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The Mainlander, Clayton, MO (restaurant)

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Name:The Mainlander
Street:Bonhomme & Manley

Surprised this one is not listed in Locating Tiki yet.

One the great iconic logos with the Witco fountain used throughout their menus, matchbooks, mugs etc.

Here is a matchbook I picked up. Never knew there was a Huki-Lau Bar at the Mainlander.

Here is the menu from Tiki Gallery.

The classic Mainlander Tiki Mug (from Ooga Mooga), I have always wanted one of these.

The Witco Fountain

A link to a site with an amazing history of the Mainlander.



A great mystery indeed. I don't think an exterior or interior shot of the Mainlander has ever surfaced. Would love to be in the area and do some serious digging. It's taken a long time to pull some secrets out of such places as the Mauna Loa Detroit but new info comes up from time to time. Maybe your post will get some new info on the Mailander DC. Thanks for posting the location.

Here's another Mainlander matchbook.

Sooo, my matchbook has a Clayton city address and everything else has St. Louis.

I guess it was one of those City name change things like the Polynesian that started in Walteria and then changed to Torrance??


Another Mainlander matchbook, box style.


herein i am cross-posting from this thread http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=9485&forum=1&hilite=mainlander and trying to reconstruct some photos.

first i asked my uncles, who were swingin dudes in the st. louis area in the 60s. this got me some leads, pinpointing a two-block area.

last week i was bored out of my skull writing specifications for a project, so i was inspired (mostly by johntiki and his search for the elusive hawaiian room in the emerson hotel, baltimore) to look at the local newpaper archives in st louis online, the post-dispatch. unfortunately the online archive only goes back to about 1980, so i had a certain wall to work with. but this is what i came up with:

The Mainlander
address: 7700 Bonhomme Avenue
Clayton, Missouri 63105

This is currently the site of "Bonhomme Place," a seven-story, 114,000 square foot building completed in 1989.

"From 1894 to 1954, the Crispus Attucks School operated there, educating the black children of the area." i believe that this groundbreaking institution was somehow dissolved by societal and educational changes in mid-50's america.

"Later, there were popular supper clubs on the site, including the Mainlander and Lautrec's, which was destroyed by fire in 1978." so the tiki establishment was no longer when the building was destroyed.

based on the narrative above, i would suspect the mainlander was est. around 1954? unless the building lay fallow until the mainlander moved in...

Mr. Marion Miller, who is currently a piano player at Nordstrom department store in West County Shopping Center (Missouri), played for several months at the Mainlander in 1960.

The "maitre d' at the old Mainlander restaurant in Clayton for many years before he retired" was Conrad F. Castillo, who died in 1997. "Mr. Castillo was born in the Philippine Islands. He came to this country when he was a teen-ager and served in the Navy in World War II as a personal aide to Adm. William "Bull" Halsey." he is survived by a wife, several brothers, several children and grandchildren.

finally, Clayton Historical Society: 721-2236

where to go from here? well i guess postcards and menus would be helpful. but i want to

  1. contact the maitre 'd's wife? brothers?
  2. interview marion miller?
  3. go to the post-dispatch and look at microfiche of the paper 1954, 1960's and then 1978.
  4. see if the clayton historical society has any information?

ADDENDUM: seems like an independent website might have taken the info i posted from 2004 and rolled with it: http://community-2.webtv.net/@HH!EB!BC!14277DB27CB9/CatfishRivers/Themysterious/

"The Mainlander" was a Polynesian 'Tiki' style restaurant that operated for over a decade in Clayton, MO (a suberb of St. Louis) primarily in the 1960's and '70's. The exact address was 7700 Bonhomme Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105. This is at the intersection of Bonhomme Ave. and Hanley Rd. As best as I can piece together The Mainlander most likely opened in the early 1960's and closed sometime in the mid 1970's. For a restaurant that was such a mainstay in the heart of Clayton for many years there is surprisingly little information currently available. This has helped to add to the mystique of The Mainlander. As a young child I have two vague recollections of The Mainlander. One memory I have is while I was in the car with my grandfather riding past the Mainlander as we drove down Hanley Rd. from our home in University City, MO. The second memory is when I had dinner inside the Mainlander with my grandfather in the mid 1960's (I was about 7 years old at the time). I felt a sort of enchanting mystique about the place--the decorations were like nothing I had ever seen before---a big old looking fish net, a carved wooden tiki pole, and beautiful blown glass 'fish floats' of different colors wrapped in rope netting and hanging down from the ceiling.

A vintage matchbook from the Mainlander that I have seen is an interesting artifact. The address on the matchbook has no zip code. In the U.S. zip codes were implemented in July 1963 --and not mandatory until 1967. The telephone number printed on the matchbook has an Exchange instead of an area code. Area codes were intially assigned in the U.S. in 1947. The Mainlander first opened its doors sometime in the early 1960's. I'm thinking circa 1960-1963. If I come up with a definite opening date I will post it here.
NOTE ~ the inside of the matchbook lists the bar at the Mainlander as the HUKI-LAU BAR. "south sea potions" !!! Anyways, if that jives with anything anyone else has found, i would love to know. If you have any information/photos about the Mainlander that you would like to share please feel free to e-mail me at: [email protected] and I will add your information to this web page.

The 'maitre d' at the old Mainlander restaurant in Clayton for many years before he retired was Conrad F. Castillo, who died in 1997. Mr. Castillo was born in the Philippine Islands. He came to this country when he was a teen-ager and served in the Navy in World War II as a personal aide to Adm. William "Bull" Halsey. He is survived by a wife, several brothers, several children and grandchildren.

Native St. Louisan and well respected piano player Mr. Marion Miller had been playing at "The Islander" club across from the Crystal Palace in Gaslight Square as part of a combo in 1960. In 1960 Mr. Miller's combo moved to the Mainlander in Clayton for a new gig. That gig lasted only several months as the other members of Mr. Miller's combo moved on to other endeavers. However Mr. Miller stayed on for a decade at the Mainlander as a solo piano act. Mr. Miller forged many friendships in his days at the Mainlander and certainly one of the most notable was with singer Eddie Eaton who would later form a partnership with Miller. The two performed together in the 1980's at "The Godfather" nightclub near Westport Plaza in St. Louis County. Recently Mr. Miller has played his piano stylings at Nordstram Dept. Store in West County Shopping Center.

I have obtained some new updated information about the Mainlander. Special thanks to research librarian Adele Hegney from the St. Louis Area Studies dept. of the St. Louis Public Library for her help. The first listing for the Mainlander in the St. Louis County Directory was in 1963. Dale W. McGowan was the owner. The listing stays through 1976. (the library did not have a 1977 directory for St. Louis County.) A published review of Lautrec's restaurant from 1978 states that the restaurant recently took over the space occupied by the Mainlander. So it looks likely that the Mainlander closed perhaps in 1977.

The 1976 edition of "Gateway Gourmet" states: "The Mainlander's dining room features grass shacks, a tiki fountain, bamboo covered walls, and many Polynesian artifacts. Outside is another fountain and a white sand beach. Conrad, the headwaiter who was Admiral Halsey's aid, always has many interesting stories to relate. Specialties include fresh seafood, Mahi-Mahi (dolphin), excellent steaks, and authentic Polynesian dishes." Hours were M-F 11:30 AM-1:30 AM; Sat 5-1:30. The banquet facility could accomodate up to 150.

mainlander menu

so let's give the mainlander a working lifespan of 1963 to 1977.

cross-posted from this thread: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=7987&forum=1&17

On 2004-03-05 11:29, bigbrotiki wrote:
Oh, and while we are in St. Louis, why are there no images, Exterior or Interior, to be found of "The Mainlander" (BOT p.179)

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar 2011-01-21 07:51 ]

On 2004-03-05 15:34, bigbrotiki wrote:
Now we have to look for the album "Marion Miller & Eddie Eaton----LIVE at The Mainlander!"
with a gorgeous color cover and the cocktail menu on the back! I'm sure it must exist...?

it took 7 years to come through, but i did recently acquire marion miller's album - Marion at the Mainlander.



detail from inside of mainlander (?)
higher resolution
"Marion with Maxine, one of the lovely Mainlander waitresses"

it's really great piano playing... no banter, no bird calls... but a little taste of what we might have heard in the lost clayton tiki establishment.

anybody live in the st. louis area? marion miller will be playing several times at plaza frontenac during the holiday season - http://www.plazafrontenac.com/?sPageID=23 - it would be cool to see if he had any memories of the mainlander to share.

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar 2011-10-27 20:13 ]

Nice score on the album Johnny Dollar, patience pays off. Thanks for posting that.

I clipped some images of some nice old Mainlander menus some time ago, time to add them here.


nice! :D

check this out! a branded roly-poly cocktail glass (close inspection does show that it is vintage - definitely used).

anyone ever seen one of these?

This is my first time seeing one. :o

Beautiful score Johnny!


Very nice! Mahalo for posting a pic. :)

Found this today
Never seen one before

recently acquired, thought this swizzle would be of interest in the context of this thread.


Some newspaper articles and ads from the Mainlander.

We get a peak at the interior at the staff and the Witco fountain in this ad.

The exterior from a news article about a shooting at the restaurant!

Various ads



FINALLY! A picture of the outside! Whether it's a double murder or not, it's got to be seen!!

I like the Mainlander sign on the wall like that. It makes the letters pop.....just like all the bullets flying around!

Great work DC!!

AWESOME, DUSTYCAJUN! you have fulfilled one of my wishes to get a glimpse of the exterior!!!


Thanks guys, always nice to find a new image of a yet unseen restaurant exterior. Here are a few more ads from the Mainlander with the great Witco Tiki from the early 1960s.


Indeed, a never before seen sight! Wonder what that architectural screen was made of....

And what date was that shooting article? Maybe already in downturn of the neighborhood, and influencing the demise of the place? Two killed is not small fries...


The Mainlander opened July 3, 1962. Here is an article describing the place on opening day.

The shootings occurred in 1971. Marion Miller left the ivories at the Mainlander and started his own Polynesian joint called the Luau in 1974.

The restaurant closed in 1977. A nice long 15-year run.


awesome sleuthing, DC!

it has been a desire of mine to try to meet up with Marion Miller and interview him about his time at the Mainlander, and now knowing, about his own Luau place...

i know he was playing piano in Nordstrom department store in West County Shopping Center at some point... and he comes up in several St. Louis area newspapers, but since I don't live in St. Louis and haven't had the time, I have never connected with him...

here's another set of photos of the Mainlander menu, for the record...

here's another article about the Mainlander:


Great article....yet still, no good quality photos of the Trader Vic entrance with those giant Barney West Tikis (with the cool sloping A-frame in the b.g.). They MUST exist somewhere, how could one pass up such a great photo op...like this one, but in higher res :) :

A little more wide-angle to make the Tikis bigger, a little more frontal to see the Moai also, maybe a couple walking in to see the scale - WHERE is my time machine to let me go back and shoot it! :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2017-08-26 11:02 ]


An ad from a 1967 St Louis magazine...as clear as I could get.

so I have moved to the SHOW-ME-STATE of Missouri, I now live about an hour out of St. Louis City, so i.e. near Clayton, where the Mainlander once was.

so if you read the thread above, one of the key figures of this restaurant was Marion Miller, the piano player... on the off chance I could connect with him, I looked him up, but alas, he passed away in 2018. DANG. Opportunity lost. :cry:


[quote] Marion's obituary Marion Charles Miller was born on September 20, 1925, to John and Sarah Miller in St. Louis, Missouri. One of nine children, he was educated at Holy Angels Elementary and St. Joseph’s High School for Negroes. He also attended St. Louis Music and Arts University excelling in piano, music theory and jazz. He also served in World War II in the United States Navy stationed in Florida and California. He entered into Holy Matrimony for over 70 years with Virginia L. Simmons, also of St. Louis, on October 7, 1947. To this union 2 daughters, Marilyn and Deborah, were born. Deborah preceded Marion in death on June 30, 2016.

Marion worked in real estate and insurance, but his passion was his successful career in music, inspired by his heroes such as Erroll Garner and George Gershwin. Marion performed for major corporations throughout the US including Anheuser-Busch, Ralston Purina, the United Nations and the US Congress, as well as numerous private engagements over his career that spanned decades.

A composer, music producer as well as musician, his music was recorded as the “Original Three Trio,” with Bob Ragan and Doug Thornton. He also recorded with his longtime partner and great friend Eddie Eaton as Miller & Eaton. He was the recipient of the Jazz and Music Achievement Award in 2000 at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. A member of ASCAP, Marion was inducted into the St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame in 2014.

A notable personality, he was widely recognized by people anywhere he went. He was featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch many times, played numerous locations in St. Louis and made several television appearances.

His love for music was exceeded by his love for his family. He is survived by his wife, Virginia, daughter Marilyn Townsend, brother George Miller, grandchildren Joy, Christopher, Tiffany, Jennifer, Kelly, Sarah, and Krista, great-grandchildren Jonathon, Alyssa, Kaitlyn, Krysten, Kaleb, Matthew and Brandon, and many nieces and nephews.

Always known as the family “shutterbug”, Marion took insurmountable amounts of photos documenting his family, of which he was always proud. He shared many a moment with family members with anecdotes, BBQs, Cardinal games, humor, music, and love. To his nieces and nephews, he'll always be “Uncle Beanie”. To his grandchildren, he'll always be “Papa”. [/quote]


[ Edited by Johnny Dollar on 2022-06-17 11:26:50 ]

fwiw a co-worker is a bouncer at an italian restaurant in Clayton, literally 3 blocks away from this original location.

Thanks for the update on Marion. Sounds like a really nice guy and extremely talented too!!

I've updated The Mainlander page on my Lost Tables website with lots of new information! There's a drawing of the Continental Restaurant which was there before The Mainlander and lots of new information about owner Dale McGowan who did not own the restaurant its last 5 years. As a bonus, there's a 1940 Don the Beachcomber menu!


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