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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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S

I just acquired what I consider to be the holy grail of Tiki mugs (since I live on Miami Beach). It's from the Luau on Miami Beach, long since defunct.

Luau Miami Beach Mug

Sammy Davis and Frank Sinatra frequented this place when they did the Miami Beach circuit in the 60's.

[ Edited by: SoBeTiki 2008-04-30 17:32 ]

F

nice!

ive got a menu from that place

Great score! I have two drink menus from that place, and am willing to sell one of them. If you want it, send me an e-mail. I can ship it, or we could meet next time I'm in South Florida.

T

My mom emailed me a while back and said "I saw this tiki mug from Luau Miami Beach at an antique shop out of town... but it had a chip so I left it behind".

Being the kind loving daughter I am, I told her to get the hell back there and buy it! Next time she went by that way, she got it... methinks I will get the precioussss in my hot little hands on thursday when she comes to visit.

I didn't know anything about it when she first told me - only that I had never heard of it before... she described it as - and I quote- "it is brown, says at the top 'Luau -
Miami Beach' big ugly face, the tiki is holding what looks like a hot dog in
each hand :o) and there is a silver foil Relpo label on the bottom (Made in
Japan). I don't think I've seen him before."

From now on, he shall be known as the hot dog tiki! hahah

T

Oh, did I mention it was 5 bucks? That's 5 bucks CAN so about $3.25 US.

My preciousssss.....

Nice score SoBeTiki!
I've been looking for one of them guys myself. I'd love to display it with this picture of the folks which I now am pretty confident was taken at the Luau Miami back in the day.
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=2454&forum=1
Aloha,
:tiki:

I finally scored one of these elusive buggars on ebay for $26. It was listed as ceramic barware, of course.

Now I'll find three at a local thrift store... or worse, Flounder will.
KG


Aloha from the Sunshine State!

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2004-02-20 10:52 ]

I recently purchased these postcards from The Luau Restaurant in Miami Beach.

The large card with the flaming Tiki heads, illuminated sign, and the blue tinting is really hot!

I also added some other pictures of menus and mugs from the Luau that I found on the web since most of the pictures in this thread do not show up anymore (why don't the older pictures still work on TC?)

Postcard Mailer from Mimi's Site



Menus From TC

Mug from Mikes Tikiroom

Here is a Tea Cup from The Miami Luau ~

Here's the shot of my folks at what I believe to be the Luau Miami Beach
(link repaired from earlier post)

Here's a closer view of the bowl on the table holding the pineapple...
Sure looks like the same logo as on the tea cup from Bora Boris.

Aloha,
:tiki:

1

Great thread on the Luau Sobe tiki.
I have an extra LUAU menu available if anyone is interested.
Don't really want to hassle putting it on ebay.
Trader Bill

Here is another Luau drink postcard from Mimi

S

I found another great postcard from the Luau Miami Beach:

This thread is coming together real nicely, folks! Great urban archeology with that cup find in that classic group photo. I always marveled at those Moai sculptures outside of the place. Kailuageoff has a nice rendering of that scene....K.G. my old friend, where did you go?

Dustycajun, could you perhaps produce a blow up of that lower left corner of the postcard, including the Moai, to give us a closer view of the bridge area with those Hawaiian figures? I realize it will be very grainy...

T

Brings back memories, shoved between the pages in my mind...

I grew up down the street from the Luau on the 79th St. Causeway. It eventually became a Benihana of Tokyo.

My first tiki/mug contact was at that sacred booze hole. Places like the Luau and Castaways made Miami Beach very Tikified.

Thanks for posting the pics!

Tiki1963, thank you for answering the question on where the exact spot was. I drive down that street regularly and always wonder where was the Luau.

Quite the view from that spot too.

I wonder if the Wolfson Moving Picture Archive would have any footage of the Luau. They have local footage going back to the 50s.

[ Edited by: I dream of tiki 2008-05-01 12:59 ]

Here are a couple of grainy close ups of the Luau exterior as requested by Bigbro. There are some really odd Tikis and other creatures hanging around the front of the restaurant.

Here is the information on the back of the postcard. They claim to be "Florida's First and Finest Polynesian Restaurant"!

Note the "Saronged serving maidens in our new Surfboard Bar and Lounge" Sounds a lot like a Mai Kai copy cat to me!

Very nice, I really appreciate it. These close-ups support the hefty hunch I have that these sculptures might have been done by my favorite Miami bohemian sculptor, Lewis Van Dercar:

http://miamimemories.blogspot.com/2007/07/lewis-vandercar-miamis-andy-warhol.html

When I discovered that I had inadvertently featured him in the Book of Tiki, it led to one of the most fun threads that ever developed in these pages:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=7197&forum=1&start=0

...worth a read though a lot of links are dead now.

Will we ever find out?

S

Yeah, I remember that Van DerCar post. It inspired me to check out the Pagan Island movie, which is great.

I came across a very interesting mention of the Luau in a web page that reprinted an issue of Cabaret Quarterly from 1956 which touts a tropical drink they claim was invented there.

Here's an exerpt:

MIAMI LOVES THE TROPICAL PINA PARDISE

Because of its geographical location and clime, Miami has taken on the lure of a modern-day tropical isle. Befitting this concept, this resort town has discovered that exotic potions are becoming increasingly popular. Number one on the sip parade is a tasty beverage originated by Sam Denning of Club Luau- Pina Paradise.

Here's the link, with some interesting Cabaret images...

http://www.cuban-exile.com/doc_201-225/doc0202.html

[ Edited by: SoBeTiki 2008-05-02 19:43 ]

Dang BigBro,

You know everybody and everything! Thanks for the info on the Lewis Van Dercar.

On 2008-05-02 16:10, SoBeTiki wrote:
I came across a very interesting mention of the Luau in a web page that reprinted an issue of Cabaret Quarterly from 1956 which touts a tropical drink they claim was invented there.

Here's the link, with some interesting Cabaret images...

http://www.cuban-exile.com/doc_201-225/doc0202.html

Nice "research" :D :

And now we know what Tiki Royale's folks were drinking:

"Club Luau- Pina Paradise:....Place above in Waring mixer until pineapple is blended. Add cracked ice. Mix well. Pour into hollowed-out pineapple and serve."

I found a matchbook from the Luau. It says "Reservations Suggested". After reading about the "Club Luau- Pina Paradise" drink I can see why!

1

The pictures I submitted for the Luau menu, the menu is for sale if anyone
is interested ,let me know.
Thanks,
Trader Bill

Picked up a Luau restaurant drink menu not long ago. It is a little different than the one posted by 1961surf. This one has a green cover and a few new specialty drinks on the menu such as the Miki Moto and Lovers Punch. Also nice drink descriptions on the back of the menu. I love the "Not Responsible - Your Own Your Own" category of drinks. Also lists drinks by "Trader Syd". Does anybody know who that was?

Neato. Dang I wonder if there are any photos anywhere of that wacky Van DerCar sculpture garden. Maybe if we could find Trader Syd...
C'mon Miami Tiki archeologists!

1

Dusty you picked that menu up cheap on ebay- nice score.Yours is a 1960's LUAU menu.
The one I still have for sale and shown in this thread is a 1950's LUAU menu.
Both are very cool and large sought after menus that don't come around for sale
very often.

S
Swanky posted on Wed, Jul 2, 2008 9:21 AM

Looking at teh prices, most drinks around $1 or $2, I noticed the Barrel of Rum, which is $25! Did it come in an actual barrel?

Swanky,

You are absolutely right - it is an actual barrel of rum! It includes a fresh lei for the king or queen of the table, sweet. I am really beginning to like the old Luau Restaurant.

Here is the close up of the menu item.

S

On 2008-07-02 11:56, Dustycajun wrote:
Swanky,

You are absolutely right - it is an actual barrel of rum! It includes a fresh lei for the king or queen of the table, sweet. I am really beginning to like the old Luau Restaurant.

Here is the close up of the menu item.

Consider the average drink at the Mai Kai is around $10 and the Mystery Drink is about $45, and is the equivalent of about 4 drinks in price and alcohol content. Their average drink is just under $2... And it serves just 4-8? Man? I wonder how many they served of this!

Do the Luau's menus happen to mention the appetizer that thrilled me as a child in the late 50's-early 60's? While my parents sipped their tropical rum drinks, the Luau's staff would bring to ME a smoking volcano! It was a large (at least 12" tall) conical mountain of shaved/crushed ice... fresh pineapple cubes, speared with toothpicks, covered the volcano's slopes. Apparently dry ice was inside the volcano, producing excellent "smoke" for quite a long time through a hole in the volcano's top. Everyone helped themselves to fresh pineapple at their leisure as the volcano smoked away in the center of the table. I was extremely impressed, and it probably successfully kept me from fidgeting during the cocktail phase before dinner.

G

On 2008-07-02 17:50, Pacifilantic wrote:
It was a large (at least 12" tall) conical mountain of shaved/crushed ice... fresh pineapple cubes, speared with toothpicks, covered the volcano's slopes. Apparently dry ice was inside the volcano, producing excellent "smoke" for quite a long time through a hole in the volcano's top.

You can still order this at the Mai-Kai. It's on the dessert menu and called a Polynesian Surprise. But instead of dry ice, it's lit up with sparklers. I think it's lit up from the inside too so the ice "volcano" glows. It's great, although dry ice would be a nice touch!

On 2008-07-02 17:50, Pacifilantic wrote:
.... thrilled me as a child in the late 50's-early 60's? While my parents sipped their tropical rum drinks...

Did your folks perhaps snap any photos of you or themselves posing with any of the weird statues in the sculpture garden around the entrance outside? I dig the ones holding up the porte cochere:

P

Mauna Loa Volcano .75c
"fresh chunks of golden pineapple and preserved kumquats set in a tropical ice topped mountain. order for two or more." another menu describes it like this
Mauna Loa Volcano .85c
"Fresh pineapple and preserved kumquats in a tropical ice capped mountain flamed with 151 demerera rum for a dip." (order for two or more) per person.
Trader Syd was the owner. I will try and find time to upload some pictures of the menus. I have an article on the owner somewhere.

That article would be great: Maybe, if Syd ain't around anymore, we can contact his descendants and get some photos.

Pa'akiki. I second Bigbro's message, it would be great to see the menu and the article you have, please try to post. Thanks

P

here are some menu's and an article on the Luau.



Nice stash of paper ephemera, pa'akiki, never seen that many Miami Luau menus in one place! I would love to use that menu with the rendering of the exterior in one of my future books (and that Trader Syd photo with it?). It seems like one can really see the Van DerCar statuary in it.

Unfortunately, the article came up so small that I cannot read it. Does it mention Syd's full name? I am sending you a pm, please check under "personal messages".

Re: the Van DerCar sculptures... I suspect they were not original to the Luau building. In the online photos of the older Luau postcards (date given as 1959), the sculptures don't appear. Does anyone remember when they were added? In my admittedly faulty memory, we returned to the Luau in the early '70's after several years away, and I felt that the place looked and felt really different from the way I remembered it as a smaller child in the late '50's early 60's. Perhaps the sculptures were part of the reason. I'll see if I have any photos. IMO the light concrete fluid-looking Van DerCar art, while cool in its own way, was rather jarring in the dark woods and green foliage of the traditional tiki restaurant setting. Possibly more representative of late 60's psychedelia... which still stays within the theme of "escape", I guess!

You are right. If we compare the two postcards:

...it becomes clear that the Moai statues and the extra palm front porte cochere were added later, while the original entrance hut's roof was changed to glass plates:

It sounds like you favor more "authentic" Tiki style, a la Oceanic Arts. But the giant Easter Island heads with the flame coming out and the Tikis holding the new palm front roof are exactly what I describe and favor as "Tiki Modern": The re-interpretation of Polynesian art with a bohemian beatnik "modern art" slant. Ever since I saw the postcard I have been wanting to see close ups of the statues, because to me they are a fine example of American mid-century modern Tiki art --even if they were made in the 70s: Because their source of inspiration lies in the spirit of mid-century modernism, very much like a lot of WITCO's 70s oeuvre does, too.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-07-07 11:05 ]

In Pa'akiki's menu collection, the menu showing renderings of the Luau's entrance with the Van DerCar-like statuary gives the address as "John F. Kennedy Causeway (79th Street Causeway)". The other menus, and the older postcards, apparently just say "79th Street Causeway". This may help fix the time frame a bit. The road wouldn't have been renamed in honor of JFK until some time after his presidency.

Very good point! This is urban archeology, too: Not only the searching out and finding of the actual places under layers of renovation and modernization, but also the digging up and comparing of paper ephemera and scriptures, zooming into details and deducing facts about their history.

Pa'akiki. Wow thanks for the post, I have never seen that Luau menu with the rendering, it is really cool. It would be great if you could rescan that article on Trader Syd and post it to that we could all read it.

Dang Bigbro, your really good at this historical Tiki research stuff. It's almost as though you do this kind of thing for a living! Keep up the good work.

Duh! I just went back thru my own link to my old thread, and towards the end, among those slightly confusing posts by his friend who runs the Van Dercar blog, I found this (!):

On 2005-10-14 07:57, ripaldaz wrote:
[Thank you for posting my photo & websites. There will be more photos of Van's paintings & sculpture. I have been in touch with a number of friends from 30 years ago. Some have quite a large collection of Van's work. We had a fun group of friends. The warlock stuff was just a marketing hook.

I have emailed the museum of art miami archive to see if they have a photo of the old Luau Restaurant on Miami Beach. VanDercar sculpted the tiki's that were inside the restaurant.

I swear I did not read this last part until now! So now that we can be certain, let's find Trader Syd or his descendants and see if they have any pics of the statues!

Well, the above only shows that sometimes it is good to research your own research!

On 2008-07-07 17:33, Dustycajun wrote:
Dang Bigbro, your really good at this historical Tiki research stuff. It's almost as though you do this kind of thing for a living....

Yeah right, wish I WOULD. Then I wouldn't have to go back to Germany to pay the bills here, and miss fun stuff like the Hukilau!

B

So I picked up a matchbook from the Luau last week, it was cheap and I couldn't remember if I had this one. I think there may have been a couple of designs. Before I put it with our other matchbooks I was looking at it and noticed it said "designed by Franklin Hughes" (I presume that meant the restaurant, not the matchbook).

I did the requisite google searches and did a search here on T.C. but came up empty. Does the name mean anything to anyone? Could more be discovered by you folks in Miami? Did Franklin Hughes design anything else Tiki, or anything else of note at all?

Perhaps another clue to what was once clearly an amazing place.

-Duke

Duke,

I recently got that matchbook as well and had the same questions about the architect Franklin Hughes. I too could not find out any information.

Here is the matchbook cover and inside with the nod to the designer.

Pa'akiki

Thanks again for your previous post. Any chance you could rescan that article on Trader Syd and post it again so we can read it?

Apparently there was an article in the New Yorker (Dec. 25, 1943):

"Franklin Hughes, night club designer, designed the New Monte Carlo bar and also the Copa bar, at the Copacabana."

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1943/12/25/1943_12_25_047_TNY_CARDS_000196045

Unfortunately the article does not seem to be available online.

Here is a souvenir photo holder I saw on ebay with a nice rendering of the updated Luau restaurant.

I also found a postcard from The Little Hut restaurant located in Vero Beach that uses the same stone monument sign as the Luau. I am thinking they had to be done by the same architect.

DC

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