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Kona Tiki Polynesian Restaurant NY. help

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I have had these items for a while now. I searched the TC threads and found nothing. The web and nothing. Tiki Roadtrip, nothing. Even Ebay and nothing. Can anyone help out with any info? Thanks.

I'm not sure how much help this will be, but Kona Tiki closed sometimes in the mid to late eighties, and I belive the building now houses a Sheraton Hotel.

I seem to remember that there were some teeny traces of polynesian decor in the current restaurant (I worked in 810 Seventh Ave, the hotel is 811), but it's definately no longer Tiki. The current Americana Hotel is on 33rd.

Oh, you may be able to find more about the history if you get in touch with bar swizzle stick collectors.

Gina (Martiki-bird)


Thanks for the info Martiki. I love how this stuff gets around. I found the sticks in a little town here in Michigan, a long way from their home.


On 2007-04-04 15:46, Martiki-bird wrote:
I'm not sure how much help this will be, but Kona Tiki closed sometimes in the mid to late eighties, and I belive the building now houses a Sheraton Hotel.

Martiki-bird: You are correct. The Americana is now the Sheraton which is where Kona Tiki was.

Off topic a little here but I have lived in NYC for 20 years and whenever I hear about a Tiki Bar or Polynesian Restaurant that "closed in the mid to late 1980s" I want to kick myself because I was probably here when they were ending their runs and I could have possibly visited them. I know this may be the case for Kona Tiki, and also Hawaii Kai which at that time wasn't far from the Americana. I know this is definitely the case for the Trader Vic's that used to be in the basement of the Plaza Hotel. I remember going there with and old girlfriend on her recommendation around 1990. When we arrived there was a sign on the door that said that they were closed indefinitely. I wanted to go back but they never opened again!!

This place also opened very late in the game, like late 70s, O.A. has some pictures. It is significant how many Polynesian places that came in at the tail end of the trend only lasted a few years. Tiki was definitely over and done with for most Americans by the 80s.

Uncle Trav,

I have a matchbox from the Kona Tiki with the same graphics as the ashtray.

I have also seen this one circa the I Love New York era.

I recently found a magazine ad from the Kona Tiki that provides a snap shot of the interior. You can see a glimpse of an OA Tiki in the back left of the photo.

The ad also contains an interesting clue to the history of the Kona Tiki - it was owned by Joe Kipness. Joe who you might ask. Well Joe Kipness was a partner with Monte Proser who opened the Lanai restaurant and then started the famous Hawaii Kai in New York.

Kipness also owned the popular Joes Pier 52 Restaurant that was located across the street from the Kona Tiki restaurant as show in this ad. They were often advertised together.

Also looks like he may have been in business with his brother Ted, and the band was the Kona Tiki Islanders.

Another ad, this one with the Fabulous Fingers of Irving Fields.

This article posted by Senioraqua gives some info on Kipness and a bit of a timeline.

The Big Kahuna of the Hawaii Kai was a guy named Joe Kipness, a pudgy-faced fellow who was about as far from Polynesian as one could get.Born in Russia in 1911, his family came to the United States when Joe was a little boy. He held a number of jobs from amateur boxer to garment manufacturer and Broadway producer before going into the restaurant biz in 1961. His first place, the Lanai Restaurant, folded after several months. The experience, though, served him well a few months later when he opened the Hawaii Kai.

In 1972, Kipness said aloha to the Hawaii Kai, selling it to a pair of businessmen. It remained open for another 15 years before closing in 1988. Today, the site is home to Backstage Memories, a theater gift shop.

So, Kipness was involved with the Lanai, Hawaii Kai and the Kona Tiki. I am thinking he started the Kona Tiki after he sold his interest in the Hawaii Kai. One of the few places that lasted through the Tiki-Devolution of 80's.


Excellent research again, D.C.! Great to see the pieces come together. It makes sense that if anyone opened a Tiki place this late in the game, it would be by a veteran of Polynesian pop - who also knew of Oceanic Arts. Another telling thing that points to the accelerating devolution of Tiki was that they and other places started to offer inexpensive Chinese buffet food to attract customers. Case in point, this example from the cradle of Polynesian pop, the Hollywood Beachcomber!:

Here is an ad for the grand opening.

A Disco Brunch? For the whole family?? At a Tiki bar??? The beginning of the end!


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