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Bali Hai, St. Petersburg, FL (restaurant)

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Name:Bali Hai
Street:10803 Gulf Boulevard
City:St. Petersburg

Polynesian restaurant with nightly shows.


I just stumbled upon this undiscovered gem:

From the Dec. 20, 1959 Evening Independent:

New Treasure Island Club Features South Seas Aura

Newest and "most unusual supper club on the West Coast of Florida" is scheduled to open on Treasure Island in time for the New Year's Eve celebration.

It is Bali-ha-i at 10803 Gulf Blvd., presenting Authentic foods, entertainment and decor from the South Seas and other exotic lands.

Former Bartke Location
Extensive redecoration of the former Bartke's restaurant, by new owners Creative Enterprises Inc. is being pushed to completion this week, and New Tears Eve reservations taken.

The new club has been planned to rate the "exotic and lavish" label, from its Polynesian entrance to the lush tropical interior.

While the new owners expect Bali-ha-i to be a tourist attraction for this area, they stress: "The main interest of the management is to create a fine dining spot for local people."

The club will be a seven day operation, with luncheon served in the lounge, dinner and two shows nightly in the main dining room, and additional entertainment in the lounge. Managers will be Taneo and Kali Kumalae who have planned the operation. Architect is William Kovach. Artist Hal Boyer created all the three dimensional murals and decor, with the exception of the carvings by Kali Kumalae.

Known Locally
The Kumalaes, known locally as decorators and entertainers at the Black Pearl Supper Club, have wide previous experience in setting up menus, decor and entertainment in establishments featuring foreign cuisine.

Principals in the Creative Enterprises Inc. corporation include Kumalae, president; Richard Slezak, vice president; Barbara Novak, treasurer and manager of the lounge and Mrs. Kumalae, secretary.

Former paved entrance to the restaurant is to become a Polynesian longhouse, with grass front, bridge crossing water, and flanking the doorway, a mural of a polynesian girl washing hair at a waterfall.

Inside, a "moon gate" gives entrance to the Bali-ha-i cocktail lounge, the "Rain Room." Here, patrons will find the Bar of the Golden Dragon, entertainment by a Polynesian couple, Elana and Tane, all in a lush tropical setting.

Plush Decorations
The Main dining room will have a midnight sky ceiling. A gift shop and "shoki house" with thatched roof will give the room the effect of an open village. The dance floor will be backed by fluorescent trickling waters.

Entertainment includes native dancing by Taneo, Elana and Tane (in the fire and sword dance) and Hawaiian Trio, native drums and more.

Menu is "exotic" too, but includes a "good steak." Specialties will be Cantonese dishes, special curries, indonesian lamb, Middle Eastern pastries, special blend tea, Japanese sukiyaki, and tropical drinks by Hawaiian drink specialist Eddie Lassa. Eight Chinese chefs under direction of Show May will prepare the cantonese delicacies in the new kitchen.

Now, this could be one of this shortest lived tiki bars ever, having opened 12/31/ 1959, I then found that it was to be sold in a Sheriff's sale July 4, 1960!

Beach Club to Be Sold

The Bali Ha'i restaurant at 10803 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, has been advertised for sheriff's sale at public auction July 4th.

The establishment and fixtures are to be sold to the highest bidder, for cash, subject to all prior liens or encumbrances, including a prior Chattel mortgage to be sold at $125,000

Irving Turk of Tampa and Mrs. Belle Lefft, widow of the late Joseph Lefft, are plaintiffs. Creative Enterprises Inc. a Florida corporation, is defendant.

The restaurant, formerly Bartke of Treasure Island, was redecorated extensivley and opened as a Polynesian dinner spot New Years Eve.

I can't find any other info on what may have happened just yet. Not sure how Turk and Lefft were involved with this place, but they had other restaurants in the area and also were dealing with court cases involving hem and some "shady" real estate dealings.

Now I did find 2 ads for the place

To confuse things even further, the second ad ran in the paper July 30, 1960. So, were they still open after the auction, or did they already pay to run an ad which ran after they closed?

I'll keep looking...

Great stuff. how are you getting the images from the site? I couldn't see any way of saving the images or articles. Keep up the good work.


Here's a lenghty article about the 2 entertainers there from the Evening Independent, Dec. 7, 1961:

They Dance to Polynesian Rhythms

You can take a boy from the islands, but you can't take the islands from a boy.

Tahitian-born Tane (pronounced TAH-NEE) Lescard has lived in the United States since the age of four, attended American schools, served in the U.S. Air Force and worked in a missile plant.

However, in recent years, Tane has put his native talents to work entertaining night club guests with a spectacular Polynesian knife and fire dance.

Tane, and his wife Elana, recently completed a series of engagements at Miami and miami Beach night spots, and now are appearing at the Bali-Ha'i supper club in treasure island with Aconi (Joe) Vierra's Hawaiians.

Elana was born into show business in Salt Lake City, Utah, when her parents - an Hawaiian mother and Norwegian father - were touring the U.S. with the road company of Bird of Paradise.

"I have known nothing but show business all my life," explains Elana. "You might say I've lived in a suitcase, traveling all over the country."

Met in Miami
Tane and his bride of a year met in Miami in 1958 when Elana was doing Polynesian numbers in Genee Armond's Lounge in the Sea Isle Hotel.

Tane had quit his job with the Raytheon missile plant in Massachusetts because he felt "shut in," and had come to Florida where he taught swimming lessons at Miami Beach hotels.

One evening Tane went to the Sea Isle to watch Elana's act, and took part in a Tahitian dance number for which Elana called for volunteers from the audience. After the impromptu performance, Tane was encouraged by elana and other professionals to join the show.

Four months later Tane and Elana were married and have been featured together in numerous night clubs doing Polynesian dances and songs. Often they sing to the accompaniment of Elana's Hawaiian ukulele.

In Miami, a samoan guitar player, Jimmy Ladoux, helped Tane perfect the ancestral knife and fire dance, which is danced to the rhythm of native drums. Tane designed the pair of modernized steel machetes he uses for the dance. The gleaming knives weigh about four pounds each and are straighter than the native machete which is curved and sometimes rough hewn.

Tane explains that in Tahiti once a year the natives from every village gather in one place and the men test their skills trying to outdo each other with the knife and fire dance. The naive women and children pat their hands and chant the "sa-sa" or rhythm.

Coral Cutter
Tane's father knew the knife and fire dance but did not dance professionally in the United States. He was a coral cutter in Tahiti before bringing his family to this country where he became a granite mason and settled in Lowell, Mass.

When Tane was stationed with the Air Force in Okinawa during world War II, he performed Polynesian dances in the USO shows entertaining troops.

Elana, although she has lived all her life in the United States is well versed in Hawaiian customs, and has visited her sister in Hilo, Hawaii.

Elana recalls that during her childhood, though traveling about with road shows, she received her eduction through the New York Theatrical School.

"My parents made sure that my sister, brother and I spoke perfect English and lived as Americans do.

"But my parents did retain some native Hawaiian traits. for instance, when we ate American food we sat at a table and used silverware, but on occasions when my Mother served Hawaiian dishes we sat on the floor and ate with our hands."

Elana learned the way of the islands along with her American education. She used her knowledge of native customs professionally in the Hollywood, Calif. area by arranging Hawaiian luaus for such stars as Bud Abbott and the late Lou Costello. Elana also sang in Abbott and Costello's lounge in Burbank.

Elana sang the Hawaiian number, Keep Your Eyes on the Hands, for the soundtrack of the movie, Mamie Stover Story, staring Jane Russell. She also sang in the Tahitian medley in Mister Roberts.

Elana's brother, Lund Nelson, has his own band - the Tahitian-aires - currently appearing at the Yankee Clipper in fort Lauderdale. The band recently made a stereo recording called South Sea Islands for Decca Records.

Lund's full name is Lund Paul Kealii-Kanaka Oli Nelson. He was named for the family's protector god after 10 other sons died in infancy.

Elana's mother claimed to have seen the god Kealii-Kanaka Oli holding each of the babies before they died. When the 11th son - Lund - was born, he was named after the god. According to Elana, Lund has led a charmed life.


Trav, I'm just using the "Grab" function on my Mac - like a screen shot.

From The Tampa Times '60.

Formerly Bartke's which was owned by Irving Turk who later partnered with Sam Taub at Hawaiian Village.

First paper item I have seen from the Bali Hai, a nice photo folder on ebay.

Those were the days when Mo-Eye was finding all of the hidden Florida Tiki joints!


Yesss…a whole world of unknown Tiki palaces, performers and carvers in the vacation state - undocumented because so little paper ephemera like the above have surfaced.

Nice girl rendering. If such an item existed as photo folder, there must be a menu, matchbooks...

Hello everyone! I am new here ,call me mgoazul or
" MGO" for short. I just wanted to let you know what a swell site this is.
Also, the architect of the Bali Hai restaurant / night club and the builder renovator , Mr .William B. Kovach , happens to be my father. If any of you out there has any questions about the architect, His career and life, the restaurant Bali Hai, acts that performed there, the investors, etc, feel free to ask.
Finally, if any Tampa/ St Petersburg
old timers out there can recall going there and remember the place please share or feel free to contact me and let me know all about what you recall and/ or your own experiences there. Thanks in advance...Respectfully submitted, MGO.

[ Edited by: mgoazul007 2015-06-12 11:15 ]

I saw this menu cover on Ebay.

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