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Zombie Village, Oakland, CA (restaurant)

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Name:Zombie Village
Street:5485 San Pablo at 65th Street

Part of Skipper Kent's restaurants.

A menu mailer:

In an effort to get more information online about the many long gone tiki locations, I have started this thread. I would like to see a thread on every location here. Please add the images of the mugs and menus you have and the information you have about this place.

Isn't that what Humu's Critiki is set up for?


On 2006-12-26 14:10, ZuluMagoo wrote:
Isn't that what Humu's Critiki is set up for?

Not really. There is no way to post any information there. Beyond an address and uploaded images, nothing can be added. And any places not in critiki can't be added by users either. It would be nice to have some history and a place for those who have memories of a location to add their knowledge. A sort of tiki-wiki. Here on Tiki Central, everyone can add anything they know or ask questions. Critiki has a link to track down that information here if you go there first. The two are linked, but only here can there be conversation, and a group input on a subject.

If that happens here and then gets incorporated into Critiki, that would be good. But, the information has to come fom somewhere.


don't forget to look at Puamana's Swag at Arkiva Tropika. it's her personal collection of menus and such ~ not all of it has been uploaded yet, but i've noticed when TC talks about a place, magically photos appear!

a slightly different version of the menu:

  • stolen from mike's tikiroom site -

this is what it says:
Escape to Romance
Let us escape...for an hour or so...
Just an hour or so, to a place that I know
Away from the rush of this clamorous shrill age
To the tropical charms of unique Zombie Village.
A door leads us through to mysterious vistas where lures for our senses contrive to assist us in throwing off ... such flavors and savors so skillfully blended that you sigh with regret as each viand is ended.
There are drinks that are mixed by the son of a wizard to moisten your whistle and tickle your gizzard... luscious concoctions as mild as a zephyr, concealing a jolt like the kick of a heifer; drinks that are smooth as the touch of white satin, persuasive and suave as the love of a Latin.
The lights and the shadows conceal the deft schemings to set your thoughts drifting and get your heart dreaming... of tropical moons and of swift flying fishes, of little grass houses on Islands of Wishes.

-Don Blanding

the coveted mug -- image stolen from kono -- thanks! :)

typical 3 faced bucket mug

the shakers

different version of matchbook


I love that mug! That's one of those that fly under the radar of the average antique maller. If it does not say "Zombie Village" on it, you'd have a tough time finding it on Ebay too. A really unique graphic.

The menu I posted is just the size of a large postcard and was meant to be mailed. Many places did this in the day. Daddy Donn Beach had his drinks made into postcards, along with the menus and regular picture cards. Did he start this menu mailing as well? That would be hard to prove.

Maybe instead of saying "image stolen from XXXX" we should make it a habit of linking to the site. "Image coutesy of http://www.thissite.com" That's giving credit more properly.

Yes, that's a beautiful mug, and from what little info I can gather, it's right up there with the Ren Clark Severed Head and the Trader Vic's tiki stemware in terms of what collectors are willing to pay for it.

It would be interesting to find out more about Frank Kent, the proprietor of Zombie Village and Skipper Kent's. The mini menu bio on Page 153 of the BOT gives us a little info, and we know that he passed away, since a while back objects from his estate (among them a one of a kind Ku bowl!) were sold off by an S.F. auction house.

But when did Zombie Village open, and when did it close? And was it really a copy cat operation of the original Trader Vic's in Oakland, as its address being caddy-corner from "Hinky Dink's" suggests?

AND will we ever see a full shot of the glorious "Cocktails of the Islands Map" mural that apparently graced the wall of the bar at Skipper Kent's (BOT p. 161)!?
That unique variation on the Covarrubias map was only ever used in the Mauna Loa Mexico cocktail menu: Every island group was identified by their own cocktail, instead of a carving.

How many tiki/tropical bars used to be on San Pablo???

Someone told me lots, I think.

thejab posted on Tue, Jan 2, 2007 1:49 PM

On 2006-12-28 18:18, RevBambooBen wrote:
How many tiki/tropical bars used to be on San Pablo???

Sven: One of the older bartenders at Trader Vic's Emeryville (who used to only work one night a week) told me that the Zombie Hut was gutted by a fire some time in the 1960s but I don't know the exact year. I think I need to get over to the Oakland library and do some research.

There's a film noir from 1950 called "Where Danger Lives" that shows a South Seas bar on a street in Oakland that may very well be on San Pablo Ave. More info in the first post here:

Here's a fascinating article about San Pablo Avenue's thriving music and burlesque scenes in the 30s through the 50s:

In addition to the Hollywood Club/Hambone Kelly's, there was the It Club, Hotsy Totsy Bar, Kona Club, and Six Belles and the Wagon Wheel - perhaps the wildest of them all. A few miles east along San Pablo Avenue was the home of Don Churchill's western band that vied with the popular Dude Martin.  

[Ed.: Other clubs along San Pablo Avenue shown in a late 1940s phone book include Alvarado Garden, Backstage, Club Pablo, Club Thunderbird, Jungle Inn, Kountry Inn, Todds Club, and Miami Club.]

pdrake posted on Tue, Jan 2, 2007 2:06 PM

i have the mailer menu in beautiful shape. i can't believe how bright those inks are. i also have this mug. it pops up on ebay every now and then.

[ Edited by: pdrake 2007-01-02 14:07 ]

Up till very recently, both sites of ZV and TV's were empty lots. Now there's a hideous condo complex on the site of ZV. TV's is still an empty lot with two Palm Trees out front - photo posted below.

One question that has plagued me for years is, why would Skipper Kent choose to create/ open a Tiki bar DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from Trader Vics???

Ole Bergeron sure had it tough!! First his bartender opens Tiki Bob's within walking distance from TV's SF, then Kent opens Zombie Village - a super duper Tiki bar experience complete with a lagoon and boat rides around the property - across the street from TV's Oakland!!

Was this a result of some sort of fued?
Mmm, Zombie Village was destroyed by fire, hey??

Any Bergeron/ Tiki expert out there with an explanation??

The most famous intersection in Oakland Tiki history

TV's Oakland as it stands today

[ Edited by: Conga Mike 2007-01-06 13:03 ]

If those Palm trees could talk...they can be seen on two different renderings of the place, the one in the BOT (which is cut off on the right and shows only one), and an older line drawing on a mini menu (I once had but lost). If someone has that, can they please post a scan of it? The original rendering for that, which I always coveted, hangs framed in the Emeryville Vic's.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-01-07 06:25 ]

Whenever there is a mug that Dan can't seem to find he asks me to make one for him. I took a photo of the Zombie mug and a photo of the card and made a 3D version of the mug for him. Wendy

Swanky posted on Tue, Jan 9, 2007 6:11 AM

Wendy, that is even better than the real thing! Creepy to the max!

Thank you Swanky, Wendy


AAHHH Wendy, another work of ART....Put me on "THE" list :) FREDDIE


[ Edited by: bifcozz 2007-02-09 21:29 ]


Incredible. Do you have a better image of that concept sketch? I want to read all the writing on there.

Whoa! Whered'ya..!? Man, it is so great to see other urban archeologists join in and share rare relics of lost Tiki temples unearthed by them! Mahalo!


[ Edited by: bifcozz 2007-02-09 21:30 ]


Mahalo! What a treasure trove!

FANTASTIC stuff!!! I'm thrilled a tikiphile has this stuff and it didn't all end up in a garbage can 64 years ago. With the ads dated from 1942, this place must qualify as Pre-Tiki on BigBro's chronology scale?

Biff, really impressive! But will you tease us forever, or will we ever hear how you came upon these documents? Was it the Frank Kent estate auction a couple of years ago, or did you tap into the Hafer family somehow?

Kono posted on Sat, Jan 20, 2007 3:28 PM

Here's a drink menu mailer:

Does anyone know if there was any significant difference between the Skipper Kent's restaurant in San Francisco and the Zombie Village in Oakland? I'm guessing that Skipper Kent's came first and had the tusked genie motif before Zombie Village.

This small drink menu has the same drink descriptions as the ZV mailer above:


I was wondering if all of the zombie mugs say Zombie Village on the bottom or if there were some that said Skipper Kent's.

All of this info is amazing. Thanks to all for sharing. You really gotta have some balls to name your business "Zombie Village". I would have gladly become the walking dead if it still existed.

On 2007-01-19 20:16, ZuluMagoo wrote:
FANTASTIC stuff!!! I'm thrilled a tikiphile has this stuff and it didn't all end up in a garbage can 64 years ago. With the ads dated from 1942, this place must qualify as Pre-Tiki on BigBro's chronology scale?

Ditto! AND these pieces aptly prove my "Evolution of Polynesian Pop" theory: In all these photos and graphics there is not a Tiki in sight.
The fact that these places qualify as Pre-Tiki does not make these artifacts any less interesting, of course, they are rarer since they are older. They MUST be from a relative of the owners!...?

Got this matchbook from the Zombie Village with nice rendering of the building.

Sure wish I could have seen Bifcozz's stuff from this place


Did I say something!? Biff is back, Yeeeeh! :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-03-04 22:31 ]


here is the grand opening invitation.

here is the chart of the zombie village.

here is the mailer menus from the zombie village;


sugar cube

drink cards


some adds;



picture of gift shop

picture of cook

we will adding the concept drawings and newspaper clippings later

Thanks for reposting everything bifcozz. I'm looking forward to seeing everything else you've got. I would also love to hear that background on this stuff. This is a hell of a collection you've got!

Absolutely phenomenal, I'm overwhelmed, Thanks for posting all these great artifacts.

Amazing! Frank Kent must have kept everything! Was it all in a scrap book? The completeness of this paper estate makes it like time travel. How great that it all fell in appreciative hands -and is shared with an equally appreciative audience! Ma-ha-LO!

On 2009-05-07 10:00, bigbrotiki wrote:
Did I say something!? Biff is back, Yeeeeh! :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-03-04 22:31 ]

Awesome! Finally actual pictures! Thanks for posting these bifcozz - I've been watching for these!!

On 2010-03-04 19:09, bifcozz wrote:
we will adding the concept drawings and newspaper clippings later


Amazing stuff you posted, would love to see the concept drawings and clippings.

Here is another matchbook rendering I tried for on ebay recently.

Hope to see more,


Found this cool quote from galwest.com (who sold many pieces from Kent's estate):

Skipper described the Zombie Village in a letter written in 1953:

...through massive driftwood doors, with huge Easter Island idols on either side, with a pause to inspect the unusual gifts from all corners of the earth which are for sale at the curio corner, then the beauty of the tropical dining room unfolds before you. Palm trees, Philodendrons, Marantas, Calatheas, and everywhere colorful Anthuriums and overhead the exotic orchid.

...In the Malayan, African, and Garden Rooms, the dining tables are made of selected Koa and Monkey Pod woods. Spears, shields, and Kris, from Africa to Malaya and the South Seas, all collected by the skipper on his many voyages, explorations, and travels, adorn the walls.....

...also from galwest.com

A review From the October 26, 1953 Dining Out section of Fortnight Magazine describes the restaurant as follows:

"Skipper Kent, wearing a white duck suit, greets you, and contrives to overlook the unsuitability of your attire in an environment that recalls the Raffles in Singapore. He is a nimble, cordial man, as much at home on a yacht as in a restaurant, who has traveled all over the world in search of good food and drink." His grog bar is decorated with Japanese fishing floats, carved wooden heads, and native spears and shields. Drinks with such exciting titles as Planter's Punch, South Sea Cooler, and Pagan Love come to your table with miniature Japanese Parasol stuck in the glass..."

-Trad'r Bill

I did some research last night, and was able to fill in some of the holes wrt Zombie Village. I know I usually post pictures, but this post is thick with text. Disclaimer: some of this info was already covered by bifcozz:

May 13, 1942 - Zombie Village opens. Frank "Skipper" Kent and Norman (or Norbett) "Hafe" Hafer are owners.

Question: Who was Hafe Hafer?
Answer: He was an insider in the food world... a sales manager for large food firms, a position which sent him traveling across the country. "I know my groceries" said Haefer.

Just five years after it's opening, Hafe Hafer sells his shares in Zombie Village in 1947. He dies tragically in a boating accident in 1950:
10/20/50 (article appears on front page)

Surprising to me, Zombie Village initially opened serving only American Food such as: "New Your cut, jumbo squab, pan fried chicken and chef's special, baked individual lamb pie."

...but less than a month after opening, Skip and Hafe quickly adopt the more exotic Chinese cuisine, prepared in a "seperate kitchen" (huh?)

Zombie Village was one of many poly-pop powerhouses in the East Bay Area at the time. Here's a clipping showing three of them on one page: Zombie Village, Club Kona, and Jade Hula Shack (not to mention those not pictured, such as Trader Vic's across the street):

As a side note, the first mention of Skipper Kent's in San Francisco that I can find is in this advertisement in 1950 (but that's another thread):

At some time around 1959, the Kents pack up and move to Kona, chasing their dream of opening a resort and restaurant in the islands (which apparently never came to fruition). Here's a clipping which mentions the sale of their house in Walnut Creek (Kentwood), and announces the auctioning of their remaining property. Apparently their home was in the way of progress, which came in the form of I-680, and was torn down. Also interesting that the Kents left behind/sold so many of thier treasures such as: "An antique Chest dating back to 1840 which was a gift to Empress Carlotta from Emperor Maxmillian."

It seems that the Kents managed Zombie Village remotely from Kona for the next five years. In April of 1964 Frank Kent finally retires and hands over control of Zombie Village to Maitre D' Jimmy Gee, "famous" hostess Eileen Tong Gee and chef Bill Jeong (and four other long-time employees). What a guy - he retires and turns the place into a co-op to reward his long-time employees with part-ownership of the business.

Unfortunately, just three years later, the historic Zombie Village caught fire and was completely destroyed.

It looks like they had an excellent neon sign out front - sniff...

I expect we'll start hearing more info about the Kents... Kendra Barron, family friend of the Kents, just recently released White Cloud Chronicles, a book about the Kent's epic adventure sailing from Chicago to San Francisco - buy it here: it's really inexpensive.

Thanks Sabu for tipping me off on the vast archives of the Oakland Tribune (all these were from that publication).

-Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2011-06-05 17:04 ]

...and here are some renderings by Lucille Kent from the opening day ad:

-Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2011-06-06 04:51 ]



I went to the Oakland Main Library today, what a great time! I was able to access their vast microfiche collection:

I found this clearer picture of the Zombie Village sign (the night of their fire):

...and here's a cool shot of a Moai next to another sign:

and here's a little mention in this "Gourmet Guide":

Like I said, I had a great time at the library. The Oakland History room attendant was very helpful... she showed me postcards, menus, photographs, articles... endless great stuff. I definitely recommend going to this one, or any library to investigate your local tiki.

I did find some reference material that I've seen before: :P

-Trad'r Bill

Great research, Bill. That fire sounds a bit suspicious to me, starting in the early morning hours...wonder what the investigation found out.

Re the last pic: In the early years after being published, some Trader Vics actually sold the BOT, and it was also given to their managers, to read up on the history of Vic.

Trad'r Bill,

Excellent research, thanks for all of your efforts on this thread.

I found some information on The Castaway restaurant that was listed in the Gourmet Guide you posted and started a new thread under Locating Tiki.


(Can somebody tell me how to rename the links so they are not so big?)


Saw this old drink table topper on ebay for the Drambuie Flambe.

And an old ad.


WOW, awesome 3 pages...

I was checking out this thread and ran into my post showing a Zombie mug I'd made in clay and painted in enamel. I thought I would update my work with these photos showing the Zombie Torch mug with a flame and a mug without a flame version. Dan wanted this one with the zombie in flesh colors. Cheers, Wendy

One of the all time great revival designs, Wendy. I am forever indebted to Otto for lending me his Zombie Village menu cover for publication, because its visual power (though not really "Tiki") immediately captivated the audience when opening the first pages of the Book of Tiki. I am also very grateful for Joe Banks for letting me have this pretty ceramic vessel. :)

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