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Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge in the Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel, Denver, CO (bar)

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Name:Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge in the Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel
Street:1100 East Colfax Ave.

I had a little information and some paper items from this place, spent some time in the library doing research and ended up digging up some more info on this place.

The Heart O'Denver Motor Hotel opened for business on May 29, 1960. The restaurant in the hotel was called the Sword room and the bar was called the Tiki Lounge.

The Tiki Lounge operated from opening day of the hotel (1960) until 1970. In 1975 the hotel was bought by the Ramada chain and remodeled. The Tiki Lounge and the Sword room were renovated and all traces were lost.

On opening day, the hotel ran a 12 page advertisement spread in the Sunday paper with information and stories about the place. Here are a few excerpts from the DENVER POST (May 29, 1960).

Can't read, so here is the text

Eli Hedley, of Long Beach, Calif., who personally supervised the design and construction of the 'Tiki' lounge of the Heart O'Denver, is an honest to goodness 'beachcomber' who began his business by selling driftwood, nets and cut bottles along the beach near San Pedro, Calif.

When he first started, 20 years ago, he was assisted in the 'beachcombing' by his wife and four daughters.

Native of Vernon, Texas, Hedley attended Oaklahoma University then bought three small grocery stores, but went broke. He moved to to White Point, Calif., and began gathering items he could sell along the beach.

Soon he became aquainted with 'Don the Beachcomber' and for a time was associated with him in pioneering the development of Polynesian-typr bars.

Hedley bulit a house of driftwood by the sea in 1943 and lived there with his family, selling their wares until five years ago when he was assigned to do the decor for the Bazaar Building in Walt Disney's 'Adventureland'.

Today, he continues to operate three 'beachcomber' stores in Disneyland and his received picture stories in Life magazine and numerous other other journals.

His daughter, Marilyn, has written a book on 'How Daddy Became a Beachcomber,' about to be published and a motion picture about his career is in planning.[end]

Here is a closer picture, note the Suffering Bastard in the lower left corner

Here is a second story from the same spread (no picture)

The 'Tiki' lounge and bar at the Heart O'Denver was designed by Eli Hedley of Long Beach, Calif., a one-time associate of the original 'Don the Beachcomber' and himself a pioneer of Polynesian decor.

The lounge, which seats 68, features booths covered with island thatching to give the apperance of native huts.

Main eye-catcher of the room is an 8-foot carving of'Tiki', the Polynesian God, which serves as a waterfall.

Atop Tiki's head is a giant man-eating clam shell, from which the fountain originates. Water falls down across the Tiki's face into another clam shell he's holding, then into a six-foot rocky pool.

Background for this esemble is a wall of Colorado lava stone. The statue of Tiki was carved from volcanic stone mined inside a volcanic crater near the California-Nevada line, Hedley said.

The waterfall area has tasefull plantings. Other decor of the room includes shell mosaic panels on the walls and whale bones.

The main light fixture is an 18-foot Samoan outrigger canoe hewn by natives using stone adz and inverted over the bar.

Hedley created the design in collaboration with Dave Krohn, president of the Pioneer Restaurant Equipment Co., Long beach. He also designed the Tiki Bar in the Pueblo (Colorado) Continental Motor Hotel and the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. [end]

Sabu - Last time I looked thru your postcard collection in Palm Springs, I thought I remembered a postcard for the Continental in Pueblo (I know I have a small advertisement clipping for the place)

Anyway - I thought you folks might enjoy this look back into a piece of Denver Polynesian-Pop history......but wait, there's more.

Here's where the story gets even more interesting. When I heard the address for a recent tiki bar that opened here in Denver, I thought it sounded familiar, so I did this research. Turns out that the recently opened Tiki Boyd's is located in EXACTLY the same spot as Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge. Not just the same hotel, but the same location, just 30 years later. This spot must have some serious tiki mojo, so I deceided to make a visit. My initial reaction a month ago when I heard about the bar was not to positive. Insert foot in mouth now. I spoke too soon. True, this is not the Mai Kai or even the Tiki Ti, but it does have charm. The drinks were good, the decor is nice and the exotica music (played on vinyl)is awesome. So here's to Tiki Boyd's and Eli Hedley for giving Denver two great tiki bars.

Nice research, Zulu.

Some wonderful paper ads there. Was the newspaper article on microfiche or did you actually get to see the old newspaper itself? I had forgotten that back in the 60s they used to refer to Giant Clams as "Man-eating Clams". That brings back memories of 35mm films in my elementary school classes showing a native pearl-diver getting his foot caught in a giant clam and drowning as the tide came in - pretty thrilling stuff to an 8-year-old kid with an adventurous streak.

I'll check my collection for the Continental in Pueblo and get back to you. Very cool post. Thanks!


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2005-10-18 07:07 ]



OK - so I keep hearing references to Eli having "stores" or "shops" at Disneyland in Adventureland - but in all my years of research, have never, ever seen proof of such. The Tiki Magazine issue on Hedley captions a photo as from Disneyland, but I am fairly sure it is mislabeled! Perhaps he just did the decor in the Bazaar in '55? Maybe Bamboo Ben should weigh in on this... If there was a (or 3?) shop(s) run by him in Adventureland, I'd love to see a photo of it!

On 2005-10-17 21:39, ZuluMagoo wrote:
Turns out that the recently opened Tiki Boyd's is located in EXACTLY the same spot as Eli Hedley's Tiki Lounge. Not just the same hotel, but the same location, just 30 years later.

That is absolutely incredible. And to think that I was there last weekend, wondering where the Denver Tiki bars of 'yore were located. Great investigative research!!

Wow, that is uncanny! What a discovery! What did the people from Tiki Boyd's say about this?

We need to get them memorabilia from the TIKI LOUNGE for the place. I only know of a matchbook...