're discussing resculpting many of their molds to the original spec's because, over the years, the molds have burned out and the quality has gone downhill. Currently, we are just about to launch the Suffering Bastard in the original black lava glaze as well as in 2 new colors plus the decanter as well. We're also redoing their Kava Bowl - you can see it at Mike's (TikiHula) http://www.tradervic.com website. It's an awesome hand-painted footed bowl that is WAY larger than the other bowls - is intended to serve 4 adults. We are also launching an entirely new "Trader Vic's Signature" mug complete with an 8-page mini cocktail booklet. I should have photos of all of these online in about 2 weeks.
Holden
... here's a direct link to the Kava Bowl from Mike's site...
http://www.tikiroom.net/gallery/vics/aaa

[ Edited by: smogbreather on 2002-11-04 19:06 ]

M

That's some good update info on your work for the new TV's and their expanded ceramics. The kava bowl is quite a piece, I believe all Mike is missing is the "PBY Gremlin".

Looking forward to the new stuff, hope to see it soon!

midnite :drink:

G
GECKO posted on Mon, Nov 4, 2002 9:02 PM

That's great news!!! Im gonna get spoiled! LaMariana, Tiki's grill&bar, and TV!!! next thing you know you'll be tellin me Don the Beach is comming back!!

I hope they get rid of who eva is living in the old TV in the international market place here in Waikiki! That would be great to see that place come to life again. Sometimes I try to look threw the shutters and I see clothes haning up. They say the maintenance (sp?) ppl use that bldg but I really think someone is also living in it.

Live Aloha
Gecko

I'm excited, but at the same time very concerned.

Here's hoping they do it right. Please don't make it into 'Kahunaville' or Hard Rock Cafe with more parrots. There should NOT be a videogame area or skee-ball.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

S
Swanky posted on Tue, Nov 5, 2002 7:08 AM

Kiliki and I came across a huge scarf in an antique store the other day with a big map of Hawaii with all the touristy images and there was Trader Vic's. It was nice to see. I also have a vintage Florida map with Cuba on it and Trader Vic's is shown there. That'll come in handy when we go try to find it...

We need more TV's on this side of the globe. I'd like to see one in Cancun. I think it could work well there. Location would be important. Ruth Chris is there and everything else. Well, maybe I just want better MAi Tai's when I am there...

I have corresponded with Pete regarding some TV collectibles. He does a good job of trying to "return" some rarer items to the company's collection.

I too, have exchanged emails in the past with Peter Seeley. He purchased a few Trader Vic's items from me a little over a year ago. I guess for the past couple years they've been trying to acquire some of their old ceramicware for reproduction in their growth venture. I believe Holden at Tiki Farm was lucky enough to see their "stash" of vintage collectibles!


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

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop on 2002-11-05 08:25 ]

When I list tiki items on ebay, I usually include something stupid in my auctions like "Trader Vic still owes me 10 bucks" to throw in a few keywords in the ol search engine. I got a semi terse email from Peter Seely asking me exactly why does Vic owe me $10? I replied that vic was a colorful guy with a a pranksters sense of humor & I was sure he wouldnt mind.
I had no idea he was related!
Does this qualify as a tiki faux paus?

Does this qualify as a tiki faux pas?

Anyone who would say it is a tiki faux pas to claim Vic owes you $10, is a stinker.

Scamboogah wrote:
I'm excited, but at the same time very concerned.

Here's hoping they do it right. Please don't make it into 'Kahunaville' or Hard Rock Cafe with more parrots.

I wouldn't worry too much. The current Trader Vic's are very much 'high end', with prices to match. A good number are in the basements of 5 star hotels, catering to big spenders, with prices to match. We have to fight our way past the high class prostitutes to get a drink at London's Trader Vic's.

The new Vic's may well be brighter, with fewer Tiki's on show, but rest assured, they aren't going to suddenly go for the mullet dollar.

Trader Woody

M

Woody,
"We have to fight our way past the high class prostitutes to get a drink at London's Trader Vic's. "

I told you a HUNDRED times, my hotel bill was massive. Do you know what they charge at the Langham!?! Next time I will do better budgeting the quid, ok?

Necessity breeds, uh, creative fund-raising.

And yeah, I would not be concerned any new TV's go Kahunaville...or Yikes,--- Taboo Cove!

midnite :drink:

S

Great news, Big Bro!

I get to eat my words now when I said in a previous thread that Trader Vic's in NYC "ain't coming back." And to think they will be in all those locations!

Feels like Christmas or my birthday with lots 'o presents!

Now we just need one in HB!

A friend of mine was at the event and called and told me the news today! Said she had a great time!

Great news!

Now if only they could kick out Citronelle here in Santa Barbara and put Vic's back in where it belongs, I would be ecstatic. But great news all the same! I just hope the new ones don't have that maritime theme that so many have.

M

Just caught a feature on Food Network. It was part of a half-hour on 50's food fads. Number four was "Polynesian Cocktails", ahead of Bar-B-Que, and trailing TV dinners, gelatin desserts, and casseroles. TV dinners (the Tube not Trade Vic) being number one.

It was quite a nice little report with footage of Kahiki and Trader Vic's, at least those are the ones I could identify. A small interview with Vic's son and a mixologist from TV's. The barkeep explained, and showed, how to make the TV Mai-Tai.

Yummy... :drink:

midnite

T

Sounds cool! It's on again Saturday the 23rd...so we should all check it out!

T

This show will be repeated on 11/23 (Sat.) at 11:30PM ET for those like me who missed it.

R

BigBro...

What can we, the tiki faithful, do to help encourage the Trader Vic's franchise to move in this positive direction? Better question, how can I help encourage them to come back to TEXAS???

On 2002-11-13 08:40, Reever wrote:
BigBro...

What can we, the tiki faithful, do to help encourage the Trader Vic's franchise to move in this positive direction? Better question, how can I help encourage them to come back to TEXAS???

I'm at a loss there, Mark. I am actually quite dissappointed that TV is not showing any interest in my expertise while expanding. The fact that they are being asked to open in all these places in the US surely has to do with the BOT. People obviously like what they see in the book, and what I selected to represent the Trader Vic aesthetic: it works.

I would be more than glad to advise them, but they are still very much an old boys' club that feels they know best and don't want outsiders to meddle with their business. I just hope it's not all going to be Palo Alto white walls and Chicago brass lamps in favor of fishnet floats....sigh.

Where was that intact TV that still gets rented out for private events, in Dallas or in Houston? While for you and I the value of such a situation would be obvious, I doubt they would see it the same way. Granted, they HAVE to think in restaurant-business terms, but a union of both, food industry savy and theme aesthetic know how is what makes TV special.

I congratulate Holden for having found an "in" with them by knowing how to talk the corporate lingo, I wish they'd see the benefits they could derive from other "outsiders".

I am not saying they don't appreciate my book, they do, they bought copies for all their managers, but I think they view it as ancient history.

R

Where was that intact TV that still gets rented out for private events, in Dallas or in Houston?

The intact Trader Vic's (that's only rented for private parties) is just down the road from me here in Dallas.

I understand everything you're saying about the business angle. But I think they just aren't getting the big picture. You don't hear the name "Trader Vic's" on the tongues of any great food/restaurant/bar critics these days, at least in its present state. There are a million non-descript seafood/nautical restaurants on the planet, but how many old-school tiki haunts? Besides, isn't everything in fasion, film and music back to the 60's these days? Even Denny's could see the potential of having some retro diner concepts.

I dunno. I just can't imagine Trader Vic's being a lost cause... someone there has got to be open to the voices of hundreds, if not thousands. On this message board alone are over 500 people. I think we could make quite a statement with a signed petition from all of us, asking that they at least consider the merits of "going native" again.

But if they're not open, I'm willing to help take it to some other restraunteur that will listen. I have some good ideas about a new restaurant, as I'm sure many Centralites do. Heck, wish I had the capital to break ground today. With you guys on board, I know I'd have a winner on my hands...

Well, let's see how the new batch turns out. I think they are starting construction in Berlin next.

Bigbro, do you know if the construction of the TV in Palo Alto is a result of the resurgence? If I'm correct, this was the first new TV in a loooooong time. If so, then I think it could be assumed that TV's to be constructed in the future will follow the same designs...


**Poly-Pop ***

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

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop 2013-02-05 10:14 ]

T

On 2002-11-12 09:57, TikiHula wrote:
Sounds cool! It's on again Saturday the 23rd...so we should all check it out!

Is the the episode with Otto and a very pregnant Baby Doe in it?

On 2002-11-13 14:33, PolynesianPop wrote:
It almost looks like someone over there forgot what their mystique was all about.

Ahh crud, this sounds like just what I feared. Another Kahunaville, kid friendly Planet Hollywood-esque crap factory!!

Michael Eisner, hands off my Tiki!!!

M

Is the the episode with Otto and a very pregnant Baby Doe in it?

No. This show is solely covering "Top 5 Food Fad of the 50's". It's still worth a watch if you're around.

midnite :drink:

M

Trader Vic's Grandaughter told me that a friend of the family has been begging them for years(decades?) to allow him to open a Trader Vic's so he could display his museum quality collection of original carvings that he has collected over the decades. The family decided to trust his vision.
I don't think this is the result of the resurgence in the United States(they have been opening new places overseas every few years) but, I wouldn't be surprised if the Palo Alto location has re-energized The Trader Vic company to open more places in the United States. LONG LIVE TRADER VIC!!

From: Polynesian Pop
Posted: 2002-11-13 14:33   

Bigbro, do you know if the construction of the TV in Palo Alto is a result of the resurgence? If I'm correct, this was the first new TV in a long time. If so, then I think it could be assumed that TV's to be constructed in the future will follow the same designs..

On 2002-11-13 18:32, mrsmiley wrote:

I wouldn't be surprised if the Palo Alto location has re-energized The Trader Vic company to open more places in the United States.

Pol Pop, I doubt the Palo Alto TV will be a "Blueprint" for future ones, that was in the planning before the resurgence gained momentum, and as Bruce points out, the look was based on one individual's collection.

Also, the new franchises are not entirely due to TV wanting to open more places in the U.S.
If they could have, they would have had the capability to do that all along, as all the foreign satellites show. TVs were being closed here during the 90s because they were seen as outdated. Now they just made the switch to being hip and desirable again.

TV is dependent on people INVITING them to open in their towns, and I don't think that hotel owners in Philadelphia, Scottsdale and Waikiki ever saw the Palo Alto location.

The new ones won't be Kahunavilles either, I'm not worried about that, but will they be fully themed South Seas harbour hideaways?

Remember Picasso's opening quote in the BOT: "Good taste is the enemy of creativeness"

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-11-14 12:19 ]

Now, my prayers are answered: TV Berlin!
If they are really ready by 2003, I was a TV orphan for only one year, I guess I can’t complain!

KK

[i]On 2002-11-05 16:06, Trader Woody wrote

. . . they aren't going to suddenly go for the mullet dollar . . .

Trader Woody

Actually going for the "mullet dollar" might not be such a bad idea. I mean, sure, looking at it straight on, the "mullet dollar" may appear to fall short, but upon a closer, more thorough examination, one can clearly see that the value of the "mullet dollar" extends far beyond not only its own expected value, but beyond that of more common types of "dollars".

So, although I'm generally against Trader Vic's going for the "mullet dollar", I can't say that I would blame them for giving it a try.

M

On 2002-11-13 14:33, PolynesianPop wrote:
Bigbro, do you know if the construction of the TV in Palo Alto is a result of the resurgence? If I'm correct, this was the first new TV in a loooooong time. If so, then I think it could be assumed that TV's to be constructed in the future will follow the same designs...

It almost looks like someone over there forgot what their mystique was all about.

OK- here's the story with Palo Alto. In 1997, I worked for an export company that also owned a chain of Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. These were managed by Gary Hirano who had been with the Trader Vic's empire for about 25 years and was lured away to run these Japanese restaurants. When he left, he was the manager at Emeryville. He and I used to talk at length about the restaurant business and Vic's in general(Yes, the old man was cantankerous) because it was much more interesting than my job. As a result, I left the firm, but stayed in touch with Gary.

Meanwhile, at Dinah's Garden Hotel in Palo Alto....

Dinah's was opened by a very wealthy man who purchased the old hotel on El Camino and renovated it to luxury standards, improved the grounds with koi ponds and what not, and filled all the rooms and spaces with his own collection of Asian/Southeast Asian/South Pacific antiques. After a certain amount of time, he wanted to expand to offer an upscale restaurant on the grounds. So in front, he built this tremendous, vaguely arts & crafts looking facility, with a huge kitchen, conference & catering facilities, elevators to lower level dressing rooms and bathrooms (to accomodate weddings and such), etc. It's huge. Basically, it was a case of "If you build it, they will come." Unfortunately, they didn't come.

For a time, they were negotiating with Puck to bring in a Spago's, but it fell through and ended up opening down the street. Several other high end restauranteurs were courted for years and nothing was ever inked. Then, he got in touch with the Vic's family and made the pitch. Vic's was wary for a time, but was looking to try a new concept in the US, where, as we know, things were stagnant. The owner of Dinah's wanted to display many of his pieces and thought the Vic's concept was complimentary to his art. (Most of the art is his, actually) Vic's felt the same way and saw it as a way to remain upscale and avoid the appearance of camp. But Vic's is still essentially conservative and didn't want to change the menu or the drinks to satisfy many of the old timers, particularly the elderly customers who had enjoyed Vic's SF for years but hated driving to Emeryville, as they now lived in upscale peninsula enclaves like Hillsborough. So, Vic's called Gary to head up the enterprise and lure him away from the Japanese chain.

Gary and I met again in 1998-1999 to discuss the possibility of my investing in the operation. We went together to Palo Alto and looked at blueprints, discussed plans, looked at the mural that had been commissioned, etc. Let me assure you that enthusiasts like us and tiki traditions were the furthest things from the company and Gary's minds. When I would talk about "the scene", or that I collected old menus, he looked at me like I was crazy. I tried to talk him into torches out front. It was a no go. I could see clearly then that this was going to be a much different animal. He was also making a big push to make this place a cash cow for conferences and weddings. When I suggested, politely, that the menu was, shall we say, dated, he couldn't believe I was serious. (I'm glad to see they did make a few updates). Looking at the financials, though, it still looked like a good investment and I wanted to move forward.

To make a long story a little shorter, we parted ways when he made it clear to me that my paltry (relatively) investment was not of interest to him. He said he would rather just worry about a handful of large investors than several smaller ones, and he had no trouble lining up the big ones (including several 49ers). I really wish that I had gotten on board. But such is life. I know it's not paying out the projected dividends, but it's doing OK, which is about all you can hope for at Bay Area restaurants these days.

And that's the rest of the story.

It will be interesting to see what they do with future designs. They might very well go the way of Palo Alto, trying to keep things very modern and contemporary. Or they could ride the resurgence and go traditional.

If I had to guess, I would bet on the former. The board of directors are in no way interested in being perceived as cheesy or campy, and they wish to maintain their reputation for high quality service for affluent customers. Plus, it sounds as if they're keeping our Sven at arms length, perhaps wishing to distance themselves from the past and, er, "the lunatic fringe."

Comments & questions are welcome.

-martin

T

Interesting insider story, Martin. Thanks for filling us in.

I sure hope the Palo Alto TV was not a precursor to more new TVs with the same decor. I still have faith that they will stick with the old Polynesian/Nautical formula in new restaurants. I tend to believe that the Palo Alto TV was a one-time deal, in order to please both Trader Vic's (by using their drink and food menu) and the owner of Dinah's (by using his art collection and existing comtemporary restaurant).

If I had to guess, I would bet on the former. The board of directors are in no way interested in being perceived as cheesy or campy, and they wish to maintain their reputation for high quality service for affluent customers. Plus, it sounds as if they're keeping our Sven at arms length, perhaps wishing to distance themselves from the past and, er, "the lunatic fringe."

Martin,
Interesting perspective on this. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling about their future plans for expansion. For some reason, I'm having a weird vibe about it and agree with your logic - let's hope we're both wrong. I like the traditional TV style as much as the rest, but times have changed and what's cool to us is camp to others. I'll cross my fingers...

When my wahine was at Trader Vic's Atlanta on Tuesday night, they gave her a drink menu and a dinner menu, explaining they were getting new menus and didn't need them anymore. I wonder what's up with that 'cause I sure would hate to see them change the artwork, and tiki knows we don't want a price increase on drinks.

Thats Great! When I lived in Dallas I would always go pagst the old T.V. in old Dallas Hilton now it's owned by Tom Hicks ( people say that he bought it because his kids trashed it) he owns the Dallas stars, and has intrests in the Rangers, and used to own most of Dr Pepper but I lived Just a couple of blocks away and always liked the easter Island head
(I always was thinking of ways to steal it usuly compriseing of renting a crane) but anyway he owns it so I dont think its going to work out
its a really cool place though I hear you can rent it out for parties and such ( though I wouldn't )

S

I do not know Sven and Hans of TV corporate, but our BigBro does, so he can answer these questions.

They do very much value the history. And when we had Hukilau 2002 there, and we brought 400+ "fanatics" into the place, not only were they for it, they actually made it happen! The untold back story of Hukilau 2002 is that the Atlanta Vic's is the only one with managers not trained and picked by corporate. The manager we were dealing with, at the last minute (well, 3 days from the last minute) decided we could not have our event. Then amended it to say we had to pay him $2000. Hans was on vacation at the time but gave the go ahead on paying the fee for us. That was one awesome moment for us and we are greatly in their debt.

So, they may be changing with the times, but I must say they are not against those of us who love the old traditions.

M

As an update, I'd like to say that on our way out of Trader Vic's Emeryville on the 100th b-day night, Claudette, the legendary maitre'd, told us:

"As far as I'm concerned, you guys ARE Trader Vic's."

-martin

C

On 2002-11-03 08:59, bigbrotiki wrote:
I am thrilled to report that...Trader Vic's, ...is not only planning new outlets in New York, but also San Francisco, Philadelphia, Scottsdale Arizona, Waikiki, and Berlin.
[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-11-03 09:15 ]

Update on plans for Trader Vic's in Scottsdale:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/0402nevalleyho02z8-CP.html

:D

Here's more on the Valley Ho renovation:

http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2002/06/10/story7.html

[ Edited by: Cultjam on 2003-04-04 16:42 ]

[ Edited by: Cultjam on 2003-04-04 16:44 ]

T
thejab posted on Fri, Apr 4, 2003 5:08 PM

Here's a photo I found on the web of the site. Anyone have any better pictures?

T
thejab posted on Fri, Apr 4, 2003 5:12 PM

"Nassikus and Lyon are studying old photos taken during the property's heyday to replicate as much of the original look as possible."

Scottsdale firm Allen & Philp Architects has been contracted to help with the redesign.

But perhaps more important to its restoration will be the interior design. Nassikas said Westroc will seek a firm that specializes in mid-century replication to help with the redevelopment."

Hooray!

L

Hello folks, I am new. I have to say that the current version of TV in Palo Alto is horrid- if that is where they want to take the brand good luck. They were cheesy back in the day and without the cheese there isn't much left. And why remove it now in the cheesiest country on earth in what promises to be the century of cheese? Trying to be positive.

D

Great news. Just hope the one they open in NYC is as cool as the original/vintage versions. If you ask me they should just re-open the TV's they had in The Plaza Hotel and just pick up where they left off. Let me just say that I never saw the original TV's in The Plaza, but I heard it was awesome.

Here's my plan for the grand re-opening: No redesign! Screw catering to 'contemporary design'. Just un-earth the place, flick the lights back on, and let the love flow baby!
:drink:

M

Has anyone tried the Trader Vic's CHEESE bings? They are AWESOME, some of the best cheese I've ever had!!

T

Speaking of Vic's, does anyone have a picture of the Trader Vic's in Toronto? I have always wanted to know what that looked like inside. I am saddened when I think of all the times I walked by it in my pre-tiki enlightenment days, and never went in. And now it's gone!

E
Erika posted on Tue, May 6, 2003 12:11 PM

Possible Atlantic City Trader Vic's

After spying out the updated Trader Vic's site, I e-mailed and asked the company whether Philadelphia was in the running for a new Trader Vic's . . . and a nice person from their office in San Francisco replied that there's nothing in the works for Philadelphia at the moment, but they're looking into Atlantic City. He said he'd hang onto my address and let me know.

Everyone drink a Mai Tai and make a silent toast to the restaurant location gods for good luck!

Erika

T

Thanks for the update Erika. I was excited when I saw Philly mentioned as a possible TV local. AC would make sense, but I'd like a little closer location. Maybe I should email them and if they start seeing an interest they might get an interest... ya know wha' I mean?

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