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Old Tiki Found in Mar Vista, CA

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Last Sunday, after Sabu attended church like a good Coconut Boy, he stopped at some thrift stores on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista to look for some Hawaiiana. He was unsuccessful, finding mostly a lot of Crap-iana and Cheap-Clothes-iana, but looking across the street, he spied the Mar Vista Lanes bowling alley and his well-developed tiki-sense began tingling, just like Spider Man's. (In fact, in a battle to the death between Sabu The Coconut Boy and Spider Man, Sabu would always find the Bali Hai mug hidden in the box of LPs faster than Spider Man. I use the term "Battle to the Death" figuratively here. It would actually be more like a "Massacre")

Anyway, something drew my attention to this old Sixties bowling alley.

Yes, something about that column on the left-hand side of the building, hidden by the hedge:

As I approached, it began to take on a familiar shape:

Ah Ha! From the side, our friend the tiki reveals himself!

I apologize for the darkness of the photo, but this is a big-lipped tiki with enormous eyes that cover most of its head.

I quickly checked inside the bar, the bowling alley, and the coffee shop, but could find no other tikis. The coffee shop was promising with all kinds of dark, cave-like grottos and stonework, but if there were other tikis at one time, they no longer exist. The bowling alley itself is pure atomic design. The bowling balls are painted bright, fifties colors and the place was full on a Sunday afternoon with families and lots of kids. The coffee shop was likewise packed. I'm glad to see this place is doing a thriving business.

Does anyone else know anything about the history of the Mar Vista Lanes on the corner of Venice Blvd and Grand View? Doesn't it seem unlikely that there was only one tiki for the entire building? Wouldn't they have had more at one time? Has anyone else out there found this besides me? I would appreciate any information. Thanks.



No nothing of the bowling alley, but am quite impressed with your tiki awareness!

Are you sure you went to church last Sunday young man? After the Saturday night we had at Kona Lanes.

Are you sure you went to church last Sunday young man? After the Saturday night we had at Kona Lanes.

Sure I went to church! After Saturday night, someone had to pray for the salvation of you poor sinners. Reverend Bamboo Ben and I had our work cut out for us.

Sabu (Church of Electrolysis) The Coconut Boy

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2002-11-19 13:29 ]

Fine urban archeology, Sabu, that one would have been hard to recognize even without the hedge obscuring it. I can tell you are suffering from (or blessed by) advanced Tiki oversensitization. This is usually diagnosed when the "Tiki-in-the-corner-of-the-eye" symptom occurs, which is a drive by phenomenon. Cruising through urban blight and clutter, all of a sudden one believes to have seen a Tiki in passing. Most of the time it turns out to be a hedge or a sign post, sometimes one can see the shape of a Tiki in it.But some discoveries like this one have been made that way.

The Mar Vista Bowl was built by Armet& Davis around 1961, and it used to house the Makai Cocktail Lounge. If you look at the street photo, behind the green/blue Buick/LTD car there is an open door, to the LEFT of that door is a sign "Cocktails", and to the left of of THAT is a small A-frame entrance, behind which you could find the Makai Room. Once, that is, but no more.

It does not seem to have been around for long (70s?), because when I inquired about it at the Bowling Alley in the mid-90s, no one remembered it, not even the oldest beehived waitress.
BUT I found some great B&W interiors of it at
Armet & Davis back then. It was very minimalistic modern: Lava rock, bamboo poles, strange mod/prim. masks on the wall. And I remember seeing the MENUS on the tables in the coffe shop photos, which together with the napkins had the logo Tiki (BOT p.197) on it. Those menus were suoercool, Googie design and Tiki in one. NEVER have found one. My pal Jeff Berry has a cheapo glass ashtray with the Tiki on it...
Unfortunately, when I went back to A&D in the end-90s with my friend John English (the A&D archivist now), those photos were nowhere to be found, or they woulld have been in the book.

Hey, lets bowl THERE some time!?


NICE! Really great detective work....

Thanks Bigbro!

I had a feeling you might know the history of this place. The entrance to the cocktail bar was my first guess as well, but when I went inside, it was all basic black and grungy. A few early-afternoon patrons were watching the Sunday football games on TV.

Then right through the bar and you're into the bowling alley itself with all these kids having a big birthday party and bowling up a storm. It was such a contrast to the seediness of the bar. Then you take a left and travel half the length of the bowling alley and there is an entrance to the coffee shop. I really liked the layout of the place.

We should go bowling there some night. We could first have drinks and steamed clams at The Galley in nearby Santa Monica on Broadway. Actually, Johnny Velour's pad isn't that far away either...

Your description of the Makai Lounge makes me yearn to find an old menu or napkin myself. Maybe I'll start hitting some of the garage sales again in Mar Vista. I've had good luck there before with other tiki stuff.


here's an enhanced pic of the one above (my appologies if this pisses Sabu off!):

[ Edited by: hanford_lemoore on 2002-11-19 17:04 ]

Much better!

Thanks, Hanford!


Crazy Al just suggested the Java Lanes to me, since they are still open...

Why not a Tiki bowling event once a month?
December: Mar Vista Bowl
January: Java Lanes
February: Montebello Bowl (cool resin art in lounge)
...and so on

I'd be up for that idea, as long as I'm not in the middle of moving (which may be soon!)

Be sure & let us know - we'd be up for it....

I scanned a matchbook I have from the place:

DANG! Until recently I rode my bike past there several times a week. Guess you need to do Urban Arch on foot!

If you stop looking for your dad.
You can focus on TIKI.
Charles how the heck are ya.


Have not found him yet
Dearth of tikis here in sticks
Bo Duke sends regards.


Hi all, I feel like I should let you know that they have trimmed the hedge that used to obscure the tiki (I always knew it was there, but figured that everyone knew...I mean, it's a pretty big tiki....Then again, I walk alot)and you have a great view of it now from the street. I am keeping an eye on it because that same bowling alley took down the beautiful googie sign that stood for years and replaced it with the very bland and ugly sign that hangs there now. I fear that they may be up to no good with the tiki.

But it is a very popular and busy place, so I may be paranoid. If you do go and bowl - mention that you were attracted by the tiki!

[ Edited by: tikisuz 2006-04-24 20:43 ]

On 2006-04-24 20:42, tikisuz wrote:
Hi all, I feel like I should let you know that they have trimmed the hedge that used to obscure the tiki .... I am keeping an eye on it because that same bowling alley took down the beautiful googie sign that stood for years and replaced it with the very bland and ugly sign that hangs there now. I fear that they may be up to no good with the tiki.

Photos, please! Thank yooooou!

dernit, cant get the pictures to open on my comp


On 2006-04-25 09:05, touchythetiki wrote:
dernit, cant get the pictures to open on my comp

Touchythetiki, right now nobody can, Sabu needs to update his links.

ahh kk thanks:)

I'll see if I can find my old pics tonight at home and upload them to my new Snapfish account.




Yesterday while driving down Venice Blvd. I noticed that the hedge in front of the Mar Vista Lanes was completely gone and the Makai Tiki was no longer hidden.

The Coffee Shop sign is still cool.

The Bar hadn’t opened yet. I know it’s long since been De-Tikified but I still wanted to take a look and or get a drink.

Man am I glad that I shot that sign above before it got remodelled in generic Helvetica style. It'll be in Tiki Modern.



Digging up an old thread here....

I've been passing this place for years. Last night some friends invited me here for a night of Bowling fun. Never one to pass up a bowling invite, I dug out my weapon (a 16 lb Brunswick "Twister") and me and the family headed out for a Sat Nite Bowl-a-rama.

After finishing 2 decent games (189, and 143) I went looking for the ATM and wound up entering the Coffee Shop....I nearly fell over. Lava Rock Walls, well worn Googie styling everywhere !

Went to alert my friends who really didn't share my excitement.(few do, I'm a googie fanatic, most "normal" people don't understand it)

Then, we went into the bar to partake in some karaoke. I walked outside for some air, and that's when I saw it.....

The Mar Vista TIKI.

I had no idea this place was a TIKI bowling alley.

I always remember driving by the place and seeing the great orange sign they used to have, but don't anymore.

I wish someone would bring it back to it's TIKI glory. What a great place. I will be sure to eat in that great coffee house one of these days.

Bowling and TIKI are one of the greatest combinations since Reese's discovered Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

Please SABU, post your photos again.

[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2007-09-09 08:57 ]

[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2007-09-09 08:59 ]

So, does anybody know if the Tiki is still standing some 5+ years since the last sighting? I did a little matchbook swapping this weekend and got one the MaKai Room matchbooks (missing pictures above).

Back of the matchcover with a 1962 date.

Also found this Mar Vista coffee shop menu on Arkiva Tropika.


According to Google Street View the tiki is still there.


I drive by the Tiki every day on my way home from work and we are regulars at Pepy's, the diner in the Mar Vista Bowl which surrounds the Tiki. It's in a horrible state of disrepair and completely weathered, but it is still there.

you should bring a little coffee table
and sit outside with the tiki when you eat there.



Here he is from about a year ago...

GROG posted on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 10:58 AM

The tiki last night.

Hey, it's winter and a caveman's gotta stay warm!

On 2013-01-22 10:58, GROG wrote:
The tiki last night.

Hey, it's winter and a caveman's gotta stay warm!

Bad Grog, burning sacred Tikis is Bad!


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2013-01-22 17:58 ]

The AMF Mar Vista Lanes is going to be renovated into something more like a Lucky Strike Bowling Alley. Check out the tiki while you can.

Pepy's Galley, the circa-1960 diner attached to AMF Mar Vista Lanes, lately feels more like a funeral parlor than the friendly neighborhood joint its lifelong customers remember. That's because the nautical-themed coffee shop is facing eviction on June 30, when BowlmorAMF, the country's largest ten-pin bowling center operator, takes ownership of the building and begins major renovations. Those renovations include turning Pepy's Galley into an in-house food service that caters to the bowling center.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2014/06/17/pepys-galley-beloved-mar-vista-coffee-shop-set-to-close

Is anyone interested in saving the tiki? Now sounds like a good time to visit, take final photos, and make inquiries about the contents.

This is from the AMF Facebook page.

To the Mar Vista Community and Loyal Patrons of AMF Mar Vista Lanes:

We are sensitive to the feedback, both positive and negative, that we have received from the community surrounding the renovation of AMF Mar Vista Lanes, which will include the closing of Pepy’s Galley. While many have expressed excitement at the introduction of a significantly upgraded family-friendly bowling center, we have seen some misinformation and confusion in the press and social media about the new facility and below is a letter to help spell out the facts.

AMF Mar Vista Lanes opened in 1960 and has not had a major upgrading since that time. The entire infrastructure is old, dated, unreliable and uneconomic. I can think of no other business that has operated with success after 54 years of basic neglect. The facility does not earn enough to pay a market rent.

The community of Mar Vista and greater Los Angeles deserves a far better experience and that is why in late June, the property will be closing to begin renovations that will upgrade and modernize the building. The new facility will remain a family-friendly bowling alley and entertainment center that will cater to guests of all ages as well as serve a wide range or food and beverage offerings. I anticipate somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 – 30 new jobs will be added and many of these will pay quite well.

There will not be an outside dining component as currently exists. Rather, the food service will be brought in house and will exist to serve patrons of the bowling center. It is impossible to economically maintain the current arrangement with Pepy’s Galley as his rent is a small fraction of market rent and the restaurant space would need close to $1 million in upgrades to bring it to current code.

When we bought AMF on July 1 of last year, it was just exiting bankruptcy for the2nd time in a decade. Had we not bought it and committed to invest in the company, 7,500 people would have lost their jobs and bowling would have become largely non-existent in major parts of the country, particularly in West LA as the AMF facilities here would have been shut down and converted to other uses.

In recent memory, a large number of bowling centers in greater LA have closed including: Reseda Bowl, Granada Bowl, Victory Lanes, Encino Bowl, Valley Center/West Valley Bowl, Northridge Lanes, Rocky Mountain/Belair, Mar Lindo, Verdugo Hills Bowl, Grand Center Lanes, Sherman Squire Lanes, Burbank Bowl, Van Nuys Bowl, Bowlerland, Sunland Bowl, Panorama Bowl and AMF Midtown Lanes. Several others in the greater LA area will soon be closing.

We have been approached by developers who would like to buy the Mar Vista property and convert it to upscale condos. Candidly, it would be the right economic decision for us to do that but we have chosen to maintain our commitment to bowling and to the community of Mar Vista and to invest a significant amount of money to ensure the viability of bowling in that market.

As noted above, there are all sorts of inflammatory and inaccurate statements about what our intentions are and how we have acted being floated on social media. I will respond to two of them. First, we are not converting the property to a nightclub type of bowling alley. It will remain a somewhat traditional, although very nice, family friendly bowling center.

Secondly, we had the right to terminate Pepy’s month to month lease with 30 days notice and could have done so upon acquiring the property in July 1, 2013. Instead, we let him stay in place, at a small fraction of market rent and at significant cost to us, but can no longer do so as we prepare to renovate the entire facility.

It has been suggested that Pepy’s could easily be relocated to another site in the market. Several suitable restaurant vacancies have been mentioned on the Facebook site. It would seem that given the level of customer support in the market, Pepy would be as successful moving down the street as he is in the current location. It is of course entirely his decision.

Again, we are sensitive to the feedback that we have received from the community and hope that this letter has helped clarify the facts behind the renovation of AMF Mar Vista Lanes.


Tom Shannon
Bowlmor AMF, Inc.

sad sad sad
I've eaten there a few times with Jonpaul and Marie.


I am the co-author of the book, The Hawaii Movie and Television Book, 100 years of filmmaking in the Hawaiian Islands.

On 2014-06-29 21:07, [email protected] wrote:
I am the co-author of the book, The Hawaii Movie and Television Book, 100 years of filmmaking in the Hawaiian Islands.

Yes, And.....

I drove by yesterday and the tiki was missing:

I called Mar Vista Lanes to ask what happened and the woman working the desk just replied "What? It's not there?!!!?" :(

There's an update to a Facebook thread that's discussing the fate of the "Pepy's Galley" restaurant at the Mar Vista Lanes. The person leading the conversation (Mia Duncans) posted this as an update yesterday:

"Just received a call from Nick of Bowlmor because I left him a message regarding what happened to the Tiki statue in front of the lanes.. He said it was not them that removed it..."

So, it seems that the tiki was most likely stolen.

On 2014-06-29 21:12, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:

On 2014-06-29 21:07, [email protected] wrote:
I am the co-author of the book, The Hawaii Movie and Television Book, 100 years of filmmaking in the Hawaiian Islands.

Yes, And.....

Aloha Luis

Welcome aboard Tiki Central (TC)
First thing for a newbie is to introduce yourself in the: Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Official Introductions / Introduction thread! New members introduce themselves there. You can find this thread from the home page. Then browse around the different discussions and if you feel you can add or you have additional information on a subject please write in. But make sure you read the tread from page one so you do not repeat what has been discussed already (another rookie mistake) That's all I will say because even this lesson is not appropriate here. Good luck.


A tiki (of sorts) returns to Mar Vista Lanes (now called "Bowlero" and refashioned as a bowling alley/club).
As you can see, they've included highly traditional Polynesian cacti surrounding the tiki.


Nothing says cool tiki like a Philipino carved, (and painted) yuk
Tiki, and Cactus????
Why do people struggle so much?

Jeff btd

Some tiki is better than no tiki - we still have a lot of educatin' to do.

I envision a drunk guy stumbling around that street corner, then grabbing the cactus for support instead of the tiki or a lamp post... Should I laugh or not? Hmmmm...

Here are a couple of views of the new Bowlero - the lounge/alley that replaced Mar Vista Lanes. The view of the bar shows the space that once held the Makai Room (a tiki bar). While the Makai Room became just a regular bowling alley bar for the past couple of decades, its general layout, lava rock wall, and other various details remained. What used to be the lava wall has been completely blown out and the bar now opens directly to the alley.

Posting these mostly 'for the record.'
I had been searching for any images of the old Makai Room at Mar Vista Lanes and only found these photos (from Yelp). This is the only way I remember the space - after it became a solid 'bowling alley bar' vs. its former tiki glory.

If anyone has old photos of the Makai Room as a proper tiki bar, they would be most welcome.

Pages: 1 44 replies