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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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I know, you were probably thinking - What a great name for a band, but why is this thread listed in Collecting Tiki instead of Tiki Music?

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Book of Tiki, I thought I would expand on a fun little topic that Sven included on page 94 of the BOT - the rash of copycat Trader names that sprung up from the success of the Trader Vic's empire.

Here the list of copycats that I have compiled so far.

Trader Dick's - Sparks, NV
Trader Frank's - Tiki Gardens, Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Trad'r Sam - San Francisco, CA
Trader Nick's - Pismo Beach, CA
Trader Eng's - Various Locations
Trader Syd - Luau Restaurant, Miami, FL
Trader Vince - Niagara Falls, Canada
Trader Mort's - San Diego, CA
Trader Dick's (Number 2) - Topeka, Kansas
Trader John's - Biloxi, MS
Trader Jake's - Elmira, NY
Trader Ade's - Guam
Trader Royal, Alamo, CA
Trader Jack's - Oklahoma City, OK

Trader Bill's - Las Vegas, NV
Trader Pang's - Hilo Hattie's Mythical Tiki Bar Mug
Trader Joe's Trade Winds - Inglewood, CA
Trader Vic's Used Cars - Los Angeles
Trader Bob's - Hayward, CA
Trader Ku's - Birmingham, Alabama

Now, on to the pics.

Trader Dick's.
Probably the most well known of the Trader knock-offs, named after the owner Dick Graves.

Trader Frank's
The name of the restaurant located at Tiki Gardens, named after the owner Frank Byars.

Trad’r Sam
The first of the copycats having opened in the early 1940s.

Trader Nick's
One of my favorites, located not to far from my hometown of Santa Barbara.

Trader Eng's
Various locations in the south.

Trader Syd - Luau Restaurant, Miami, FL
Trader Syd was from the Luau Restaurant located in Miami.

Pa'akiki posted an article with a photo.

and he added his name to the bottom of this drink menu.

Trader Vince
Only info on this one is the matchbook posted by Uncle Trav that pops up now and again.

Trader Mort's - San Diego, CA
The original Tiki liquor store near Shelter Island in San Diego. Still going strong.

Trader Dick's (Number 2)
A matchbook from another odd Trader Dick's located in Kansas City. A reciprocal private club?

Trader John's
Postcard from Biloxi, the matchbook from Trader John's is in the BOT.

Trader Ade's in Guam, matchbook from Mimi Payne's website.

Trader Jake's Polynesian Room
Looks like an Irish version of the Trader copycats brought to you by the Oleary's.

Trader Royal
Again, just the matchbook to go on for this mystery place in Alamo, CA.

Trader Jack's
Postcard from another Trader Jack‘s tropical fruit juice stand at the Hawaiian Village located at the Windsor Hills Mall in Oklahoma City.

Victor Bergeron must have looked down on all of this Tom foolery and thought:
Ah, it's good to be King.

Anybody got any others? (Note - I'm skipping Trader Joe's on this one).


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-10-17 09:32 ]


I like this topic DC and as always your visual contributions are much appreciated.

Always been a fan of Trader Mort's myself...but mostly for the name.

JOHN-O posted on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 6:17 PM

How about Trader Bill's in Downtown Las Vegas (still operational !!)

Great post, DC, quite a few here I have never seen. We shan't forget this guy:

Also, it is worth noting that a lot the bay area poly pop places took up with the "double name" tradition that Trader Vic started:

Skipper Kent's, Tiburon Tommy's and Tiki Bob's

Hey lets show a little respect to everyone's favorite: Trader Pang (you remember, the fake Tiki Bar name used by Hilo Hattie's on their Moai mugs).


While not a tiki restaurant or bar (then again neither is Trader Mort's), don't forget the obvious:



On 2010-10-07 08:52, arriano wrote:
While not a tiki restaurant or bar (then again neither is Trader Mort's), don't forget the obvious:



They were pretenders!

Here's the original Trader Joe's, in Inglewood, CA in the 1940s:

Nice post, DC! I think you have many more than I do. I'll have to search my archives to see if I've got any others you haven't already mentioned.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Trad'r Sam opened in the 30's...before Trader Vic's...

Thanks to all for adding some more locations. Will update the list as more come in.

On 2010-10-07 11:37, Aquatic Safarinaut wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Trad'r Sam opened in the 30's...before Trader Vic's...


I had that same question, so I did a little research. The original Trader Vic's officially transitioned from Hinky Dinks in 1936. An article I found online indicated that Trad'r Sam opened after that. So, I think we can still consider it a copycat.


Learn something new on TC everyday! =)


OK, here is another Trader Vic's copycat. Except this time, it's Trader Vic's doing the copying!

Saw this postcard on ebay announcing Trader Vic's south seas foods since 1934. Trouble is they swiped the hula girl pose from the Dobb's House Luau postcards and menus.

First time I can think of Trader Vic's using a logo from another restaurant.


DC - regarding Trader Vic appropriating other images - I have a future post I'll add on about the true source of the Trader Vic Menehune.

However, in the meantime, here is another one: Trader Bob's in Hayward, CA. These ads are from 1959-1960

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-10-07 18:54 ]

Wow, Bob sure was a Trader, tradin' in all styles: A Calypso band clad in Hawaiian threads a la Martin Denny to accompany your island-style charbroiled steak in a Gay 90s pop spot (meaning the 1890s, I am sure), with a zippy drink. Hey, did they have Zippy cartoons back then!?

DC, that Vic's postcard is a recent one, the Dobbs House wahine was probably swiped from the BOT.


Trader Vic's is a surfwear outlet store in NSW Australia....bastards

Shifting Trader Vic's copycat gears a little here.

This is an old Trader Vic's illustrated menu.

And this is a copycat from the Pago Pago in Tuscon. They just pasted the name Pago Pago over the cover and even cut the guys face of!

Another copycat with a reversed image from the Leilani.


I would like to take this opportunity to delve a little deeper into the Copycat Custom in Polynesian Pop, or the tradition of Tiki transmission as I like to call it. I was inspired by D.C.'s recent find of this N.Y. Trader Vic's photo to pull out my Kon Tiki Montreal slide (BOT page 61):

Trader Vic's New York (at the Savoy Hotel), 1958 ------------------------------------------------Stephen Crane's Kon Tiki Montreal, 1958

An, as they say, UNCANNY similarity, wouldn't you say? Don't ask me which was built first, I could not ascertain the month for either so far.
I would guess Vic's. To explain why, here a little transmission tradition history. It all began with this famous "Fall from Grace", or "Eternal Sin", freely admitted to by Trader Vic in his biography:

Eventually, as it is an unwritten law that "He who rippeth off will have so done upon him", this led to such no less (in)famous, funny menu text confessions as the following by Reno's Trader Dick:

When Tiki temple building heated up by the end of the 50s, Business Week Magazine took notice in this article in 1959:

Inspired by the fact that both Vic and Steve were almost parallel opening places in Portland and Chicago too, they profiled the two entrepreneurs and their similar styles. Though it worthy to note that Vic moved in on Steve's neighborhood first, when he opened his Beverly Hills Vic's in 1955 just around the corner from Crane's Luau (which he has converted in 1953 from Sugie's Tropics), Crane lost no time to benefit from this:

When Florian Gabriel applied for a job at Stephen Crane Associates in the mid-50s, Crane sent him to Vic's, to sit there and sketch a corner of the restaurant as a test. This amazing example of industrial espionage was given to me by Gabe in the 90s, here it is:

So Vic took Don's concepts, ran with them, and because he was so successful with it all, it led to others copying him, and Voila!, we got Tiki culture!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-10-09 08:47 ]


Thanks for that great bit of history. So, from the very beginning, the Polynesian Pop and Tiki movements were based on the timeless Tiki Transmission Tradition! From the decor to the drinks to the names to the matchbook and menu art. I always found this to be one of the more interesting aspects of the era.


Here is another copycat - Trader Ku's.

Here are a few menus from Mimi Payne's website.

In addition to borrowing from the Trader Vic's name, they also copied the illustration style used on Trader Vic's Outrigger menu from Seattle and on the Trader Vic's ashtrays.

There were several other menus that copied the Trader Vic's illustration style, including the Islands in Phoenix

The Aku Tiki in Omaha


I just got this oversized postcard from the Luau Restaurant in Miami Beach showing Trader Syd being served in style.

The back of the postcard has an article from the Miami Herald describing the restaurant. They even had a Children's show on Sundays at 6:30, how cool is that.


A couple more for the record. Of course the new and exciting Trader Sam's Tiki Bar at Disneyland.

And another Trader Jack's, this one from Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Florida - sporting a Witco.


Time for a little Trader update. First, some images from Trader Joe's Trade Winds in Inglewood to replace the ones that Sabu posted and are now gone.

Turns out that this one was owned by Joe Chastek of the Zamboanga and Vagabond's House fame. See more here:

Trade Winds

The Polynesia Restaurant in South Miami was run by Trader Joe Elvena.

He also worked at several other Tiki palaces, as discussed here:


Came across this menu from the Pago Pago in Albany that was run by two traders - Trader Hal and Trader Mitch.

And finally, an exciting new one I found called Trader Lee's located in Eugene, Oregon. It opened in March of 1966.

Check out the Tiki sign in this ad. Need to find out more about this place and that sign!


Here is another copycat, Trader Glick's.

The even stole the classic menu image!

And, slightly off topic, a play on Don the Beachcomber.



On 2010-10-06 18:04, Dustycajun wrote:
Trader Dick's (Number 2)
A matchbook from another odd Trader Dick's located in Kansas City. A reciprocal private club?

I know this post is a few years old, and you may have discovered what the "reciprocal private club" was, but I figured that I'd chime in....

I used to live in Kansas 30 years ago. Back then, restaurants could not serve alcoholic drinks with meals. Bars served drinks (unsure if they were allowed to serve snacks, but no meals) and restaurants served meals with non-alcoholic drinks. The only exceptions that I knew of was the Pizza Hut and Kens Pizza. They were allowed to serve 3.2 beer. I don't know if the other restaurants were allowed to serve 3.2 beer and chose not to, or if there was a exception to the law that allowed the pizza parlors to serve.

Private clubs, however, could sell alcoholic drinks with meals to members and guests. Our Holiday Inn restaurant had a private club and a restaurant. The kitchen serviced both. If you were a member, you could eat in the club, if not, you ate in the restaurant. The motel even extended membership privileges to guests of the motel....rent a room and you could enter the club.

I'm not sure when the "reciprocal private club" thing started. In the early '80s, our city had 2 more private clubs open. Both were "reciprocal". They belonged to a group of clubs across the state that would reciprocate privileges to the other members. If you belonged to a club in Topeka, and went to Wichita, you could visit a club there that belong to the same group.

I'm not sure if they still have them. Before I moved out of the state, they kept putting "liquor by the drink" laws on the ballots to allow restaurants to sell drinks. I know that it was defeated once and was placed on the ballot during the next election, but I moved before the election. My old hometown now has an Applebee's and I can't imagine they would put one there if they couldn't have the bar, so I imagine at sometime the law passed.


A couple more.

Another Trader Vince, this one from Baltimore, Maryland.

Trader Mike's from San Bernardino.


I guess Trader Vic had enough of the copycats at one point and sued the Islands in Phoenix for cocktail appropriation.


Another Trader Vic's spotted at a pool hall in Milwaukee.

And this matchbook from the Club 500 in Iwakuni Japan borrowed liberally from the Trader Vic's logo imagery!


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2018-11-09 11:49 ]

A Trader Vic's menu appropriation from Kai Wong's Place in Miami Beach!


Well here's a new one, Trader Young's Polynesian Buffet at the Sheraton Motor Inn in Florida.


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