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When Doctor Z and I make our garage-sale forays into the South Bay each Saturday, we frequently pass this old defunct tiki bar called The Tahitian Room:

It's part of a small shopping center at 3529 Torrance Blvd in Torrance, which includes a liquor store and a florist. The same family has owned this center for years. The Tahitian Room once had a previous incarnation in the 1960s as "The Tapo Room", but even as the Tahitian, it's been closed for as long as Doctor Z and I can remember.

As you can see, it's one of those tiny places that maybe had matchbook and a napkin made, but probably never appeared on a postcard. The front is almost completely obscured by giant birds-of-paradise plants that haven't been trimmed back in decades.

The two of us have always talked half-seriously about opening the Tahitian Room back up and drawing in the crowds from the nearby Del Amo mall, bookstores, and restaurant row on Hawthorne Blvd, just a few blocks to the north. It's pretty ideally situated. And it has a huge lot with plenty of parking:

Unfortunately, the lot was just too valuable and we recently learned from the local paper that the whole mini-shopping center has been sold and will be bulldozed soon. So much for our dreams of re-opening a bona-fide old tiki bar.

Here's a view behind the plants, showing the old facade and neon sign. Does anybody out there know much about what it would take to salvage and restore an old neon sign. Is it worth trying to save? I think the sign to the Tahitian Room would look great on somebody's tiki-bar wall. (not necessarily mine). Equally intriguing are two iron re-bar struts that protrude from the stonework just below this photo. Did they support another sign? A large wooden mask? Did they anchor two large tikis? I guess we'll never know.

Then, just last week, Doctor Z and I found another South Bay tiki bar!

This one is called the Kona Kai Bar and it is also part of an old strip mall, including a liquor store. It is on Western Blvd in Gardena, just east of the 405 Freeway. It's been closed for awhile as well, but the sign on the door say's it's for lease!



As you can see, it's a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint as well. But I think the Tiki Ti in Hollywood is just as small. The inside is completely stripped bare - not even a bar. So you'd have to start from scratch.

I doubt that it has the potential to draw the crowds that the Tahitian Room has. There are several large Japanese shopping centers down the street, but not the usual tiki-bar crowd. More the sake-bar crowd.

Still, just two blocks away is the Kings Hawaiian Bread Factory, and I see that they have opened a new showplace Hawaiian Restaurant on the property just last month. So maybe the polynesian food patrons would be interested in seeing the nearby Kona-Kai Bar re-open as well. I haven't checked out the new Kings Hawaiian Restaurant, but am planning to soon and will let you all know what it is like.

Sabu

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2002-11-14 13:35 ]

T

Live the dream! If you have a chance like that - go for it! Not many people have the opportunity to find an old tiki bar to re-open. I say GO GO GO!

Interesting. On the same topic, there was a thread way back when TC was on Yahoo Groups about the Hukilau being up for sale. The property was already vacated and ready for its new owner. Here is the clipping:

The Tahitian Room -- I'd forgotten about that place! Isn't it pretty close to Latitude 20?

Have you two ever checked out the Diamond Head apartments in Torrance? It's on Arlington somewhere between Sepulveda and Lomita Blvd. It's not quite as tiki as it was in the late 1970's, but it's still swingin'.

--cindy, L.A. expat

T

Last Winter, when me and mrsmiley went to Key West, the Hukilau had been bought and the sign stated "closed for remodeling". We were taking pictures when the new owner came to collect the mail and said he's going to turn it into a sports bar!

Luckily, I had the opportunity to have a couple drinks there (served from tiki mugs) on my previous visit there in 2000.

Have you two ever checked out the Diamond Head apartments in Torrance? It's on Arlington somewhere between Sepulveda and Lomita Blvd. It's not quite as tiki as it was in the late 1970's, but it's still swingin'.

Cindy,

I only know of one Polynesian apartment building between Sepulveda and Lomita on Arlington, (actually, Arlington is called Narbonne at that point), and it's in sad shape. Any name sign is long gone, and the giant shields and spears along the facade are all falling apart. Most of the spears have broken.

I've taken some photos of the place, so I'll post them to this thread, and if you recognize the place, then at least I'll have a name to go with it - The Diamond Head. If not, than that means I'll have to do some more searching along Arlington/Narbonne.

By the way - side note to Bigbro - I still haven't found the Kala Kai in Lomita, but I really haven't been searching that hard yet. I did, however, find a new one called the Island Breeze in Gardena, so I'll photograph it soon and post any worthy pictures here.

Sabu.

On 2002-11-14 16:26, Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:
I only know of one Polynesian apartment building between Sepulveda and Lomita on Arlington, (actually, Arlington is called Narbonne at that point), and it's in sad shape. Any name sign is long gone, and the giant shields and spears along the facade are all falling apart. Most of the spears have broken.

I think we're thinking of the same place. I haven't been by in several years, but I do remember that most of the decorative stuff that was on the side of the building when I was a kid has fallen off.

More recovered memories: the building is on a corner, and it's down the street from Howard Wood Elementary (where I had icky soccer practice back in 1978).

--c

If the Tahitian Room is indeed going to be bulldozed - i suggest we do a signage rescuse mission...
who's in?
I know a really nice guy who is a neon sign collector who would lovingly restore it - He has the old Sea and Jungle sign - I just saw it a few weekends ago - in flawless shape with animated monkeys climbing up a palm tree.

I'm down if others are.

all right we'll discuss plans on Saturday then, 009 chiki babay

Too late folks, I stopped by the place today with the missus and it's all gone. No sign , no transformer, but they capped off the wires. How nice.That would have made a cool shop to carve in though.

DZ

Wouldn't you know it? I drive (drove?) past the Tahitian Room on my way to work every day for years, just keeping an eye on the place and keeping Sabu posted on the 'situation'. My car goes in the shop for a few days, I have to get a ride to work and take a different route and THAT'S when they decide to tear it down!

Yes, manys the time Sabu and I looked upon the Tahitian Room in its overgrown glory and said "Y'know, we should re-open this place..." and discuss everything from decor and entertainment to who would supply our mugs and mix our drinks. But we never got beyond the 'wishful thinking' stage and, well, now its obviously too late. Another mini-landmark, being replaced by another f***ing Walgreens... I hope the sign at least went to a loving home.

ps-- Cindy-- When was the last time you were in the area? The L-20 was replaced by a pathetic mini-mall about 20 years ago! It was at the corner of PCH & Ocean, about 2 miles from the Tahitian Room.

Doc, I meant the sign is gone but the building is still there. Unless they knocked it down sat morning?

Is there a possibility that someone here took the sign? What are the odds that someone even knew about this sign until Sabu alerted us all? The sign was hidden!

T

On 2002-11-16 13:11, PolynesianPop wrote:
Is there a possibility that someone here took the sign? What are the odds that someone even knew about this sign until Sabu alerted us all? The sign was hidden!

Me thinks the Popster is on to something... it seems all too coincidental doesn't it? There must be a traitor amognst us! We should always talk in code... (apparently the crow flew at 11:30pm :wink: )

I wonder if we'll see the sign show up on eBay soon.

Yes, I checked the place out today myself and the sign has indeed been neatly removed. However, I did take those photos of The Tahitian over a month ago, (although the ones of the Kona Kai were snapped last week), so it's conceivable that the sign could have been removed any time in-between. Too bad that we didn't get to it first. I was keen on discussing sign-removal strategy with Chiki and Futura Girl this evening.

Sabu

On 2002-11-16 06:42, Doctor Z wrote:
Cindy-- When was the last time you were in the area? The L-20 was replaced by a pathetic mini-mall about 20 years ago! It was at the corner of PCH & Ocean, about 2 miles from the Tahitian Room.

The last time I was in Torrance was last Christmas, but I haven't lived there year-round since '88. For some reason, I always thought that Latitude 20 was in a mini-mall on Torrance Blvd near Madrona....now I'm really confused! :-?

(Ironically, I was always "the navigator" on family road trips.)

--cynner :drink:

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