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The Polynesian Village, Chicago, IL (restaurant)

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Name:The Polynesian Village
Street:Edgewater Beach Hotel

The Polynesian Village in Chicago's Edgewater Hotel was apparently owned by the same individuals that owned the Polynesian Village in Boston, MA, based on the identical matchbook artwork.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-10-14 02:26 ]

Some photos from an Edgewater Beach Hotel brochure from the 60s:

Great cards Sabu. I have wondered about that matchbook connection as well. Here is a matchbook from my collection for the Edgewater location. The inside cover shows both hotels as being part of the"Hotel Corporation of America". And both matchbooks were made by the same company in Boston Ma. A definite connection.

Inside of front cover.

Great brochure Sabu. The brochures always have the best photos.


Another image from one of those Ford Times cookbooks:

Same artist as the Skipper Kent's interior, same-looking Marquesan Tiki:

bigbro - there definitely seems to be a connection between the two restaurants. I have the drink menu from the Polynesian Village at the Edgewater (need to find it and scan it). One of the drinks is called the "Skipper Kent's Grog" or "Skipper Kent's Downfall" or something like that.

On 2010-02-22 12:48, Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:
bigbro - there definitely seems to be a connection between the two restaurants. I have the drink menu from the Polynesian Village at the Edgewater (need to find it and scan it). One of the drinks is called the "Skipper Kent's Grog" or "Skipper Kent's Downfall" or something like that.


Another great rendering. Love those Ford cookbooks.

I think you are right about Skipper Kent. Here is the postcard I posted from the Polynesian Bar at the Somerset Hotel in Boston that advertised drinks from Skipper Kent.

I have that Palm Leaf shaped menu around somewhere I will have to check for a Skipper Kent reference.

Here is a photo of the menu from Critiki.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-02-22 19:56 ]

There is more than a Skipper Kent reference, from what I am reading he “interpreted” (designed?) the décor along with food, drink and gifts, maybe the “famous Skipper Kent” was trying to compete with Don or Trader Vic in creating a restaurant chain or being a consultant? He certainly borrowed Trader Vic’s Tiki, unless it was the other way around which would be interesting? The image also should go in the Melanesian post Sven started as this is a very early example (pre 60’s) of the Covarrubias Tiki in Polynesian pop. On the menu page there is a small printing ID number 3-55-400 in the bottom corner, maybe the 55 is 1955? Judging by paper and print quality it certainly seems to be about the era of the menu?
If you can read the bottom paragraph it is poetry, sorry for the quality I've tried getting a better image up but it's not happening.



I dug my menu out and got a better scan. I also posted this over on Sven's Melanesia thread. Old Skipper Kent was definitely involved in these two locations.




We have a large collection of correspondence of letters from frank and Lucille Kent concerning the Polysnesian Room at the edgewaterbeach hotel starting from June 21st 1954 up untill the grand opening on December 31st 1954.
Here is a sampling of some of the correspondences.
june 21st 1954

next is a correspondence between Mr Roger Sonnabend The Sommerset Hotel Boston Mass. concerning the name at the edgewaterbeach hotel.

here is a letter dated oct 26th 1954 discussing hiring conrad levoit and otto mammon

Here is a letter to mr conrad levoit in honolulu offering him the job as captain.

Here is a correspondence to Mr otto hammon santa barbara california. who I believe is skipper Kents #1 guy in san francisco

Here is one of many correspondences between Josphine (frank kents sister) and frank and lucille kent. she ran skipper kents while he was building the polynesian room at the edgewaterbeach hotel.

here is a cute letter from Mr otto hammon to skipper kent when it is getting near crunch time...

Here is the grand opening invitation

frank Kent started the skipper, 3253 adeline st south berkley california with frank bilek
He started the zombie village may 12th 1942 with hafe hafer.
he next started skipper kents we are not sure of the date.
He also started the West indies reno nevado.
next he started the polynesian room at the edgewaterbeach hotel dec 31st 1954
He also had correspondence with the Marmonte hotel chain in santa barbara california about doing skipper kents as a chain.
After he started the polynesian room at the edgewaterbeach hotel he went on to start the polynesian room at the sommerset hotel in boston.
After that we have cost analysis at 6 different sheraton hotels for doing a skipper kents resturants in the sheraton hotel chain which he ended up giving to steve crane.
beacause at the same time he was doing this His real estate agent in Hawaii contacted him and told him about a 14.65 acre piece of land was available on the kona coast on the big island of Hawaii.
He apparently decided to pursue his dream of the ultamate resort on Hawaii and passed on the sheraton offer. and concentrated on developing his land on the kona coast of which we have the original prospectus of the property.

we have blue prints of the polynesian room and a lot more information but unfortunately all this is in storage.
We can understand what happened to skipper kent and his dream. having lived on the big island with its laid back attitude.


Thanks so much for posting those great letters, and providing so much amazing information about Skipper Kent and the Polynesian Room! The Steve Crane/Sheraton connection blew my mind.

Once you get your other SK material out of storage please post what you can.

-Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-02-23 23:49 ]



Bizzcoff, Incredible info...Thanks for sharing. Another little (compared to that info) about the spot...
"The Marine Dining Room was replaced in 1954 by what one employee referred to as “that chop suey joint”—the Polynesian Village
Les Waverly, bandleader:
They had huts and all the motifs of a Polynesian village. There was one act called the Pearls of the Pacific and they had Tahitian drum dancers with them. The Tahitian drums were actually fuel cans and they made a high-pitched metallic sound. It was a pretty ordinary stage but, instead of a curtain, they had something like bamboo crossed. You could see through it, but it still gave you the feeling of a curtain.
Martin Denny performed there. He was a very big act and he had records with bird calls on them. The Boyd Twins performed there. They were quite well known throughout the country because they were the Doublemint twins"


A treasure trove of history there, thanks for posting. To think, we could have had a Skipper Kents chain start here in Santa Barbara!



I have this drink menu mailer from the West Indies in Reno that talks about being created by the "men who helped make possible the Bay Area's famous Zombie Village". I always wondered about the Skipper Kent connection.

Do you have any more info on this one? Maybe we could start a new location thread.

Thanks again.,


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-02-24 07:28 ]


Here is a followup from last nights drunken post.
here is a letter dated jan 1st 1955 from Josephine

Here is a cute letter jan 5th to Mr Benway at polynesian imports Honolulu about a ten foot clam.

Here is a letter from Otto Mammon giving the Kents an update on how the polynesian room is doing

Here is a letter from Roger Sonnabend to Skipper Kent

here is a picture of Skipper Kent on his boat

Here is another letter from Roger Sonnabend.

We will post more information on the Kents in the appropriate locations within the next couple of days.


Here is the eye candy....

eventually, the edgewater beach location became a kon tiki ports, i believe - or was it don the beachcomber....one of the 2 before it closed.....tiny boat taxis used to ferry folks to the edgewater hotel and back from navy pier and other stops along the lake front.

Amazing! Thank You biffcoz for scanning all that in! This must all be from his estate sale/auction a couple of years ago ( the same that yielded that amazing spec bowl I show in Tiki Modern?) It is great to see all this material ended up in appreciative hands. It always is a little eerie to see that no family members cared for all that. Well, we're his "family" now, we care!

Would it possible to enlarge/zoom in on the "Social Calendar November/December" piece, I would love to be able to read his movies' titles!

It is amazing to see that the little bit of "menu mythology" that I showed in the Book of Tiki was no sailor's yarn, but only a small part of his true story!

Thanks so much, bifcozz. It's nice to have that mystery-connection solved and the answers saved for posterity. I like that photo of Skipper Kent and this piece of artwork especially:


bigbro here is the closeups you asked for

Time to give this awesome thread a bump.

Picked up this nice flier advertising the Rage of the Tropics show at the Polynesian Village.

What a line up, Danny Kaleikini, the Tu-Tus comedy team and the Manu the sword dancer.


...and "the HAUNTING Gene Rains Quartet"! Cool.

That one's got to be in my next CD booklet, DC, on the double page for the Gene Rains tune I will have in it!


Would have been nice to hear Gene Rains do "Tiki" there...

I was very excited to be able to purchase the original large-format negative of this photo. It shows a stylish couple having drinks in the Polynesian Village in June, 1960. Lots of nice details, including the man's shirt, that Tahitian tiki that shows up in so many other images, and a drink bowl to the far right.


That is a great find! Another amazing thing about the photo is that it has the illustrated islands drink map on the wall mural. It looks like the same one that you can get a peak at on the right side of the Skipper Kent's postcard.


Is there an emoticon for "stuffing your fist in your mouth and biting on it" symbolizing a high level of excitement!?

I tried to doctor around on the contrast and gamma of the pic to lift up the background, but those white folks get too white real fast:

O.A. used to make this style Marquesan Tiki, here is a beautiful one at Duke Carter's amazing house:

You can see him better in a B&W version:

The Marquesan at Skipper Kents is quite similar, but I don't know if it's from the same carver as the two Tikis above.


On 2010-02-24 17:13, Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:
Thanks so much, bifcozz. It's nice to have that mystery-connection solved and the answers saved for posterity. I like that photo of Skipper Kent and this piece of artwork especially:

Think that's a Stubenberg or just a copy of his style? Maybe clip-art?


How about a close-up of that island drink mural?

Here is an ad from a 1961 Chicago guide featuring Martin Denny for two shows nightly at the Polynesian Village.


Here is a drink menu I have from the Polynesian Room that is similar to the one posted by Bifcozz.

This one dropped the appetizers and listed strictly the drinks, with a few more added. The Covarrubias tiki rendering was added as well.


Aloha, I live on Oahu. I have found pictures and history of the Kents on the big island. I just am fascinated with their lives. Do you have any pictures to share of the Kents? I have found pictures of their life and travels, and would like to start collecting!
Happy Day,
Mango girl


Welcome to Tiki Central. It would be great to see some of your photos and information on the Kent's adventures in Hawaii posted here. You can search these forums to find out more information on Skipper Kent as well.



I think it's so cool how so many of the tiki bars were connected and created by one or two people. I would love to see a documentary or book done on the history of tiki bars and of the people who started the craze. Skipper Kent sounds like a really interesting person who lived quite an adventurous life.

It's possible that Lucille Kent was the designer or art director, of this establishment. She also did the interior for Skipper Kents and Zombie Village. That's why they look similar.
Happy Day,

Spotted this rare mug on ebay a while back from the Polynesian Village.

Looks like a Trader Vic's design but has an OMC tag. Anybody seen one of these before?


Wow! Never seen it. Pretty amazing the stuff they got away with back then! So clearly the classic Trader design.

Does anyone of you super sleuths out there know when, approximately, the Polynesian Village closed? If I had to guess,
I would put it around 1966.

I know the Edgewater Beach hotel closed in 1967, and that the main building of the hotel was torn down not
too long after that (perhaps 1969 at the latest.) The Edgewater Beach Apartments, which co-existed with the hotel,
still stand today and really make a person appreciate how grand the architecture of the hotel must have been.

The hotel lost its beach access around the time the Polynesian Village opened, due to the northward expansion of
Lake Shore Drive (which stopped at Foster prior to the expansion; that took place around 1954-55)

The Polynesian Village would have been kaput prior to 1967 when the hotel shuttered - here's a snippet from one of the local
neighborhood blogs, quoting Les Waverly, who was a band leader at the hotel in the 50's and 60's:

"They replaced the Polynesian Village and they tried to bring back the Marine Dining Room. There would be people who would come back to relive their honeymoon of 20 or 30 or 40 years ago and they were looking for that nice hotel that they enjoyed so much—and they’d spend one night in the rooms up there with the peeling plaster and the crummy bathroom and all that. We saw the hotel slip little by little. The stores began to close and they stopped operating the summer theater, but still you thought it would keep going."

Up until the sale to the hotel group from Boston in the 1950's (and, apparently with that, the Skipper Kent connection),
the Marine Dining Room was the primo place to go in the city, especially throughout the 30's and 40's when Benny Goodman,
Glenn Miller and all the other great band leaders of the era played there.

It sounds like that change back to the Marine Dining Room wasn't too long before the hotel closed, so I would have to guess the Village closed around 66-67-ish.

I can say, the area surrounding the hotel (Uptown/Edgewater) hit a period of sharp decline starting in the late 60's. It had been the "entertainment capital" of the North side of the city for decades, starting in the teens and 20's, but (as happens in big cities) it became mostly a slum throughout the late 60's, 70's, and 1980's, and is only really starting to rebound now. Clark Street (one of the main North-South thoroughfares, several blocks West of the Edgewater Beach hotel on Sheridan Road) was referred to as the "Hillbilly Highway" in the media starting in the late 60's, due to the massive influx of poor Appalachian immigrants in the neighborhood. Clark Street was pretty solidly country and western bars (Carol's Pub at Clark & Leland is all that's left now of
that time period.)If you've seen the 1970's horror classic "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," which was filmed in that area, you can see what the Uptown/Edgewater area looked like by the mid 1980's.

Off the topic of Tiki, sure, but hopefully some context to what was going on in area around the Edgewater Beach Hotel at the time the Polynesian Village was wrapping up will be interesting to some. Just trying to get an idea how long the Polynesian Village would have been going... it couldn't have been TOO long, as artifacts and information about the place seems to be rare to come by.



Rag Bag, Trying to find some info from my Chicago connections...hopefully something will come up. To keep thing going on this great thread, here is an ad from a 1960 Chicago restaurant mag I have. Boy, Did they score some talent. OGR

keep in mind there was also a polynesian village on addison but they may have gotten the old sign and tikis from the one in edge water after it closed. the sign in big yellow letters that once adorned the facade have been removed since the mid 90's but the tikis are still there and have been recently painted brown over their original black color.

if i recall, the sign was the same font as the one in edge water beach.

[ Edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2014-04-13 17:36 ]

Tiare posted on Sun, Jun 8, 2014 2:55 PM

Picked up a Polynesian Village swizzle today at the flea market. At first I didn't recall where they were located but was delighted to find out in Chicago since I am from Chicagoland!

An old newspaper photo of the entertainment at the Polynesian Village in Chicago.

Johnny Pineapple and his Aloha Maids, including Leilani and Kealoha.


This is one of my favorite threads. A few more advertisements for the incomparable Arthur Lyman at the Polynesian Village.


DC on the hunt

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