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Luau Hut, Washington, DC (Restaurant)

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Name:Luau Hut
Street:1225 19th ST. N.W.
Zip: -
Phone: -


Sorry, I don't have any specific information on this particular restaurant. I came across a early front strike matchbook that I thought I would post here as I was interested and kind of curious about it. Also, there was no location for this particular restaurant so why not get one on here!

On Mimi's website, Arkiva Tropika, Mimi shows a Luau Hut Menu in Washington D.C. but it has a different address than the one on the matchbook below. Maybe the same place just moved/earlier/later?? The address on Mimi's menu was a location on Capitol Hill, at 14 F St. N.W. near Union Station.

Here are the two pictures of the matchbook that I have which was made by the Maryland Match Co. Wash., D.C.:

Now, I find the reverse of this matchbook interesting as there was a mug made by Otagiri (OMC) that was from the "Luau Hut" that had a very close resemblance to the lettering that is on this matchbook. Actually, going by memory, I would say I'm pretty sure it's the same.

Most of these mugs are a red/orange looking color and I have also seen green. I do not have one but have seen a few. Now this particular mug with these sort of petroglyph symbols is supposed to be from the Luau Hut that was once in Maryland, Silver Spring area. I have seen these mugs marked on the bottom Silver Spring as well.

Now this is the same Silver Spring location that Mimi talks about from her Luau Hut menu here: http://www.arkivatropika.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?item_id=261
which had a second location in Washington, D.C., that I had mentioned above.

My second clue to this being the same Luau Hut Restaurant, and the mug actually coming from this second location as well, is that as I write this I realized the matchbook above was made, by none other, than the Maryland Match Co. The location of the first Luau Hut!!! Holy smokes!!! Can you feel my excitement??!!

What does all this mean........I have no clue!!! I think I made a mystery out of a matchbook and then solved it myself as I write this!! LOL!!!
I need a drink!!


[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-22 17:54 ]


Okay, after looking through Duke's great book, Tiki Quest, he has shown the OMC custom made mug for the Luau Hut. Just as I thought, the mugs lettering is bang on to the Washington locations Matchbook!!
I can make out "Luau" mixed up within the symbols but I can't really see "Hut".

Here it is in the green glaze:


Alright, that's enough of me!!

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-05-22 17:55 ]


Alright, nobody helping me out on this thread so here I go with another!! :wink:

Here's what we know:

The Luau Hut had 2 locations in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area. Owners Moon Kim, Paul Malonson, and Bob Gibbons opened the Bethesda/Silver Spring location first, at 8407 Ramsey Ave. The second Luau Hut was on Capitol Hill, at 14 F St. NW, near Union Station. The restaurant (with thatched-roof theme) was located at street level, and the Outrigger Lounge was downstairs. (From Mimi's website, Arkiva Tropika)

Before the Luau Hut opened on Capital Hill at 14 F St. NW, it was once located at 1225 19th ST. The matchbook in the first post (along with address) is actually from the first location. It is the same Luau Hut Restaurant but later changed addresses. I am not sure how long before the move or why they moved.

This is proven by the following matchbook calling the Capital Hill location the "New Luau Hut":

You can see the same A-Frame style logo and also the petroglyph symbols as used on their mugs and both ages of matchbooks.

The following 1967 dinner menu features the signature Hula Girl, which was also incorporated onto one of their souvenir tiki mugs:

Here's the inside also with the Hula Girl:

And here is the custom mug made by Otagiri (OMC) in green:

I also saw this cool write up on the Luau Hut from the Evening Star on Mimi's website and thought I would put it here:

Now does anybody have a postcard or photo of either of these locations??

Mahalo, TabooDan


I have done a little research but have nothing really worth adding. You are correct. There were two locations, one on Capitol Hill and one in Silver Spring, which is a suburb in Maryland just outside DC. The latter was really happening back in the day, but now looks like an edge city with a few preserved gems.

My research mostly finds the F street address. I was unaware that they had moved from 19th street. 19th street would have put them in either the DuPont Circle area or the West End. Capitol Hill is self explanatory.

I have two of the green mugs with the girl. One I bought for six or eight bucks in an antique shop near Silver Spring. The owner recalled the place, but that was about it. The other I found in a thrift store for a dollar and that was pretty cool. I have seen them on the Bay if you are determined.

My mom remembers going to the place (Silver Spring) and said it was pretty cool. Its sad that we once had a decent amount of Tiki here, but it has all gone the way of the dodo bird.

I am perpetually planning my home bar and have considered naming after the LH as a tribute.

[ Edited by: JackLord 2009-05-27 18:22 ]

[ Edited by: JackLord 2009-05-27 18:24 ]


Hey JackLord! Can you get a picture on here of what is in the building now or if either of these locations are even still standing? Don't know much about how D.C. works with destroying the old, renovating, or building new.
Thanks, TabooDan


That might be depressing...

I will go and see what is there, but it may take some time as home renovations and toddler watching are monopolizing my time.

Used to be one nearby called the Diamond Head- owned by my neighbor no less. The entire block has been razed and now houses a Staples and CVS. Ironically, the location of his first joint, the Seven Seas, remains. The building reminds me of Heston's residence in the Omega Man. I digress....

Stay tuned...

the address i have for the silver spring luau hut is

8407 Ramsey Ave, Silver Spring, MD

the current location of which is pretty much a parking garage, so it is likely the original structure is long gone.

i have a matte brown petroglyph type mug for the luau hut at least - i suspect i might have another one, although i may be mixing it up with the aloha hut.

incidentally, the d.c. location, near union station, 20001, is now the site of an irish bar named kelly's irish times - look at the following photos - it is very likely that this was originally a chinese restaruant, which was later tikified, then at some later point irish-fied.

look at the pattern of the muntins on the window on the left side, and the roof forms and the form of the sign on top - vintage chinese restaurant all the way.

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar 2009-05-29 17:49 ]


Sure, the Irish Times. Been there dozens of times. Come to think of it, I occasionally see a Chinese Restaurant postcard on eBay that catches my attention until I look at the price. The name escapes me, but it was near Union Station, so its probably the one that became the Luau Hut and so on. Good work.

I looked up the 19th street address and its now the Palm Restaurant in a large 60s/70s building. Here is a side view although google maps will give you a front one"

I will as my mother about the joint and see if she recalls any specifics.

Nice job lads.

boom! the gods of the internets smiled upon me.

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar 2009-05-29 18:38 ]


That's it!

Gotta do a photo spread of Chinese Lantern>Luau Hut>Irish Times. The gin joint version of those evolution of man charts.

rupe33 posted on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 8:38 PM

I had it on good authority from a local (and confirmed it with the address that's posted here) that this building just across the street from the Silver Spring Metro Station is the former location of the Luau Hut: 8407 Ramsey Ave. This building has an unusual sort of - I don't know what to call it - "rigging" like an outrigger. The building has always struck me as looking like a longhouse, an unusual shape for Silver Spring. It most recently was a restaurant, and at the time of this posting is vacant awaiting a tenant.

Here's a nice view from across the street:

Closeup of the door - note the address numbers over the door - 8407.

The building sits on a corner, here's a view from that side:

Here's a view from under the "rigging":

And another view from the corner looking up the sidewalk:


no wai!

i figured from the maps of google that those buildings were just recent add-ons to the parking garage!!!

kick ass! that looks like a luau hut for sure, under that paint!

I have a menu from the Luau Huts that was made for both addresses - the one at 14 F Street in Washington and the one in Silver Springs.


wow... both ben stein and goldie hawn are from silver spring... if anyone knows them, ask them if they every went :wink:


Hey, that's cool to see the buildings! Great addition to this post guys!!
It would have been cool to see this yellow building back in the day. You could very easily see it with all the decorations outside and some large Tikis!! Now we gotta find some period shots!! Looks like it could have been quite the landmark so get your butts down to the Library or Archives and see what you can find!
Thanks for the posts!!



I forgot to add this to the last post.

This is another of the Luau Hut mugs made by OMC that I have:


[ Edited by: TabooDan 2009-06-24 16:21 ]


Great post guys. And yet another mug.


My friend who identified the building for me is a local blogger in Silver Spring. He dug up this advertisement at the Silver Spring Historical Society. It appears to be from the November 17, 1968, edition of The Washington Post:

He may be blogging about it soon; I'll share his post with his permission once it's made.



Hey Rupe, Cool Ad!!

"Tender as Butter"!!
I love that!



Here is another menu from the Luau Hut:



My friend at the Silver Spring Singular blog has done some further research and gotten some further details about people behind the Luau Hut. If you're following this topic, it's pretty interesting:

that was an excellent blog post by your friend, rupe... i wonder if they would allow it to be reposted here for posterity...?


With his permission and for posterity, here's the article from the "Silver Spring Singular" blog about the SS location of the Luau Hut.

originally posted here, with photos:

Have you ever wondered about this bright yellow, vaguely Asian-looking edifice on Ramsey Street that seems so incongruous with the drab gray transportation-related structures that encircle it? The building now sits boarded up and vacant, having most recently served as the home of the Caribbean Style Restaurant and Lounge, the proprietors of which are likely responsible for the building's current bright orange-yellow livery. You may recall that street outside was the scene of a 5:30 AM shooting last year, an event which I suspect may have been at least partially responsible for the restaurant's demise.

For many years, beginning in the mid-1960's, this building served as the home of the Luau Hut, which I assume had to have been Silver Spring's only tiki bar.

The Luau Hut was born when a group of employees from the Washington Trader Vic's held a party at Moon Kim's Ramsey Avenue Korean restaurant, the Moon Garden. Among the guests was Paul Malonson, a Trader Vic's maitre d', who suggested to Kim that she expand the cuisine and transform the the restaurant into Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar. In 1964, the restaurant began to serve pan-Asian and Polynesian cuisine while serving up a variety of strong, rum-based Polynesian cocktails. Malonson and Kim, who were married in married in 1965, eventually opened up a second Luau Hut location on F near Union Station in the building that is now The Irish Times.

Along with being a restaurateur, Kim, who recently passed away, was a talented singer who attended Juilliard and even put out three rock albums (!) on the RCA label. Eventually, the popularity of her singing led her to perform three sets a night at the Luau Hut.

Side note: According to a 1966 Washington Post article, Silver Spring had itself a bit of a live music scene back in the 60's. Most entertainers in Silver Spring appear to have been pianists, though a big attraction at the time was dance music performances by the Kenny Duca Duo at the Villa Rosa Restaurant. According to the article, "Duca [was] one of the county's foremost exponents of the cordovox, an accordion with attachments that give it half a dozen sounds." Those last two sentences right there just undid all the hard work two seasons of Mad Men has done to make the 60's seem cool.

The Luau Hut served up a variety of drinks bearing fabulous names such as "Virgin's Downfall", with the highlight of the bunch being the Zombie, the only drink on the menu restricted to two per customer. (Whatever bar ends up being Zombie Walk HQ this year needs to learn how to prepare these.) You could choose to get you drink in a "tiki tumbler", which was yours to take home as a souvenir. Many of these mugs from the Luau Hut are still floating around out there, and I've scoured the internet for photos of the different varieties the restaurant offered. (See the slideshow at bottom of post.)

Here's the Luau Hut's cocktail menu from 1968:

(click to enlarge)

The restaurant's trademark image was that of the hula girl, who appeared partially nude on the restaurant's mugs and menus, but more modestly clothed for appearances in newspaper ads. Can you imagine the scandal today if a respectable MoCo restaurant had the audacity to put a topless chick on the cover of their menu?

In the 70's, the Silver Spring Luau Hut was apparently a favorite haunt of Bullets star and NBA Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes. This would be kind of like Gilbert Arenas hanging out at McGinty's on weekends, but in an alternate reality where the Wizards were good and people gave a damn.

Eventually the popularity of Tiki Bars fizzled out, and like many similar establishments nationwide, the Silver Spring Luau Hut faded into oblivion.

Somewhat surprisingly, the structure appears to have survived unscathed through the long period where the county felt that areas surrounding Metro stations were only good for parking garages. I'd love to lease the space and bring back the Luau Hut with the slightly-modified moniker "Luau the Hutt". The hula girl on my custom-designed mugs would be clothed in a Polynesian interpretation of Princess Leia's metal bikini and I'd use them to serve secret new cocktail recipes such as the "Thermal Detonator". You'd always get your way when holding a Thermal Detonator.

Here's a slideshow of Luau Hut related images that I've culled from the Internet and collected in a Flickr Set. These primarily came from from online tiki resources Arkiva Tropika and Tiki Room. (A few of the images I've enhanced a bit through the magic of Photoshop.)

  • end -
    Note: most of the images from the article are already posted in this thread or on Arkiva Tropika.

Here's a Luau Hut mug I found in Silver Spring a while back.

Weblog: Eye of the Goof

[ Edited by: MrBaliHai 2009-06-16 12:06 ]


If someone is trying to see some of the different items from the Luau Hut, I recently saw this brown colored Luau Hut Double sided Tiki Mug and thought I would add it here:



Another mug from my collection.

Wow, that's becoming quite a collection! The Luau Hut is apparently up there in terms of having had one of the largest varieties of Tiki mugs!

Being jet-lagged and up early, I had nothing better to do than follow the links on this thread :D . The Luau Hut's proprietor Moon Kim had an amazing life: Several careers, tons of children, you have to read her obituary!:


Marveling at how much one can do in a lifetime, one paragraph rang a bell:

"In the 1960s she pursued a new passion, opening the first of what would become a long line of successful restaurants in Maryland, Florida, and the Bahamas. The Malonsons relocated to Freeport, Grand Bahama in the early 1970’s and established several successful enterprises, including the Island Lobster House and Bahamas International Realty."

Being an A-frame fan, I remembered this Sabu/Mimi discovery a while back:


Unfortunately, that link is a blue question mark casualty now, but because of the beautiful building, I saved the images :) :

That building always struck me as so mainland Tiki in style, and now we know why: It's heritage can be traced back to 1964 Maryland, and the Washington Trader Vic's (where Kim Moon's husband hailed from). Now I want to know what restaurant they had in Florida!

Great research there Bigbro. I have that Island House postcard I never thought that it would somehow be connected to mainland American Tiki.

Here is another menu.

And Mug


Ha, that menu graphic must be the first time I ever saw the combination of a Tiki and Ninja sword. When did Martial Arts film become popular in the U.S.?

On 2009-10-10 10:32, bigbrotiki wrote:
When did Martial Arts film become popular in the U.S.?

Mid Seventies, Enter the Dragon was released shortly after Bruce Lee died in 1973, then people realized that he was someone special and couldn't get enough Martial Arts.

Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" was a #1 Billboard Hit in December 1974.

1974's James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun is also filled with Martial Arts.

I also want to know what restaurant the Kim's had in Florida!


And let's not forget a favorite of my childhood...


When trying to research Kim's Florida restaurant, I came upon only this (using the Luau Hut name) bit of Ft Lauderdale info. "1958, one of only two multiple-alarm fires for the year occurs at the Luau Hut located at 3306 S Federal Hwy, and causes over $45,000 in damage." Too early for her I'm sure, but another defunct Tiki haunt?

this past year, my brother and sister-in-law gave me this box of mugs, that my SIL's parents had collected from the Luau Hut in their younger days.

disclaimer: i asked her to ask her mother if they were from a location in silver spring, or wheaton, maryland. i asked this since i'd imagine it would be easy to mix up "Luau Hut" with "Hula Hut." sadly, she could not differentiate (silver spring and wheaton are not terribly far from each other).

based on the the evidence that the Luau Hut had a much longer existance, and seemed to use both branded and non-branded tiki mugs, i have made the educated guess that they were from the Luau Hut.

also, this is not conclusive, but you could make a point that the mug shown in the 1968 cocktail menu (courtesy arkiva tropika) is intended to show the collected mug

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar 2010-01-05 11:05 ]

my flickr photos attracted the interest of a silver spring based blogger, and injected a bit of tiki history into the perhaps less tiki-aware blogosphere...


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