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Tahiti Iti, Stockton, CA (restaurant)

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Name:Tahiti Iti
Street:46 S. Monroe St.
Phone:Ho 2-941

I found a one line add in the Stockton phonebook's restaurant section.

I discovered this add a while back in the 1959 Stockton phone book. I didn't see it in any other year book that I searched. I visited the address several months ago and found a vacant lot area and a school nearby. It is about two blocks from the port of Stockton. Ive just got a new lead on the place so ill post more as it develops. Keeping my fingers crossed!

1959 Stockton Phone book add

Happy Hunting!

Ok, about this little known Stockton Tiki Restaurant/Topl#ss Bar/Youth Center called Tahiti Iti. You might want to grab a Mai Tai or two cause this is gonna take a while.

After I found the one line phone book add, made a drive-by on the address and found an empty lot, I put the word out during my Tiki travels. I moved on to more Islander research and other such Tiki business and didn't’t hear any thing more about it till the other day. So I get an E-Mail from Record columnist Michael Fitzgerald the guy who gave me the tip on the Bank of Stockton Photo Archives.

On a side note; Mike has become interested in my urban Tiki archeology quest and is planning to do a column on it in the future. I have given him access to my research, files, and photos to further this endeavor and agreed to help him with it. With his contacts, investigative and interviewing skills I’m sure we can break some new ground on Stockton’s Tiki history.

So back to the story, I get the E-mail and he tells me he’s got the scoop on Tahiti Iti, it had been moved in 71! I call him the next day, and after my “ditch digging” day job I stop by his place to check out some old pics of the place and get the new address of where the building is supposed to be, St Georges Catholic Church 120 W 5th St.. (Note: old newspapers are available at the local library microfilm section, you can make copies to) I can’t stand it, the place is less than a 2 miles from where I’m at so I blow off picking up my daughter at after school program, (sorry Jenna someday you’ll understand) and go to do a drive-by. Ok now, here’s urban archaeologist rule number 1, or maybe 2, 3 or 4. Don’t get so caught up in Tiki fever that you miss the Tiki right in next to the bogus one you are drooling over! That’s exactly what I did.

So I’m counting the addresses 105, 110, 113 and stop. I see a building that looks like the one in the picture, it’s a Baptist church but the picture said it was a Catholic Church. Must have changed I thought to myself. Address says 120 I’m at 113, didn't care, they must have moved it, this must be it. I take a bunch of pictures, meet this old maintenance man out side, tellem my story and of course this is it, he remembers it and every thing. I go inside take a bunch of pics of the old tables and all that stuff and of course it all came from Tahiti Iti right?

The next day I meet with Mr. Wong, find the Islander blue prints and then head south to take some more pics of the place as my camera battery died half way through the day before. I cruise by and see some other people there this time. I stop, get out, tell them my story and they chuckle as they inform me of the real history of the place. A little embarrassed I walk away shaking my head. As I get to my car I look across the street and there staring at me is a big sign “St. George’s Catholic Church”. I drive over and see the address 120 above the door, right next door to this big new building is the old Tahiti Iti building (so I thought) It looked just like the I remember from the picture, after I checked it out I went into the new church building and talked to a lady who said she has been going to church there since the 50’s and that wasn't the building I’m looking for. That was the old main church, been there for 60 years or more.

Ok so I got to get to the bottom of this. I call Mike, no answer. I stopped by the Golden Star Cafe for some Chow Main and then called Mike again, this time he answered. I soon had some pictures in my hand and was headed back out to the church. I compared it to the building and it looked like a match except for the windows we not really in the right place. I went back inside and showed the pictures to the lady and she still said that wasn’t the building. So I go out side and circle the building looking for clues to make a match. This old man (not quite as old as the other old man) was sitting on the bed of his truck close by and was working construction on a new building. He asked what I was up to and again “told my story”. He said that isn’t the building you are looking for, the building you want was right hear where this building is. He said he remembered when they brought it in and the rumor was that it was a Topl#ss bar. The news article said it had changed to a Topl#ss bar at some point but I hadn't tol him that. He said they used it as a youth center, just like it said in the newspaper article. He said they moved it out of hear about 20 years ago. Assuming that it was long gone, rule number 14 "don’t assume", I told him thanks and started to leave. Then the magic words. "Well if you really want to see it I know where it is…" I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and said "where"! Well I don’t know the address he said, I was crushed again, up down up down I cant take this any more. First I find it then I don’t then I find it then I don’t, "but I can take you there! he said. There I go again up up up! I said lets go, please take me there right now! He got in his truck and I followed him, I not only followed him I was on him like glue driving 10mph tail gating him like I was gonna loose him or something. A few blocks away we stopped at the place, it was a house now, with stucco sides and a big awning all around the sides, but this was it, the bones were all there. The vents and the main doors were all in the right place, eves all good. The old guy told me that he used to be in the real estate business back then and he was the one who sold it for the church.

I told the guy thanks for his help and gave him 20 bucks for his church. He was happy to be of service, an interesting break in his day for sure. You know it’s not every day you get the chance to help out on an urban archeology expedition!

Ok now for the nuts and bolts. According to published news reports Tahiti Iti was opened as a Polynesian restaurant and C#ckt#il lounge in early 1958. The owners were Otto and Audrey Allgoewer. Otto was born and raised in Tahiti and his wife lived there. The couple along with other dance troupes and entertainers presented dance and folk music of the “South Seas” in live shows.

Bamboo and straw mats covered the walls and the dinning room ceiling was adorned with “Tahitian figures”. The C#ckt#il lounge had a florescent painted mural of Tahiti and the ceiling was covered in fishnets. The tables were covered in Tapa from Tahiti and the kitchen was decorated as a bamboo hut.

Samoan artist Tanora Moore painted Polynesian designs for the restaurant and barrel tops and heavy bamboo were used to make the C#ckt#il tables. Shells, masks, tools, hats and knives were also used to decorate the place.

There was and out door dinning area fenced in by bamboo with flowers and featured and out door Tahitian cooking oven. The chef was a Tahitian named Louise Tarafata and he featured Tahitian specialties.

In 1964 Dorthy and Mase Sinacore and Mary Emma Spillman took over ownership. At some point in the restaurants history it features “Topl#ss Dancers”. The exact period of which is unknown.

In 1970 the restaurant was displaced by a new part of the crosstown freeway and it was moved to Aiport way near French camp Road. The building was then donated to St. Georges Catholic Church by contractor Dan Nomellini and moved to 120 w. 5th St. where
it became a youth center.

According to my interview with a church member who sold the building as a realestate agent in the 1990’s the building was moved to it present location and remodeled into family residence.

This was the first of Stockton’s six Polynesian style restaurants.

Exterior 1958

C#ckt#il Lounge 1958

Dining Room 1958

Moving Day 1970

Approximate Monroe St. location in 1958, photo 2009

Building in its currant state as a residence 2009



Happy Hunting!

[ Edited by: abstractiki 2010-01-23 21:44 ]

Wow! Now THAT is local Tiki archeology par excellence! Oh if we only could have Bank of Stockton-type photos of these interiors! I wanna see all the details described in your text. I mean it is amazing that you found any pics at all...that must be Otto and Audrey in that picture? He must have been one of those South Seas Germans, like Leeteg. It is too bad that most Polynesian pop proprietors (say that 3X fast!) were already in their "best years" when they started their places, so they just aren't around anymore.
Your tenacity in matching the building is amazing. True archeology.

Super Sleuth! :)


WHEW! What a lot of work you're putting into discovering our tiki past... but it's really paying off with incredible results!

Mahalo for all your efforts!
You really should compile all your info, photos, ephemera, and interviews and do a book on Central Valley Mid-Century tiki!

I'd buy it!

Tiare posted on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 9:02 PM

Man, that is a good story. Good sleuthing! Speaking of writing a book, maybe Arcadia press would be interested. Just a thought.



David.... you are the best .Where do you find this stuff?

Mahalo Bigbro, Madog, Tobunga, Tiare and 61surf! I really appreciate your comments. I have thought about writing a little book on all this someday but I feel like I still have more research to do before really considering it.

I absolutely love all the big glamorous Temples and Villages, with all the fantastic floor shows, fountains, mugs and architecture. But I also love the obscure ones to. The ones without artifacts for sale on e-bay. Temples like this are elusive, hidden, a rare prize.


Zeta posted on Sat, Jan 23, 2010 9:26 PM



Always enjoy reading your research threads.

Saw this matchbook from the Tahiti Iti on ebay, it went for more than I could afford so I grabbed the image for ya.


Aahhh that's so flippin awesome Dusty!!! I am so surprised, a very rare artifact indeed. I never thought I would see this.

That's great the way you are always checking E-bay for artifacts. Even if you can't acquire them the images are saved for the historical documentation.

I would love to have found that in a Stockton antique store for $5.00. I wonder how much it went for?


On 2010-07-14 20:03, abstractiki wrote:
I would love to have found that in a Stockton antique store for $5.00. I wonder how much it went for?


Economic times may be tough, but not for the big boys on the ebay circuit.

$81 for the matchbook. Hope you find a local one.



Whoa! Awesome!

Thanks fer posting that, Dusty!

Interesting how the wahine's pose is similar to the wahine on the sign (from what I can make out from that photo), but not the exact same image.

I wonder what other Tahiti Iti ephemera is floating about out there?

Super thread. Thank you VampiressRN and sending me here. Wendy

Looks like it was a great restaurant. Love the matchbook...and that is a pretty hefty price.

Pages: 1 15 replies