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Photos of Alphie's - A Vintage Tiki Diner in Goleta, CA

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While most of you were enjoying Mondo Tiki in Vegas this last weekend, I was heading up to Solvang, CA with friends in an annual Easter tradition that I'll refrain from explaining here.

Needless to say, it gave me a chance to finally meet Trader Rick along the way for breakfast at Alphie's - the old tiki restaurant he discovered and has been wanting to show us for some time.

Alphie's is just off the 101 in Goleta, just North of Santa Barbara, at 5725 Hollister Ave. When I drove up at 7:30am, I have to say I was a little skeptical when I saw the facade. It didn't look very tiki:

But then the carvings around the door looked promising. As you can see by the hours, this is strictly a breakfast/lunch place.

Inside, I was in for a pleasant surprise. This was strictly an old-school tiki joint with tons of vintage artifacts on every wall. Each column was covered with the same carved panels:

The restaurant looks small from the front, but it is very deep with several back rooms. It had a good breakfast crowd of locals.

The vintage carved weaponry on the walls would make Basement Kahuna weep with envy:

According to Trader Rick, (I hope I have this right), the current owners bought the place in 1980 and all the decor was already in place. I forget when he said the restaurant opened originally. Maybe he can fill in the details for us. It looks like some 1980s art posters were eventually mixed into the decor:

But thankfully the old pieces are still there:

Here's Rick showing me one of the back rooms. Look at the nice outrigger canoe hanging from the cieling:

And out back, there were some pilings and floats:

We wonder if this place was once a full-service restaurant that was open evenings as well. We saw some dj equipment in the back, so maybe they rent the restaurant out at night. If so, this would be a great site for a party.

It was great meeting Trader Rick and we had a good conversation over breakfast, talking about tiki, of all things! Soon he will be moving from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, folks, so we'll be able to include him in all our hoity-toity doings.

Trader Rick, would you add some of the history of Alphie's to this post, as you learned it from the owners?

I got a big thrill out of seeing another hidden tiki hideaway with all its artifacts still intact. I would recommend it highly as a breakfast or lunch stop for those travelling the 101.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2003-04-22 18:15 ]

Thanks for the great pix Sabu. I'll be heading to San Luis Obispo in the next week and will try to make that a stop. Hard to get past The Breakfast House in Ventura so maybe lunch.

Thanks for the posting the pics, Sabu! Alphie's was originally opened in 1957 by a man who, rumor has it, was named Alphie. OK, seriously. The place DID open that year, the same year, I believe, that UCSB moved to its current larger location, just over a mile from Alphie's. As far as I know, the place was never a tiki BAR, but a pizza and beer place with a tiki theme. Alphie's did very well, catering largely to the college, when something unfortunate happened in the early '80s. Just up Hollister from Alphie's, near the airport, the very first Elephant Bar opened up. For those of you who don't know, the Elephant Bar (or "E-Bar," as it has been annoyingly dubbed by UCSB students and others) is a chain of safari/jungle themed restaurants in California (and possibly outside of California, but who cares?). Needless to say, the first one opened up right here and took a lot of business away from Alphie's: it is much larger, serves a greater variety of foos, serves cocktails, and even has a college night which is probably just as bad as one might expect.

This did not bode well for Alphie's. It was sold in 1983 and the new owners decided rather than to gut the place and rename it, Alphie's would simply adapt to remain competitive. Hence, it became a breakfast and lunch place. A few years ago, the only other breakfast place in the area, Cajun Kitchen, packed up and moved several miles to the north. Now, Alphie's has a monopoly in downtown Goleta and is doing VERY well, as Sabu and I saw. Thanks again, Sabu, for posting pictures. Getting the word out about Alphie's is one of the reasons why I joined Tiki Central in the first place, believe it or not!

Muy bien muchachos. I have never even heard of that place, and my family has been in SB for about 100 years. When I'm up there I'll look it up. Let's see if it gives the Mesa Cafe competition. Also good breakfast joint is The Brown Pelican.

Ha, what a hidden gem...I love those places that don't look Tiki at all from the outside...I remember a place in San Francisco, "Raffles", the follow up joint to Tiki Bob's. It was on Market street on the ground floor of a generic office highrise, no mention of Polynesian outside, and 99% of the clientel seemed to have no clue what the stuff on the walls was, or why it was there..it was more like an office cafeteria.

I wonder if the new owners have any old photos of before the white walls phase...that kinf of destroys the atmosphere.
A lot of the stuff is straight out of the Oceanic Arts catalog, but not all of it. Great how well kept it is, lucky the college crowd moved on.

On the last photo, the Tiki next to the specials board is a Milan Guanko inspired two footer that was machine carved. One was used as the bad luck Tiki "Kona" in one of the few Tiki showing episodes of "Gilligan's Island".

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2003-04-23 00:29 ]

Once again - Sabu rules...

On 2003-04-23 11:37, Tangaroa wrote:
Once again - Sabu rules...

Not that Sabu didn't do anything. After all, he was the one that finally came up and took pictures of the place. And he's a nice guy and I enjoyed hanging out with him. And of course, he's discovered tons of cool tiki stuff that no one new about before. But I was the first person on here to mention this place back in October of last year! And I mean, come on, I'm IN two of the frickin' pictures! Oh well, as long Tiki-philes know about Alphie's, then it's all good! :)

Trader_Rick, you rule too, you look soo serious though. Smile buddy. Remember Aloha Burger across the street from Rusty's? I was reading TIKI ROADTRIP and I remembered that My cousins and I used to get our grub on there back in the day. Good times....good times.

I agree - Trader Rick Rules!

All I did was have breakfast and take some pictures. Trader Rick lured me up there with his tales of clandestine tiki restaurants and he did all the fieldwork to find out the history. This one definitely goes to the Trader.

although... I checked my new copy of "Tiki Road Trip" last night and found that James has a write-up of Alphie's in the California chapter. Darn! Others knew of it first. However, at the book-signing I suggested James check out this thread and use the history Rick provided in the next upgrade of the book.


Yeah, I should smile more. Especially in that second picture. I think the sun was in my eyes or somehting.

As for Alphie's appearing in "Tiki Road Trip," I'd like to at least THINK I had something to do with that. I remember going to James' web-page and not seeing Alphie's listed, so I wrote James and told him about it. Also, James posts about every email he gets and I did not see anyone else mention it on his site.

I also told Otto at Tiki News about it awhile ago, and he suggested I write an article about it, but then I found out about Tiki central and figured this would be an easier way to get the word out.

But I'm not upset about anyone taking credit for my "discovery." (I didn't really "discover" it after all. I mean, it had been there for about 40 years before I walked in!) I'm just glad people know about it and now, hopefully, TC-ers will go there and the owners won't put up any more parrot posters! :D

BTW, Sabu, I think I've found out something about the Aloha Lounge. Go to that post and check it out.

[ Edited by: filslash 2008-09-13 11:18 ]


bumped - very cool thread! But the pics dont show for me... :(

Yummy!! Tiki-rrific Breakfast Menu :)

I missed this thread the first time around. Is there any way I could talk you into reposting the photos Sabu?


Very cool you two! Nice road trip.


Yea we went there about 2 years ago after reading about it in tiki road trip,worth a visit if you are passing the area.

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