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B

Why can't anyone get it right?

We were in New York in January for the Outsider Art Fair and were very excited to check out "Waikiki Wally's." We had heard the buzz and had seen the articles trumpeting their opening with Don Ho and other celebrities. Perhaps our expectations were too high—maybe not. I have always maintained that others are too harsh in their judgement of tiki bars and restaurants. I've always said "If they have one stick of bamboo, one tiki and a decent Mai-Tai—I'm there!" Maybe that's still true for vintage or first- generation tiki bars, the ones that washed ashore on the first wave of tiki. That may not be true for these new places.

Waikiki Wally's certainly seemed promising. Their slick color ad in the city guide magazine looked great! As does much of their visual identity. That's due in most part to photographer/designer Richie Fahey. His hula girl and wasted sailor pictures and tiki mug shots that appear on the menu are fantastic! They have a terrific mood and capture the look and feel of some old South Seas watering hole perfectly. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the restaurant. Rather than a dark, moody tiki cave they opted for a light airy "beach" feel. The ceiling was painted sky blue and the main wall is painted with a beach scene mural. This might not be too bad except that the mural is not done very well. The figures that populate the beach have been lifted from other sources (primarily from menu imagery found in "The Book of Tiki"), like the girl from the Zombie Village menu and the Kahiki honey. Problem is, they are not worked into the scene very convincingly.

There are a few tikis: two moai outside the front door (with some weird logo on them) and a Crazy Al carving inside the front door, though when we arrived he was facing the wall and was used primarily to heap postcards, flyers, and other literature on. There are a couple of tiki poles and a few generic masks behind the bar, and other than the wall hangings in the private dining room (we were not allowed in to get a good look) and the Moai built into the stone waterfall (pretty cool!) that was about it. There were lots of fake flowers (some on the ceiling spelling out ALOHA and whatnot) and thatch-covered walls.

Then we ordered drinks. At $8, I guess I expect a halfway decent Mai-Tai, but I shouldn't have. It was too sugary and had too much pineapple juice (?!) and if there was any rum in there, I'd be shocked. It was served in a Tiki Farm tiki mug, however if you didn't use the straw, you would cut your lips to shreads on the huge chips and cracks. Interestingly, the best drink we were served was of the "virgin" variety. The food was so bad I don't want to even begin to try and describe it. Let's just say that my chicken was the best of what we ordered and only because it was edible, if measly and overpriced. One of us had fish that smelled like the week-old cod that they serve for school lunches, while a couple others were risking their life with the bouillabaisse—they were picking out all the bones as they ate. All of this was served by the staff who wore expressions that said, "I can't believe I have to work here and wear this Hawaiian shirt, please someone kill me."

The coolest thing I found was the bar itself. While the face is solid bamboo, the top where you would put your drink is clear glass and displays tiny dioramas inside. Little beach scenes in 3-D, and even a rendering of the painting featured in "The Book of Tiki" of a maiden making an offering to a fiery tiki.

The worst thing, the thing which began as a mild annoyance and grew throughout the meal to a teeth-grinding, mind-numbing pain was the music. For all the lip service paid to Hawaii and tiki (the decor, the menu, the NAME of the friggin' place!!!) you would think they would play Hawaiian and Exotica music. Not so! We were treated to an endless parade of your favorite Cuban, Caribbean, and Salsa music! Ordinarily I would enjoy that kind of stuff, especially the old Cuban tunes, I love Perez Prado, Benny More, and even ol' Tito Puente. But not in my Tiki bar! I got to where if I heard another steel drum I was going to loose my mind. Did they expect me to get up and dance? I don't know, but the actual result of the music was to drive us out the door in search of a proper cocktail.

I would encourage folks to check out ANY tiki place rather than rely on another person's opinion or experience (it could have been an "off" night). Maybe go in and have a drink, check out the decor, and if you're feeling adventurous sit and have a meal. However that said, I can't say I will be visiting Waikiki Wally's the next time I'm in the Big Apple, even if to stare at their parrots trapped in the front window.

You can check out a few photos here: http://www.pegboardchicago.com/wally.html

Now, I'd like to try a novel approach to reviewing a tiki place. I will do it without going there. I'm going against my long-held opinion that one should actually experience a place for themselves before they cast judgement and that one should have an open mind when you go to a new place.

I have not been to Chicago's latest offering "Rock-A-Tiki" for a few reasons, and I will not go for a few reasons more. First, the very thing that drew me to Waikiki Wally's in New York repels me from Rock-A-Tiki. The visual identity they have created is so unattractive that it makes me NOT want to go there. The illustrations, done in a bad 1980's geometric "new wave" style of tikis "rockin'" with their electric guitars in front of Marshal stacks actually scares me away from the place. My understanding is that the reality is not that far off. Loud rock and roll music apparently is the soundtrack of choice. Just like the Caribbean sounds which confused and offended me at Waikiki Wally's, AC/DC is not what I want to hear in a tiki bar. I'm there to relax, to escape. Not to scream in someone's ear 'till I'm hoarse. I can try to yell over the music at a dozen hipster bars in the same nouveau hipster/yuppie neighborhood where Rock-A-Tiki has sprung up.

Rock-A-Tiki's advertising promotes drink specials most nights. Thursday night you can apparently get a Mai Tai for half price... that's half of the regular price of $10. The ad says, "Sure Trader Vic's might have $4 Mai Tais... Just consider the extra $1 an investment in atmosphere." Now, before I go off on the very notion of a $10 Mai-Tai in Wicker Park, let me say that you are not going to score points with me by bashing Trader Vic's. I mean, that is blasphemy as far as I'm concerned. If it hadn't been for Trader Vic's, Rock-A-Tiki would not exist at all. And regardless of the fact that Trader Vic's has been "tikiing" up the place recently, I can't imagine a place with much better atmosphere than old Vic's, not to mention a better tropical drink. The advertisement also boasts of a Karaoke night on Sunday as well as "The Fruit Market Tuesdays" where you can "get girlie-drink-drunk...on your choice of Banana, Pineapple, or Strawberry Daiquiris." Are they trying to entice me or to make me flee?

They brag about their tiki "ambiance," however what I have heard from those who have braved entering, the decor is of the African/Jungle variety with a few pieces they ordered from Oceanic Arts thrown in. Apparently the mural motif is popular with these new places, as I understand they have a jungle mural with tigers and lions in the foliage. There is supposed to be plenty of thatch and bamboo and some rock wall stuff going on. However, as they have a jukebox that is allegedly well stocked with all your favorite rock and metal tunes, I'm too afraid of what some quarter-wielding patron might request to brave going in.

I suppose I should suggest that you check out the place and make your own assessment, but I don't want to be held responsible for anyone patronising a theme/chain wannabe "tiki" bar. If the "keg-swilling frat boys" overtake a tiki bar as Tikibars James predicts, I think it would be Rock-A-Tiki long before Hala Kahiki. If the place lasts that long... The neighborhood is known for its high turnover of trend-du-jour bars and restaurants.

So that's my 2 cents. Take it for what it's worth.

M

When it comes to Tiki bar reviews, Boutiki said it perfectly"I would encourage folks to check out ANY tiki place rather than rely on
another person's opinion or experience (it could have been an "off"
night). Maybe go in and have a drink, check out the decor, and if you're
feeling adventurous sit and have a meal. "
Take anyones review with a grain of salt--the things Boutiki doesn't like about Waikiki Wally's (for example) may be just the things YOU love!!
Now having said that--trust EVERYTHING that I say, beacause I am the man!!

T

Good reviews, boutiki. Is it too much to ask to have a new tiki bar with good drinks, nice ambiance, and appropriate music?!! I anyone listening?! If anyone with any plans to open one in the future is listening, hear this:

  1. Mai Tais do NOT contain pineapple juice! Read and memorize the Grog Log, Intoxica, any old Trader Vic bar guide, and the Don the Beachcomber recipe book. Then MAKE your bartenders make them right and if they won't, tell them to TAKE A HIKE! Sounds simple to me. You'll be one-third done.

  2. Turn down the lights (way down) and don't use anything one would find in Margaritaville such as monkeys and parrots (yes parrots). Don't mix the contemporary tropical look with the original Polynesian look and you will be two-thirds there!

  3. Don't play Reggae, classic rock, Jimmy Buffet, or anything else that one can hear in every bar on every street in America. Who needs to hear Marley or Hendrix again? I certainly don't, and if someone does they can go elsewhere. Play exotica, anything Hawaiian or Polynesian. Should be about a million songs to choose from in these categories. Ask anyone here on TC for suggestions. Did I say NO REGGAE?

Do the above 3 things and you will have accomplished what many have tried over the last 10 years and failed miserably. Good food would be nice but bad food doesn't stop people from going to the Tonga Room. It would also be nice if the place had good service but this may be asking too much as it seems like good service is impossible to find in a bar these days (with a few exceptions).

It's kind of hard to see C'AL's tiki just all off to the side like that. Should have gone to a better home. Mine!

S

All good points, Jab.

"So it is written. So it shall be done."

Boutiki, too bad you had such a bad experience at Wally's. I have always had a good time there, but I think much of it is due to hangin' with fellow TCers - Manic Cat and Inky Louise. Our first dinner there was quite good from what I remember but I have heard they can be inconsistent and definitely pricey.

I agree that Wally's Mai Tais suck! But their Zombie always gets me where I wanna go.

And as far as food goes, I live 1 mile from one of the greatest Tiki Bars of all time -- Sam's Seafood. But alas, like the Tonga Room, you take your chances on the food. Stick to the drinks, my friend, unless you are at Trader Vics!

And when in New York I have two recommendations:

  1. Manic Cat
  2. Inky Louise

(not necessarily in that order)

The rest is a blissful blurr...

And Mr. Smiley - you're eminent wisdom is always appreciated.

M

boutiki, You have not been to Taboo Cove have ya? Thanks for your input. We are off to Chicago in May (Cubs!) and have no immediate plans to visit the new "place". We will have to do with TV's and a trip to Hala Kahiki.

Hey Mr. Siley...of course I believe all you say. People on television know everyhting, right? We caught "Evening Magazine" last week. Now, I would have held out for Malou...

They didn't show the goats!

midnite

[ Edited by: midnite_tiki on 2003-02-10 20:20 ]

B

Yes Midnite, actually we did visit Taboo Cove last fall when we were in Vegas for a wedding. We were very excited to see the place-- we like Bosko's stuff a lot and had heard that the decor was very well done. And it was! Only problem was that it suffered the same shortcomings that the other places did. The free "tiki" drink (free with a coupon obtained at the Venetian, which also got us in free-- there is a cover charge to drink at the bar) was our choice of well drinks, long island ice teas etc. I don't remember that one in the Grog Log...

We tried to sit down and relax with our free drink... then came the music. Rap music at ear splitting decibels. I haven't chugged a drink that fast since college. We had to get the hell out of there. Too bad as we were really groovin' on Bosko's carvings. We scooted across the isle to the Venus club and when we looked at the drink menu we knew we were not going to be there very long either. The menu was for bottles and they started at $200 for vodka. (I'll be at the package store, thanks! Or drink for "free" in the casino) Again, that was a shame 'cause the vintage furniture, design and moody lighting was very nice. Oh well, maybe if we vote with our dollars and frequent the Tiki place that finally "gets it right" it will thrive and the others will close and we can snag the tikis!

Stentiki - you flatter!

I do undersand many of Bou's comments, but NY has been "dry" of any form of TIKI for so long, that Wally's,even with it's weaknesses, is welcome on our map.

2 items: why not mention the Lanai room at Wally's? Is that what they wouldn't let you in? That's too bad if so, the room is more "traditional", moody, and cozy. Second, Wally's should be experienced on Monday nights when they have the "Tiny Bubbles Band" which is a steel guitar trio that plays all the right stuff, with live hula.

Next time I am there I will check in on Crazy Al's Tiki, and we'll make sure he is treated w/ Respect!

Thank you Arty Aloha! My NYC tiki experiences wouldn't be complete without you either. Your comments say alot--that TIKI is more about relaxing with your friends than having to count how many tikis are on the wall.

This is NYC. It ain't perfection nor should it be. Nor do the residents expect it to be! Are our subways clean? NO. Are taxes low? NO. Job market good? NO. Are rents cheap? NO. Get real. New Yorkers hold an unique view on life that it ain't never gonna be perfect. So that's how we manage to stick around even if there's conga drums playing in the background and not steel guitar. Tell me what place in this city gets it right with the right music, the right food, the right people, and the right ambience and for the RIGHT price, and I still won't believe you. No such thing--New Yorkers are sadistic.

Don't sweat the small stuff when visting or become fixated on the details. Believe in the large picture. Like what Inky said, NYC was dry of TIKi for over a decade. Now we have 3 new places to meet people, enjoy live music, and to find that tiki drink we like best. It's new--help it grow.

The staff at WW is VERY responsive. Did you try offering your opinions or suggestions? Every server I've had there wanted to hear about the food. The bartender will talk shop about the drinks. (and won't recommend several of them.) And they want better music too!! Last night, my boyfriend and I were asked to burn some CDs of hawaiian tunes for the place. (so what would you like to hear? I'll gladly forward them a CD if you feel like burning one.)

WW is constintly making improvements and trying new things out--sometimes things don't work (having two cockatoos in the bird cage) and somtimes they do (Crazy Al's tiki is in a new respectful locale up behind the bar in prestigious display beside the revered alcohol and in full sight when one enters.)

I think it's rude and counter-tiki that if you think you know alot about Tiki, you chose to not share this knowledge with the staff and instead hope that a tiki place " will close and we can snag the tikis! " WW is not perfect, but they are very willing to hear your opinions. They have always listened to mine.

PS. Their new mugs show that noone is perfect in TIKI--they say "Tiki Fram" on the bottom. hee-hee.

Yes, you should give a bar a chance, which is what we did with Rock A Tiki... the drinks were overpriced and too strong... I would rather have a moderate price and just enough booze to make me feel it... the decor was fair, but like you said, not classic tiki bar... the jukebox and AC DC was the worst... it's too bad... good idea executed the wrong way...
Make the trip to Hala Kahiki... get there before midnight and spend some money in their great gift shop... and bring a camera... their Witco collection is amazing. Make the trip to Vic's at the Palmer House too... pay homage...

M

"get there before midnight "

What I do this time? Oh, that isn't about me, oops.

We are off to Chicago on 4/12. I will be asking for help on the best time/path to Hala Kahiki. We have not been before, but this time we are making the trek. "Rock a Tiki" will ahve to do without our tourist dollars, they're earmarked for the lacking TV's ambience. :lol:

Seems the "why they play this music?" debate will continue. At last until one of these "new" places gets it right.

midnite

"Crazy Al's tiki is in a new respectful locale up behind the bar in prestigious display beside the revered alcohol and in full sight when one enters."

That's good news, Cat! I emailed C'Al the last pic of his Tiki at WW and he was disturbed that his Tiki was being so poorly treated! He must have given them a friendly call. Proof again that our comments count. I'll be looking forward to the music you and Ben burn for Wally's next time I'm in the City.

Until then, cheers!


Aloha,

Arty

As Tiki as I wanna be.

[ Edited by: stentiki on 2003-02-11 12:42 ]

Although Boutiki has some valid points re: Rock-A-Tiki (you can't diss Trader Vics, even if they do go out of their way - in the Chicago location - to make Tikiphiles feel unwelcome), I must reiterate that unleashing such venom upon a place you admittedly haven't visited is unfair.

I have also noticed that not a single neo-Tiki bar has opened, anywhere, that truly captures the old-school vintage Tiki Bar feel. Some come close... but none really anil it. To be honest, their tacky advertising aside, Rock-A-Tiki is truly amazing inside, and one of the better of the new school of Tiki Bars.

Go early on a weeknight to avoid the loud juke, or get there early and program the juke with the exotica and lounge favorites that are included, go on a Friday when a DJ spins lounge, surf, garage, and exotica - this is as close as you'll get to good music. Admittedly, it's not perfect, but come on - the place is called ROCK-a-Tiki - and although I am adamantly in favor of traditional Hawaiian music in Tiki Bars, at least this place is letting you know what you're in for before you even get there!

Here's my review:

"Rock-A-Tiki Lounge, 1942 W. Division, Chicago, IL (773) 384-tiki

Rock-A-Tiki Lounge was opened in November 2002 by Dion Antic, who also owns a handful of other hipster bars in the Chicago area. This trendy Bucktown spot will impress even the most jaded Tikiphiles, as careful attention has been paid to finer details in an attempt to have Rock-A-Tiki seem as true to the classic Tiki Bar mileu as possible. The design staff (DSK Designs) has a firm grip on the classic Tiki concept, and have added quite a few beautiful little touches.
Custom murals (including a few wonderfully politically incorrect nude hula wahines), pufferfish (lit from within in three colors), miles of bamboo (occasionally broken up by rock walls), a dozen vintage table lamps, a salt water aquarium, and several rooms worth of bamboo furniture (scoured from Vintage Deluxe and every other antique store in town) give Rock-A-Tiki an authentic old-school Tiki Bar feeling. Of course, several six-foot tall Tikis and a floor-to-ceiling Moai-ish ‘doorman’ make the bar what it is. The carved Tiki poles (by Mai Tiki) that are used as bar stools are a great throwback to some of the best loved mythic Tiki Bars of yore. Another row of carved Tiki poles, vintage Oceanic Arts work in a Marquesian style, support the palm-frond roof of the bar. The surface of the bar is a thick layer of Lucite poured over an array of seashells. The ceiling above the bar is painted with stars, further illuminated by vintage Orchids of Hawaii lanterns. Requisite black velvet paintings line opposite walls in the front half of the room, which also houses three large booths.
The musical selections are mixed. Although there is some Exotica and surf music on the jukebox, loud rock music prevails on most nights. Given the local clientele - and the very name of the bar - this shouldn’t truly come as much of a surprise to anyone. A DJ spins on weekends from a booth fashioned to look like a lifeguard chair, complete with Rock-A-Tiki life preserver.
Of the fifty beverages on the menu, about half are served in Dynasty Tiki Mugs, and are extremely strong. Variations on all of the classic Tropical Drinks are present, as well as a large selection of new libations. Hell in the Pacific, a Rock-A-Tiki creation, has a complex nutty flavor. The Frozen Bikini is a refreshing fruity daiquiri served on a Dynasty Lono mug. The Polynesian Lemonade comes in a cute little mini-Scorpion Bowl.
Some of the recipes could use some work, however. The $10 price tag per potion that seems fair at the Mai Kai or Trader Vic’s doesn’t always seem appropriate for Rock-A-Tiki. It isn’t the amount of booze that makes a drink great (and worth an entire sawbuck per), it is the care and preperation that goes into the recipe. Drinks are only worth ten clams if they are not only strong, but they taste great.
The food, on the other hand is an unqualified success. Almost everyone involved with Rock-A-Tiki recommends the coconut shrimp, and we found the grilled papaya salad to be healthful and delicious. The grilled ahi tuna BLT is a triple-decker, loaded with fresh chunks of succulent tuna and some flavorful wasabi mayo. Served with a mango salad, it complements the Tropical Drinks well.
As the only Tiki Bar currently in existance on Chicago’s north side, Rock-A-Tiki does an excellent job of ressurrecting Tiki Culture in a town that once had almost a dozen Tiki Bars within the city limits."

...

MC

I forgot to say that I like Crazy Al's tiki's new location also because now I have a clear view of his signature handsome feet.
Plus, the detail, especially around its mouth, is so much more visable. It's beautiful how the quality of the actual palm tree is retained by the figure. Or, have I been drinking one too many Wally's Downfalls?

[ Edited by: manic cat on 2003-02-11 14:55 ]

I'm afraid Boutiki's asessment of Waikiki Wally's is more or less on the money. Even as a New Yorker I found the place to be a bit of a let down, trust me...I WANTED it to be as cool as your legendary Tiki place should be. For starters, like you boutiki, I was also a bit irked by the chips in the Tiki mugs. When I had my first drink I noticed it and kinda let it go, but then my girlfriend and I ordered a Scorpion Bowl after that and that was cracked too! Yuck! It's also kinda creepy that, according to your review boutiki, the 'cracked tiki mug' is becoming somewhat of a tradition at WW. Maybe they wannbe famous for their 'cracked tikis'. Actually sounds kinda cool and oh-so neurotically New York. My food wasn't that bad, but when we first walked in the place had a stench that was reminiscent of ,oh...a wet dirty rag? That soon dissapated, and like I said I really wanted to give the place a chance. Long story short, I didn't have that bad a time. However, I wouldn't recommend WW as a kick-ass traditional Tiki adventure. Maybe for a goof I'll check in there again. Being in Ft. Lauderdale the week before for the holidays and making my usual vist to the legendary AMAZING, COLOSSAL Mai-Kai also didn't help this virgin voyage to WW since that latest visit to Mai-Kai was so fresh in my head. I have the somewhat same opinion of Otto's Shrunken Head (14th St.) also. The last time I was in there...I don't know it just wasn't fun. It was alright. Probably had something to do with the sound system. Now here's a place, a Tiki bar for that matter, that can get away with playing loud music, but their sound system SUCKED, and the DJ was also playing tons of retro country (Hank Williams, Johnny Cash) which is ok, but for god sakes if your gonna spin retro stuff, throw some Elvis/Blue Hawaii or even Ventures/Hawaii Five-o in the mix to make the environment make some kinda sense. Otto' s is alright but instead of being a really fun Tiki bar it's just another East Village bar with a tiki design occupied by either affected E. Village types and/or frat guys and girls that could give a good rat's booty about how the place is decorated. Now if you want to check out a really cool tiki bar, I would highly recommend The Zombie Hut in Brooklyn. That place is very cool! Atmosphere, drinks, music, etc...very good. And the night I was there last ,the bartender made me a REAL Mai-Tai-no pineapple juice. This place definitely had their sh*t together. So if you live in NYC or are just coming to visit I would suggest going there. Otherwise, in the NY Metro area, your money is best spent at Chan's Dragon Inn in Ridgefield, NJ. And from what I understand Jade Island on Staten Island is also very cool. That's next on my list. 'til then......
:drink: Aloha!!

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-02-11 22:56 ]

Aloha, all! My two cents....jab, I need to remind you that Kakiki had a HUGE monkey head fountain...does that disqualify it?, though I agree that parrots and monkeys are out of place in a "true" tiki bar...My opinion on music...as I am trying to open my own tiki bar in Chicago...If the mix is half Polynesian, I'm cool with that....all those frat kids atRock a tiki will mellow out in a few more years, and then long for the tiki ambiance, then find that rockin'/beer swilling isn't their speed anymore...take a look at all the Shag paintings you guys drool over....they've all got more of a beatnik/jazz sensibility in their stylings and backgrounds...very cool, but not true tiki...but this lets me know that jazz has a place in tikidom....and the fact that we covet Yma Sumac, and others like her tells me that Mambo, and other South American sounds have a place....and exotica itself has lots of jungle themes and monkey and parrot noises, jungle drums, etc. in the background....And then of course the Rat Pack seems to have a place in some tiki collections simply because of the cocktail culture that it signifies...then again a more jazz/swing slant....most of the lounge culture I've noticed in London and Europe, Club Montepulciano, etc. has a jazz/swing/light techno bent...but that's as far as I would take it toward dance music in my bar...as much as I love reggae, I would leave it out of my playlist, as would I rock and roll....I don't figure any businessman could constantly draw clientele on a 100% Hawaiian playlist...atleast not on the Mainland....I used to bitch and moan at the lack of purity in the music selections as well, but then I realized that was just my fantasy dream tiki bar...the one in my head and the one in my house...got a different perspective one I considred opening my own actual place....I believe you've got to meet your customers halfway, and I'm not going to force exotica and the Ka'au Crater Boys down their throats, so I'll give them some Jazz, etc.....but I'll also have Exotica nights, Hawaiian nights, live entertainment nights...whatever it takes to please the hardcore... Please send me your opinions...Mahalo, Grey

T

hey there all!
steve from Otto's Shrunken Head (14th st. NYC) here and I'd figure i'd put my 2 cents into this discussion. As far as the the whole Rock-Tiki thing goes I love rock, punk, glam garage, surf, etc. you name it. I play in a garage rock band and used to own a rehearsal studio before coming to own Otto's. I love the tiki motif as well but that doesn't mean that I can't have both. Just having tiki all the time would force me to close in a matter of months. I have 2 bands that are Tiki that play there on a weekly basis the Moonlighters (20's & 30's hawaiian) and Fisherman (50's-60's lounge/exotica) They do well but there just aren't enough Tiki-philes to maintain that for more than twice a week. Juat ask Manic, Inky and Sten. I have country bands, punk, surf and garage as well as metal and hard rock. That's the clientelle in the neighborhood. Chefgrey has a point, you have to please the people there as well as yourself, which means invariably you upset some people. I offer traditional stuff for people into that and rock to those that aren't. As far as decor goes, that's as subjective as anything. I have traditional elements Crazy Al heads MaiTiki totems even one that blows smoke, I have bamboo on the bars and thatch on the walls but I also have lighted fabrics, pattern murals and lighting effects. I think that if you have a good time that's the most important thing. Sorry to Donhonyc who didn't have a good time at Otto's perhaps you'd give us a second chance on a more traditional tiki night like the Moonlighters or Fisherman.

A bar that survives to carry on the torch (tradional or otherwise) of Tiki will in the end do the most good for the culture
steve

I love the old TIKI and all of it should be preserved. But also, a culture which never grows/ adapts/ changes will eventually die. If we constantly compare contemporary TIKI with a standard which exists in the past, we are screwed. It would be perfect to have a Mai Kai everywhere, but this can't happen despite all the pineapple-less Mai Tais we drink. We really have to work with the TIKI we have or else we are gonna be right back in the '90s with no TIKI. Keep your fingers crossed that Trader Vic's is opening in NYC--and all the tourists will be happy with their perfect tiki experience for the one night they in town--, but that's just TIKI dreamin'.
Steve is right--it is not realistic in a economic sense to be full-on TIKI in NYC. We don't have enough patrons interested YET. Remember everyone visiting NYC--our three tiki bars have only been here for 7-8 months tops! This isn't T V's decades of experience! Plus, this is in a town that's really struggling financially since 9/11. I admire anyone who has taken upon a tiki endevor in such a hard time to do so.
What about the Tiki-cross-over with other genres? I Love IT! It's creative, it's ingenious, and it is people setting their own standars rather than conformity to an economic/social/cultural reality which thrives primarily on the West Coast. What's happening is 21st century NYC TIKI which is an unique interpretation of the Tiki Style. How many of us are just gonna copy what's been done before or how about making Tiki an expresion of ourselves?
Go, to Steve's at Otto's--you're gonna get some rockabilly, punk, loud stuff. (From the looks of some of our threads, it seems that other Tiki centralites were punk kids back in the day too.) But you want only Tiki? Do some homework--it's there on Monday and Thursday nights. With WW, Drag Queen culture is mixed right in. Tiki Drag--It's a fresh experience. (By the way, if you are hating the WW scene, there's also a private tiki space between WW and Luck Cheng's. Here, you can avoid the weekend crowds.) And yo--if you mention the cracks in WW mugs, they will gladly give you several to take home so that they have room for the newer ones. Cracked or not, I'm always happy for a tiki mug--I can get really creative with its usage. I can make a lamp, planters, ceramic mosaics, coin jars, etc. So as an analogy, instead of throwing away NYC TIKI because it's "chipped" or not what you expect and want, try to see our situation here in a fresh light and recognize NYC TIKI's potential to become new, progressive, and different. (Thank you tikibar James for pointing out that no new tiki bar is just like the originals)
I really don't want to be taking steps backwards because one year ago, the number of tiki bars in NYC = zero.

T

chefgrey2 wrote:
"jab, I need to remind you that Kakiki had a HUGE monkey head fountain...does that disqualify it?"

Of course not. The Kahiki had so much more going for it that a monkey here and there worked. For the most part it was polynesian. I was mainly trying to make the point that the contemporary tropical look with monkeys and parrots thrown in is not a'peal'ing to me and strays too far from the classic tiki theme for my taste.

I would agree with you, Grey, that soft lounge music in general would be appropriate for a new tiki bar. So would surf music if it wasn't too loud. I appreicate your plan to not play reggae and rock. I like most kinds of music, especially rockabilly, 60s garage, punk, etc. but I don't necessarily want to hear it in a tiki bar atmosphere.

I still don't understand the fear that you have (and others have had) to try and make a new place as much like a classic tiki bar as possible. Why do you think that people won't come when it hasn't really been tried recently? I think when Taboo Cove was started the plan was to come close to a classic experience. I know it has been discussed to death here but I find it the best example I can think of. The first time I went there in Oct. 2001 they had the special tropical drink menu and at least one bartender who seemed to care about the original drink recipes (even though I had to ask her to remake my drink because she left out the Pernod because she said some people didn't like it). The drinks weren't very good but they could have easily fixed that with more training of the staff. They were playing old burlesque clips on the TVs (though it would have been better without TVs) above the bar. And the music was OK as I recall (surf music). The next visit (April 2002) it was totally different. Unfortunately, they changed many things quickly without really giving it a chance.

Taboo Cove had many things going against them. Not the least was the fact that they opened right after 9/11. Also, it was hard to find. And it wasn't promoted very much at all.

I imagine that you have loads more experience than I have in running restaurants (I have none) and you have probably done your research. I just think someone should try it before asssuming people aren't going to like it. I have spoken with the manager and the owner of the Mai Kai and they said they are always busy, even after 9/11. Why? Because people do like it the way it is: soft Hawaiian music all the time, excellent drinks that are expensive but worth it, and so on. Once people go once they will go again because it is such a pleasant and unique experience that is very tightly controlled by management. Nothing changes there and that's what brings repeat customers for generations, as well as drawing in new customers by word of mouth and by their reputation.

T

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about modern-day neo-Tiki Bars:

First off, the general public has forgotten the meaning of the word "lounge". My dictionary defines the word as: "To move or act in a lazy, relaxed way; To pass time idly.". Almost everyone who goes into bars or clubs these days (this is starting since the disco era and has not ceased since) wants to 'party'. They want raucus music, a 'crazy good time', and loud debauchery. That, or they want their 'corner bar' vibe, where they can have their shot n' beer and watch football with their buddies.

Those of us who crave a lounge where we can lounge are a very, very small minority. Remember that for many TC-ers, our social circles are filled with people in the Tiki or Lounge communities, so it SEEMS to us like there are more of us than there really are. But we are very few. Certainly the Tiki Fad we are going through right now is attracting new people, and some of them will stick around after the Tiki Fad has subsided, which it will, and very soon, but a majority of the people who are new to Tiki in the past year or two will be gone from the scene in another year or two.

Anyway, we see the word "Lounge" in the names of bars and clubs all the time, but the vast, vast majority of the public doesn't make any differentiation between a "Lounge" a "Bar" or whatever - they're all places to get loaded, watch football on TV, 'rock out', or pick up chix. Many of the new Tiki fans are among this community as well, not having fully grasped the idea of "lounge" or going out to a place to relax, not to get crazy.

It is economically unfeasable to undergo the expense of obtaining a liquor license, a lease, a staff, insurance, security, decor, and a stock of liquor in order to cater to a community as small as ours.

If there was a spectacularly cool neo-Tiki bar in your neigbohood, how often would you go?
I mean really, once a week or so? If that?
How many Tikiphiles and lounge lizards live in your city?
If you're in California, that's one thing, but the rest of the country?

Bottom line is: Neo-Tiki Bar owners have to look at their bottom line and please 'all the peope all the time', as much as possible. Rock music, fast food, and TV's are what Joe Square wants, so that's what he gets - otherwise, there will be no bar at all.

The majority of the people who are opening Neo-Tiki Bars are doing it because it is the latest fad. They don't give a shit about the history, the culture, the legendary forefathers of Tiki... they just want to open a 'cool' watering hole, and make their money. Tiki is a a way to do that (yes, there are exceptions - some of the owners are truly passionate about Tiki, but they are few).

Our choices are to put up with the crappy aspects or to not have these places at all.

Now, lest any one think I am rationalizing or justifying garbage (and anyone who has read my web site will know that I have no compunctions about lambasting places for the very things I seem to be defending above - i.e. TVs, Budweiser, loud knucklehead clients, etc), let me say that I would worship a truly genious Neo-Tiki bar with all the reverence due. I don't LIKE these negative aspects of the newer places, but we have to put up with them because it is the economic reality of doing business right now, in a time vey different from the days when our classics were built.

Hala Kahiki, Tiki Ti, Mai Kai, and Kahiki were all built in a seven-year period between 1955 and 1962. Things were differernt then.

If we want new Tiki Bars, we are going to have to put up with modern aspects to them.

This stinks, but it is the harsh reality of our economy.

That said:

Can anyone tell me the name of a Tiki Bar built since 1985 that is TRULY on a par with the classic Tiki Bars of yore?

I can't think of one - some come close, some have great aspects to them, but none truly RULE.

It is for all of these reasons that we need to appraise Neo-Tiki with a different set of criteria than classic Tiki.

We cannot compare Ottos, Taboo Cove, Waikiki Wally, Rock-A-Tiki, PoliTiki, or whatever to Mai Kai, Kahiki, and Tiki Ti, because there is a 40-year gap bwtween them. Rather we need to compare Ottos, Taboo Cove, Waikiki Wally, Rock-A-Tiki, PoliTiki or Tiki Bar (Pittsburgh) against each other, with a different set of standards than we apply to the classics.

Now all of that said - Wally's probably serves drinks in chipped mugs because Tiki Farm mugs (LOVE 'em!) are damned expensive! Even Dynasty mugs are 1/3 the price (wholesale), but we love the Tiki Farm mugs, and Wally's serves drinks in 'em! So our choices are to get a chipped one, or get a pint glass.

Similarly, Rock-A-Tiki does have cheezy menu graphics and loud music, but look at the decor - it RULES. Go early, and it'll be nice n' quiet. And the food is good. Get there early enough to program the juke with all-Exotic for the night (there IS some in there!), and your troubles are solved.

These things are what we make of them.

Okay... enough...


Iorana!

James Teitelbaum
webmaster: Tiki Bar Review Pages (since 1994)
author: Tiki Road Trip (pre-order it now!)
creator: Left Orbit Temple (volume II coming soon)

[ Edited by: tikibars on 2003-02-12 14:35 ]

T

Good perspective, JT.

I can remember having endured bad classic rock in the Tiki Ti before and I'm sure that late on a Friday or Saturday the Tiki Ti gets its share of loud frat-boy knuckleheads too. The classic places are not immune.

Perhaps it's because I live in the San Francisco area but I know many people who like to lounge and would frequent a bar with the original style. I think it can be done here or in LA. Maybe in Chicago it's very different, and I know it wouldn't fly in say Salt Lake City. Likewise in New York, it seems there the people are a bit more into current trends and they don't have as large a crowd that wears vintage clothing and likes to lounge (probably because vintage clothes are so expensive there!) as in California. In California it's more that time-warp feeling that many of us strive for, in choosing a restaurant, what car we drive, or what bars we drink in.

JT,
Very well said. I for one have felt this way about all the new tiki bars opening up in the past couple of years. Like you said, what it comes down to is simple economics. As I've posted many time before, they (the tiki bars) have to cater to the masses in order to turn a profit and I can't blame them one bit. If I owned the bar, you better believe I'd do what it takes to stay in business!

Are the new breed of tiki bars built and run in the traditional sense of how we know it? Obviously not. But isn't a halfway-traditional tiki bar better than no tiki bar at all? In my opinion, yes.


*** * * The Polynesian Popster * * ***

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop on 2003-02-12 14:54 ]

T

thanks JT for putting things into perspective.
At times Otto's can be lounge-y and at others a loud and raucous rock bar. The same could probably be said of any neighborhood bar, tiki or not. The one thing I learned in opening this bar is: no matter how much you try to shape and mold your bar and it's clientelle, it will develop it's own identity due to it's customers because it's the customers that make the bar what it is. I can control it somewhat but at the end you just have to let it develop on it's own. I try to give the proper respect to the past with a new edge.

As far as the traditional sense of running a tiki bar goes, there's one thing that never goes out of style and that's taking care of your customers and having a well crafted drink. We serve traditional drinks but we have a few new concoctions as well. The one thing that all tiki bars neo or classic must respect is crafting of their drinks.

Man...you guys are so right on...it's just beautiful...(wiping away tear)...I really appreciate your most esteemed input...what I'm thinking of, and hopefully this will appease everyone...Is a heavily tiki-ed main bar, surrounded by jazzy-loungey Shag like decor...basically little living room sets...then a heavily traditional, covelike back room for the hardcore...think that'll work? Mahalo for the input. Grey

T

I like the idea of seperate rooms a whole lot. That way if one room gets too loud folks can get away to the back room.

A

"Bottom line is: Neo-Tiki Bar owners have to look at their bottom line and please 'all the peope all the time', as much as possible. Rock music, fast food, and TV's are what Joe Square wants, so that's what he gets - otherwise, there will be no bar at all."

So... original tiki bars don't have to look at their bottom line? Then we should cut the Neo-tiki bars all kinds of slack while we nit-pick the old places since they don't have to make money, right? They must receive tiki social security.

Nothing to peddle at the end of my posting. Aloha!

S

Is it hot in here or is just me?!

Traditional vs. Non-Traditional.

Purity vs. Impurity.

Good vs. Evil.

The Evil Empire!

The Axis of Evil!

The Duality of Nature.

I can live with them ALL, man!

There's always gonna be something that someone doesn't like. I'm just glad there's something.

To complain about.

To talk about.

To dream about.

Tiki Dreams to all of you.

Peace.

Cheers.

Aloha.

M

I like Jimmy Buffett.

As my personal guru Homer J. says:

"Less artsy, more fartsy!"
midnite

B

Just wanted to follow up on a couple of points. I think that some members have taken my review as being more negative than I intended. I thought that my review was largely factual, but I tried to explain what I saw as shortcomings or share my feelings about what I experienced. I don't think I was "rude" or "counter-tiki" in my assessment. If you actually read what I wrote, you will notice the many kudos I gave Wally's: the visual identity, the dioramas, the Moai fountain... the details I thought were successful. I tried to balance the negative with the positive. Like I said, I like old Cuban and Caribbean tunes and would not have minded nearly as much if they had mixed it in with Hawaiian/Exotica sounds. It began to bother me only when that was all they played. I was pleased to hear that they are receptive to suggestions from patrons and that they have made changes like moving their tiki to a place of honor. A good friend reports that he has visited Wally's since I was there and that they are playing more Hawaiian tunes even if the bartender thought "It's too slowwww."

I don't differentiate between a new tiki place or an old one when I'm assessing it. I just want to see if there are the fundamental elements which I think provide a pleasing tiki experience: A "Tropical","Polynesian" atmosphere (which would include relaxing tunes; music is part of the atmosphere) and a tasty cocktail. I'm always excited to check out a tiki place, new or old, and always give the benefit of the doubt, unless they offend me or scare me away as the rock-a-tiki has with their ads. You would think that having a guide as thorough as the Book of Tiki would make putting together a tiki bar much easier.

I have said before that a half-assed tiki bar is better than a whole-assed "T.G.I.rishMcPubCajun" joint. I'd rather have a less than ideal experience at Wally's than an evening out at Bennigan's. Though I think that to make statements which sound exclusionary like "squares" makes Tiki central members appear elitist and phony. That does nobody any good. Lest I remind you that Tiki was originally a POPULAR (not an underground) phenomenon and that Hala Kahiki is filled every night with people who would never call themselves "tiki enthusiasts." I'd just try to describe different types of experiences, those in a comfortable environment with friends, conversation and cocktails as opposed to those where loud music and a pick-up scene are the norm. There is room for both, people can go to whichever one they like.

With regards to my thoughts about the rock-a-tiki, I think it's perfectly fair to address an establishment's public persona. I was basing my comments on what the bar has presented in their advertising and what I have heard from those who have been there. I mean, THEY put the ads out there, I didn't invent that stuff. Likewise, other Tiki Central members have not taken issue with other folks making judgements based on hearsay (criticizing a place before they've seen it for themselves). Again, I was basing my comments on factual information (the ads) and pointing out that the attitude they present is of the lowest-common-denomenator variety and does not appeal to me. The Trader Vic's bashing I found particularly offensive. If they want to attract a brash, loud "in-your-face" clientele who wants to get "girly-girl-drunk," that's their prerogative. I don't have any interest in that kind of thing. My point was that, from what I have seen, I have no interest in visiting the rock-a-tiki. I'll stick with Trader Vic's, Hala Kahiki, and the Chef Shangri-La. Again, you vote with your dollars. If the places I like are patronized, they will stick around; if not, they will close. And the same is true for the places that I might not particularly care for. If people like them, they will be around after others are gone.

At the end of the day, go to the places that make you happy, nobody is stopping you, nor is anybody dragging me anywhere I don't want to go. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, myself included. I always suggest that people make their own assessments of a bar or restaurant or movie, or band or car or artwork or whatever. But that's what a review is, a critique. Make your own judgements after you have seen it for yourself. As far as I'm concerned, my last line said it all, "So that's my 2 cents. Take it for what it's worth." I'm certainly not trying to present myself as the last word on Tikibars.

I have yet to check out Otto's Shrunken Head in NY (maybe next trip in March) or Chan's Dragon Inn in Ridgefield, NJ (looking forward to it). I have visited the tiki bar downstairs at Niagra (which nobody has mentioned). If I were to go back to Waikiki Wally's it would have to be at a local/regular's (like Manic Cat) invitation to see how different the experience might be, visiting with an insider. After we go there, however, I'd like to take Manic Cat across the river to Lee's Hawaiian Islander in Lyndhurst, NJ. If I lived in New York, that would be one of my favorite tiki hangouts. Though I have to agree-- ENJOY THEM ALL!

[ Edited by: boutiki on 2003-02-12 20:39 ]

T

On 2003-02-12 19:07, ahilava wrote:
"Bottom line is: Neo-Tiki Bar owners have to look at their bottom line and please 'all the peope all the time', as much as possible. Rock music, fast food, and TV's are what Joe Square wants, so that's what he gets - otherwise, there will be no bar at all."

So... original tiki bars don't have to look at their bottom line? Then we should cut the Neo-tiki bars all kinds of slack while we nit-pick the old places since they don't have to make money, right? They must receive tiki social security.

Nothing to peddle at the end of my posting. Aloha!

Of course original Tiki Bar owners have a bottom line, but for many of them, the decor is long since paid for, if not the buildings themselves: in the case of both Hala Kahiki and Tiki Ti, both are family-run businesses in stand-alone buildings. If the familes own the buildings, assuming a 30-year mortgage, they were paid off in 1992 and 1991 respectively. With the Tikis and the bulding paid for, and family running the place, the overhead is cut dramatically. Kowloon in Massachusetts, The Alibi in Portland, and our dearly missed Kahiki (as wll as dozens of others) fall into this category as well.

Anyway, it is not cutting new places slack, it is judging them by different criteria, since they are indeed a different animal altogether. A bar opened in the 1960s and one opened in the 2000s can never be scrutinzed with the same criteria, or at last not fairly.

Scroll down a hair for a bit of peddling.
:)

The first Volcano Bowl is on me! And i haven't been to Lee's so I 'd love to go.
I like Lei Bar (under Niagara) but I don't talk about it alot because it has a cover charge and is open only some nights (so I rarely go). Plus, no Tiki drinks.
Your critique is your own and I actually agree with some of your points. The music has been ridiculous at WW. I've posted before that the repeat play of "Lilo and Stitch" soundtrack was making me nuts. But the food, I've found fantastic the many times I've eaten there.
But the point I'm really trying to make, is that we should be doing more than just speaking with our dollars in order to make a statement about Tiki. Having this discussion on the internet is a good example of how we are positively working to enhance Tiki. But, we should be speaking to the bar staff also. (You were at WW one night so I can see how that would be hard.) Yes, it makes a difference what bars we choose to patron. But are we just consumers or more than that? Looking at photos of your bad-ass tiki in the backyard you are obviously a dynamic individual. You definately have a love of Tiki. I was really surprised when you described the staff at WW as so unhappy when usually they love to talk about what WW is doing. Too bad that you didn't get a chance to give them your opinions. I think that you telling them a thing or two about Tiki Classic would be more affective than your dollars not going there. Because your dollars WILL be quickly replaced by other patrons'. Your knowledge and decidation to Tiki will not.

Damn!!! I gotta say, I love this thread...where else could I find such spirited debate about a subject such as this? I've personally never been involved in an online community as much as this one! And in this weird world that we currently live in that means alot. As Ozzy used to say at the end of all his shows.. 'I love you all!!" Now.. stenki, love what you said. Poetry! Boutiki...now I gotta go to Lee's f'in Hawaiian Islander out in Jersey. It's that good?? As far as what we all think the new interpretation of what Tiki should be..I look at it this way: we all want Johnny Carson back on the Tonight Show but we gotta live with Jay Leno, Johnny retired over 10 years ago, and he ain't never comin' back..that's the way it is. Does that analogy make any sense? However I will say that a good new interpretation should take note of the old, and try to combine that with an environment that caters to non-tikiphiles, etc that come and spend the dough. I could live with that. Waikiki Wally's is somewhat close to that as is Otto's, but both these places just strike me as talkin' the talk too much and not walkin' the walk enough. Kinda like the Hard Rock Cafe...if you will. (If I could only hit the lottery I would open a place myself.) Perhaps I should try WW or Otto's again. James...I know these new Tiki bars are better than none...but why have powdered milk when you know there's cows out there? From where I sit, it's impossible to say whether setting up an ass-kicking new interpretaiton of a tiki bar would be financially rewarding, but like I said in an earlier posting, check out the Zombie Hut on Smith St. in Brooklyn. It's not gigantic by any means, but it's a well put-together lounge in the tiki tradition. They don't play all Exotica music all the time or anything like that but the environment is very cool. If there was a larger version of that place with some Witco furniture here and there and a few little grotto/cave type alcoves with torches and/or tiki lamps that would be REALLY COOL. ("dreamin' is free!")

:drink:

ALOha!

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-02-12 22:46 ]

T

I'm going to Miami on Tues. (my first time) and am going to check out the Maikai and visit Wayne at Maitiki who carved some tikis for my bar. It'll be my chance to check out the neo-vs. classic for myself. Any ideas on other places I should check out while I'm down there?
-steve from Otto's

T

On 2003-02-12 22:37, donhonyc wrote:
As far as what we all think the new interpretation of what Tiki should be..I look at it this way: we all want Johnny Carson back on the Tonight Show but we gotta live with Jay Leno, Johnny retired over 10 years ago, and he ain't never comin' back..that's the way it is. Does that analogy make any sense?

...I know these new Tiki bars are better than none...but why have powdered milk when you know there's cows out there?

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-02-12 22:46 ]

The Leno-Carson thing DOES make sense, in it's own twisted way...
:)

And so:

The reason we put up with powedered milk when there are cows is because Carson the cow retired leaving us with powdered milk Leno.

Okay, I have completely flipped my noggin.

Outta here....

peddle on, my wayward son.

D

Steve from Otto's/tatysp....have a nice, safe trip and enjoy! I wish I was going with you. I hope your Mai-kai experience is truly an ass-kicking revelation and very fun. What the heck is Maitiki and where in the world is that?? I wish I could give you more Tiki type places to go. The only thing that comes to mind...funny enough..is Parrot Jungle! NOT a tiki bar..but one of the oldest tourist attractions/bird aviaries in South Florida. If you want some campy Tiki Garden-esque entertainment, and you got some time, check it out. As I sit here and sip a Mai-tai I'm wondering: there probably is a really great find in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area other than Mai-kai..but then again maybe not. Tastysp, I think it's in you to discover something down there that is gonna kick all our asses, but if you don't and just visit the Mai-Kai that is enough. I can't wait to hear your review. James...when is your book coming out? We live in a powdered milk culture...save us all!!!!
:drink: Mahalo!!!

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-02-13 20:47 ]

T

thanks donhonyc. I'll raise a maitai for you at the Maikai. MaiTiki is Wayne Coombs Tiki carving outfit. He carved the 4 5ft. heads I have at Otto's and built the smoke blowing Tiki god I have in the window. He's an amazing carver, been doing it for 30 years or so. I'll let everyone know if there are any interesting Tiki bars down there.
Mahalo

On 2003-02-13 20:40, donhonyc wrote:
James...when is your book coming out? We live in a powdered milk culture...save us all!!!!

At risk of further citations for peddling: the book will be out no later than May 01.
My publisher is working hard to have it out by April 15, so that I can bring some (some = like 100) copies to Mondo Tiki in Las Vegas on April 19. I will be planning events in LA and SF for the following week, if all goes well. Look for details on ths board soon.

Can't say when Amazon will be filling their pre-orders, but I imagine it will be on or before May 01.

I found myself putting powedered sugar in my oatmeal this morning, rather than the rum I usually start my day with. :-/

TastySP - when you go to Mai Kai be sure to reserve for the floor show, and sit up front! It's almost as good as your joint on a typical Monday Night!

:wink:

B

Guess the Enchanted Tiki Room has it all wrong because they feature parrots.

boutiki,
you mentioned that you're back in NYC in March.
I'm guilty of getting freaky-tiki (defensive) in this thread but I still think we could meet up over a Zombie volcano bowl.
let me know if you are up to it.
there's a reason why I'm called,
MANIC cat.

Let us not forget the fabulous Chef Shangri-La in near by N. Riverside, where you can get cheap strong Mai-Tai's and the ambiance is great with lots of Witco and Oceanic Arts around the place. Your host Paul has been around quite a while, having spent years working in the once famous Shangri-La (which was in downtown Chicago) as a chef until the early 70's. If you come to Chicago you should definitely check out Chef Shangri-La!

MC

ooohhhh. Where is North Riverside? (nj? ny?) I'm not sure. This sounds ideal for our next chapter crawl.

K

NJ? NY? Actually -- IL. But you'd be welcome to drive in for the day. Hell, make a weekend of it. You won't be disappointed.

Come to think of it, come visit Chef Shangri-La as part of the Chicago Tiki Weekend, August 22-24, 2003 (details to follow soon).

On 2003-03-17 10:36, atomiktiki wrote:
Let us not forget the fabulous Chef Shangri-La in near by N. Riverside, where you can get cheap strong Mai-Tai's and the ambiance is great with lots of Witco and Oceanic Arts around the place. Your host Paul has been around quite a while, having spent years working in the once famous Shangri-La (which was in downtown Chicago) as a chef until the early 70's. If you come to Chicago you should definitely check out Chef Shangri-La!

Chef Shangri-La is also right up the street from Hala Kahiki (more or less), and Chef makes better drinks at a cheaper price. I like to get dinner and a couple of Mai Tai's at Chef and then go up to HK and enjoy the ambience. There's an obsure little dump called Club Paradise that I use to complete my western Chicago Tiki Trilogy if the weak drinks at HK have sobered me up too much...

B

On 2003-03-14 10:12, manic cat wrote:
boutiki,
you mentioned that you're back in NYC in March.
I'm guilty of getting freaky-tiki (defensive) in this thread but I still think we could meet up over a Zombie volcano bowl.
let me know if you are up to it.
there's a reason why I'm called,
MANIC cat.

Sorry for the slow reply Manic Cat. I have been very busy and have not been on Tiki Central in a while. I was in NY the first week of March for the Armory show at the west side piers. I got sick, flew home, and had to fly back at the end of the show. So I didn't have time to hang out in the Big Apple like I had expected or I would have taken you up on your generous offer. I do get to New York with some regularity and on my next visit I'd be happy to do some tiki bar hopping. Have you made it to Lee's yet?

MC

No Lee's yet. I don't have a car so it's tough getting out of town. But i will check it out!
Do you work for an art gallery? (You mentioned Outsider art show and Armory Show.)

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