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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Kelbo's, Los Angeles, CA (restaurant)

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Street:11434 W. Pico Blvd. and 101 N. Fairfax Ave.
City:Los Angeles

Kelbo's famous for it's ribs and it's cocktails.

There are a few Kelbo's posts on Tiki Central but not an official Locating Tiki one so I thought I'd start one with this ad from the 1958 Yellow Pages ~

Oh wow they had both Pork and Ham! :lol:

Always a good thing to have it all in one place, so I continue with some images:

Their business card, a little more racy than their phone book ads :)

The light house, before....

...and after it became a topless bar:

Their light box menu they had above every table:

And their found object assemblage "conversation window"...

...maybe we can find out why it looked so different originally, compared to the photo I took in the 90s:


I didn't get a very good shot of it, but they spruced up the lighthouse a bit and painted bamboo frames around the windows.

no inside shots Kate?


I was fortunate enough to frequent the place. But silly me, didn't think to get more than one matchbook. I gave it to Sabu to add it to his collection.

[ Edited by: CheekyGirl 2008-06-17 08:04 ]

what, you don't go there anymore???


If they had good tropical drinks I would!

This is a Kelbos food and drink menu from the '70's. It is very tiki-lite, so I will just post the pertinent "beachcomber"-y cover (with closeup of the good stuff!), Kelbo's history and the not-so-exciting drink menu.




Non-alcohol and alcoholic drink menus:


Picked up this matchbook today. Never knew there were 5 locations.


Non-Headache view. :)

I was told by one of the Tonga Hut owners, Jeremy, that this lamp in the corner of his North Hollywood, CA bar comes from Kelbo's:

I'm going to be a bad reporter, because I've forgotten the name of the gentleman who gave it to him for the bar, but next time you're there ask him for the story yourself. I'm sure he'll tell it to you over a mai tai.


Chub posted on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 3:25 PM

Found this picture in the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection.

"General manager Sonny Heideman sits in tropical paradise at Kelbo's, with a flaming coco-bo to keep him warm". Kelbo's Hawaiian Restaurant is at 11434 West Pico Boulevard. Photograph dated: Jan. 23, 1985.

[ Edited by: Chub 2009-11-30 15:44 ]


Note the killer ultra cool lucite flower swag lamp hanging above the bar register .

[ Edited by: 1961surf 2016-03-21 14:04 ]


I don't live far. I'll check it out and report if any Tiki remains. Besides it's on the way to Billingsley's (another JOHN-O mid-century fave).

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2009-11-30 20:29 ]

On 2009-11-30 20:02, JOHN-O wrote:
I don't live far. I'll check it out and report if any Tiki remains. Besides it's on the way to Billingsley's (another JOHN-O fave).

JOHN-O! Do you really mean you are unaware of the classic Tiki Devolution history of Kelbo's !?
From Horrace Heidt Swingband member opened Beachcomber style haven ---to 90s Lounge Revival Zsar Joey Cheesey's haunt ---to stripped out/black painted Strip Club appropriately mal-named Fantasy Island!?

SOMEWHERE I know that name Sonny Heideman from! But there is a dark hole where that memory sits...
I think this memory hails from early O.A research days...

On 2009-11-30 19:46, 1961surf wrote:
Note the killer ultra cool lucite chunk swag lamp hanging above the bar register .

And that is not a chunky resin, but a FLOWER resin lamp, comme ca:

I now remember that I probably laid eyes on this style for the very first time at Kelbo's in the 90s....longingly gazing at that ceiling plastered with resin floats....there were dozens of different ones, Kelbo's even outdid Bahooka's in that respect.....must have been ten years before I actually found this one....which proves that if you are patient, all things will come to you, eventually. :D


Ha! I'm just looking for an excuse to go inside the place. The things I do for TC and urban archeology :)

This thread needs some more visuals, I say.

I picked up a huge menu from Kelbo's some time ago, the cover art:

The Story of Kelbo's, updated from the one Polynesiac posted.

The menu does not fit on my scanners so I took a few pics.

71 drinks listed!

Here is a matchbook I just picked up.

I also saw this rare mug from Kelbo's that sold on ebay recently for mucho dinero.

Here is the information from the ebay listing. Apparently Popo was not referring to the Police as my sons do, but was instead the the name of the bartender.

This auction is for a Scarce Vintage Tiki Mug from Kelbo's Hawaiian Bar-B-Q formerly in Los Angeles off of Fairfax and 1st. Recently discovered in an old Hollywood estate. I believe that the Popo on the side of the handled mug refers to Popo Galcini the bartender.

A few more images I have gathered from the internet.

An old menu with Bar-BQ and Kar-BQ?

A few more matchbook types.

An ashtray

And a napkin.

Wish these places were still around like the Bahooka.


Great roundup DC!! Keep up the good work.

Here is a little bit better photo of the ashtray I just got.


Spotted this cool flier on ebay a while back for a Non show during the 80's at Kelbo's. A rare afternoon buffet performance!

I read somewhere that the Go Go's had a record signing party at Kelbo's.

Another shot of the Fantasy Island sign.

And a pick.

(I wonder if they had plate?)


That's a cool sign. It would be nice to see a picture of it when it was in it's prime.

That's easy: Page 170 in the Book of Tiki :)

Sven, do you have every image in the BOT burned into your memory banks? Thanks for that reference, I couldn't recall seeing a photo of the original sign. Kind of takes the sting off the Fantasy Island incarnation.

And, another photo of some Kelbo's swag posted by twowheelin'tiki in a different TC thread.

I love that table tent - the Coco-Bo cocktail, coco-nut and pineapple madness in stereo!!


I found these photographs in the Los Angeles library archives.




A few different Kelbo's mugs spotted on ebay. These have not showed up on Ooga Mooga yet.

A simple coconut mug.

Black Moai.

Not sure about the markings on the bottom?


EC Props is a prop rental company in North Hollywood, B192 is probably the box or bin where the Moai mug was kept.

I was in West LA yesterday and stopped bye the old Kelbo's location.The building looking shabby and broken
window taped in .The more I think about it the more it bogles my mind ....a lame bikini bar replaces a well
known tiki / rib bar .What is the world comin too ! The last real trace that there was ever a tiki bar there is the
tiki neon face that still adores the Fantasy Island upper part of the large googie style commercial sign .
Boy it would have been nice to have saved this place !


Picked up this nice matchbox from Kelbo's with a Moai rendering.

Also saw this Coco Bo glass on ebay

What's a Coco Bo you may ask?


kiara posted on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 4:09 PM

Here's a vintage womans T-shirt from Kelbo's coco bowl.
Kelbo's was prob one of the most unique and enigmatic of any Polynesian restaurant. Every booth had an individual character to it. Lot's of hand made decor was everywhere. One of Eli Hedley's masterpieces.

and a close up

One of the few pieces of womens clothing I've personally purchased for myself. :)

kiara posted on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 4:14 PM

I'm not sure what this means though....


On 2013-01-16 15:30, Dustycajun wrote:
Picked up this nice matchbox from Kelbo's with a Moai rendering.

Those sure look like cropped versions of the photos for the eBay auction that I won yesterday:

Ha! We were bidding against each other, I hate that. I got a second chance offer after the sale and snapped one up as well (for a few bucks less). JP, you ever seen this one before?


On 2013-01-16 16:14, kiara wrote:
I'm not sure what this means though....

I think that "V" is actually a "Y", so in that case, if I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?

Yep, that old school bar humor, pure genius, gets me every time. :)

JP and Dc, that's an unusual one for Kelbo's, so stylized, so uncartoony! You sure someone didn't print those up like counterfeit dollars? :D

Kiara, I still have that T-shirt somewhere...the print-on having disintegrated much through regular wear. Here's the enamel pin to match it:

...and with the double resin flower lamp flashback tonight, let me post some of the shots from this venerable place so far not on this thread:

Kelbo's forest of beachcomber lamps and menu light box below:

The famed menu light boxes at each booth:

The amazing Bob Hale mural on the side of the place:

(Didn't people feel they were destroying ART when they painted this over?)

Jukebox, back door resin window, and famed mug-inspiring "Alfred Newman" Tiki:

...which I found in DJ Cyrano's backyard many years later:

...in need of some restoration:

Now Kiara: Your resin window? :)


On 2013-01-16 17:31, JONPAUL wrote:

On 2013-01-16 15:30, Dustycajun wrote:
Picked up this nice matchbox from Kelbo's with a Moai rendering.

Those sure look like cropped versions of the photos for the eBay auction that I won yesterday:

That looks like it might be a rendering of a black Kelbo's mug.

This location is way too undocumented.
Sven, I'll have to dig that Resin wall panel out and take some pics.

kiara posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 8:07 PM

I pulled this image off of an old thread here. This is one of the old resin wall dividers from Kelbo's. I took this photo at my previous house I lived in. There is a big overhang from the roof, so it never got weather damage. It's since been moved into storage in my garage. I rescued this out of the dumpster behind Kelbo's right after they closed. Senior Amore told me about his rescue of artifacts from the Kelbo's dumpster so I started making trips to the back parking lot everyday until I found this. It weighed a ton but I somehow found the strength to lift it into my tiny car.

It's made with some kind of opaque resin with colored resin dripped in to make the details. The top seam to be colored resin chunks (like the old lamps) embedded into the clear resin.

kiara posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 8:14 PM

Here's a few images that need to be in this locating tiki thread.

And any info on the other 3 locations?

I'm not sure if this site has ever been mentioned here. There are some really amazing comments from people who used to go to Kelbo's, including Joey Cheehzy (Papa Tango?) And some incredible info on artist Bob Hale. It also has some fun info on old Los Angeles restaurants. Including Wan Q.


kiara posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 8:48 PM

Hakalugi... I owe you a drink sometime.:)

On 2013-01-16 22:24, Hakalugi wrote:

On 2013-01-16 16:14, kiara wrote:
I'm not sure what this means though....

I think that "V" is actually a "Y", so in that case, if I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?


I posted this just now in the Bahooka RIP thread, but realized it should really go here.

Here's video of my friend Tom Holland (aka Monte Vista) and band Lovingkindness (featuring my brother Blair on keyboards) playing a wedding at Kelbo's Coco Bowl room in September 1991.

Lovingkindness played again, this time at the front bar, in late December 1991. I ended up riding up from Long Beach with a woman who I then began dating, and married less than 2 years later (it will be our 20th anniversary in August), so there will always be a special place in my heart for Kelbo's.

Lovingkindness was a "lounge" band that was particularly warped and sometimes caused confrontations (if you went to their shows at Bogart's in LB opening for the Dickies and Vandals, you would understand), but predated the more authentic lounge movement of the mid-90s, so sorry if anyone's musical sensibilities are damaged!


PS - Though I was there, but the video is not mine. PS - Swamp Zombies and not yet Tiki Tones Josh Agle and Steeve Jacobs were there that night, but I haven't spotted them, or myself for that matter, in the video--though I haven't watched from start to finish. The Coco Bowl room was, of course, not the most "Tiki" looking part of Kelbo's, and the videographer didn't capture anything else, but here you go...)

Caltiki Brent


[ Edited by: congawa 2013-03-10 13:25 ]


I saw a horror movie from the 80's that has a scene shot inside Kelbo's. Can't remember the name right now

I think it was called "The Curse of LovingKindness" :wink:

Today in the Los Angeles Times:


A landscape designer uses the old Kelbo's fountain in his test garden. The fountain doesn't look tiki, but it's interesting to see where things end up.

Fountain turned planter

Anyone familiar with the Los Angeles restaurant scene of the 1950s and ’60s may remember the Kelbo’s Hawaiian barbecue chain. When the Pico Avenue location closed, Griffith bought its oversized outdoor water fountain. The pedestal and saucer are now a dramatic focal element of the studio garden, reincarnated as a beautiful succulent planter. “It’s like a big chalice,” Griffith said. Planted with a mass of the upright red pencil tree (a cultivar of Euphorbia tirucallicalled Sticks on Fire) and cascading clumps of copper-tone stonecrop (Sedum nussbaumerianum), the piece gives the illusion of spraying and spilling water.


[ Edited by: tikilongbeach 2013-05-11 07:02 ]

[ Edited by: tikilongbeach 2013-05-11 07:10 ]

While searching through the Los Angeles Times online archives I found a 2008 article written by Steve Harvey (not the comedian) about LA's 'whimsical architecture'.
Harvey's Then and Now articles in the LA Times were a favorite of mine when I moved to LA. Now he writes a column in The Grunion. A weekly Long Beach community paper.

At the Kelbo's location on Pico one of the tikis was a repurposed pickle that used to adorn the roof of Pickle Bill's restaurant in West L.A. Unfortunately there isn't a picture.



[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Fixed link. - 2013-05-11 09:55 ]


Just saw the 1969 film The Gay Deceivers* which has a small scene shot inside a Tiki joint (with actual tikis visible) and another scene shot outside of Kelbo's. Don't know if the interior was Kelbo's or a set.

*Amusing enough farce to watch with some really swell period sets.

Pages: 1 2 60 replies