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T

Name:Aku Aku
Type:Nightclub
Street:1111 West Bancroft
City:Toledo
State:OH
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
I came across this matchbook cover on ebay for the Aku Aku in Toledo:

A Google search for the Town House Motel turns up nothing, and a phone search for the number comes up as 'private or unlisted'. Anyone in Ohio want to do some gumshoe research?

[ Edited by: tikigreg 2006-12-15 04:18 ]

H

I don't know anything about that Aku Aku, but that's the logo tiki from the Luau 400 in New York. The Luau 400 mug is a black cylinder with that tiki mask on the front, painted in orange and purple/pink (it's cold paint, so it's often missing, making the mask look white). The logo could have been lifted, or perhaps the two were related.

H

I Googled for 1111 West Bancroft (and also 1111 W Bancroft), and the only hit I got was as an address listed on a resume -- perhaps apartments are on the site today.

Owens.edu site had this blurb:

"During the early sixties, here in Toledo, a number of Toledo musicians got their break and had the opportunity to tour with the Glen Covington Trio. For Covington, originally from Kentucky, Louisville to be exact, Toledo became a mainstay. The Covington Trio performed at the old Aku-Aku Lounge on Monroe and Bancroft. Of course, the Aku-Aku, like many Toledo landmarks is vanished. In fact a Rally's fast food restaurant stands where the entrance to the Aku-Aku once rested. Local musicans like Butch Stewart (bassist), Swing Lee (drummer), Clifford Murphy (bassist), Claude Black (pianist), and Clanton Ellis (pianist) went on the road, played, or substituted in the Covington Trio. "

Toledo online has this to say:

When the Aku-Aku Club was the hot spot in town in the 60s, the Glen Covington Band was its house band, and Murphy played bass. It's hard to believe, but all the greats would headline at this Toledo club: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and even Vaughn Monroe.

Jackpot! An obituary about the owner gives lots of info:

IRVING ‘SLICK’ SHAPIRO, 1920-2002
Ex-owner’s Aku-Aku Club drew crowds, raves

Irving "Slick" Shapiro, a former Toledo night club owner whose Aku-Aku club drew everyone from Toledo’s corporate elite to some of America’s best known mob figures of the 1970s, died yesterday at Medical College of Ohio Hospitals after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

The Toledo native had been in declining health since undergoing leg surgery last year. He had a kidney transplant four years ago.

A colorful bookmaking figure in his early years - he was arrested several times in the 1940s and 1950s for gambling - Mr. Shapiro opened the Aku-Aku in the Town House Motel in 1960, drawing some of the country’s top entertainers over the next decade.

Names like Duke Ellington, Henny Youngman, and Phyllis Diller drew sell-out crowds to the establishment at Monroe and Bancroft streets.

"There’s no question: He ran the last of the great clubs in this town," said Seymour Rothman, a retired Blade columnist. "There’s never been any place like that since. Not even close."

Chester Devenow, retired chairman of the former Sheller-Globe Corp., said Toledo will never see a place like the Aku-Aku club again.

"It was a gathering place for the top and bottom of society - the elite to the lowest characters that Toledo had to offer. It was the last important gathering place for the last generation of Toledo."

By the time it closed in 1970, it had became one of the city’s most popular clubs, drawing the city’s movers and shakers as well as some of the leaders of Detroit’s crime families, including Jack Tocco and Anthony Zerilli.

Gene Fodor, retired Toledo police detective who worked on organized crime, said the Aku-Aku drew everyone, "The top business people in the city, the politicians, and a lot of the mob, they used to come down from Detroit. It was a jewel of a place."

Described as a gracious host with a sense of humor, Mr. Shapiro often greeted people as they walked in the door. The Town House was part of same complex as the club.

The son of a Jewish Polish immigrant tailor, Mr. Shapiro was reared in Toledo’s Old West End. The family, which included one older sister, spent some years in Cleveland but returned here.

Like so many of his generation, he dropped out of school after the eighth grade and worked in various jobs until World War II when he was a medic in the Army. After he returned, Mr. Shapiro was frequently charged, five times in 1948 alone for keeping a gambling house at M&S Sports Center, 320 Monroe St. It was then that he picked up the nickname Slick for his quick hands at the card table.

He later operated five restaurants and clubs in Toledo from the 1950s to the early ’70s, including the Aku-Aku.

Others included Guiseppe’s Italian on Superior Street; the Embers supper club, on Secor Road near Monroe Street; the Gas Light Club (later the Lamplite Club), on West Central Avenue near Douglas Road, and the Granada Gardens on Monroe near Secor.

In the 1970s, Mr. Shapiro sold the Granada Gardens and moved to Las Vegas where he operated a cleaning supply manufacturing business. It was during his years in Nevada when he ran into more troubles with the law.

In 1971, he was accused of taking part in negotiations with Detroit crime families. He was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to conceal mob ownership of a Las Vegas casino and hotel.

In Las Vegas, he had three companies, including Alfa Chemical. Mr. Shapiro was heard on an FBI wiretap bragging that he had been entertaining the governor of New Mexico at the same time Alfa company was trying to get contracts with that state. He was accused of strong-arming several hotels to use his cleaning products. He was was never charged with a crime, however.

He enjoyed golf and belonged to the Indian Wells country club in California. As a teenager, he had been a featherweight boxer.

He moved to Palm Springs, Calif., in the 1970s, but returned to the Toledo area in 1998, living in Springfield Township.

Surviving are his sons, Greg, Myron, and Norman; sister, Alice Hart, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow in Walter Funeral Home, 4653 Glendale Ave., where the funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The family requests tributes to Calvary Assembly of God or the charity of the donor’s choice.

If found pictures on old eBay auctions of a menu, and a slightly different matchbook:

Wow, what a history! Mob-Tiki, how cool...makes me wonder if there was any connection with the Las Vegas Aku Aku.
Now I really want to see pictures of the place, AND its illustrious owner. His life sounds like a goddamn' Martin Scorcese movie!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2006-12-13 13:32 ]

WOW!! Thanks for all the research everyone!! This is why TC rules. Research man, research!!!

I recently found out about the Aku Aku lounge on the back of a restaurant record recently. This was the first time I ever heard of it.

Veeeeery Cool :)

Now where's that damn time machine!!

Cheers and Mahalo,
Jeff

Yeah, the Aku Aku in Toledo definitely swiped the logo from the Luau 400. I've been watching for items from this place on eBay for a while. I've got the same photos as Humu.

There was once an auction for a classic 1960s cigarette lighter (one of those wide ones) in a custom box from this Aku Aku with that Luau 400 logo on it. It was brand new and mint and I hoped no one would spot it, but I got out-sniped at the end. If the person who got that cool lighter reads this board, would you post a photo? It was one of the more unique tiki items I've ever seen.

Sabu

B

[ Edited by: bifcozz 2007-02-09 21:38 ]

Thanks bifcozz!!!

That is one cool menu!!!

Cheers,
Jeff

...more on the menu art next week, when I get home!

I don't know if this helps, but here's the current google maps of the area. It is a Rally's last time I drove by.
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1111+West+Bancroft,+Toledo,+OH

Didn't know I was so close to "Tiki history"

Kenny

As promised, now that I am home, AND got a new scanner, here is some additional material:

To me, the study of Polynesian pop and Oceanic Art is about going back to the ORIGINS of all art. So, naturally, I am obsessed with the sources that midcentury designers used to create their Poly-pop objects. There were not that many South Sea Art books out in the 50s and early 60s (And NO books with purely Polynesian art, probably one reason why so many MELANESIAN carvings were used in Tiki restaurant decor).
One, "Arts of the South Seas", I am mentioning and showing on page 246/247 of the BOT, another (German) photo book simply entitled "Oceanic Art", published in the States in 1954 by Pantheon Books New York was THE blue print for many pieces carved by Oceanic Arts in Whittier, to grace the walls of such Tiki temples as the Kahiki and the Mai Kai.

I first recognized the menu cover carving on the Aku Aku menu as a PNG Tami spirit mask, such as this:

..and finally a search in my library yielded the definitive source, a German edition of a Hungarian Oceanic Art book:

Now this book came out in Europe in 1960, so the Aku Aku either used that, or the English edition, from a year later (now quite expensive!):
http://www.alibris.com/search/detail.cfm?chunk=25&mtype=&qtopic=Oceanic%20Art&qauth
=Tibor%20Bodrogi&qyear=1960&S=R&bid=8128870685&pbest=&pqtynew=&page=1&matches=1&qsort=r

Not only did they use the photos of the ceremonial ax and the shield on the menu's cover...

...but they also liberally helped themselves to all the line drawings and put them on the in- and outside of the menu,
here just a few of the many examples:

I hope you had as much fun matching images as I did, Happy New Year to all TCers!

PS: I just split up the URL for the Alibris book link, because I hate when the page gets all out of whack because of a lengthy URL, and I don't know how to scrunch them. Just copy and paste it together, if desired.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-01-02 11:50 ]

Aku Aku Toledo, Ohio (restaurant)

Town House Motel/Aku-Aku opened December 1960.
Closed as the Town House Motel 1972
Went into receivership 1972.
Reopened as The University Inn in Sept. 1973
Used as a trucker's hotel until 1984.
Vacant from 1984 until demolition in 1989.
Rally's Fast Food now occupies site.

I never had the opportunity to go to the Aku Aku but I must have drove past the building a million times long after it closed and never fully appreciated it's impact on local history until long after it was demolished. I knew several people who went there in it's heyday. I remember seeing menus and other memorabilia from the Aku Aku that some friends of mine had on their basement wall. They were gone by 2002 when the house was being sold. Didn't know what happened to them. I remember working in the neighborhood in the late 1980's not long before it was demolished in 1989. An entire window of one of the hotel rooms was missing exposing the worn interior of the room. My one regret is that I took no photographs of the place. It was a nice building typical of the era. There is no doubt that it would still be around today if only it had been built in a better neighborhood. Why that area was chosen is a mystery. The area was already in decline and the mass exodus to suburbia in the following decades further sealed the fate of the complex. Today a Rally's occupies the area where the entrance to the hotel and restaurant once stood. Update 8-30-2012...the rest of the property is now being developed for a Family Dollar Store. Visiting the site I found that a chuck of the old hotel swimming pool had been unearthed with it's blue paint largely intact. I took a piece of it with me. Also found were a couple of pieces of the brick that once adorned the facade of the building where the hotel lobby and Aku Aku stood. Most of the debris from the demolition was scraped away. To illustrate how bad the neighborhood has become...while sitting in my truck in the Rally's parking lot two men were going from car to car looking for money.

Article announcing construction of motel. May 1960.

Artist conception of new motel. May 1960. The driveway entrance as shown in the drawing is pretty close to the driveway entrance of Rally's today.

Grand opening December 13, 1960. Jack E. Leonard would make another appearance in 1969. See below. Interestingly the last ad as shown below was listed in the blade almost 10 years from the day that the Aku Aku had first opened.

1961 Henny Youngman.

1961 Carmen McRae.

1961 Phyllis Diller.

July 4, 1962 ad.

1963 Glen Covington

1963. Notice in the small print Tony Celeste and his orchestra. In the mid to late '60's Tony Celeste had his own club in North Toledo

![](https://tikicentral.com/uploads/6340/45c87e51.jpg[/img Turkish revue 1963.

[img]https://tikicentral.com/uploads/6340/4703f848.jpg)

The Playboys. 1965. Notice in this ad that they advertise the opening of 31 penthouse suites. A third story was added 1964/1965. It was built on "stilts" in that it did not rely on the first and second floor for support.

Artist rendering of new addition. 1964. This is a view from the southeast corner of the rear of the property.

View of southeast corner as it appears today. Lot's of overgrowth from trees and weeds since it was demolished in 1989. Aside from a brand new school built behind the property the rest of the neighborhood has gone to pot.

Article detailing addition of third floor.

Erskin Hawkins 1965.

Earl Bostic September 13, 1965. Earl Bostic died after suffering a heart attack while performing in Rochester, NY on October 24, 1965 just over a month after his Toledo engagement.

Glen Miller Orchestra 1966. According to the article below, the hotel clerk was robbed of $60.00 during this show.

Si Zentner 1966

The Four Step Brothers 1966. You can see them perform in the Jerry Lewis movie "The Patsy".

The Count Basie Orchestra October 10, 1966. Their first of four appearances.

I was unable to do a complete research of late 1966 thru early 1967 because there was a strike on the Blade newspaper and consequently no ads were to be found for this time period. I have no idea who may have appeared here during the period of the strike.

Woody Herman 1967

Ad announcing Harry James band. 1967

Harry James 1967

Morey King 1967

Stan Kenton 1967

Bernie Allen 1967. Bernie Allen appeared with a partner shortly after the Aku Aku opened in 1960 under the name Allen and Rossi. Bernie Allen appeared again in 1968.

Count Basie's second appearance 1967.

Frank Fontaine 1968.

Count Basie's third appearance 1968. Notice the announcement of Harry James' band in their second appearance.

1968. It appears that Frank Jr. and NOT his father played the Aku-Aku after all. In fact Frank Jr. made two additional appearances in 1969! (see below)

Johnny Ginger 1969

Buddy Rich 1969

Coming attractions 1969

Duke Ellington 1969

Frank Sinatra Jr. 1969

Jack E. Leonard 1969. A guy who worked there as a houseboy said that he carried Mr. Leonard's luggage to his room on the third floor...it took him three trips and Mr. Leonard gave him a quarter tip. He said he gave it back to him.

Pee Wee Hunt 1970

Sonny King 1970. Evidently Sonny King was a bigger name than I figured. He was quite a draw in Las Vegas. Check out his video on YouTube.

1969 was quite a year for entertainers. Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Duke Ellington each made two appearances in 1969. Many other well known artist also appeared in 1969.

Researching the balance of 1970 turns up very little. The biggest name to appear at the Aku Aku in 1970 was a fourth and final appearance by the Count Basie Band on September 11,12, 1970. Glen Covington made one last appearance late 1970 also.

The last ad, December 1970. According to the articles below the Aku Aku was still opened but no longer featured big named entertainers. This remained in effect until the complex closed in early 1973. This ad appeared almost 10 years to the day that the first ad appeared announcing it's grand opening.

A newspaper article discussing foreclosure of property 1972.

1973 New management part 1

1973 New management part 2

September 1989 Farewell Aku Aku part 1

Farewell part 2

Farewell part 3

Farewell part 4

Next stop a drive-in restaurant...The area to the right was where the hotel lobby entrance stood. Further right was the Aku Aku entrance.

Another view of the entrance site.

Looking norhteast along Bancroft towards the old Aku-Aku site.

Looking from the southwest corner of the Town House Motel property towards the norhteast corner where the Aku-Aku stood. The block wall is all that remains of the original building construction. Notice all the growth of trees and such over the years of neglect...almost 20 years since it was demolished. Compare this with the article above showing a drawing of the rear of the complex in 1965.

1960-1964 entertainers.

1969 Showcase cover.

Matchbook from the Town House Motel

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2008-06-17 04:45 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2008-07-15 04:57 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2011-03-25 04:46 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-08-21 14:01 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-08-30 05:22 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-11-08 04:36 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-11-08 04:41 ]

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2013-01-08 13:57 ]

Very cool research, thank you. Now that we know the place was originally supposed to be called the Stardust, the Vegas connection is certain: Stardust--Aku Aku!

And I love the surrounding entertainment ads just as much as the Aku Aku ones themselves, WHERE is my time machine!

G
gonzo posted on Thu, Feb 8, 2007 10:25 AM

During my high school years (Devillbis Class of 80) I lived about 3 miles from this place. In 1976 the entire area was pretty scary. Lots of burned out houses and a very busy Church's fried chicken stand. I havent been back in a long time (humming welcome back kotter to myself).

My dad recalls across the block from the Aku the Swayne feild (now Krogers) where the Mudhens played and also the famous Jack Dempsey fight tool place. If they were still alive I would call and ask if they ever went down to the Aku.

Its hard to recall the glory days of a city such as Toledo. Toledo and Detroit were once the equivalent of silicon valley. Sadly the Old West End architecture is crumbling away. Devilllbis high is closed. After 4 generations in Toledo I left as well.

The entire midsection of this country is rotting away. When its all finally burned down and hauled away to be recycled for freeway expansion will the country realise whats been lost.

Does the railroad bridge still have "The Sign of Vibration" graffiti on it . I remember the security guard at Devillbiss who used to chase us kids around for smoking weed had something to do with the University Inn. He looked like Cannon from the TV show and so thats what we called him.

Jeez! Who did NOT perform at the Aku Aku, is the question! Those Vegas mob ties sure brought in the talent! Or was there any indication Toledo was going to be the new entertainment capital of middle America?

The Aku Aku was everything a Tiki restaurant should be. I had many dinners there, enjoyed the entertainment, and greeted the New Year several times. The place definitely had an aura as did the owner, Slick Shapiro. After discovering this site, I contacted several acquaintances and was digging around for information about Slick. Even though everyone knew him, they didn't know much more than what the obit. covered. I did find out that he was supplying towels to the hotels while in Las Vegas. I'm sure he was involved in more. Toledo was a hot bed for mob activity, and it was kind of a safe haven.

Everyone that was anyone went to the Aku Aku. There were lawyers, union guys, working girls, and lots of gamblers.

It was vacant several years before they tore it down. I always hoped that someone else would try to reopen it--but that didn't happen. When they bulldozed it, I went that evening, crossed the safety line and picked up about 5 bricks. I have them today. I have a couple of Tiki drink mugs, but I can't swear that they came fromt the Aku Aku. I've had them for a long time, and they could have come from somewhere else..but I doubt it. Thanks for the trip back in time, and if I was a little interested in Tikis, I am now a fan. If I turn up anything else, I will share it. I love your site.

Cool! I wonder if there is a Luau 400-style mug that says Aku Aku on it...

Regarding the Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant I found out fairly recently that one of my business contacts is the friend of one of Irv Shapiro's sons. I asked her if she would ask him if he had any photographs of the place that I could use to post on this web site. She did ask him and he told her that he has nothing in his possession and that he had no memories about the Aku Aku as he was a child when his father ran the place.
So...what seemed like a good lead kind of fizzled out. In the mean time I'll keep searching for photographs.

That is too bad, that place and its owner are such classic examples of Tiki Lounge culture.

Update on the Aku Aku in Toledo. I was able to contact the son of Sonny King who appeared at the Aku Aku in 1970. He shared some delightful stories about his father and his association with Jimmy Durante and the "Rat Pack". It would have been a wonderful experience to have seen this man perform.
Further research reveals that the style of architecture of the Aku Aku was called "googie" which was popular throughout the 1950's and early 1960's. Still no photographs to share as of yet.

Found a listing for the Town House Motel from a 1967 Quality Courts Hotel listings. Pretty cool! Top price for a room was ONLY $22.00! Notice too that they do mention banquet rooms, Restaurant, cocktail lounge, night club and entertainment nightly. Call now to make a reservation...I wish! Also interesting is the map shows I-75 and I-475 as a work in progress. Actually the interstate was not completed until around 1972-1973. Still no pictures of the Town House Motel as of yet. I've checked Flickr and turned up nothing for Toledo except a postcard of the Commodore Perry Motor Inn from the late 1960's.

I got to talk with a friend recently who had memories of going to the Aku Aku. She wanted to specifically see Earl Bostic perform there in 1965. Earl Bostic had come into the restaurant that she and her husband owned and mentioned to her husband that he did not see any of his records in their juke box. He later told his wife of the meeting and was upset that he did not call her out to meet him. When he was back in Toledo for the 1965 appearance her husband was in the hospital so they couldn't go. He promised to take her the next time he came to Toledo. They never did get to see him perform...Earl Bostic died about a month later while performing at the Midtown Plaza in Rochester, NY. Incidently my friend has no memorabilia from the Aku. Struck out again!
Earl Bostic's 1965 appearance at the Aku Aku.

Here is a copy of a photo from Showcase magazine 1969 showing Irv Shapiro (standing) next to a table full of guest enjoying themselves at The Aku Aku. Irv Shapiro was the manager/owner of the Aku Aku from it's opening in 1960 until early 1971.
Unfortunately you cannot see any details of the interior decor but at least this is a good step in the right direction.

This is an article showing the final phase of the Town House Motel property as a trucker's motel. The Aku Aku had been reduced to an ordinary restaurant.

M

I have been searching for years for memorabilia from the Aku Aku to no avail. Although I haven't ever found any merchandise, I have heard some neat stories, but nothing really new compared to what is posted here. To say that Slick had some mob ties would be a severe understatement. From the rumors I have heard, every kind of back-alley crime you wanted to get involved in was happening there- prostitution, running numbers, anything you could think of. It was a major front between Detroit and Cleveland, conveniently located within 10 minutes of a major port.
I have been trying to find out how Slick was associated with the Stardust in Vegas. He was born and bred in Toledo, so I would love to see the connection. I am assuming some sort of mob tie?!
Rumor is that he was also actually pretty well acquainted with the Sinatra family.

M

Here's a 1963 ad I found :down:

Here are some photos I was able to take of a menu that dates to around 1963.

Graciously provided by James Steeber who's father managed the hotel after Irv Shapiro left.

Layout of the Aku Aku.

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2011-08-01 04:35 ]

The following are reprints from a brochure advertising the Town House Motel and the Aku Aku Polynesian Room. The brochure must have come from around 1965 as it shows the third floor addition and advertises 132 room capacity. A big thank you goes out to James Steeber who provided this from his collection. His father managed the hotel after Irv Shapiro left.

Thank you bdzmusicprod for your continued, devoted research into this fascinating place. While it is certainly good to see interiors, it's hard to tell anything about the decor in that size of photos. The little I can make out, it doesn't look too overwhelming. The ceiling looks barren, and I can't see anything else reminiscent of the style. The entrance shows no signs of Tiki either. Almost like the pics are from another place. Maybe they renovated and slicked it up by '65?

The hotel complex was built in the early 1960's and reflected the architecture of the day which has come to be known as "googie" architecture a style which used a lot of glass, angled roof lines and other modernistic styles. The interior of the club which is not reflected well in these magazine quality black and white photos shows a simpler design without the typical tiki touches. For those that went to the place the descriptions given of it's interior are nothing less than spectacular. It was described as a jewel of a place. It had tiki touches but they were more reserved which also served to prevent fire hazards. It's too bad that no color photos exist (that we know of). Perhaps something will turn up. For now we have a glimpse of what the interior looked like. One individual said that there was a lot of red on the walls and that the tropical diorama was very colorful.

A few matchbooks styles from the Aku Aku as seen on ebay.

Clearly borrowed from the Luau 400 design in New York.

Or was that vice-versa?

DC

8-30-2012 update. The rest of the property is being developed where the Town House Motel once stood 23 years ago. A Dollar General Store is being built on the site next to Rally's. I found a chunk of the swimming pool wall dug up from the excavation...the blue paint still intact. I also found pieces of the decorative brick that adorned the outside walls of the Aku Aku and hotel lobby. Little else to be found...most of the debris was scraped away during demolition.

Another picture of the original concept drawing from 1960.

Article accompanying picture.

Toni Carrol. Also announcing Jack E. Leonard. I received a note from a guy who worked there in the 1960's and carried Jack E. Leonard's luggage to the third floor...it took three trips and Mr. Leonard tipped him a quarter. The guy said he gave it back to him.

[ Edited by: bdzmusicprod 2012-10-26 16:30 ]

This comment was made by a guy who worked as a houseboy at the Aku Aku Town House Motel.
September 2, 2012, 5:24 PM
I worked at the motel from 1965-1968. I was a House Boy. I was thirteen when I started. My Mom also worked there as the Assistant House Keeper.
And I remember Ed Johnson with his gruff voice and Dock Worker style hat. He was the maintenance man and he taught me a lot.
If I remember right the owners name was Richard Schear.
I remember Irv Shapiro. It was wise to stay on his good side. And that's all that I will say about that.
I remember them bringing in the gambling equipment once a year.
I can still remember Rusty Warren running around the 3rd floor nude. She was there doing her Knockers Up gig.
I also remember Frank Sinatra Jr. he looked down on everybody.
I had to take Jack E. Leonard'S luggage up to the 3rd floor while he was appearing at the Aku Aku Room. It took me three trips. He gave me a quarter tip. (I gave it back)
I got to meet Johnny Weissmuller. He was at the Toledo Zoo as Jungle Jim. He was very nice to me.
I have a Aku Aku room coin that they use to hand out.

Here is a postcard in color of the Town House Motel and the interior of the Aku Aku.

Wow, finally....that looks like the same angle than the B&W photo in the brochure...and just like with the brochure pic, on cannot tell anything because it is so small. Is there anyway to zoom into that photo and blow it up?

Bigbro,

Still not much to see in the way of Tiki or Poly Pop attributes>

DC

[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2012-10-29 17:25 ]

Thanks. Looks like a cool Calypso band though. That must be the stage where all those (semi-)celebrities performed.

S

All those smokers! Look at everyone with their elbow on the table and smokes in the air. If we went back in time, we'd be freaked out by the smoke first of all...

Yea...not much in the way of Tiki decor to be sure...the club/restaurant had more of a suburban feel to it according to the son of it's second manager Henry Steeber. The architecture was more of a mid century modern with the multi angled roof line in front giving it the look and feel of a googie coffee shop minus the over sized glass windows. If this is taken into context it WAS a beautiful place inside. The real aura of the place was created by the people who ran it and the entertainers that appeared there. I would hate to see the build up of nicotene stains from the smoke residue in the place...they probably had no smoke removers either. That being said this place still has a unique place in history.

On 2012-10-30 07:20, Swanky wrote:
All those smokers! Look at everyone with their elbow on the table and smokes in the air. If we went back in time, we'd be freaked out by the smoke first of all...

I have been a non-smoker all my life, but I grew up in Europe, where if you wanted to go to clubs, there either was smoke thick enough to cut, or you just didn't go out. Never bothered me, in fact I miss it, to me it was part of the atmosphere and social ritual of night-clubbing. All that second hand smoke I breathed, and my health is still fine. The anti-smoking campaign of the 90s can only be compared to the alcohol prohibition of the 20s in my mind, it was (and is) a little too obsessive. I mean it's all for good reasons, but when something takes on such a totalitarian form, it becomes suspect to me.

I indeed appears that the Aku Aku is a great example of mid-century modern restaurants that were NOT expressively Polynesian in decor, but lived their exotic-ness through their cocktails. This sub-genre of "Tiki Modern" still deserves further exploration. Another good example of purely modernist decor but serving Tiki cocktails was The Fireside:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=34423&forum=2&start=0

It all is part of the "when it was modern to be primitive" credo that I explored in Tiki Modern.

I am a semi-professional musician and did a gig nearly 30 years ago at a banquet for alcoholics anonymous. There was so much smoke in the hall that the smoke eating machines could not handle it and the smokers were complaining! My clothes smelled so bad I almost had to burn them. Regarding mid-century architecture there are a lot of books out there on the subject as well as web sites that have many photos of past and still existing sites. Toledo lost one such place the last few years...the former Crown Room which was part of Imperial Lanes was a fine example of mid-century architecture. It's a shame that the night club portion of the Town House Motel could not have been spared and restored to it's original decor but as one individual put it...after Irv Shapiro left the place it eventually became just another dining room. After the race riots hit the inner cities in the late 1960's the location of the Aku Aku made it a less than desirable place to spend an evening and that had a major impact on the future of the hotel and nite club. A lot of Toledo is blighted...just look at the area around what used to be the Southwyck Mall, the Northtown Mall, the Woodville Mall, downtown itself...even with the new stadium and hockey arena there is a lot of empty building space not to mention the empty lots.

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