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Trader Vic's San Francisco - Cosmo Place, San Francisco, CA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 2 51 replies


Name:Trader Vic's San Francisco - Cosmo Place
Street:20 Cosmo Place
City:San Francisco

I don't think there is an existing thread dedicated to this SF Trader Vic's location. I would have added to one if it had already existed. Having never been to S.F. myself, I had to read up on things a bit to learn that there were 2 different locations. This one on Cosmo Place was open for approx. 4 decades (1951-the 1990's) while the second one lasted only about 3 years and closed in 2007.

At a neighbors yard sale I found an old travel magazine.
It is one of those free tourist type guide mags that are in hotel rooms for the out of town guests to use for locating places to shop and eat, etc. It is dated Nov. 24, 1979

On one page there is an ad for Trader Vic's. I think it is a clever ad for it's time.

After seeing this ad which measures 2 1/4" x 4 3/4" I began to wonder about the location of the restaurant featured on the cover.

After looking at a couple of pictures from this location on critiki, I would have to guess that this is not Trader Vic's but some other restaurant perhaps at Fisherman's Wharf?? The locals will probably know.

Anyway, then I started wondering about a sign that someone had pictured in their thread recently. I will try to find it and add it next.

OK, I found it. This is a sign still in place which is located where the TV's used to be.

This is from Kingstyedie and TravelingJones' little adventure. What a great time they had here:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=29550&forum=5&hilite=bottle water

If you have other photos from this location feel free to add them on tho this thread. I also put the ad photo on Critiki.

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2008-10-12 21:18 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2008-10-12 21:22 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2008-10-12 21:24 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2008-10-12 21:31 ]

Can't leave such a post by a valiant urban archeologist standing empty! It is indeed sad that, while the San Francisco Trader Vic's only closed as recently as 1994, it is hard to find exterior shots of it...considering it was an S.F. institution for over 40 years (it opened in 1951).

Here is my bad shot of the entrance, from '94:

Now THOSE were Tiki doors! Wonder what happened to this amazing example of logo Tiki use:

Here is a B&W shot of the exterior in the early 50s, I haven't made a print of the neg yet, but we can see it did not change much in 40 years:

I only know one postcard of the interior, showing the Tiki (!) room:

and here two shots from the 70s, the first with the Tiki room Tapa in the foreground...

the second depicting another room

I really like the indirect lighting they used to have under the shelves with objects lining the walls, the Munich Trader Vic's still has that.

Here's an interior shot from a Time Life cook book from 1958:

Great shot of some of the drinks (one got cut off because the image is so large it didn't all fit on my scanner), a few tikis, patrons, and cool flotsam on the ceiling (including what looks like a bar stool!)

On 2008-10-13 20:11, bigbrotiki wrote:
Can't leave such a post by a valiant urban archeologist standing empty!

I only know one postcard of the interior, showing the Tiki (!) room:

Bigbro, I second the sentiment. Here are some more images.

There are actually a few other postcards from Trader Vics on Cosmo.

This is the Garden Room.

This is the Hong Kong Room

Here is an exterior painting postcard.

Finally these are some old photos from the San Francisco Examiner I saw on ebay some time ago that KC won. I did manage to capture the images.

Aaaah, you're back! Very nice, thank you!

Great stuff here guys! I just figured this original SF location was probably, "yesterday's news" for most folks and I never thought of posting these other photos until now.

This is a series of pics taken on August 2008: Sign - Alley - Sign - 20 Cosmo.

I found a bunch of 20 Cosmo photos while trying to find a pic of my sign I just got: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=33593&forum=5&2 Couldn't find my sign, but these ain't bad!

Here is where I found these: http://sflib1.sfpl.org:82/search~S0/?searchtype=X&searcharg=%22trader%22+vic*&sortdropdown=-&SORT=D&extended=0&SUBMIT=Search&searchlimits=&searchorigarg=X%22trader%22+vic

Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-03-02 22:29 ]

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-03-02 23:08 ]

Trad'r Bill,

Great photos and congrats on the sign.

Here is a rendering of the Cosmo Place entrance from the old TV scarf.


Here's a great shot in the Tiki Room - notice the Trader himself in the float:

From the Life Magazine archives.

-Trad'r Bill

Old business card from the Cosmo Place TVs.


From Andy Warhol's Diaries (selections published posthumously) :
Monday, February 21, 1977-Los Angeles-San Francisco
... "I had to stay around the gallery until 9:30. Mark's mother really made me work. Trader Vic's was just up the block. Walked there."...

I love this picture of the Cosmo Place Trader Vic's. A nicely dressed middle-aged women heading into Trader Vic's for a midday pick-me-up after a hard day of shopping in the City.


Here's a somewhat low-res shot of Cosmo Place I found online:

Here is a photo from the mid-90s of Trader Vic C.E.O. Hans Richter giving me a tour of the already closed down San Francisco location:

Hans rose to his rank from being the manager of the Munich Vic's. The Trader was impressed by his work and brought him to America.
I got to go up to the hollowed grounds of the Trader's office. Wish I would have snapped more pics.

Here's a close up of the display case and its treasures. Note the "Pre-Tiki Tiki post" next to it:

The S.F Trader Vic opened two years after the Seattle Outrigger.


What a treat that must have been to tour the closed Trader Vic's fully intact. Any more photos?

Here is an ad from Life Magazine for Balentine's Ale featuring a rendering of the San Francisco Trader Vic's.


On 2008-10-13 20:11, bigbrotiki wrote:
Now THOSE were Tiki doors! Wonder what happened to this amazing example of logo Tiki use:


I just went to the newly remodeled Trader Vic's in Emeryville and it sure looks like those doors from SF now grace the entrance to the beautiful establishment on the other side of the bay.


Oh good, they've come home. The remodel must have done some good things, can't wait to check the place out next time I am up there.

aquarj posted on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 1:37 PM

FWIW, those doors at the Emeryville Vics were there before the recent remodel. If I were to make an uninformed (and characteristically wrong) guess, I'd hazard that there were numerous versions of those door carvings made, and that the Emeryville ones are not taken direct from Cosmo.

If so, they'd have had to take off the handles, and clean up the seam where the panels are joined in the middle. But the Emeryville panels DO look like they were salvaged from something at some point, so maybe that's just what happened.



Good memories. I used to go to this place all the time with my Grandmother and Uncle in my youth. I wish I'd taken pictures then... sigh :(


Looks to me like they did quite a bit of damage to that panel during the remodel. Here's DC's pic next to mine from 2007. It's definitely the same panel. Note the same wear on the back panel next to the shoulder on the right. No idea if it came from the Cosmo location though.

aquarj posted on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 9:44 AM

Sorry if I'm taking this to derail-ville. Just to flesh out GatorRob's observation a little further, I dug up a pic from just before the Emeryville remodel, literally the weekend before they closed.

Sure enough, that panel was in better shape just before the remodel. Maybe they mounted it on a whole new door, and it got damaged in the process of prying it off. BTW, are those staples all over the guy's face, like for flyers?

Anyway, this still contributes nothing as far as concluding whether the panels came from Cosmo (but it's kinda fun anyway).



Boy, are we geeks or what? Most people brush right past the door and head straight to the bar. But we have to stop to take pictures of the door. And examine it closely. And bore the hell out of our wives/companions.

I wouldn't have it any other way. :D


Amen brother

I found this cool shot of the old sign that hung at the end of the alley:

...and here's a nice artist's rendering I saw in the Emeryville TV's:

...and here's a color version of a b/w shot from earlier:

Trad'r Bill,

A few more color photos from the SF Trader Vic's.

These photos are from the a 1958 Better Homes and Garden Magazine. I think yours is from a Holiday Magazine, although it sure looks like the same shoot.


[ Edited by: dustycAJUN 2011-05-25 21:57 ]

Yesiree. The Cosmo Tidbits platter looks exactly the same today as it did back then. A little prayer of thanks for the things that haven't changed.

Back in '71 was the only time I went to the Cosmo Place Vics. We went there to meet my (then) brother in laws dad for a birthday dinner. We went in the doors paused at reception, I moved forward toward the tapa , tiki and bamboo then I heard "Bob, where are you going?"I turned to be lead to doors across from the reception desk. If I remember right it was called the Captains Table or Captains Room, nothing tiki, if I remember right there was just a little nautical decor (very little). I was told that this room was essentially (my words) for big wigs and the rest of the place was for "tourists". It seemed like a lounge, the only cool thing was they kept pouring my 17 year old ass glasses of wine all night. What I'm wondering is did you Bigbro get any photos when you took that last tour or have you dustycajun found any ephemera showing this room? I know it wasn't really tiki but it's been 40 years and I'd like to see what it really was like.
thanks and aloha, tikicoma

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2011-07-20 21:02 ]

Thanks for sharing tikicoma - that's a pretty good memory you have after all these years. I think the room you are referring to is the "Admirals Cabin". In one of my SF/Oakland menus I found this:

"The Admirals Cabin is available for Private Parties of 20 to 60 guests. Ask for details."

The above was printed on every page of the menu, so it seems like they were really pushing it on the guests. I haven't seen any photos of that room, maybe someone has some out there.

For a little eye-candy, here's the positive version of bigbro's negative he posted earlier in this thread:

a little closer

-Trad'r Bill

Great pics, thanks for sharing!!!

I just stumbled across this travel piece on TV SF while looking for more info on Pittsburgh Tiki. It's in the "This Week" section, which seems to be a Sunday magazine, from November 21 ,1954. Oh, and catch that byline. Thanks Clementine!


I'll try to post images if I get a chance later.

[ Edited by: Pittsburgh pauly 2012-01-30 11:54 ]

Wonderful article. One of these days I'll have to try making some of these recipes since I enjoy making his cocktails (and eating in his restaurants) so much!

For some reason the scan at the resolution that would make the article (and recipes) legible is garbled.
Here's the whole thing:

and a close up of Vic and a cook by the Chinese ovens:

[ Edited by: Pittsburgh pauly 2012-01-30 11:51 ]

I nudged my dad to rummage through his matchbook collection for any PolyPop artifacts. He came up mostly empty, save a number of Trader Vic's matchbooks from the lengthy era when the Cosmo San Francisco location was open at the same time as the Emeryville location. If I had to guess, this would probably be from between the late 60s and mid 70s.



Didn't quite know where to put this but this seemed to be the most relevant. As I've posted earlier, I was lucky enough to have found this early Tiki Bowl made for Trader Vic's San Francisco by Dickman Walker.

According to the folks at Trader Vic's, this bowl was made for the Trader Vic's San Francisco location which opened in 1951. Unfortunately poor Dickman Walker passed away in 1953. I did some additional research on Dickman Walker and was rather surprised that he was a highly regarded pottery artist of his time. I stumbled upon an article from a 1949 House & Garden magazine entitled "Only in the U.S.A." calling out such mid-century designers as Noguchi, Knoll, and under San Franciscan craftsman - Dickman Walker.

And now we have an actual picture of the man who made the first tiki bowl!

“A Californian by adoption who studied and worked in
Chicago, New York and Houston before coming to the
West Coast. He and his San Francisco studio are dedi-
cated to a sensitive use of clay and glaze. At Gump’s”

I doubt he had ever thought that his "sensitive use of clay and glaze" legacy would be a Tiki bowl that has been copied and reproduced all over the world 60 years straight.

[ Edited by: tattoo 2014-05-12 21:55 ]

Great find! For being held in high esteem in his time, that man is totally under-documented!

I think maybe you should start a new thread in Collecting Tiki about the Tiki Bowl, with your Walker bowl at the beginning, and then everyone can add their versions underneath and we can try to figure out their origin, year, and differences.

I for one just found this black and yellow version I had not seen before. It has no markings, so I am very curious as to where it might hail from - a Walker it is not, the bowl has the beginnings of that triangular bend, away from the round shape:

Great addition to the thread and an important piece of documentation. I agree with Sven. A new thread would be a great way to figure out a time line and history of these bowls. Thanks for posting.

This reminds me about the two statues at the entrance. Didn't a TC'er pick them up at a Trader Vic's warehouse sale a few years ago?

Great old photo to Trader Vic with Tiki outside the SF location.


Photo of the interior of the San Francisco Trader Vic's. Great view of the Tiki bowl and hibachi grill.


Herb Caen and Barnaby Conrad at judging a fortune cookie contest at Trader Vic's.

Here is the Liquor Bowling photo mentioned.



Here's a scan of an ad from a mid-1960s magazine.


Here are a couple pics of the San Fran Trader Vic's from Town & Country 1954

Cannot figure out the context of the pictures. They are in the middle of an article about a house.

Of interest though are the Salt and Pepper shakers on the table which are those odd and super rare Tepco ones.

Here's a reference pic of those Trader Vic Tepco shakers


Great find on the photo and the S & P shakers. Where is that display photo from?



I found a set of those shakers a couple years ago the glaze on them was thicker than those pictured though.

Dusty here's the link to the Tepco collectors event pictured.


A cool tile of the exterior.

Goofy gift shop item I would imagine.


1963 ad:

Pages: 1 2 51 replies