Tiki Central / Locating Tiki
Saba & the Caribbean Ballroom, Capitola, CA (bar)
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Name:Saba & the Caribbean Ballroom
I found this matchbook,
and the story goes like this...
The Capitola Hotel, which was built in 1895 by Frederick Hihn along the rocky coast of the bay, burnt down in 1929. After sitting vacant for a few years, a roller skating rink was built on this prime ocean front property in 1933. Here is a view of the roller rink from 1935:
In 1935, several newly built structures, including a dance hall, were moved from the vicinity of Capitola Avenue and Stockton Street, and combined with the roller rink to create the Capitola Ballroom.
Here's a view from the 1940s:
In 1954 the ballroom was renovated to become the Saba Nightclub. Saba was a bar with tikis serving exotic cocktails, and the original ballroom became the Caribbean Ballroom with a West Indies theme. Here's a wonderful shot of the front:
The Capitola Museum had a very large copy of this image on display, and I bet it showed tons of great detail. Here's another shot of the building from the air:
Like the original hotel, The Saba burned to the ground in 1957. Here is a 1957 aerial view showing the hard to see burned remains of Saba:
I found a great write up of its history from the Capitola Historic Museum:
How the Tiki Came to Capitola
It happened in 1954.
The “tikiana” bar craze—fermented in the years of
Brad Macdonald, Capitola’s mayor and the founder
Planning to sell Shadowbrook and start a new
The plan was to combine a trendy dining
The Saba was renovated and ready for its grand
Brad and Jack both remembered the enormous
Times had changed, however. The Macdonalds’
Nonetheless, from 1954 until the Saba burned in
The Saba’s tikis burned in the fire, but their
Today’s community supports its heritage while it
The Capitola Museum had an exhibit in late 2008 on the Saba, which featured Frank Hill, who was the carver for all of the original tikis. Here is their info about him:
Artist Frank Hill
Remember Walter Cronkite and You Are There?, the
Hill grew up in Capitola, living with his family near
He was in high school in 1947 when Brad
While Hill was attending the Academy of Art in San
Hill later continued his art career, working for
This is the poster Frank did:
I bet this guy is still around and has some great stories. Could be some more info at the museum, too. Anyone near Capitola want to explore those options...
I also found a quick mention that because of the fire and following erosion, you can sometimes still see the safe from this place in the breakers near there.
Not sure if that is actually true...
Is that poster at the end of your post vintage? Some of the type looks contemporary.....
No, the poster is new. It was something that Frank Hill did for the exhibit, based on one of his older tikis and his older artwork which don't exist anymore. The historical society printed these as posters and shirts.
found another one Max
I came across a brochure and a menu from Saba on ebay that provide some additional insight into the complex.
The brochure cover.
A rendering and description of the entrance:
The restaurant had several rooms, including the Caribbean Banquet Room
The main bar:
And the Sailfish Room which was where the Tikis were.
Here is the menu from the Sailfish Room with a nice description of the interior.
This place was a 1950's crossover between Caribbean and Tiki.
[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2016-04-05 15:39 ]
Spotted a color postcard showing the exterior of the Saba restaurant.
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