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Coco's Coffee House, Waikiki, HI (restaurant)

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Name:Coco's Coffee House
Street:Kapiolani Ave and Kalakaua Ave


I decided to put together a post for the Coco's Coffee House that was located in Waikiki given the recent interest in Hawaiian Tiki generated by Phillip Roberts great new book - Waikiki Tiki.

Coco's was one of three Hawaiian-style coffee shops designed by the famous architect Pete Wimberly. The other two were Tops and Popo's. It was built on the site of the old Kau Kau Corner restaurant in 1960. The Hardrock Cafe was later built at this same location.

Here is a photo showing the cool-looking exterior of the Coco's building. Love the Tiki torches for parking lot lighting!

I have this matchbook that has a Hawaiian boy for the logo. It includes the restaurants two catch phrases: "Always Open" and "Gateway to Waikiki".

The matchbook also lists the Calabash Bar at Coco's.

The back of the matchbook advertises The Penthouse and the Garden Lanai as the banquet facilities.

Another matchbook with a rendering of the building from Mimi Payne's website.

Here is a nice Coco's menu with the shield style Tiki graphics that has been on ebay a few times.

Another menu from the web with a rendering of the building.

Your favorite drink from the Calabash Bar served at your table. Sigh, they don't make the coffee shops like they used to.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2011-02-16 12:43 ]

Cool place and pancake sandwich's for 95 cents! my favorite. Is this connected to the Coco's restaurants still in operation on the mainland I wonder?

Some great images here of the Googie-style building, guys.

Right you are, Bigbro. One of the googiest coffee houses for sure.

Here is one of the other Hawaiian coffee shops designed Pete Wimberly - Tops.

Night time shot and matchbook from Kamaaina56.

The cocktail lounge was not so much tiki - the "Clown Room"

Clowns, scary!


Even scarier than Tikis! Would love to see a good shot of that mural. Man, there was so much good coffee shop art -murals, mosaics, resin sculpture - that never got documented and is lost...

On 2010-10-16 07:51, bigbrotiki wrote:
I believe Armet & Davis did the Honolulu Tiki Tops. Man, those two modern buildings with the Tiki in between! My kinda stuff! :

DC, look at the similarity of the signs, I really think A & D designed this Tops:

On 2011-02-16 12:30, Dustycajun wrote:

I decided to put together a post for the Coco's Coffee House that was located in Waikiki given the recent interest in Hawaiian Tiki generated by Phillip Roberts great new book - Waikiki Tiki.

Thanks DC. I didn't spend much time on Coco's in Waikiki Tiki.

Here's some additional notes:

*It was run by the Spencecliff Corporation.

*While you can't tell in the photos and graphics, the building was painted pink.

There was a crusty guy was selling re-prints of his 60's snapshots at one of the frequent collector shows here. They were expensively priced and Coco's was the only one I considered getting, but passed.

Harry B. Soria of the Territorial Airwaves radio program told me a story about when they were tearing down Coco's. He was watching and as they did it, the Kau-Kau Corner structure appeared. They had simply built the new building around the old one.

On 2011-02-19 02:52, bigbrotiki wrote:
DC, look at the similarity of the signs, I really think A & D designed this Tops:

Well Bigbro, seems we have a bit of a mystery here. I got my info on the Top's/Coco's/Popo from this article written Curt Sanburn for the Honolulu Weekly.

"For the now-defunct Spencecliff chain of restaurants, Wimberly designed Top’s, Coco’s and Popo’s coffee shops with lots of lava rock and an almost South-Seas flair that made them landmarks in Honolulu."


Maybe Phillip Roberts has a definitive answer.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2011-02-20 07:05 ]

Well, it doesn't say he designed THAT one. It's not only the sign, but that folded roof design is an Armet & Davis typical feature, here are three examples where they used it:

Have not been able to find a photo of the third coffee shop attributed to Pete Wimberly - Popo's. Mimi Payne has a matchbook on her website advertising Popo's and the Short Snorter Bar.


Maybe Phillip Roberts has a definitive answer.


I don't remember seeing anything in the Wimberly, Allison, Tong and Goo archives that related to Coco's as being one of their projects. I tend to think that it was not a Wimberly designed building.


Here's an earlier shot of Coco's, fwiw, juxtaposed with DC's image posted above...

On 2011-02-16 12:30, Dustycajun wrote:

And here's an old photo of the Kau Kau Korner that preceded Coco's on the same spot, and actually provided the structure that was reused by Coco's. :down:

Also, with this talk of the Spencecliff restaurants and Tops, here's an old ad for Tops. :down:

BTW, if you look very closely in the beginning of the Elvis flick Blue Hawaii from 1961, there's a scene where Elvis' ("Chad's") girlfriend Maile (Joan Blackman) is driving to pick him up at the airport, and she goes right by Tops. It's like two frames though, but you can also make out the Kaiser aluminum dome at the Hawaiian Village, and the Waikikian should be right there but it's too hard to detect.


I contacted the corporate office for Coco's Restaurant (110 locations/open since 1948). The manager of guest services said "No I’m sorry we are not affiliated with the restaurant in Hawaii."

I had pancakes at this old Googie dinner in Sacramento several month ago. The pictures of Tops reminded me of it.

Here is a nice nighttime photo of Coco's with the Tiki torches ablaze.

Also a picture of the inside of Tops showing off the lava rock and googie lines.



Oh, I like that shot with the torches...

Thanks Phillip, I agree. That night shot is really cool.

Here is a great ad for Coco's that came from a Waikiki brochure I picked up.



That ad IS in Waikiki Tiki, DC. Almost in the middle of the book to the left of Coco's Mai-tai glass and the Elvis "Tiki Bob" at the Old Hard Rock Cafe.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2011-06-14 18:21 ]

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