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[ Edited by: Alnshely 2006-07-22 07:40 ]

Nice pix, Al

Are the three mural detail shots you posted the work of Eugene Savage?

This would seem to be the case, but the mural I noticed there (about 4 years ago) bore the signature of a Bettina Rakita Byrne, although these look very Savage-esque.

Did you happen to notice?

G
GECKO posted on Fri, Jan 31, 2003 8:27 PM

Alohaz braddah Al!
How you wen find dis spot? Where is it?
I would neva have known to look fo a polynesian palace in a place called DAMONS!

And yes da mural looks very much like savage art. I dout it if he wen did it himself! who evah did em was very talented!

Hey Al did you get my email i wen sent yestaday? It's been raining hard an da telephone lines have been down at times during the day. I also missed out on a bid yestaday on ebay....piss me off!

alohaz

A

Hey Guys,
Gecko, Damons is in Glendale. These picture were taken after a party at Svens, we all went over for dinner. My camera was full and I couldn't find my extra flashcards. I wanted some pictures of the murals so I didn't get any pics of the many TC members who were there that night. Anyway I did get your Email.

These details are from the same mural, but, there are some other murals there as well. It sure looks like savage. I saw no signature. The murals are behind booths and Damons was quite full that night. I didn't want to bother the patrons, so I wasn't able to inspect them as I would have liked.

JT, My name is Alan Knepper. Years ago I sent you a photo CD and a Trader Dick's Outrigger Bowl. You published my pictures of the Bali Hai, Royal Hawaiian and the Islands Room. I was stoked. If you ever need any more pics let me know, taking pictures of Tiki Bars is sort of a hobby of mine. Last time you were in LA. I just missed you at Trader Vic's BH. FloraTina, Weird Unncle and other TCers were there, I'll catch you next time. I look forward to your book.
Mahalo,
Al

T

Aloha Al

Of course I remember you, and the stuff you sent me like 5 years ago, and I was also bummed to have missed you and Shelley at Vic's in Beverly Hills last year. Me and a few of the other Tiki freaks had a swell time that night, they told me that you left like 5 mins before I showed up.

Anyway - in writing my above message, I was totally cogniscent of whom I was addressing... but the question remains - is the artist of the bar-area murals Eugene savage, or an impostor?

And Gecko - there's much more info about Damons on my web site (Tiki Bar Review Pages at http://www.tydirium.net).

You're right - who'd thionk to look for Tiki in a place called Damon's... there are other spots similarly hidden by deceptive names, such as Chef Shangri-La here in Chicago.

T

Damon's, 317 N. Brand Ave., Glendale (Los Angeles), CA (818) 507-1510

Damon's opened at 118 S. Central Street in 1937, and moved to it's current location in 1990. Located just a few feet from the street, Damon's facade is promising, with plenty of thatch and bamboo, a colorful Tiki pole, and no windows. A lack of windows is a key architectural feature in any classic Tiki Bar, since a lack of windows is also a lack of reminders that the ‘real’ world is just a few yards away.
Damon’s heavy doors lead into a dark entryway, and then into two spacious dining rooms. While there is definitely a fair amount of bamboo present (augmented by floral seat cushions and carpet, plenty of aquariums, and a generally exotic atmosphere), you'd be hard pressed to find any of the most exciting Tiki Bar elements, such as carved Tiki Gods, blowfish, or Tiki Mugs at Damon’s. The only actual Tiki in evidence is near the hostess stand, and at about 18" tall, it isn't much to write about. There are a few nice vintage Hawaiiana prints above the arch leading to the bar area, and the murals on the back wall of the bar area are interesting too. They were done in 1987 by Bettina Rakita Byrne in the style of Eugene Savage.
A collage of newspaper clippings about the original location can be found near the solitary hostess stand Tiki. The collage is notable not only for the information on the original Damon's location, but for some great 1930's-1950's advertising preserved alongside the Damon's articles.
The bar manager mixes up a mean Lava, the house drink. Basically a Mai Tai with a splash of something red that seeps into the drink like (you guessed it) hot lava, it is unique, and pretty strong. All of the drinks are made fresh. The actual Mai Tai is a little bland but not bad; made with traditional ingredients, it comes garnished with a cherry, a pineapple chunk, and the obligatory umbrella. The Blue Hawaiian stinks, but it is tough to find one that doesn’t. The novelty is the color, and few Tikiphiles usually bother with the wretched things.
Your Mai Tai may be interrupted by a football game on the television in the bar (which sometimes drowns out the faint traces of exotic music barely audible on the muzak system).
The crowd at Damon’s is mostly families and middle-aged couples, and the place definitely feels more like a typical modern restaurant than a classic Tiki Bar. Steak and potatoes is the fare. Lots of seafood too, and although the TiPSY Factor isn’t anything special, the food is very good, and priced fairly. Given the pricey nature of the Trader Vic’s over in Beverly Hills, Damon’s might be your best Los Angeles choice for a good meal in a quasi-Tiki atmosphere.

BB

Sounds cool. I really need to get out and see these places. When I'm locked up in the shop building stuff, I sometimes see tiki faces in the bamboo. Looking forward to the 3 major events this year (to get out of the workshop)!

I believe Damon's moved to its current location in 1980, not 1990. The reason I believe I know this is that I first went to Damon's in 1989, when I moved to L.A. I also think I recall reading in an article about Damon's posted on their wall near their hostess station that they moved in 1980, and they had to move because the old building was demolished due to the Glendale Galleria mall being built. Am I wrong on this?

T

I recently revisited Damon's on Dec. 9, 2005, and was pleasantly surprised that nothing has changed since the change in ownership. I ordered the Tenderloin of Beef for dinner and was amazed at the quality and size of this steak. It is a super tender and delicious hunk of beef for such a low price. I give it the Jab's Best Steak Deal award!

On 2005-12-21 14:06, thejab wrote:
I recently revisited Damon's on Dec. 9, 2005, and was pleasantly surprised that nothing has changed since the change in ownership.

The 'coon skin cap thankfully has been removed from the tiki near the cash register.

After years of anticipation, I gathered my friends and journeyed through the mysterious jungles of the Valley toward Glendale -- where a shining jewel of this left coast was said to exist -- DAMON'S. It was suprisingly easy to find, and entering through the tiki'd doors, we readied for a Poly-pop feast. The color-splashed murals to the suspended outrigger to the tiki masks, the decor was wonderful. You could imagine "Quiet Village" whispering through the eaves. We loved it. Unfortunately, our feast was a descent into hades. The salads were wilted, brown, and decomposing. Not usually ones for bothering waitstaff, the salads were so bad we had to send them back. Everyone has had a bad salad before, but these were inedible... and the replacements weren't any better. The entrees seemed somewhat better at the time. They were steaks afterall. Then -- as we finished -- I started feeling very queasy. I was embarrased to tell my friend that I was feeling sick... but then she confessed she was feeling it too! And we were truly sick. No faking here. So, after some time away from the table, we paid the bill and left... never complaining that in the hour plus we were at Damon's -- even after reminding the waitstaff repeatedly -- they never brought our drink order. So, initially we were very excited about going to this tiki treasure, but ultimately we were even more excited about leaving. We love tiki, but not enough to try Damon's again.

T

On 2005-12-26 12:03, Hulahine wrote:
After years of anticipation, I gathered my friends and journeyed through the mysterious jungles of the Valley toward Glendale -- where a shining jewel of this left coast was said to exist -- DAMON'S. It was suprisingly easy to find, and entering through the tiki'd doors, we readied for a Poly-pop feast. The color-splashed murals to the suspended outrigger to the tiki masks, the decor was wonderful. You could imagine "Quiet Village" whispering through the eaves. We loved it. Unfortunately, our feast was a descent into hades. The salads were wilted, brown, and decomposing. Not usually ones for bothering waitstaff, the salads were so bad we had to send them back. Everyone has had a bad salad before, but these were inedible... and the replacements weren't any better. The entrees seemed somewhat better at the time. They were steaks afterall. Then -- as we finished -- I started feeling very queasy. I was embarrased to tell my friend that I was feeling sick... but then she confessed she was feeling it too! And we were truly sick. No faking here. So, after some time away from the table, we paid the bill and left... never complaining that in the hour plus we were at Damon's -- even after reminding the waitstaff repeatedly -- they never brought our drink order. So, initially we were very excited about going to this tiki treasure, but ultimately we were even more excited about leaving. We love tiki, but not enough to try Damon's again.

That's a bummer...my DAmon's experiences have always been good.

Sorry about the bad experience.

Having eaten at Damon's both before and after the change in ownership (late 2004 I think is when they changed), I have to say the food is certainly better now. They raised the prices significantly, but also the quality of the food as well. (Ate there about a month ago, December 2005.)

Before, the food was like something you would get at Denny's, with similar prices. Now the food (mostly steaks, though they do have chicken and some fresh seafood dishes too) is like a decent steakhouse. Steaks were nicely cooked, stuffed baked potatoes were really delicious, appetizers were quite decent. Salad is not the best, you're right. It's a lackluster, 1960's style iceberg lettuce salad with shredded beets in it and their "famous" dressing which is 1000 Island dressing with maybe one molecule of black pepper in it. As much as I have nostalgia for the salad I would update it a bit. They could keep the dressing, but change the greens and other ingredients.

Even the MaiTais were decent now compared to 5 years ago, when I recall they were quite medicinal tasting. They're certainly on the right track. Maybe give them another try and skip the salad?

WooHooo! SoccerTiki and I give Damon's 2 Thumbs Up. If you haven't had the opportunity to go to Damon's you need to go. It reminded little bit of the late Royal Hawaiian and Sam's Seafood mixed in a blender. The bartender can make great Mai Tai's even with his eyes closed :)

And if you can't make it to Damon's, you can still have their mai tai!
It's in Beachbum Berry's 'Taboo Table'

T

On 2006-07-20 15:39, Tikiwahine wrote:
And if you can't make it to Damon's, you can still have their mai tai!
It's in Beachbum Berry's 'Taboo Table'

It is currently one of my favorite drinks from Jeff Berry's books. Guests like it, too.

Hey all -

Apologies for bumping an old thread...

But suppose Damon's was to do a bit of a graphic design refresh - logo, menus, website, etc.

What would you like to remain, and what should go?

Are you this Dave Stolte?
http://davestolte.com/

And are you working with Damon's on this project?

I'm that Dave Stolte (and this one http://homebarbasics.com and this one http://wexlerofcalifornia.com). :)

And yes, working with Damon's on a little design refresh. I'm super-sensitive to the history of the place, how important it is to the regulars there, and to Thor's fun artwork he's done over the years. The goal is to pull together a lot of mismatched visuals, give it a little upgrade, and call it a day.

Hopefully ditch the stuffed-animal monkeys if we can.

[ Edited by: davestolte 2015-03-02 18:28 ]

[ Edited by: davestolte 2015-03-02 18:28 ]

K
kkocka posted on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 6:28 PM

I'll swing by Damon's this week and take a final look and drop you whatever notes I can come up with. I don't work far from the joint and am a graphic designer although a zilch of an illustrator.

On 2015-03-02 18:28, kkocka wrote:
I'll swing by Damon's this week and take a final look and drop you whatever notes I can come up with. I don't work far from the joint and am a graphic designer although a zilch of an illustrator.

Cheers Keith!

I think it would be a dumb idea to charge ahead with this project and not include some thoughts from Tiki Central!

We will be glad to help!

On 2015-03-02 18:26, davestolte wrote:
Hopefully ditch the stuffed-animal monkeys if we can.

Somewhere someone is starting a "Save The Stuffed Animal Monkeys" web site...

I have Dave's bar book, and I share it with friends who are new to home bartending. It's a good no-bull book which gets down to business quickly without a lot of flowery underbrush and makes it much less scary for folks who are new to the sport.

On 2015-03-03 09:44, AceExplorer wrote:
have Dave's bar book, and I share it with friends who are new to home bartending. It's a good no-bull book which gets down to business quickly without a lot of flowery underbrush and makes it much less scary for folks who are new to the sport.

Thanks Ace!

K

On 2015-03-02 18:14, davestolte wrote:
But suppose Damon's was to do a bit of a graphic design refresh - logo, menus, website, etc.

I was a little hopeful that their cocktail menu would get a refesh too. I had a drink, but it certainly wasn't a mai tai whatever it was - tasted like diluted Barton's rum with a hint of pineapple juice. The bar was littered with Bacardi Silver and Gold bottles (I think they were a few short of an official Bacardi Rum sponsor banner hanging over the bar) although behind the register I believe I saw single bottles of Zaya, Appleton, and Kraken maybe. That disappointment aside, the food there is great and although the decor is definitely well-aged and loved, it's not too bad (though not a fan of their murals and of course some furniture swapping would be useful) and was better than I thought it would be.

Anyway, moving on, here are some thoughts, starting with the website:
-HAS to be larger than 786 px wide. It's 2015 and time for a responsive website. I want to check it out on my phone without pinch/zoom and/or consulting Yelp or Google instead.
-Obviously needs hiearchy and a better homepage/landing where there's more than a giant image map.
-If possible, get larger photos either by taking new ones or getting ahold of the originals and bring in at a larger size. The beautiful dining room would be nice shot to land on. Potential for food photography for site (and/or menus?).
-News/Reviews and TV Spot sections are rather...sad. :( They could totally go.

Logo/Branding:
-I'm not sure how sacred the monkeys are, but I'm not terribly fond of them. That's just me. I get the whole see/hear/speak no evil thing but that doesn't speak steakhouse to me, nor tiki/polynesian. Plus, what's the last one doing, grabbing his balls? I think a nice typeface could serve as a logo just fine - certainly replacing the comic sans-esque type. Or, if they are to stay, an illustration refresh could do wonders. Maybe just monkey heads. Who knows?
-Brown and orange feels kinda old. That's a hard color combination to pull off as modern or relevant - Latitude 29 pulls it off well because they pull in the hot pink and use brown instead of black for body type (that's also the Zune color scheme, for what it's worth, and I like it). I understand the restaurant's been around since 1937 but it shouldn't feel that way. Strokes around logos and type...yeesh. A refreshed color scheme or better execution of the current one could also do wonders.

Menus:
-Mostly refine the type. On the food menu you have an inline and solid display font similar to this. On the cocktail menu/whatever is at the bar, you have some House Industries fonts. The feeling you get between the two are completely different. Again, monkeys everywhere!

Overall:
-I guess the thought is do we lean tiki, or steakhouse, or can there be a marriage of both?
-Web presence needs to exist. The site feels as old as the restaurant.
-Type can do a lot of the refreshing.

I realize a lot of what I said is either obvious or redundant. Hopefully I didn't come across as douchey.

Fantastic notes, thank you Keith! I appreciate you taking the time to visit and share your thoughts. I think we're on the same page. Will keep you all updated here.

I've put in some good hours drinking and eating at Damons and I know a few (non Tiki) people who have been going there for years with their families. I think it's great that they're getting a refresh.

One thing I would say is don't change things so much that you alienate the old school neighborhood clientele. Though I've never understood the Monkeys, or thought they were Tiki (or Steakhouse as kkocka said) they seem to be an integral part of Damons brand - they're on the mugs. I'd personally like something more Tiki but at the same time if feels a bit like replacing big Mo at The Tonga Hut, I just don't see how you do it. And I'm not talking about the stuffed ones in the canoe (I think everyone would be happy to see them go) but just the money motif in general.

Anyway that's my two cents for whatever it's worth. I think it's great that they're revamping a little, means business is good and those strange but refreshing "Mai Tais" and Chi Chi's will keep flowing.

[ Edited by: SoCal Savage 2015-03-06 16:22 ]

The monkeys stay. They have been with Damon's from the beginning.

DC

S

Might be fun to have a meet up at Damon's to discuss all the ideas. I'm in!

T

Just wondering if there has been any progress on the refresh....keep thinking about going to check it out. Did it already happen? Is it still happening? Have only went to Damon's a few times since moving to the area and enjoyed it but think a refresh is well deserved.

K

Nothing's happened yet - and as far as I know it's only a rebranding of their menus and logo. It would be a great start for refreshing the whole joint (cocktails especially.)

On 2015-09-21 10:37, kkocka wrote:
Nothing's happened yet - and as far as I know it's only a rebranding of their menus and logo. It would be a great start for refreshing the whole joint (cocktails especially.)

I did a tune up there August 2014. New thatch, some tapa cloth, bamboo, rope, staining , etc.
Seems I've mastered my craft so well you can't tell what's old or new! :wink:

Here's a link for pics... https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153005130246240.1073741852.679291239&type=1&l=f66ac476cf

P.S. They also have wood flooring now. ( not me)

Thank the tiki gods for Bamboo Ben!

K

I've only been there once Ben, which may have been in 2014. The interior looked fine though I didn't get to really look around in depth. My biggest qualm are the cocktails of course.

Logo/Branding:
-I'm not sure how sacred the monkeys are, but I'm not terribly fond of them. That's just me. I get the whole see/hear/speak no evil thing but that doesn't speak steakhouse to me, nor tiki/polynesian. Plus, what's the last one doing, grabbing his balls? I think a nice typeface could serve as a logo just fine - certainly replacing the comic sans-esque type. Or, if they are to stay, an illustration refresh could do wonders. Maybe just monkey heads. Who knows?

I just visited for the first time recently and posted pictures on Facebook while I was there. A friend commented that it brought a tear to her eye after seeing the monkeys on the cocktail napkin. Her grandparents used to take her there when she was a little girl, around 50 years ago, and she remembered and loved the monkeys. For what it's worth.

Trader Pat

Those damn monkeys, the show ended in the 1960s & half of them are dead now
talking about living in the past........oh wait?

While I was at Damon's doing the tune up I came across these old Placemats that were behind the old phone booth
backing plate in between the bathrooms. I was able to save a handful so I made a few Damon's Tiki Mug Shelves with them.
The thatch and bamboo is also from Damon's.

EJ

On 2015-09-23 11:03, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Those damn monkeys, the show ended in the 1960s & half of them are dead now
talking about living in the past........oh wait?

This is so funny. I can't stop laughing. It's almost as funny as you misidentifying Witco and other items in the help threads.

K

On 2015-09-23 19:32, RevBambooBen wrote:
While I was at Damon's doing the tune up I came across these old Placemats...I was able to save a handful so I made a few Damon's Tiki Mug Shelves with them.

It hurts my neck when I try to look at it upside down XD

I'm a nice guy and not wanting to cause an emotional outbreak for some, but to me Monkeys in a Pacific Island setting is like seeing the limbo at a luau. Some stereotypes and misrepresentations about the Pacific and it's cultures has had a negative history in the west and the many Dorothy Lamour films in her sarong with a pet monkey on her shoulder didn't help this western misconception. I should say, at the same time, there have been many genuine attempts to be culturally correct in the west. I see this here on TC and it's refreshing. Today most westerners are fairly well educated and have access to the internet. There is no excuse for not correcting pass misconceptions. To me the tiki movement is flattering and it demonstrates, for generations, the love and respect westerners have for the Pacific and its cultures but combining sister cultures is one thing, mixing it up with items from another hemisphere is quite another issue. Changing the Monkey icon at Damon's is a great opportunity for correction. It's like growing up as adults, donating the stuff animals to the needy children or letting education overcome emotions. Sorry if I hurt anyone feelings on the matter but we must think of the feelings of the indigenous Pacific Islanders as well, who only see monkeys on TV, the movies or in a zoo, NEVER out of their windows.

[ Edited by: creativenative 2015-09-24 05:37 ]

On 2015-09-24 05:34, creativenative wrote:
...but to me Monkeys in a Pacific Island setting is like seeing the limbo at a luau.

This reminded me of the whole "monkeys with fezzes" mystery. I've casually searched TC threads and the web and just haven't yet been able to nail down the mystery of where monkeys with fezzes came from. I've been taking pictures of these items at local flea markets when I see them. There are a surprising number of items to be found out here in my part of the US.

Sorry for the de-rail... Back to my work in the fields... Ooooh, look, there's some lovely filth down here!

I actually don't think that the tiki 'movement' has much at all do do with respecting cultures. It's always been about the naive appropriation of Polynesian cultures... In a kitschy way. I thing we all have learned more about those cultures because of tiki, but those who go learning to speak Hawaiian and stuff, start taking it into 'hawaiiana', not tiki. Political correctness is the antithesis of tiki.

Donn Beach had pet monkeys... And while a monkey associated with tiki is kind of 'incorrect', it doesn't offend me, personally, as someone including parrots into tiki. That feels SO Caribbean.

The same could be said of shrunken heads... That was a South American thing. Not a Pacific Islander thing. But because of their exotic feel, they work in tiki.

[ Edited by: Luckydesigns 2015-09-24 09:13 ]

On 2015-09-24 07:19, AceExplorer wrote:
On 2015-09-24 05:34, creativenative wrote:
...but to me Monkeys in a Pacific Island setting is like seeing the limbo at a luau.

This reminded me of the whole "monkeys with fezzes" mystery. I've casually searched TC threads and the web and just haven't yet been able to nail down the mystery of where monkeys with fezzes came from. I've been taking pictures of these items at local flea markets when I see them. There are a surprising number of items to be found out here in my part of the US.

Sorry for the de-rail... Back to my work in the fields... Ooooh, look, there's some lovely filth down here!

It started with the movies, 1940s to 1960s, usually with a shady fez wearing Algerian spy who just happen to have a fez wearing monkey
on his shoulder.

The mid-century tiki thing, to me, is a casual and very relaxed (almost haphazard) consolidation of various escapist elements. Many of these came to mind to folks of the time as both fun and exotic. Few were tied to a desire to be culturally accurate, and no offense ever seemed to be intended. It was recreational, and it was amusing -- less-developed cultures suddenly were at the center of a grand fad.

I see that in today's tiki resurgence we're adding rockabilly, hot rods, monsters, and all kinds of other things. The evolution of the genre is ongoing, and some polarization accompanies that as we find ourselves poly-pop "purists,""progressives," or something in between.

What could we say the "common thread" is? Fun? Retro?


My brain hurts!

That's a good observation, Ace.
I think maybe the connection is generally that appreciation of lowbrow art? That may be too specific, but I hope you get what I mean. I don't literally mean Shag, Rydan, Big Toe, etc.... The general aesthetic of lowbrow.... Rather than all trying to be anthropologists.

Lucky, I get what you mean, it's thought provoking.

Aw, hell, we're over-analyzing. Let's just have some fun! We're obviously too sober, so let's do like them crazy Hawaiians did and drink rum cocktails with spices and citrus juices!!!!!

:)

On 2015-09-24 05:34, creativenative wrote:
...
Sorry if I hurt anyone feelings on the matter but we must think of the feelings of the indigenous Pacific Islanders as well, who only see monkeys on TV, the movies or in a zoo, NEVER out of their windows.

Not true. Maybe not ALL Pacific islands, but I know there are monkeys in, for example, the Philippines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_long-tailed_macaque

There may well be other examples.

In regards to Damon's, their monkey mascots have been with them since they opened (1930's ?). See Dustycajun's post a little earlier in this thread. Their departure would be a real shame. SAVE THE MONKEYS!

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