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Kon Tiki Ports, Sheraton Chicago Hotel, Chicago , IL (restaurant)

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Name:Kon Tiki Ports, Sheraton Chicago Hotel
Street:505 N. Michigan Ave.

The last of the Steve Crane locations to be opened in the early 60's I believe. I know there is some good stuff out there for this location but does an exterior shot of the restaurant exist? I found a small mention of the location on Wikipedia that states quote " A facade of lava rock adorned the northern wall along Grand Avenue, where today only a small section remains visible, tucked at the end of the balcony of Zest’s outdoor café." Below is the image I was able to find by using TC satellite control. I have allot of time on my hands.

A matchbook from my collection.

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-11-22 16:17 ]

I have this postcard that says it's from the Chicago location, but I have the exact same postcard saying it's from the Boston location. Hmm.

I wish you guys would wait until, I had a scanner, a new camera, a tripod and some decent lighting before you post things that I can contribute to. I'm only half-kidding but anyway here is a Kon Tiki Ports Chicago swizzle (Red) and It's brother the Boston swizzle (Gold) Chicago says "CHICAGO, ILLINOIS"on the bottom and "in the SHERATON-CHICAGO HOTEL" on the back, Boston says nothing on the bottom and "SHERATON BOSTON HOTEL-BOSTON MASS" on the back. Obviously "BOSTON MASS" was added so you don't get confused with all of the other Bostons in the world. :lol:

I've opened up the image a little to make it more visible.

I'm sure some showoff will post the actually cool Kon Tiki Ports swizzle some time soon. :)

On 2009-11-22 18:58, Bora Boris wrote:
I'm sure some showoff will post the actually cool Kon Tiki Ports swizzle some time soon. :)

Whatever, Boris. :roll:

I'm pretty sure that Tiki Kate's postcard is from the Chicago Kon Tiki and not Boston. Here are the postcards from the other Kon Tiki Ports in Chicago:


Singapore Joe's



I just buzzed over to Mimi's website and confirmed that Tiki Kate's postcard is from Chicago.

Here is the Chicago brochure from Mimi:


I also have an Alien Tiki Swizzle from Chicago ~

I found this Chicago Tribune newspaper article from October 1973. In 1972 they did 2.2 million in gross sales.

I found another article, this one is from November 1968, Chicago Tribune.

Notable; Crane talks about his upcoming Kon Tiki Restaurant in Waikiki even while saying that the Polynesian Restaurant era has reached it's plateau. He is also "prophesying" on the future of the restaurant industry.

Wow, that would be a great photo to have as a 8x10 glossy, with that Tiki at the center, surrounded by happy diners.
And are they/is he saying he worked for Donn Beach in the mid-40s for four years!!? Never heard that, seems like a showman's tale.

I finally found one of those great Kon Tiki Ports menus from the Chicago Kon Tiki.

This is the drink menu that has the amazing photographs of the drinks and all of the old Kon Tiki mugs, as seen in several famous Tiki publications.

The cover is cool, it is wood-grained.

The obligatory history of rum





Other Tropicals

Those drinks are like works of art!

Man I sure would like a few of those mugs.


A little more history on the Kon Tiki Ports in Chicago. The Sheraton chain expanded the hotel in 1961 and added the Kon Tiki Ports. The hotel operated as a Radisson until 1983, when the name changed to the Continental (which was the name before the Sheraton). The hotel closed in 1986 for renovations and that was the end of the Kon Tiki Ports. The hotel reopened in 1990 as the Inter Continental.

Here is a Kon Tiki Ports matchbook I have under the Continental banner.

This must have been right after the name change from the Sheraton in 1983, as they still used the old Ports logo.

Here is a later matchbook, probably closer to the closing in 1986.

The Ports logo is gone and it is now just Tiki.

The back of the matchbook.

Seems as though this place was pretty long lived.



A great 8x10 shot of Steve Crane enjoying a Scorpion from the famous Bird Bowl. Most likely taken at the Chicago Kon Tiki but not sure.

The photo is dated August 21, 1967 from the Chicago Sun Times. The attached Sun Times article on the back states a rather stunning fact that the Chicago Kon Tiki had become "Chicago's largest restaurant in volume grossing more than $2,300,000 in 1966." Wow! Polynesian fare was big business indeed.


That is a great photo of Stephen Crane and the famous bird bowl. He still looking good.



He is a sharp dressed man indeed. Love the cufflinks, the ring, and the button down collar.

Another matchbook from the Radisson period, devoid of any Tiki but still showing the White Cloud ship.


Found this at an estate sale in the Chicago 'burbs a couple years ago:


This photo offers a rare look at the inside of the Polynesian room area of the Kon Tiki Ports in Boston. The photo sold on ebay and I was not the winner, thus the watermark.

This place was really packed to floor to ceiling.

What's surprising is that the photo was from 1979 at the Radisson.


Nice pic. This must have been taken just before Stephen Crane sold the Luau, it's the same year. I have no idea if he sold it with all his franchise interests, or if by then these had been taken over by the individual hotels...

Goes to show how intact still many of these places were before the decade of destruction, the 80s. But it is no surprise that hotels eventually change their "look" when they change owners. I do wonder however about the frequency of that happening nowadays: Are the hotel chains dealing amongst each other and are their losses converted to winnings somehow when they get rid of a location, and a "competitor" takes it over? It seems like a game of rotating chairs sometimes.

Another observation is that the 70s photography fad of the starlight filter is unbecoming for a Tiki lounge, it just looks wrong.

An article from 1962 reviewing the Kon Tiki Ports in Chicago.



Nice die cut table card

Open till 4am! Now those were the days

Here is a crisp version of the newspaper photo with the main dining room and Tiki from the Chicago Tribune circa 1962.

Some newspaper ads.

And a nice pic of the custom Steve Crane mugs.


Nice! Double-nice, that photo and that first ad, especially.


"Flor" signature at the bottom of the tiki in the first ad......Florian Gabriel's artwork I assume. Haven't seen Kon Tiki Port's artwork signed like that before.

Great new photos! I love looking at the decor of the various Kon Tiki restaurants to see similarities in the decorations and lighting...it would seems some items are very standard and can be seen in nearly all the restaurants, one would assume they were bought from the same supplier but then there are elements of the various restaurants that seem to be specific to the location and are not seen in other Kon Tiki locations, so one would assume probalby locally supplied items. Definitely, some of the hanging fixutres are common and also the chairs and tables seem to be the same. Does anyone have any thoughts on where the great organic form monkeypod wood tables that were set on a single metal pedestal might have been made or came from? These are seen in all the Kon Tiki locations from the various photos so must have come from a single supplier.


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