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Kona Kai, Kansas City, MO (restaurant)

Pages: 1 36 replies


Name:Kona Kai
Street:Main at 45th Street
City:Kansas City
Phone:816 753 7400

Located in the Hilton Plaza Inn. This was one of two different locations the Kona Kai chain had in the Kansas City area. From their menu is this description: "An atmospheric Polynesian restaurant offering enticing exotic drinks to accompany its appetizing South Seas specialties.
Reservations suggested. Major credit cards accepted.
Hours: Luncheon Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
Dinner 5:00 to 11:30 p.m., Friday to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday to 1:00 a.m.; Sunday 4:00 to 11:30 p.m. (Tel. 753-7400)

Name:Kona Kai
Street:8801 NW 112th Street
City:Kansas City
Phone:816 891 8900

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2012-01-26 17:49 ]


I have wanted to document this location ever since we acquired the 8ft palm carving below in 2003. It was created by Ed Crissman who worked for Oceanic Arts. According to Bob & LeRoy, this was carved in 1974 and was stock #139 in their old catalog. I am still looking for photos of the interior of the restaurant especially any which show the tiki in place there. Here it is restored and in it's current location in my home.

Next up is a 2 page menu from a K.C. fine dining guide circa 1980. This is not an actual menu like the ones handed to customers in the restaurant.

More items to come soon.

So 8ft Tiki, how did you ever come up with your TC name?? Very cool to own such a great piece of Tiki history!

Here is a postcard I noticed on a post from Tikisgrl a while back. It shows a tiki at the entrance to the Kona Kai but not your tiki.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2009-02-18 22:38 ]


Thanks for posting that DC. I'm still looking for one of those postcards myself.

Here are some more photos. I try to find items that are marked specifically from the Kansas City location on Main St.

But I also have a few things that are just marked: KONA KAI. They may be from this location or from others such as Chicago or Philadelphia. Some things were surely available in all locations.

squid posted on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 1:29 AM

Hey 8ft. Got anything new? I'm ready to relive some memories. :)

Funny that a menu for this place has not showed up.

Here is another matchbook style from the Kansas City Kona Kai.



I have been keepin' my eyes open for ANYTHING from the K.C. Kona Kai and here's a few things I have dug up:

Mugs for the Coffees, Grogs and Hot Buttered Rum.

This is a Beverage List with 4 pages of drinks but sadly no pictures.

The following ads and descriptions are from the pages of a Hotel-Motel greeters guide from November 1968.


Full page ad for the Plaza Inn (the Kona Kai was located inside this Hotel).

I was really excited to find this little paragraph in there because it has an interior photo. Inside pictures just don't show up. Too bad this was so small and not in color.

Well that's it for now. The search goes on.


I'd like to order a Virgin please...


Well, uh... I will try to find one. But if I can, the price has gone up a bit.


Well then, make it a Platinum Blonde in a bowl.


Just found a small ad for the Plaza Inn where the K.C. Kona Kai was located. This ad has an artists version aerial view of the hotel which is interesting to see. It mentions: "tropical drinks in the Canoe Bar" Dated 1972.

Great thread 8FT. Here's a couple of small items from my collection. A pepper shaker (wish I had the salt) and a matchbook.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-10-17 18:39 ]

Some images of the food and drink menus from the Kona Kai in KC.



Even in the deep cold of another Mid-western Winter, the search for interior photos of the 2 KC Kona Kai locations goes on....

But in the meanwhile,
I recently found a different magazine ad for the restaurants. It was in a souvenir program from the Starlight Theatre (a large outdoor theatre in Swope Park where concerts and Broadway shows have been performed for almost 60 years).
The ad is from 1977 and measures about 2 1/4" X 6".

Imagine my surprise and delight when I first glimpsed the artist rendition of our very own 8FT tiki !!! OK, I know it is just his head, but WOW was it ever cool to finally get a local confirmation of sorts that he was indeed in the Kona Kai.

Yeah, I'm pretty happy with this discovery. In fact I actually found 2 of the programs and the best part is that they were FREE. Now, if the ad is accurate, I think I need to go searching for a big moai or two that may still be in the area.
Thanks for dropping by for the latest update.
8FT Tiki

This little half-round Tiki popped up on ebay for a day or two then disappeared due to a seller withdrawl. Credited as follows:

A very rare redwood tiki totem pole made by oceanic arts of Whittier California in the 1960's for the kona Kai tiki bar in Kansas city! Fantastic rare piece! A piece of tiki history! Measures approx. 29.5" x 7 1/4" x 3" awesome piece! Lots of character!!!

Looks like it was for sale at an antique store, anybody here know who got it?



Not me. :(

8ft Tiki,

I found this ad for the two Kansas City Kona Kai restaurants that has a full photo of your Tiki.

Here is a link to the newspaper so you can get a clean copy of the photo for your archives. It's on page 38.


Also picked up a postcard that may have a photo of the Tiki in the restaurant, will post it when I get it.



OK, here's the postcard.

A nice rendering of the hotel.

I am assuming this is the entrance to the Kona Kai with the cool looking thatched A-Frame feature and lava rock wall. Maybe even some Tikis out front?

And the Kona Kai restaurant.

One of 8ft's two Tikis!

I wonder if the other Tiki behind the host is still around.

Another close up.

Finally a better look at the restaurant.

Here is the back of the card.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2012-01-29 11:39 ]

And while were at it, how about another close up of the entrance..

And the bar.


Aaaah, more Tiki eye candy! Excellent scanner zoom work, DC!

I looks to me like this fella...

...is the one pictured in the middle here in the O.A. catalog:


Dustycajun's ad find above is from The St. Joseph, MO., News-Press, Sunday, July 13, 1975 p. 13c

This helps us to establish an opening date for the second KC location as Summer 1975.

I'm still working on learning the opening date for the first location (Country Club Plaza) and closing dates for both locations. The closest I can get so far is that the original location was operating at least as early as Nov. 1968 and both locations were open still in 1977. I will continue to refine the dates as more info. comes in.

The new postcard you found is a good one DC. I especially like the small image of the 8FT. The man on both of the Plaza In postcards is Victor Lim who was the Master Chef.

Here is an interior shot that Bob at Oceanic Arts sent us from their files. They provided much of the work for both KC Kona Kai locations. It is from the North location near the KC International Airport. This shows part of one of the 8FTers and if you look closely there is a black Moai head just left of center. I'm still on the lookout for that guy!

I once was lost.....but now I'm found.....

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2012-01-26 17:59 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2012-01-26 18:00 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2012-01-26 19:39 ]


Found this large dinner plate today. From the Plaza Inn International near the airport (Kona Kai location #2).
What I don't know yet is if this was the type of plates used in the Kona Kai or just for other hotel use.

Here is a swizzle I never posted before. Once again it is from the hotel but may have been used in the KK as well.

Both Syracuse China and Homer Laughlin China made server ware for the Kona Kai. I will see if I can dig up any images.

Here is another oversized postcard I just got from the Kona Kai.

It has a different photo of the Kiele room which looks to be a private dinning room.

Great lamp in the center of the room.


Here is a menu from the Kansas City Kona Kai from my collection.

Nice romantic Polynesian story on the back of the menu.


This is a picture of the Homer Laughlin plate used at the Kona Kai. It's for sale on etsy.com, which is where I got this picture.


Here's a little ad I found on the edge of a 1973 Standard Oil road map of Missouri. Featuring a nice aerial view of the complex. The Kona Kai entrance was just behind the sign in the lower right of the picture.

My parents drove out from Kansas to visit us here in the Pacific North West, my Mom said she found this in an old purse when she was going through some stuff to get rid of. It looks like it hasn't been touched since she stuck it in her purse the night she went, and knowing her it probably hasn't Enjoy!

Was happy to pick up this brochure from the Kona Kai at the Plaza Inn.

The cover shows stone Tiki and fountain that we have not seen before.

More photos from the inside - this is the lobby area that served the entrances to the different restaurants at the hotel. You can see the Kona Kai on the right.

The entrance.

Inside of the entrance.

The bar room - check out those cool Moai lamps on the tables!

And some text from the brochure.



I have never seen that bent bamboo like that. Make a nice curve to the ceiling to put thatch on. I may have to steal this idea!

I personally like the standard O.A/Trader Vic's New Caledonian door panel being modified to carry a bowl. :D
Have not seen this before.


On 2014-09-29 12:49, bigbrotiki wrote:
I personally like the standard O.A/Trader Vic's New Caledonian door panel being modified to carry a bowl. :D
Have not seen this before.

A couple more mods and it is a water-fall with water coming from the mouth and flowing down the front...

A few new items from the Kona Kai.

An ad for both restaurants at the Plaza Inn.

An article and photo with some Tiki mugs in action. Hmmm, two people and three drinks!

Another photo showing some different Tiki mugs and a nice PNG wall mask.


I'm assuming they used these here too


Yes, that swizzle came in different colors too.

I just got this unmarked OMC bowl (probably originally had a foil sticker) from a garage sale of a former employee of the Airport Kona Kai location. She has had it since the 1970's. Unfortunately she did not have any other items. Since it is not a marked bowl, it was nice to learn that it was definitely from the Kona Kai.

Pages: 1 36 replies