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I recently acquired a collection of matchbooks from different Don the Beachcombers. I started looking into how many locations there were and what paper items (matchbooks, postcards, menus) were around for each location. Based on the listings contained on the back of the more modern matchbooks and the information I found on the web, I compiled the following list of 35 locations plus two locations that were advertised but never existed. I have added the opening dates and addresses and reorganized them chronologically based on info from Sven's menu and the web.

  1. Hollywood, California, 1933
    Original location, 1722 N. McCadden Pl - named Don's Beachcomber Bar.

  2. Hollywood, California, May 26, 1937
    1727 N. McCadden Pl located across the street from the original.

  3. Chicago, Illinois, May 1, 1940.
    101 E. Walton Place

  4. Beachcomber Jr. - After 1941
    745 South Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles.

  5. Waikiki, Hawaii - 1947
    Kalakaua Avenue Don called this his Polynesian Village - built by Wimberly.

  6. Palm Springs, California - 1953
    1101 N. Palm Canyon Drive

  7. Papeete, Tahiti
    Beachcomber Bar and Restaurant in the Les Tropiques Hotel Bungalows

  8. Waikiki, Hawaii - 1957-58
    Moved to the new International Market Place which Donn built.

  9. Waikiki, Hawaii - 1961
    Sells location (which becomes Dukes) and moves to the other side of International Market Place. The new location
    housed the famous Dagger Bar.

  10. Las Vegas, Nevada - 1962
    Sahara Hotel and Casino

  11. St. Paul, Minnesota - 1966
    St Paul Hilton

  12. Corona Del Mar, California - 1969
    3901 East Coast Highway

  13. Marina Del Rey, California - 1970
    13530 Bali Way, one of the round UFO buildings.

  14. San Diego, California - 1970
    1590 Harbor Island Drive, Harbor Island

  15. Waikiki, Hawaii - 1971?
    Moved to third location within the International Market Place at the Beachcomber Hotel.

  16. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii - early 1970s
    Royal Lahaina Hotel, Kanaapali Beach

  17. Dallas, Texas - 1974
    8380 Meadow Rd., one of the round UFO buildings.

  18. Oxnard, California - 1976
    2615 Wagon Wheel Road, former Trade Winds restaurant site

  19. Santa Clara, California
    Stevens Creek Blvd., one of the round UFO buildings.

  20. Houston, Texas
    Gessner and Westheimer

  21. Santa Barbara, California - 1977 to 1989 (based on my phone book research)
    The Santa Barbara Inn 435 S. Milpas Street

  22. Denver, Colorado - 1978 to 1982 (from Zulu Magoo)
    Cosmopolitan Hotel, 18th and Broadway - moved in after Trader Vic's moved to the Hilton.

  23. Malibu, California - After 1977
    22878 Pacific Coast Highway, former Tonga Lei restaurant site.

  24. Denver Colorado - 1979
    Elitch Gardens

  25. Seattle, Washington - 1979
    2040 Westlake Avenue N on Lake Union, documented in Los Restaurants of Seattle.

  26. San Diego, California - 1980 (based on Sabu's ads)
    Vacation Village

  27. West Lafayette, Indiana - 1980
    Hilton Inn/Lafayette Inn

  28. Aurora, Colorado - 1981 (from Zulu Magoo)
    Ramada Inn the second location in the Denver area.

  29. Excelsior, Minnesota - 1982
    Restaurant was called Don the Beachcomber's Mai Tai. Occupied former home of the Mai
    Tai restaurant on Lake Minnetonka

  30. Peoria, Illinois - 1983
    Ramada Inn

  31. Denver, Colorado - 1986 to 1988(from Zulu Magoo)
    Hilton Hotel, occupied the second Denver location vacated by Trader Vic's.

  32. Disneyland California Adventure - 2001
    Added per Tiki Kate's post - now closed

  33. Don the Beachcomber Bar, Las Vegas - 2004 to 2006
    Located at the Royal Star in The Venetian Hotel

  34. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - 2005
    Royal Kona Resort 75-5852 Alii Drive

  35. Huntington Beach, California - 2009
    16278 PCH, former Sam's Seafood Site

Never Existed

Memphis
Kendall (FL)
Miami
Manila
Singapore

I have also included Donn's Boats and his Encino House.

I think this is a complete list, let me know if there are some that I missed.

Now for the paper - I found something for 12 locations.

Hollywood
An interior postcard, artist rendering and a matchbook. The matchbook shows the original Don caricature.

Chicago
All I have is this old postcard with both Hollywood and Chicago on the front. Found nothing with just "Chicago".

Palm Springs
A matchbook with an illustration of the building.

Las Vegas
The only location to use the stylized beachcomber logo. Exterior and interior (who designed that!) postcards and a matchbook.

St. Paul
Two interior postcards.

Marina Del Rey
One of the famous spaceship buildings

Waikiki
Postcards with exterior courtyard and luau scenes featuring Donn Beach himself.

Dagger Bar
I had to throw in this menu I have from the Dagger Bar in Waikiki in honor of Martin Denny.

Lahaina
A matchbook from the new DTBC at the Royal Lahaina Hotel.

Corona Del Mar
A matchbook with an illustration of the building exterior.

San Diego - Harbor Island

This postcard provided by ZuluMagoo for the location on Harbor Island

1971

These matchbooks state a Vacation Village location that appears to be incorrect and was never really there (as reported by Bosko)

Dallas
An artist rendering (thanks to Sven) of another UFO building and a menu posted on a previous TC thread about the Dallas DTBC.

Kailua-Kona
I have this menu from Don's Mai Tai Bar located next to the DTBC restaurant as well as this picture from another post on TC.

So, we still need representation for the following locations:

San Jose/Santa Clara, California
Malibu, California
Houston, Texas

Anybody got anything on these? Feel free to add more images if you have them.

DC

[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2020-01-09 07:45 ]

Excellent idea DC. Here are some more from the Hollywood location.

Chicago

Waikiki


The last remants in the International Market Place before they dissappeared in 2006.

San Diego

It was located on Harbor Island, just across the bay from the the Bali Hai over on Shelter Island.


1971

Denver

Cosmopolitan Hotel - 1982

ZuluMagoo,

Wow, thanks for all of the great posts. I have always wanted to see what the Chicago, San Diego and Denver locations looked like. Only 9 more to go.

DC

Hey Zulu does your San Diego postcard have a post mark saying 1971!? Or how did did you come by the date?

Thanks

Bosko

Amazing record, guys, I have nothing to ad. :)

Maybe some dates:

1934 Don The Beachcomber opens in Hollywood
1940 Chicago opens, Don and Sunny divorce
1946 Don opens the Waikiki Beachcomber because Sunny Sund has taken over the mainland operations.
1953 Palm Springs opens
1958 Sunny sells out to Joe Drown and Paul Price of the Beverly Hills Hotel
1962 Las Vegas, Sahara, opens
1966 St.Paul, Hilton Hotel opens
1968 The chain is bought by the Getty Corporation
1969 Corona del Mar
1970 Marina Del Rey
1970 Harbor Island, San Diego

A lot of these dates are from a 1971 menu, so one would assume that all other places not mentioned here, like Dallas and Denver, opened AFTER 1970.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-10-25 10:25 ]

So besides Hollywood and Chicago it's possible that Donn never set foot in any other mainland location? :o

Well, I believe he was kept on as an "advisor", and did get to see some of the early places. But he was not a business man, more a project inventor and gracious host, so he concentrated his energies on his Waikiki place, and the International Market place, and then later his "Hong Kong Lady" riverboat restaurant that sank in the Hong Kong harbor.
Interesting though that after he passed away in 1989, the Beachcomber chain folded one year later.

More from Chicago...

The design submitted to the city by the new owners of the Trade Winds in Oxnard, Ca...

Coming soon...

Trade Winds/Don The Beachcomber exterior...

Interior shot of DTB Waikiki from the 1954 film "Hell's Half Acre" confirmed in the 1988 book "Hawaii In The Movies" The movie has about 10 minutes of interior & exterior shots. I recorded this to dvd from the Mystery channel a few years back.
Public Domain....no official release.

Bongofury,

Thanks for the great post! Cross Oxnard off the list, we're down to 8 locations to find paper on. Great matchbook from Marina Del Rey. Where are those images from Chicago from? Is that a postcard?

DC

On 2008-10-25 09:54, TIKIBOSKO wrote:
Hey Zulu does your San Diego postcard have a post mark saying 1971!? Or how did did you come by the date?

Thanks

Bosko

It was an auction from several years ago that I did not win. However the seller commented that it was postmarked 1971.

A

Does anyone know how many Don the Beachcomber restaurants were still around when the chain folded in 1990?

[ Edited by: arriano 2010-05-27 15:09 ]

this is cool!

That is interesting indeed, looks like maybe they were taking over after The Trade Winds failed? I dimly remember going to a Don The Beachcomber in Malibu in the 80s, when I knew nothing about Tiki. In retrospect I always wondered if that was at the site of the old Tonga Lei...

Bigbro,

Right on both accounts.

From Critiki - Malibu:

Before becoming a Don the Beachcomber (probably sometime in the '70s), this location was Tonga Lei. It closed sometime during the '80s, and this location is now the non-tiki Malibu Beach Inn.

From Critiki - Oxnard:

This Don the Beachcomber opened at the former Trade Winds; it likely operated for a few years in the late '70s. In later years, this location briefly became Coconut Joe's Warehouse and Hawaiian Cowboy, and the building was demolished in 1984.

DC

Thanks Zulu, I picked up a nice Harbor Island brochure/booklet circa 1973 and they make no mention of a Don the Beachcombers and it lists every little shop on the Island. The purpose of it was to show you how swinging the area was thus it is confusing there isn’t a Don's listed?

Arriano do you have some new documentation for the Vacation Village Don the Beachcomber? I think there was a thread about this somewhere here?

Bosko

A

On 2008-10-27 11:56, TIKIBOSKO wrote:
Arriano do you have some new documentation for the Vacation Village Don the Beachcomber? I think there was a thread about this somewhere here?

No new info, but here's the earlier thread:
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=23742&forum=1

This menu was from the Palm Springs location...


The food and drink menu insert is dated 09-64.

PTD

Arriano,

Thanks so much for your post. I have added the second San Diego Don the Beachcombers on Vacation Island to my list, bringing the total number of locations to 23. I also added a matchbook that was on the previous thread. Do you happen to still have the library picture of the Harbor Island restaurant?

PTD,

Thanks also for the menu post. What is that Zombie card on top of the menu? Is that a postcard or a drink recipe card?

Besides the Hong Kong Lady Donn also had the Singapore Lady ~

It Counts!

or it should...

kinda. :roll:

Well, Donn had a couple of projects that he dabbled in later in his life that were not "Don The Beachcombers". I think that's another thread.

Dustycajun,

The Zombie drink card is stapled to the menu. I think it probably sat on a table. The inside of the card has a Don The Beachcomber story of Rum.

PTD

On 2008-10-27 18:21, Bora Boris wrote:
Besides the Hong Kong Lady Donn also had the Singapore Lady ~

It Counts!

or it should...

kinda. :roll:

Bora Boris.

If that counts that this should as well! Donn's boat The Marama from Tahiti. That Donn knew how to live!

Actually, I think Bigbro is right and this should be the subject of another post.

DC

Well Dusty Cajun considering it's your thread I think we should do as you wish.

Sorry for the interruption but at least it gave everyone a nice opportunity to show some of Donn's boats.

Were there ever any stories in Architectural Digest or any magazine like that on any of his homes?

We could show the homes and boats in the next thread. :)

I briefly covered this in my San Diego Tiki talk at the 07 Oasis, there was never a Don the Beachcomber at Vacation Village. I’ve spoken to several old timers who used to go there in the 60’s and they say there was (always) the Barefoot bar and a steak house/small bar but no Don’s. If you look at Sven’s list on page one of this thread there is no mention of a San Diego location until the 1970 (Harbor Island) so if there had been one here in the 60’s why not list it? Also if there was another restaurant at Vacation Village which building could have housed it?
The only piece of evidence (of a Don’s at that location) that I have seen is the ONE matchbook that mentions it, but I have another ten match covers from there that don’t.

Unless there is some new compelling evidence which I would be happy to acknowledge, this was just a mistake that got perpetuated up until now.

Bosko

The mysterious Vacation Village might have just been a project that got never realized.

Sweet Jesus DC, WHERE did you get those Marama photos, do you own them? Me wanna use for boook! Strange how the name "Marama" is blocked out to spell "Karma", Don's must have been not so good then considering both of his Hong Kong riverboat restaurants sank.

On 2008-10-28 12:58, bigbrotiki wrote:

Sweet Jesus DC, WHERE did you get those Marama photos, do you own them?

Bigbro,

Those are great shots, eh! I found them at the same place I found these great photos of the original Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood with Donn mixing drinks. Unfortunately, they are not mine. Did you say Book?

DC

Very cool! That last photo was used for the menu illustration I used in the BOT page 165!

On 2008-10-28 12:03, Bora Boris wrote:
Were there ever any stories in Architectural Digest or any magazine like that on any of his homes?

Here are some photos of Donn's house in Encino.


Note that wherever he went, he had his Tahitian Cannibal Carvings with him.

Wow! Definitely the home of a beachcomber.

We need a new thread before this one gets derailed beyond the point of no return.

HOK

On 2008-10-29 12:47, Dustycajun wrote:

Is that a baboon skull?? :o

The Palm Springs location. From the Oct 1970 issue of Palm Springs Life magazine. For a re-model, this might have been an evolution instead of a de-evolution, given the 1970 date. Had we reached the zenith and started the decline of Tiki restaurants by 1970 yet, Bigbro?

I really like the tiki torches jutting above the roof in several places, on their long, bamboo-style poles.

The peak of Tiki style was between 1959 and 1964. I personally can tell the difference in some places by around 1968, but the dates of devolution vary with the places. I would say that in this case, if the decor was straight Beachcomber style before, they probably added some Tikis, so it must have been an upgrade, still. :) They didn't start to "downplay" the Polynesian theme in existing places until the late 70s.

Sabu,

Thanks for the photos of the Don's in Palm Springs. First time I have ever seen a photo of the place.

Sven, as always thanks for the history lesson.

Here are a few more pics from the Chicago Don's from the Life Mag photos.

Still looking for these locations.

San Jose/Santa Clara, California
Santa Barbara, California
Malibu, California
Aurora, Colorado
Houston, Texas
Seattle, Washington
W. Lafayette, Louisiana
Indiana

I am beyond impressed with all the accumulated photos and info on Don the Beachcomber! I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this guy. I was born and brought up in Malibu (surf's up, dude!) and I do remember the Tonga Lei, though not very well, because I was just a child. (When it was torn down, I was in San Francisco, goofing off...uh, wait...going to film school, so I missed its sad demise.) For some reason, though, my parents were more fond of Kelbo's on Pico and The Luau, maybe because of their dating memories from those places. But if anyone has any menus or promo stuff from the Malibu Don's, please post them! All I've ever been able to find rarely) is Tonga Lei matchbooks and postcards -- although there is a guy on Ebay who is selling copies of vintage Tiki menus, including an old Tonga Lei one. I might cave and get it. And yes, the Tonga Lei was adjacent (on the left side) to the Malibu Pier. (Not to be confused with the Santa Monica Pier.) There is a parking lot now where it once stood. The most public Tiki atmosphere in Malibu now can be found at Duke's Restaurant. (PCH at Las Flores.) They have a nice collection of vintage Hawaiiana on display, some tropical drinks on the menu and the food is very good. However, Bamboo Ben has created an homage to the Tonga Lei inside one of the restaurants on the Malibu Pier. It's a private dining room within the restaurant, which, unfortunately can only be enjoyed if you pay a hefty price to reserve that special room for you and some of your friends. At least, that's the last word I heard on the place. Maybe that's changed by now.

G

Geez, where was I when this thread was going on?? Dusty, thanks for all the wonderful Donn pictures. The ones of him behind the bar and mixing are just priceless, not to mention inspirational. Zombie anyone?

Your right GatorRob, Donn was "The Man" behind the bar back in the day. See the thread on the 75th anniversary and toast a Zombie to Donn.

Here are a couple of slides from Don the Beachcomber's in Hawaii circa 1955.

( Mrs Bamboo got a new scanner. There is a future! for old Eli photos... )

BambooBen,

Thanks for the post, the outside Don the Beachcombers bar sure looked a lot better than the restaurant inside the Sahara. Which ones Eli?

Here is another slide with Donn in rare form at his Waikiki Luau.

DC

Added the defunct Don The Beachcombers at the Disneyland California Adventure from TikiKate's expedition.




DC

Hey DC....check out this article from a while back in your local paper. I think the guy must have been bit high when he visited DTB....

http://www.independent.com/news/2008/jun/05/babes-clubland/

Bongo,

Thanks for the article, I lived through that era in Santa Barbara and remember all of those places well. The DTB on the beach in SB was not satanic, we used to hit it pretty hard for the Scorpion Bowls that were half price at Happy Hour. Pat's Grass Shack was a hole in the wall live band spot in Goleta that also had a little Tiki flair going for it.

DC

Have you checked the Santa Barbara Library for photos? Would like to see the interior. I bought these lamps a few years ago from a dealer in SB that said they came from that DTB...

Updated to add the newest DTB in Huntington Beach at the former Sam's Seafood. Have not been yet by am going to try and swing by on my way to/from Bamboo Ben's Nooner.

Any postcards, menus, or matches from this place yet??

DC

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