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The Tahitian Room, Richland, WA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 22 replies


Name:The Tahitian Room
Street:1342 Jadwin Ave.
Phone:509 ? 946-1068


NICE neon! Good shot.

Interesting history:

~1950 The Mixer
~1952 Vina's Tahitian
~1956, Renamed C&L Tahitian. (for Chin & Lee)
~1976, Renamed Lee's Tahitian, sole proprietorship
~1997, new owners keep name, transitions to bar/karoke

Cool that it didn't change that much over the years! The exterior, that is.

that photo is by Rick Wong and it was from his exhibition called Chop Suey. I first went their in the late 50's or early 60's. When ever my parents gave us a chose where to go out for dinner I always said the tahitian Room! not because I really liked the food but because I wanted to eat I a hut

these photos are of the back dining room which has an adjunct bar the Velvet Room.

the paintings on the wall are gone though a new painting is on the same wall and It's been there for decades, nowhere near as cool though.
the original neon.


Thanks for sharing!

Here are some shots from last Christmas, is this the longest operating tiki/tropical bar in Washington?

The back bar entrance

hall from front dining room to lounge

the bar (the Velvet Room)

witco tiki fountain with tree fern that used to have colored lights in the openings, and an outrigger

the otherside of the divider to the old back dining room/new lounge/karaoke/pool area

hey dustycajun- don't you have a postcard of a California restaurant with the same shield in it?

that's all for now, thanks for looking, bob

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2011-03-31 00:33 ]

Thanks for the shots of the interior, I bet it had more bamboo in the earlier days. Love the colored light panels, and the valiant attempts at keeping the tropical landscape paintings alive.

I am curious about the X-mas gift wrapping on the right edge of this shot:

Was that perhaps a nude Wahine painting, "censored" for the holy season, just like the "Devils & Nudes" paintings at the Embers in L.A.?:

Is anybody here aware of other examples of this custom?

Murph posted on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 3:40 PM

On 2011-03-31 10:13, bigbrotiki wrote:
I am curious about the X-mas gift wrapping on the right edge of this shot:
Is anybody here aware of other examples of this custom?

Restaurants and offices wrapped pictures and mirrors on the walls for the Holidays back in my home town in North Florida.

You mean not just pictures depicting "unholy" matter? What Christian faith/tradition does that stem from - anybody know?


All the paintings and mirrors were wrapped like gifts, the day after Christmas they let me take the paper off the witco and the painting, what was left wrapped were corona/bud bar mirrors. Unfortunately the Velvet room name had nothing to do with exotic black velvet paintings but was because the back bar had been covered with a sort of maroon velvet. Also the fountain no longer works. The chrome lamps in the bar originally had all the holes filled with different colored glass "gems" most of them have fallen out over the last 50 years.
I'm putting this photo in so you can see what the bars light level is actually like.

also they have a dozen or so tiki mugs and zombies, singapore slings, a drink called a maui wowie, a few I've forgot and two mai tai's. Neither of them like trader vic's but the one version used the owners secret mix and rums, I didn't get a chance to try it, maybe next time. Aloha all

Tikicoma, many thanks for posting present-day pics of the T-Room. Brings back a lot of fond memories. Here's a picture of how the restaurant looked when you went there in the 50's & 60's.


Wow! That's a picture straight from my memories, down to the C&L on the sign! Do you have any photos of the interior from back then? And was the bar/lounge there when your father bought the Tahitian Room? The Witco tiki fountain?
( TikiTempus' family are the Lee's who co-owned/owned the restaurant from '56 to '97 and the b&w photos that BigBro and I posted from flicker were his. )
thanks again, aloha!

Tikicoma, unfortunately there aren't a lot of pictures around. Will have to search the family photo albums. The Velvet Room 'hutch' and bar counter are from the Mixer. My theory is that as the Mixer, the Velvet Room and Mural Room (what it was called back then) shared a half-wall with an open doorway ~ much like how it is today. When Vina remodeled the Mixer, they built a full wall dividing the rooms and placed the Witco fountain in front of the blocked opening. Here is another picture from the B&W set. Vina and her husband?


I've long known that the uncredited menu cover on page 17 of Tiki Road Trip (first edition) was from the Tahitian Room. James told me that it's from a jpeg sent to his old Tiki Bar Review web site. I ordered a lot of pork fried rice from that menu as a kid. I'm putting this up now because I've only recently gotten a working scanner and last year I picked up their business card with the same image.

Also the original owners, Malvina and Sol Levinsons' son is Arthur D. Levinson chairman of Genentech and Apple Inc. So if anyone out there knows how to contact him :) maybe we can get his parents memories of the place (he was 5 or 6 when I think they went back to seattle).

aloha, tikicoma

Until now, I had pegged this mug...

...to possibly hail from THIS "Tahitian Room":


But its North-American Indian totem pole look...

...now make it quite likely that it hails from Washington State.
Can any eyewitnesses here corroborate that theory?


Beautiful photos and way crazy mug Sven,

Bigbrotiki, your theory is correct! Is the mug yours? How did you come upon it?

An old friend gave it to me long ago, a thrift store find back from when one could find Tiki mugs in thrift stores here.
Who was "mille" ?

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-08-24 11:12 ]

Sorry, am too young to know the history of the T-Room mug, but do know that by the 90's there were only a few left in the Velvet Room.

Tikicoma, found you the late 80's/early 90's version of the menu. T-Room menus and business cards were printed by Ernie's Printing (defunct) for years.

Located Vina's original stationary letterhead. Dig the logo. My latest theory is the guy in the picture from my earlier post was George Sing and the woman his wife. From what I gather, Mr. Sing tragically took his life when his wife left him. This led Malvina Levinson to sell the business. I also do know that her husband Sol Levinson past away in the mid-70's.


Got to ask, did anyone here win the matchbook from the Tahitian that sold on Ebay monday?

aloha, tikicoma


OK, no response, so this matchbook jacket sold a week ago for 51 bucks! I bid on it but it went for way more than I thought it would. I mean 51 bucks!? We've all seen this clip art hula dancer many times before in newspaper ads and other matchbooks. It is the only jacket I've ever seen from the Tahitian Room though.

It bummed me that I didn't get it so I went to ignored spot on Ebay and bought this for a fifth of what the matches cost (shipping was more though).

And BigBro the Mille on yours? It may be what looks like an accent over the "e" is an artistic "i".

p.s. TikiTempus thanks for posting the menu, it looks like pupu's and drinks would been worth a night out on one of my visits back. And doesn't the Vina's letterhead tiki look like a bomb to you?

aloha, tikicoma

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2014-03-02 22:14 ]

Here's a hobby mug of it that looks like it was glazed to look like a chicken.

Pages: 1 22 replies