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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Kona Kai, Chicago, IL (restaurant)

Pages: 1 9 replies

Name:Kona Kai
Street:8535 West Higgins Road

This Kona Kai location is in the Chicago O'Hare Marriott Hotel. Now named the Nikko Room.

Quote from Tipsy McStagger:
"..the kona kai at the marriott near chicago has not been open to the public since 1999(?) but still retains all it's original decor and fixtures.....it is primarily used for banquet hall rentals and was host to exotica 2003....the cool sign they used to have out front by the road was backlit with red neon and cool googie lettering but has been gone for many years....the tikis out front have all found homes with members of tiki central....."

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-07-27 22:20 ]

Here's a vintage image of the Chicago Kona Kai:

:up: The resolution isn't great, but I see what looks to be a classic Kona Kai maori salt shaker, a coconut mug, and a table lamp. Not sure what those large bowls are.

Here are some photos from the 2003 Exotica thread. Hope aquarj doesn't mind me using them. All other photos from the event seem to be dead links:

Are you Chicago folks planning to host another Exotica event at the Kona Kai any time in the future? I'm kicking myself that I missed the 2003 event.

Yeah, that was nice. I seem to remember hearing that it has been gutted since, though. Here are some shots of the exterior:

Duke Carter ended up with one of these guys, all made by O.A.

There's a set on Flickr of Kona Kai photos taken in 2007 so it was still there as recently as then.

Here's a picture I "borrowed" from it.

Just go to Flickr and search for Kona Kai Room and in this post Kona Kai - Chicago from last year it sounds like it's still there.

....if those pics from 2007 are recent the place probably didn't get gutted....they still do a big rental business with banquets and such.....the sign you see above was not the sign i was speaking of....i think this one was one that replaced it in the 70's but the one i remember was just the letters "kona kai" spelled out in that cool font that is their signature and backlit with red neon on a faux lava rock background....

and the big tikis....the giant ku on the left i think is missing and lost forever... .if my memory is correct, it was cut down by marriott due to rotting......i don't remember it being there for exotica in 2003. the other three where salvaged by bamboolodge and the carters....

the bowls you see on the tables in the picture above were simply round baskets that your food was served in...like a woven rattan type of thing....

and the bar pictured above was usually surrounded by bamboo stools but were moved out for the exotica event....

[ Edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2009-07-28 05:44 ]

[ Edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2009-07-28 05:46 ]

On 2009-07-27 22:50, bigbrotiki wrote:
Yeah, that was nice. I seem to remember hearing that it has been gutted since, though. Here are some shots of the exterior:

Duke Carter ended up with one of these guys, all made by O.A.

Duke actually has 2 of them and we have the one in the right hand corner. Long story, we'll tell it later.

I was at a wedding at the Kona Kai about a year ago, so as of that point it still existed.

If you look at some of the pics posted above, you'll see that all of the grass matting or palm fronds have been removed from atop the bamboo dining huts.

The river is kept clean, but when I was there for the wedding the waterfall wasn't on.

The other decor is slowly eroding, but the room is hanging on - for what it is worth.

Really! That's great, I won't even start going into its "potential"! This might be the last great authentic Tiki environment with waterfalls and rivers traversed by bridges that is left in the U.S. If there would be some crazy super-rich person dreaming of owning their own Tiki Temple, this would be the place to re-open.

..found these recently in a bunch of swizzles i bought .....they were at the bottom of the bunch and i didn't even realize what they were till i got home and dumped them out on the table....there were some larger, more common kona kai swizzles in the bunch which is why i bought them all to begin with...this was certainly a nice suprise....you don't see these wrapped toothpicks too often, if ever.....

Some old newspaper photos of the Kona Kai at the Chicago Marriott.

Tikis abound.

The entertainment.

Some print ads.


Pages: 1 9 replies