Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Tiki Central logo
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

The Tropic Isle Restaurant and Cabaret Ltd., Surrey, B.C., CANADA

Pages: 1 34 replies

Name:The Tropic Isle Restaurant and Cabaret Ltd.
Street:13639 104th Avenue,
City:Surrey, B.C.

Okay, here's a 'new' long since closed one for you.
I am quite surprised that this establishment has not been discussed on here before. I know that some of our Canadian Tiki/Polynesian Restaurants don't compare to some of the great ones in the US, but this one is for sure worth a mention.

The Tropic Isle Restaurant and Cabaret Ltd. was established in 1969 and had it's grand opening in June or July of 1970. It had three partners that owned the business and they also owned another restaurant with two locations in the Lower Mainland. The Tropic Isle was known for it's "Delectable Chinese & Western Foods". It had "Smorgasbord Everyday" and could cater to "Banquets, Catering, Weddings, Office Parties". It was also Open 7 Days A Week and had Live Orchestra Friday and Saturday nights.

The Tropic Isle had a long life and closed it's doors in 1988. During their years in business, they were quite successful and were very well taken by the local community. The Tropic Isle was the first restaurant to have a Smorgasbord here and made for quite a unique dining experience.
One of the managers, Ken, was a very nice man who did alot for the community. Ken belonged to a few local committees and sponsored several different charities throughout the community. They had a wishing well in the front foyer where the Tropic Isle would empty it out and donate all the money to different charities or for specific fund-raising events. At one such charity event for the local Children’s Treatment Center in 1976, The Tropic Isle collected $681.20 from it’s wishing pond alone!! That's alot of coin tossing!!

Lot's of different events happened at the Tropic Isle for all sorts of causes to raise money. The good thing for the Tropic Isle was it's large size which catered to large parties and different types of clientele. Inside the Tropic Isle there were two large rooms. The Tiki Lounge, as it was known, seated 150 people and had it's own stage and dance floor area. They had bands playing in this room every Friday and Saturday night. The other room, where the smorgasbord was, was called the "Ming Room" because of it's oriental decor. It had a large seating capacity of 250 and was decorated in true oriental style and was known for it's great choices in the new smorgasbord. The decor in this room was straight forward with oriental design features and decorations that were influenced by travels abroad.

This is a picture from an old newspaper ad about the restaurant (circa 1970) showing the exterior of the restaurant. It's got great style to it and was very well done. You can see that it has very little windows. This building was specifically built to be The Tropic Isle and the construction was overseen by the owners.

This is a picture of the building today (2007). It is still here but there have been a few changes over the years. The roof architecture pieces are no longer there, there are now windows all down the side and front of the restaurant, and the hand carved doors are long gone. The building itself has also been extended on the parking lot side and the main entrance has been changed and moved. There are no traces of the Tiki Lounge or the Ming Room left inside at all.

After The Tropic Isle closed down, it became a Chinese restaurant called "Yic's". This restaurant operated for about 10 years until it closed down in about 1999. The building lay empty for about 4 years and in approx. 2003 was leased to a Korean Restaurant and office.

I have been in contact with the family of one of the owners so I will be finding out some more information for you interested parties. Keep checking back for further updates!

Mahalo, TabooDan

UPDATE - I have added some information to this post and have touched up a few areas where information was changed or needed to be corrected. More information and photos will be added to my future posts as I go through my information.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 10:02 ]

Okay, here's an old ad from 1972 that features a picture of the cool sign that they had in front of the restaurant. It was in the shape of two palm trees and was all lit up. I do have a color photo of the sign that I will try to get on here. I also have a picture of the sign today as half of the sign is still there.

The following ad is from 1979. It shows their logo Tiki instead of the sign and is a split ad with the Rickshaw restaurant in a different area. The Rickshaw had two locations and was also part owned by a couple of the Tropic Isle owners. Saving on adrvetising costs I guess.

This next picture is an ad from 1981. This ad seems to be the one they used after 1981 where they didn't share ad's with another restaurant called the Rickshaw. It has their logo Tiki on it.

This Tiki appeared on all of their signs, ad's, menus, etc. right from the beginning. This Tiki was also the one front and center on their dance stage in the Tiki Lounge. It looks like the pole was about 7'-8' tall and was carved quite well. I am still trying to find out more about this one. Of interest, there were about 5-6 masks that ran down the wall on the left side of the Tiki Lounge and they looked to be the same style of face as this pole. These were probably from the same carver/manufacturer.

More info. to follow.
See yah, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 10:09 ]


Okay, here's a awesome picture of the outside sign from what it looked like in about 1970 until the Tropic Isle closed down.

This is a rare color picture from the estate of the owner of the Tropic Isle that I have been able to obtain. The majority of the pictures of the sign are all in black and white along with the advertisement's that feature the sign.

This cool photo shows the sign as it appeared back when the restaurant first opened. It features the sign board that was updated for specials, events and for different times of the year. It has two metal poles that hold the sign up which are the color and shape/style of the trunks of palm trees.
At the top of the sign are the leaves of the palm trees which lite up in bright colors. Just below the leaves was a large sign with the restaurants name on it which also has a beach and volcano scene in the background. Below that was a flashing neon sign that flashed between "Smorgasboard" and "Restaurant". Quite the sign!! They don't make them like that anymore!

The above picture is of what the sign looks like today (2007). You can see the "tree" trunks metal legs and the sign board still there but the top has been removed including the flashing neon restaurant/smorgasboard sign, Tropic Isle name and palm leaves. The lower section has been painted red and now has a small neon light running around the sign. You can sure ft a feel for how large the Tropic Isle sign actually was. It must have been more than 25' tall!!
The Tropic Isle is now a Korean Restaurant.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 11:33 ]

The following picture is of a coconut mug specifically made for the Tropic Isle. On the front of the mug is "Tropic Isle Surrey BC" and has a image of a palm tree. It is unmarked on the base but the mugs for the Tropic Isle were made from molds made by a local ceramic artist and then given to a private ceramic studio where they were produced for the Restaurant. These mugs for the Tropic Isle were approximately produced around 1983 to about 1986.

This particular mug I had picked up in the wild before I got the mugs from the estate. It is a much thicker walled mug than the ones I got form the estate. Those coconut mugs do not have the rough texture and lines like this one and were also much more thinner walled. They are very fragile and I do not think too many of that type were even used let alone survived. I have yet to see one of the ones I purchased form the owners estate in the wild. I have seen this type in the wild only.

These mugs were actually made by the same artist's who did The Hawaiian Village (New Westminster, BC) mugs and a few other local Tiki Restaurants. The mold maker even did some of the coconut mugs for the Vancouver location of Trader Vic's. These coconut mugs say "Trader Vics Canada" on the bottom. The mold maker had been given an original Trader Vic mug which he then molded to produce more.

More information and pictures of some other Tropic Isle relics to follow!!
If anyone has any other information or pictures, please let me know.

Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 11:39 ]

Here's a bit of a long story so make sure you have a drink or something!
To back up a little regarding the Tropic Isle and how I found out about it, I gotta start from the beginning.
I began doing some investigative work into local Tiki Restaurants that were once here in BC so I could put the information on our website, (Currently under construction and not up to date) http://www.tabootiki.com.

I knew that there was a restaurant in Surrey BC, called the Tropic Isle as I had been able to find a mug in a local thrift store of a Tiki (Orchids Green Jewel Eyed style)with the name on the back. This was about 7 years ago and never really had the time to research it more. This mug was the only mug I had found from this restaurant until about a year ago when I found a rare coconut mug with the same Tropic Isle on it. Now I gotta find out about this place! As the years passed, I got more and more interested in the local Tiki themed restaurants that were once here. Meeting and talking to people was really the only way to dig up evidence.

Fueled by all the great stories right here on TC of other members finding and having Tiki right in their own backyards, I began the search. Of course there was the Vancouver Trader Vic's and the famous Waldorf Hotel, but there were also tales of other fine establishments. Not having been the right age to be into Tiki in it's heyday, I missed the opportunity to visit alot of these places (I will be adding other restaurants I have learned about here on TC in later posts.).

I knew that somewhere in Surrey there was once a Hawaiian themed Restaurant called the Tropic Isle. I talked to our ceramic mold maker who had done the molds that I had discussed in my previous post because he has been around for so long. Sure enough, he remembers doing mugs for the Tropic Isle but didn't really remember exactly where it was (He is about 84 years old now). He did say that there was a Tiki Restaurant in Whalley, a suburb of Surrey, during the 1980's but he couldn't nail down the exact location.

I wasnt sure exactly where to start hunting as I hadn't specifically gone looking for a long closed establishment before. When I was a kid, I seemed to remember a tropical or beach themed type of restaurant/diner on the way out to White Rock which is a local beach community. I figured what better place to start my investigation so I went there to see what I could find. The building where I had remembered this place had just been recently knocked down to allow for new housing. Bummer, I thought. I figured I would ask a neighbor at an older looking property to see if they happened to remember anything. I knocked on the perfect person as they had lived in the area since the late 1940's! Unfortunately, there was nothing that she could remember in that specific area by her home.

She did however, send me not far down the road to the Highway to check on an old Supper Club that used to be there from the 1940's to the early 1980's. It had changed names and styles of restaurants over the years but the people that owned the land in the 1970's still owned it today and could possibly help me. I went and saw them and talked to the lady that owned the land and sure enough, this place was once a Tropical themed restaurant! She had actually worked in the restaurant but couldn't really remember accurate time lines or was sure about the name. There were palm trees in it and a tropical decor with drinks but that was about all she said. She believed the name of this place could have been 'Tropic Isle' or 'Pacific Isle' but wasn't sure. As I was talking to her, she said it also could have been called something else like 'The Islander' or 'Islanders'. So now I was getting a little confused if this was the right place or not.

What she did know was that the Supper Club did not last as a Tropical Restaurant for too long and operated during the 1970's. The original building burned down in about 1984 as a Steak and Schnitzel House which took over after the Tropical Restaurant closed. There is nothing left of the original building today and a new Applewood Kia dealership is on the land now. She said she did not have any photos or anything from the period that this Restaurant was tropical. The lady was getting busy so I figured it was time to move on although I was still unsure whether this was the right place or if it was once another tropical restaurant (turns out, it was a completly different restaurant called 'The Islanders' which I will post about at a later date).

I decided to go to the local library to see what I could find out. I started looking through old phone books and sure enough stumbled across an ad (See previous post for the ad's I found) for the Tropic Isle! It was very exciting to finally find something concrete about the restaurant. As I looked at the ad in the library, after reading the address, I knew that it had to be this same building that I had always wondered about and admired because of it's oriental style and peaked roof. Funny enough, I grew up about 15 blocks away from where the Tropic Isle once was.

After I started collecting Tiki/Hawaiian stuff about 9-10 years ago, I was interested and would look at the style and size of the building which had been an oriental restaurant. I always said that if I ever opened up a Tiki Restaurant, it would be at this location! It had great style to the outside of the building and little did I know that this was the actual location of The Tropic Isle!

I now had an address with a full ad with logo on it!! Now that I had this info, I figured I should be able to start tracking down information on the owners or find someone who knew more about it!! More to come.....Mahalo!!!

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2007-08-30 18:35 ]

Great posts. Reminds me of my research into the local tiki ghosts of Christmas' past.


Okay, here's a bit more to my story. Grab another drink!!
So after finding the ad's and finally getting the right address, I needed more!! I went to the local archives but was unable to find out anything about it in there files or in some of there books. However, I did at the last minute, do a quick business license check and sure enough there it was for year 1987 the name of the owner.

Perfect!! Now all I have to do is track down this person and see if they're still around. I figured they would be getting on in age since I found out that the restaurant opened in 1969. I did a name search and made a phone call. I took a gamble that it would be the same person because there home address was in Surrey where the restaurant was located. I had a potential list of about 6 people in this province and a few more spread out across the neighboring provinces.

Lucky for me on the first call I had the right number! A lady answered and she informed me I did have the right person as her father was one of the owners and managed the Tropic Isle Restaurant. I was ecstatic when I talked to her but tried to keep my cool and my mind straight. I told her that I was doing research on local Tiki/Polynesian themed Restaurants and I wanted to get information from them to put on our website and also to update other existing sites (Like here on TC) where people were actually interested in these things. Her name was Pat and as I spoke to her she informed me that she even used to work there as a hostess. Pat's brother, who lives out of province, had also worked in the Restaurant as a dishwasher and later a delivery driver. This was great!! My first phone call and I found the whole family that ran the Restaurant!!

When I told Pat that I would love to speak to her father about the Restaurant and that I would like to meet with them, she said that she would take my information and get back to me as her father was sick at this time and was quite tired and unable to talk right now. She said I should call back or they would get back to me. Well, this was at a time where I was quite busy with our business and recently buying a new house and moving so the days passed by. Knowing I had made the connection, I figured I would be able to meet with them soon enough.

Well, this was in the beginning of March of this year(07). Time went by and on about April 10th or so I received a phone call from Pat. I was very happy to hear from her but she informed me that her father had passed away on April 1st.

It was quite sad for me as I was looking forward to speaking and meeting with him as he sounded like a very nice man and was always willing to help others. I also felt sad for what Pat was dealing with and for the loss of her father. I told Pat that I was very sorry for her loss and I would understand if she did not want to talk about or discuss anything to do with the Restaurant. Her father had just passed away and I did feel a bit uncomfortable. Pat said that it would not be a problem discussing anything to do with the Restaurant and that is what her father would have wanted. He was proud of the restaurant and was happy that someone wanted to find out about it.

The main reason for Pat's phone call to me was that they were cleaning out their Dad's home and there was some things from the Restaurant that I may be interested in. What.....me......interested in Tiki.......AAAAALLLLLOOOOOHHHHHAAAAAA!!!!! I said that I would love to meet with them and pick their brains about the Restaurant and check out the items. I did not know what they had or what it consisted of at all. About a week later I met with them at their fathers home in Surrey. It was a home that he built in the 1970's and where he lived since. It was actually a five minute walk from the Tropic Isle Restaurant.

When I got to the house they walked me into the backyard where they had the picnic table with a few things on it. I could see a few mugs and things and was invited to check it out. Well, I had no clue to the amount of items that they had. It wasn't like it was tons of stuff but the father kept an instant archive of items and information! They had about 6 different mugs on the table where 4 of them were specifically marked and from the Tropic Isle (2 of them I had never seen before), one was a unmarked copy of a Orchids of Hawaii R91 and the other was a R91 Orchid mug. When I saw the Tropic Isle mugs, I knew that these were from the local mold maker that we deal with and that these were the mugs that he had done.

On the table was also a very rare (I've never seen it before) table top candle lamp which was in the shape of a stylized Moai figure and had a white glass shade. This piece was exciting to see as I had never seen it before or have ever seen this style of lamp anywhere. It seems to be specifically made for the Tropic Isle but it was not marked with the Restaurant's name. There was also a postcard of the Restaurant which perfectly shows the Tropic Isle in all it's splendor! I was totally excited to see this as now I finally got to see what it originally looked like outside and inside! Pat also had (along with the mugs) the original architecture sketch of what the Restaurant looked like before it was built, bar tool set, papers with Tropic Isle letterheads, oriental designed ceiling tiles which seemed to be from the Ming Room, candle sticks, original box with glass shades for lamps, original box with full Hawaiian Coconut Snow spray for drinks and a few other bits and pieces. One of the main things that she had was her Dad's old scrapbook from the Restaurant along with a photo album. The scrapbook was full of article's and ad's from mostly the early years of the Restaurant.

Below is a picture of when I was looking in the garage. You can see boxes on the floor which had the mugs and other items. I had to take a picture just to capture them in their space where they had been sitting for all these years! You can imagine my excitement!!

After discussing with Pat and her brother what they wanted to do with the items, we came up with an agreement and I was able to save these items from certain separation and possibly even destruction of alot of it. They were getting rid of alot of stuff to buyers who just come in and took everything and I didn't want someone who didn't appreciate the history with what they had and to just get rid of it.

Below is another picture of some of the items once I had placed them in my garage.

I will post more photos of the items shortly. Hope everyone is not bored of this story! If, at least, there will be some kind of documentation of these mugs and other items where you can at least know where they came from if you happen to have any of these.
]I guess it also gives you something to hunt for as this was definitely a place worthy to be known as a Tiki Temple! It is hard to get the story out there and make sure this is a half interesting read!! I guess if you don't like reading you can just look at the pictures. Hope you like it and sorry if this is too long. Mahalo!! TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 11:46 ]

Way to go, Dan, urban archeology at its finest! More pics please, like of the interiors and from the scrap book!


On 2007-09-02 00:32, TabooDan wrote:
Hope everyone is not bored of this story!


Great work Taboo Dan!


Glad you are enjoying the research project!!
Here is a picture of a few of the mugs from The Tropic Isle. If you have any of these marked like this and didn't know where they were from, now you know.

The above mug was used to serve "The Famous Island Drink Mai Tai" as it states on their drink menu. This mug has the one Ku Tiki face on the front and "Tropic Isle Surrey BC" on the reverse. Had quite a crazy glaze on it and no two are the same! This mug I have seen in the wild before but is seldom scene.

This hard to find, cool little bucket mug is smaller than the last one and is an awesome green color. It is also marked Tropic Isle on the reverse. I have never seen this one around and it is not directly noted on their drink menu.

Here's the reverse:

The next picture is of the two bucket mugs beside each other so you can see the difference.

Not too much but just enough to make it a completely different mug. The red colored one is pretty much the same size as the OMC 3-Face Bucket Mugs. The OMC is what it would have been molded from by the local ceramic artist as he used existing Orchids of Hawaii mugs as well to produce these mugs for the Restaurant. No two of these mugs are the same as the glazing process is very unique to each one. Some have darker colors, more colors, and runs in the glaze which makes these very cool and different mugs.

Here's kind of an interesting point that I was thinking about as I write this. The Hawaiian Village (Tiki Road Trip P.230) was once located in New Westminster which was about 15 minutes from where The Tropic Isle was located in Surrey. They both were serving drinks in Tiki mugs at about the same time period. I think the Hawaiian Village had them a bit earlier (they did have there custom mugs first designed by Erneli) but they both had a local ceramic artist make their mugs.

The Hawaiian Village used Orchids of Hawaii mugs to serve their drinks. Later on they had these molded and then had their own name and phone number put on them. The Tropic Isle had this done as well but yet I have only ever seen ONE of them that actually was the same style mug. The red bucket mug above I have seen in a brown/yellow color with "HV" initials on the reverse and the Ku face on the front but that is the only one. This mug by itself is very hard to find (one sold on EBay at the end of last year).
All the other copies have been different.
Actually, I wonder if the artist was told to keep them different so the Restaurants did not have the same mugs?

Okay, this next photo is of a Tiki mug that was offered at The Tropic Isle and according to their menu, served the "Head Hunter".

This one can be found in a yellow, green, and also a dark brown/green mix color. This mug does surface once in a while but is still quite hard to find, especially in the darker colors. It has "Tropic Isle Surrey BC" on the reverse.

This next mug is different to the first coconut mug I posted (previous post) as the detail of the coconut itself just isn't there but still holds up to be a cool mug.

It is finished in a brown color with the "Tropic Isle Surrey BC" and a palm tree beside that in white paint with green leaves.

Here's a scary shot of them and how they were resting in their box all these years:

This one is very thin walled and therefore is very fragile. I have never seen this style in the wild. I have only seen the thicker, more real looking coconuts as stated above. I don't think too many of these (besides the ones I managed to get) survived at all! Not too many of these may have even been used at the restaurant as they are quite fragile.

More to come soon so keep checking back!!
Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 12:18 ]

Love those crazy glazes. Great thread, Dan - keep it coming.


Here's a much awaited picture of the interior of this Tiki Restaurant:

The above picture is of the Tiki Lounge. A few things to point out would be the Thatch Hut-Like Roof on the left hand side along with about 5 Tiki Masks running almost the whole length of the room. At the very end is a large wall to wall tropical hand painted mural. It features a tropical setting of the ocean, a beach along with palm trees and volcano's.

In front of this mural, and at the center of the back of the room, is a large tall Tiki Pole which was used as the restaurants logo and appeared in advertisements and flyer's. I have not been able to find out any info. about the carvings that were once at the Tropic Isle but I am still hunting them down!

Just in front of the Tiki Pole is the dance floor and off to the back left is a small stage (this picture shows tables right along the back wall which were soon removed after opening to make way for the dancing and entertainment.) where the band played on Fridays and Saturday nights. The bar is at the front on the right and is just visible in this photo. You can see some fish netting along with a lighted up glass float. I believe there were three or four glass floats above the bar. The roof of the bar has oriental styled beams coming from it.

All of the chairs are dark rattan and the tables all have a brass nautical style candle lamps on them along with the drink menus. The candle lamps that I managed to pick up are not in any photos that I have been able to find so far. These photos are from a photographer that the owners hired to document their restaurant and to use for the press. These photos come right from the family of one of the owners.

Also, attention should be paid to the very cool style of the ceiling in this room. It is of very similar construction and style to the Waldorf Hotel (In Tiki Road Trip) which housed the Tahitian Lounge in Vancouver. The ceiling was lit up like the Waldorf and was also painted to resemble a nite sky as well.
It is quite obvious that there was some detail paid to the Waldorf's style and construction in the making of this room. They are quite similar and the color photos will also make this more visible. Possibly, the same contractors were used but this restuarant was made about 15 years after the Waldorf's Tahitian Lounge. The family stated that thier father, Ken, who managed the Restaurant, also oversaw the construction and finsihing details of the Tropic Isle. Maybe he liked what he saw at the Waldorf and wanted the same at his establishment.

More to come......

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 12:19 ]

A classy joint! Great urban archeology. We need a closer shot of the logo Tiki.


Hey BigBro, glad you're checking this out!!
I am still working on the pictures, but this is the only close up that I have of the logo Tiki. It is half blocked by some music equipment but you can make out a few of the details and use the equipment as sort of a size comparison.
It is the only one I have been able to get so far where you can see some of the details of the Tiki carving. There are not too many pictures of this particular Tiki so this may be it for now.

The next image is a copy of the cover of the drink menu which is on the tables in the picture of the Lounge and features the logo Tiki. This is close to the same style of Tiki that is above and was front and center on the dance floor in front of the wall mural.
This Tiki image appeared on their adverts, menus, matchbooks, paper work and other items. Some of their ad's used the image of their large outdoor Tropic Isle sign as opposed to the logo Tiki.

This next image is of the Tiki Lounge again with a following picture of a close up of one of the Tiki Masks that were on the left side of the room. The masks are the same style of carving as the tall Tiki Pole and the Tiki Pole has the same face. All the masks on the wall seem to be the same Tiki Mask carving and have some hand painted white color which can also be seen on their large logo Tiki Pole. They were probably specifically carved for the Tropic Isle or bought over seas and returned here and used at the restaurant. It is hard to see but I personally haven't seen this style and type of Tiki elsewhere.

Would love to know if anyone has seen these carvings before or has any additional information!! I am still trying to find out what happened to these carvings after the Restaurant closed down. One of the owners that I have dealt with did not have any of the carvings or was I able to find out any information from the family as of yet. Only one of the three owners is still alive today so hopefully I will be able to find out something about these historic Tiki relics.

Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 12:25 ]

Dan, can your scanner hone in on the Tiki column in the back of the restaurant in the wide shot, than lighten it up and scan it with like 600 dpi, so that we get a blow up of it that way? The box in the first photo has the Tiki not only half blocked, but pretty much obscures the whole damn statue :)


Okay, this is the best I can do with the picture right now. I hope it is a bit better. This is a close up of the back wall where you can see the wall mural and the unique Tiki Pole:

The next picture is a little more closer shot of the whole Lounge again:

You can clearly see the masks along the wall under the "Hut" on the left side and just the beginning of the bar on the right.

Edited to enlarge photos for this page.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-01-15 17:09 ]


This next picture is of the Tropic Isle's opening ad that ran in the local newspapers. It would be from 1970 and has a picture of their large outdoor sign.

The following image is an awesome color photo of the sign during the winter of 1971. You can really get an idea of the sign's size and color in this picture. In the background is an old large Texaco gas station sign.

The sign itself had a red neon sign that flashed between "Restaurant" and "Smorgasbord" just below the larger part that said Tropic Isle. This picture is taken from the entrance way of the restaurant looking back out across the parking lot.

I think I posted this picture before, but here is a photo of what the sign looks like today. You can see the palm tree trunks and where the part of the sign that used to say the weekly/nightly events or specials which is now where the Seoul House sign is. The SUV is also a good judge of the size.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-01-15 18:37 ]


The following picture is of the "Ming Room" that was just off the Tiki Room from when it first opened. This room was oriental in theme. The Ming Room sat about 250 guests and had the all new "Smorgasbord". The Tropic Isle was known as the first restaurant in the area to have a smorgasbord. This shot shows the smorgas area.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-01-15 18:40 ]

On 2007-10-07 23:41, TabooDan wrote:
Hey BigBro, glad you're checking this out!!
I am still working on the pictures, but this is the only close up that I have of the logo Tiki. It is half blocked by some music equipment but you can make out a few of the details and use the equipment as sort of a size comparison. It is the only one I have been able to get so far where you can see some of the details of the Tiki carving. There are not too many pictures of this particular Tiki so this may be it for now.

The next image is a copy of the cover of the drink menu which is on the tables in the picture of the Lounge and features the logo Tiki. This image appeared on their adverts, menus, matchbooks, paper work and other items. Some of their ad's used the image of their large outdoor Tropic Isle sign as opposed to the logo Tiki.

This next image is of the Tiki Lounge again with a following picture of a close up of one of the Tiki Masks that were on the left side of the room. The masks are the same style of carving as the tall Tiki Pole and the Tiki Pole has the same face. All the masks on the wall seem to be the same Tiki Mask carving and have some hand painted white color which can also be seen on their large logo Tiki Pole. They were probably specifically carved for the Tropic Isle or bought over seas and returned here and used at the restaurant. It is hard to see but I personally haven't seen this style and type of Tiki elsewhere.

Would love to know if anyone has seen these carvings before or has any additional information!! I am still trying to find out what happened to these carvings after the Restaurant closed down. One of the owners that I have dealt with did not have any of the carvings or was I able to find out any information from the family as of yet. Only one of the three owners is still alive today so hopefully I will be able to find out something about these historic Tiki relics.

Mahalo, TabooDan

Wow, one nice looking restaurant!! I can only imagine with the lighting and colours, how cool it must have looked!

Dan, thank you for your efforts in magnifying the Tiki, it helped to cement the fact that I was afraid of all along....I have never seen a Tiki of this style before and have no idea who could have carved it!
This might seem like a bad joke, but really I am at a loss here, sorry.

No joke taken here! It's kind of crappy that you haven't seen this style of Tiki before but also exciting in the same sense because it's a perfect example of these lost treasures and how much was actually out there.
I know the owners did quite a bit of research in their decor that they used so it is quite hard to say where they came from.

I hope to be able to find out more from the last surving partner in the restaurant although he too is quite old now and still have to track down the exact location of where he lives.
I will be posting some more pictures and some of the collectibles when I get a little more time.

Glad you all like the post! Mahalo, Dan


Okay, here is a few more pictures that are in COLOR for you all to check out.

This first one is a picture of the outside of The Tropic Isle from across the street.

It is from around 1971 and is from a hard to find Tropic Isle postcard. Unfortunately, this is one of only three pictures that I have of the outside and they are all pretty much from this distance and angle which don't show the front doors.
The front doors of the Tropic Isle were large wooden carved doors which had Tiki motifs and designs on them. As of yet, I have been unable to find a picture of these. The Tiki Lounge would have been in the back left side of this building. The Ming Room would have been off to the center right.

The next picture if of the Chinese themed "Ming Room". This is where the Smorgasbord was served. It sure is a much better picture of the Ming Room than the black and white one shown above in the previous postings.

Okay....and now the room everybody wants to see in color....The Tiki Lounge!!

Now you can really see and get a good idea of what this room originally looked like! A few things to check out is the cool Tiki Hut running the length of the wall along with Masks leading down to the large colorful wall mural that has some cool lighting. You can also see a large glass float above the bar where I think there was 4 or 5 of these running the length of the bar. And check out that ceiling with the cool design and lighting.

The ceiling itself, along with the lighting, is very close to the same style and design of the Vancouver's Waldorf Hotel in the Tahitian Lounge. Even the wall mural and palm trees are there!

Below is a picture from an old postcard from the Tahitian Lounge just for comparison:

The Tahitian Lounge opened in 1955 some 15 years prior to the opening of the Tropic Isle so I wouldn't be surprised if the designer/s for the Tropic Isle went to the Waldorf for some local inspiration. The twilight ceiling with it's lights and curved design are very similar. Truly a nice classy touch and it creates a great atmosphere!

As another example of this type of style and design, I'm going to add a picture from an old postcard I have of another restaurant that was once located on Vancouver Island, in Victoria, called The Rendezvous.
Check out that ceiling design:

The Rendezvous also had twilight stars in the ceiling, the blue (moon) lighting and curved design. Just thought I would add this as a bit of a side note.

More to come!!
Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-01-16 18:31 ]

best Canajun thread EVER! THANK YOU!


**PLEASE NOTE: UPDATED this post to fix pictures and add link to another interesting topic that has a great discovery and conversation about the Tiki Lamp pictured below. Here is the link:
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=18090&forum=2&start=15&hilite=the outrigger canada **

Okay, here's a few pictures of some of the items I was lucky to get from the family of one of the owners of the Tropic Isle. (some previously shown)

Like I said before, they were clearing out there fathers house and stumbled across these items in boxes in the garage. The father, who was the manager and one of the owners, kept quite a few things from the restaurant or at least these things didn't make it in to the restaurant and were kept in reserve.

This is what I saw sitting on the floor when I walked into the garage:

You can imagine my SURPRISE when I went from only ever seeing two mugs from this restaurant to cases of different items to be dug through and investigated!! This picture shows 3 boxes of mugs on the left side and you can make out a box of Tiki Lamps on the top right.

This is another picture of the items in the owners garage:

You can see decorative Oriental wooden tiles on the bottom right which were used in the ceiling of the Ming Room at the Tropic Isle.
These tiles are made of 1/4" plywood which has been stained and then individually decorated with a gold paint-like material which is quite thick and breaks off in clumps. It is kind of like a gold colored silicone material.

Immediately behind the ceiling tiles, you can see some Coconut mugs sticking out of their hiding place. There was also alot of restaurant ware like dining plates and glasses in other boxes (which you can see behind the coconuts) but these were strictly items that had generic oriental designs on them and were not marked Tropic Isle or had any logos on them. I did not take these as there were just too many and not specifically marked. The family thought it was best to donate them if I did not want them and I agreed.

I was very surprised that none of the Coconut mugs were broken as they weren't wrapped at all and are very fragile as they are quite thin. The other coconut mug that I have, which I found in the wild, was quite thick and had a much more defined and detailed shape and lines to it (see pictures on 1st page of this topic.)
These mugs were sitting on a shelf in the garage for over 20 years!! Maybe these mugs never made it to the restaurant because of the fragile state? Hard to say.

This next picture is of the boxes after I got them home and put them in my garage:

You can see at the very top of the picture a glass shade box which came from the "Exclusive Candle Corporation" which was a supplier/manufacturer of lighting parts. This box housed white glass shades used in the Tropic Isle's table lamps.
You can also see on the center left side, ornamental brass metal pieces which were a decorative feature used under door handles. You can also see some of the mugs as they were removed from their resting places.

Here's a picture of some Hawaiian Coconut Snow in their original case:

What Tiki Bar wouldn't be complete without good old Coconut Snow for your drinks??!! These were in a separate box that I went through with some other items.

Among the items I picked up were six different mugs (one being a copied Tiki Leilani/Orchids #R-88 style with no markings or restaurant name - in second picture above in bottom box, the others being Orchid of Hawaii R91), a bar mixing tool set, silver colored metal plate with a small pedestal which served "The Tropic Isle's Famous Almond Chicken", a Trophy that the Tropic Isle won for their entry in a parade in the early 1970's (pictures to follow soon), box of pink candles used in the lamps, a 20" brown ceramic Rora Tonga style Tiki statue and a few paper related items.

This is a picture of the previously shown 4 different mugs:

This following picture is of the very cool and very rare table lamps in their old storage box where they had been for the past 20 years:

This photo was taken in the owners garage. There were not many of these and I have not been able to find these lamps in any pictures and have no information on them.
These Tiki lamps have quite a unique style and I, personally, have never seen anything like these before or the same sort of design. I am guessing they were specifically made, maybe locally - not sure, for The Tropic Isle.

And here's a picture of the lamp without the frosted glass shade:

With shade:


Edited to repair picture size and add note at top of this post.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-01-16 21:46 ]

whoa. just whoa!! i'm so glad this bit of Canadian Tiki History is preserved by you ~ i bet the family appreciates your passion for their dad's restaurant.

Very cool! Some real treasures there. Great work on making that contact with the family.



Always nice to read your story on the Tropic Isle. Wish all of the photos had not shrunk.

Mimi just posted a new menu on her web page with a drink menu menu from the Tropic Isle.



Hey DC, Yeh, that is a copy of the one and only menu that I managed to get from the owners estate. It was the only one they had left from the restaurant. I have never come across another or seen any in the wild. I am looking though!!!

It is a very cool menu as it has the nice drawing of their logo Tiki on the front (same tall Tiki Pole that was on The Tropic Isle's dance floor) and it has all the Tiki Room Drinks on the inside and each one has a drawing of the mug/glass that it came in. I especially like the ones with the name on them.

Check it out:

The drawings of the mugs with the name of the restaurant are the same mugs that I got from the estate and are the ones pictured above in the earlier post's.

I also like the back of the menu as it has an actual photo of a dressed up table in the restaurant where you can see a few choices of food, drink mugs and also a menu (wine list) in the back ground.

Here's the back:

I see all the images I posted earlier are now very small so I will repair these shortly. Man I hate that!!

Mahalo, TabooDan


Aloha everyone!!
I have just gone through the first page of this thread and repaired all the photos and corrected some of the information if I had to.
You might want to go back and take a look at them all again.

I will repair this pages photos soon. It takes a while but as I was posting, it sure was cool to look at these again and get them on here.


[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-02 12:30 ]

WOW! This is a classic. An urban Tiki archeologist's dream come true. They don't get much better than this. A few clues of a long gone Tiki temple, working the field, and big time treasure found.

Congratulations TD on this discovery. Walking into that garage finding all the treasure in those boxes, what a feeling that must have been.

TD, did you ever find out what happened to the big Tikis & Masks? Did you ever talk to that other owner?

Don't forget to repair the small photo's with new ones when you get a chance TD. Thanks,


Aloha All! I just repaired all the photos that I had posted to this thread. I cleaned up some of my writing in areas that needed it and just a couple more pic's. I have not had time yet to get some of the other pictures that I have on here yet but will do so.

I read through all this again and it was such a thrill to have a discovery like this! Usually I read about someone else on here having this sort of thing happen but it sure was a thrill to go through.

On 2010-01-10 11:30, abstractiki wrote:
TD, did you ever find out what happened to the big Tikis & Masks? Did you ever talk to that other owner?

Don't forget to repair the small photo's with new ones when you get a chance TD. Thanks,

Hey Abstractiki, Glad you checked this out. It is a pretty cool thread.

I have not managed to talk to the remaining owner as I have never met the the person that could possibly connect me yet. I had also heard that his health was also not very good. I have left it at that for now. I still have a couple more loose ends to try but I think it will be not very promising.

No new info. about any of the interior, the doors or the large Tiki. I will get some more photos on here once I get some time.
Thanks again for your interest.

Thanks for the update and repair job TD! :)


Great thread Dan. Amazing story and a fantastic job of rescuing what remains of the past and a documented history like you have posted is priceless. So many places are lost. Thanks for the post and keep up the great work. Those table lamps are unbelievable!

Oh my goodness, all those pictures bring back so many memories for me. I worked at the tropic Isle from 1981 to 1988. It was such a crazy, funny world to work in. I have a couple of things from the restaurant, but mostly memories. Thanks for the look back. The owner you got all your treasures from had a huge positive influence on me. Thank you for saving all those things from the Isle. It's too bad it closed. It had a beautiful Tiki room. The paintings on the walls were outstanding. Too bad it's gone.:(

Aloha Tropicislehostes, thanks for posting, it is always great to hear from employees and owners that have first hand experience with these tiki temples.

Pages: 1 34 replies