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The Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicollet - Minneapolis, MN

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Puamana and I have been comparing our collections lately by e-mail - seeing where they overlap. She specializes in menus and I specialize in postcards.

We thought we'd try a weekly feature where we choose a particular tiki bar in both our collections and show you both the menu and the postcard, (and maybe a matchbook or napkin if we've got one). Besides being nice eye-candy, it gives you a more complete picture of what these places looked like, what drinks they served, and maybe a little history as well.

This week we're focusing on the Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicollet in Minneapolis.

Postcards showing the outside of the Hotel Nicollet are fairly common on ebay. There were actually two buildings. The first was built in 1858.

A grand hotel when it was built, by the 1920s it was considered an embarassment and was torn down and rebuilt larger still:

Nothing tiki about it. But sometime in the 1950s, the Waikiki Room was created inside:

The postcard states: "Exotic Waikiki Room... As Hawaiian as the glowing splendor of Diamond Head... The Waikiki Room's exciting tropical decor...its fabulous Polynesian cuisine and beverages ahave been imported directly from Hawaii to give you a thrilling new experience in dining pleasure."

I like the strange mixture of the green vinyl and the bamboo. These 'stealth' tiki bars are some of my favorites - housed in an old brownstone or art-deco building that gives no hint of the Polynesian paradise within. I'll try to do a post of just these hidden hotel tiki bars sometime in the future.

For more info on the Hotel Nicollet and the Waikiki Room, (including what the site looks like today), follow the "Next" and "Back" links on this page:

Puamana's menu should fill in some more details about the place.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2003-05-28 17:13 ]

Sabu/Puamana, very cool idea!


Here's 2 menus & a little informational flier from the Waikiki Room . First is a tropical drinks menu,
its too small to read the drink descriptions , but some of those pictured are : Tahitian Rum Punch, Neyog Rum Punch, Royal Navy Grog, Waikiki Downfall, Hilo Driver, Honolulu Jelep, Diamond Head Punch, Pina Rum Punch, Zombie, Rum Swizzle, etc.

The flier from the Waikiki Room has a list of South Pacific relics that are displayed throughout the restaurant
(list is pictured below - I hope its readable in the photo), and has the following introduction :

"Here in the Waikiki Room you will find bamboo from Formosa, chairs from Hong Kong, the
decorations from Tahiti, Samoa, the Gilbert Isalnds, the man eating clam shells from the Great
Barrier Reef, the coral from the Philippines, the beautiful table tops, the bar top from Hawaii, the
tapa from Samoa, the fern trunks from the forests of Hawaii, and other materials from agents in the far
corners of the Pacific. We recommend that you make a trip to the Beach at Waikiki, and enjoy hospitality,
the food and good potables, delightful native entertainment, and native feast, called, a " Luau".

The food and beverages the Waikiki Room menu affords are unique and typical of the Islands.
The greatest possible care has been taken to see that the Waikiki Room itself, its decorations,
its food, beverages and service, are all authentic Polynesian and similar to what you will find in
the very best places of Hawaii and the Islands."

Following is a '54 dinner menu. I wonder if that backdrop of Diamond Head could have been a lighted display, or just a mural ?

Great idea to show the outside of the hotel building, as well as the interior . Gotta love those green vinyl booths !

[ Edited by: puamana on 2003-05-28 12:38 ]

Nice collaborative effort. Entertaining, yet informative. If only the Tiki Time Transporter was working...

You guys make one heck of a team! Any thoughts about collaborating on a website or book or something?

The Waikiki Room is long gone, but evidently their Polynesian Sauce lives on in Minneapolis:



Just found another bit of information that might be of interest. A menu from another hotel in Minneapolis, the Leamington, also had a restaurant called the Waikiki Room. At first I thought it may have been the Nicollet renamed, but its a different hotel, from what I found so far. The cover has an illustrated view of the dining room, and uses the same tiki logo as the Nicollet's Waikiki Room.

Here's a closer view of the logo tiki, as well as the introduction inside, which sounds similar to the Nicollet. Could have just been borrowed elements, but I wonder if the remnants of the Waikiki Room /Nicollet could have gone to the Waikiki Room /Leamington ? Just a thought.

It does look like another incarnation of the same restaurant. Even the chairs look identical.

Here's a photo of what the Hotel Leamington looked like in the 1960s, probably about the Waikiki Room was operating:


The Hotel Nicollet and the Leamington were at opposite ends of the city. The Leamington site now has a big parking garage/city bus transit center in it. The second Hotel Nicollet was in Mpls's late, lamented Gateway district, once the pride of the city, later Skid Row, later still a bunch of parking lots, ugly condos and office buildings. I'm not sure, but I think the site is now a surface parking lot (it also has an old fancy bus shelter from the late 1980s sitting there forlorn.)

It's so sad to think of all the great Tiki locations that we once had here in the Twin Cities. All gone now. Likewise the nice hotels. I haven't stayed in any of the current ones, but judging from what I've seen (exteriors and lobbies and restaurants) they're just about the most uninspired collection of dreck you could imagine. I don't think there's a single large downtown hotel in Mpls that dates from before the mid-1970s.

Thanks to Sabu and Puamana! It's nice to see this history, despite the melancholy associated with it.

The Waikiki room is just about the most beautiful thing I've seen. Oh why, oh why have all those beautiful 50's hotel tiki rooms gone away? Its so bittersweet looking at that post card and that wonderful menu. Sigh.

Such a shame to see all of the red Xs instead of pictures on this post. Here is a menu from the Waikiki Room that I saw on ebay.

Here is the postcard and another menu from Mimi's website.

And the menu from the other Waikiki Room at the Leamington Hotel.



The Waikiki Room! This place brings back memories.
I spent the first 14 years of my life in Minneapolis and the Waikiki Room was my favorite restaurant!
I would hound my parents to take me there.
Going out to dinner back then was a very rare occasion and a big event.
On my birthday we would go as a whole family, uncle, aunt, grandparents etc...
I would always get the pressed duck, yum.
Fun memories and the inspiration for my home bar's name: The Waikiki Womb" :D

I bet there are some family photos of the Waikiki Room in my folks stuff, I'll have to check.

On 2009-01-20 10:17, Murph wrote:
I bet there are some family photos of the Waikiki Room in my folks stuff, I'll have to check.


That would be great if you could post some old photos from your days at the Waikiki Room.


The Waikiki Womb!! I love it! Great play on words!

Here is a matchbook I have from the Waikiki Room.



Has anyone ever seen a mug from the Waikiki Room?


Here's a photo of a dinner party in 1964 at the Waikiki Room


A couple more




An interior photo

Murph posted on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 12:06 AM

Ladies night

Fantastic photos Murph! Dig those table lamps... not seeing any tropical mugs though...

Murph posted on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 2:04 PM

High Fashion 1953

Murph posted on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 3:06 PM

Here are some Nicollet Hotel exterior shots showing the Waikiki Room signage.

On 2009-09-01 00:06, Murph wrote:
Ladies night

Great old photos Murph, thanks for posting. I love this one with the ladies perusing the drink menus.

They are looking at this menu (from Mimi's website):

I have never seen that other menu that is laying down at the head of the table. How about a close up of that one.


Murph posted on Thu, Sep 3, 2009 2:08 PM

Here's the menu
Pics are small, that's all I've got.


Nice shots of the menu, glad that you grabbed the images.

I have never seen that one before. It looks substantial.


Here is another menu from the Waikiki Room from ebay.

Cool drink list

I have seen this Tiki figure before, on the Georgie Rudin's Tropics menu for one.

Does anybody have any background info on this Tiki?


Not me. I have only seen it used by those two establishments, of which the Waikiki Room used it more often. Maybe by dating the menus we can determine who borrowed it from whom? Both were Pre-Tiki establishments, and this is a very cool, modernist Tiki.

Also similar to this - possibly one of the prototype logo tikis for Tiki Gardens in Florida:


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-02-07 21:55 ]


WTF? It really is a disservice to all if pix from years past are not available.

This menu from the Waikiki Room at the Leamington Hotel sold on ebay a while back. The prices seem like they are somewhat modern, I wonder when this place closed.

They also borrowed the graphics and mugs from the Mai Kai after dinner drink menu.



Wow yeah, twenny-too bucks for that tiny Tiki bowl...mebbee that's why they closed!
When I saw that hot-buttered Rum mug I thought those were faces on the bottom half, and immediately pegged it to be another crypto-mug ...but I guess they are just Tapa patterns.

Found this today, I am also going to post it under Collecting Tiki. This was from a small 'garage sale' type store. I paid a buck. The folded size measures 7 1/4 by about 8 1/4. Inside is written in pen in the top right (which I couldn't fit on the scanner) 'My Birthday, 13 years, 1957', and then some scribbled name which I think is Dave 'something'. Love the picture, and the gal is easy on the eyes. Fun for a birthday party of any age if you ask me. Pretty neat!


Wow, great find in the wild! Love the photo and the historical text context. That tapa wall paper print is too cool, and look at the kid's drinks they served back then. That kid had some swinging parents.


I agree - that's a top-notch souvenir photo! In so many photo folders I've seen from old tiki bars, the background is hidden in shadows and there's almost nothing that would distinguish it from any other kind of restaurant. It's obvious they're in a South Seas Restaurant looking at this one.

I was lucky enough to score one of the menus from the Waikiki Room that featured the signature Tiki on the cover.

The scanner does not come out so well due to the indented
features, will try a photo with the camera and post that.

Here is the back of the menu

Close up of the graphics and the story.

Here are some images from the inside of the menu.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2012-01-05 17:55 ]


Nice find! Very cool... Man got to love those prices, drinks are on me;)

Murph posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 8:54 PM

Here is another souvenir photograph from the Waikiki Room, Hotel Nicollet, Minneapolis undated.
Souvenir Cover:


Anyone recognize any of these people or have a guess to the date by the clothes style?
The wood plank tables are cool.

Murph posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 9:16 PM

I also found some brief information about the Waikiki Room in the Hotel:

In the 1930s, The Nicollet was headquarters for the Old Colony Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and the Traffic Club of Minneapolis. It also housed the Minnesota Terrace (for big name entertainment) and the famous Waikiki Room. "The Waikiki Room's atmosphere was authentically South Pacific. Diners sat in chairs from Hong Kong, at tables from Hawaii, surrounded by Formosan bamboo, Philippine coral, Tahitian flowers, and Samoan decorations. Memories were made while savoring imaginative blendings of seafood or chicken in fruity sauces. And no one would ever forget the rum drinks - tall and frosty, sweet and sneaky."

In 1962, the hotel became the Pick-Nicollet. In the 1970s it was sold to a church and renamed Souls Harbor, and housed the aged and others who had fallen on hard times. The building was vacated in 1984 and demolished in 1991. The footprint of the building was a parking lot for years.


Here's another interesting article from HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific dated 1954:

March 1954:

“One of the most authentic representations of Hawaii on the Mainland is the Waikiki Room in the Hotel Nicolette, Minneapolis,” says Paradise of the Pacific. How did the heartland come by such authentic—by 1950s’ standards—Hawaiiana? The hotel manager hired Honolulu architect Thomas A. Litaker, AIA, to design the room and spent $150,000 (about $1 million in today’s dollars) buying materials from Don the Beachcomber of Honolulu to create the restaurant shown here.

And yet another photo folder I picked up today to add to the mix. This fella looks to be having a good time!

Man! As someone who lives in Minneapolis and works mere blocks from where the Hotel Nicollet once stood, I am always amazed about how I have come across Nothing pertaining to this place.
I am not counting ebay...not that I'm against it, I just figured I would have come across something in the wild by now.


That is a great story on the furnishings of the Waikiki Room coming from Don the Beachcomber in Hawaii.

I grabbed some fuzzy images of this old program that listed some of the artifacts that could be found in the Waikiki Room. Kind of hard to read but some really amazing stuff in there, these items must have come from Don.

A few more historical items to post that I grabbed images of. Here is a matchbox with the signature Tiki.

Some menu covers

And a brochure from the Leamington Hotel that advertised a trip to the Waikiki Room.

Also found a more modern day photo of the Waikiki Room at the Leamington Hotel.


aquarj posted on Wed, Aug 1, 2012 1:57 PM

On 2012-07-31 17:52, Dustycajun wrote:

Don't think I've ever seen an inventory like that before, listed for the benefit of the patrons! Not that I've been paying too much attention, but that seems quite unusual. Since this was interesting to me, I took a shot at transcribing that list (anyone feel free to offer better readings)...

YOU WILL SEE in various locations around the Waikiki Room many museum pieces which were secured by a famous collector in Hawaii. All of these are authentic and most of them irreplaceable. We have listed below each relic and the corresponding number and description.

  1. Old Tahitian Toere Drum used in native dancing.
  2. War club from New Guinea.
  3. Old [rifle?] war club from British Samoa made of ironwood (lignum vitae).
  4. Warrior's carving piece from Island of Truk.
  5. Young chieftain's war club from Samoa.
  6. Very old Fijian ceremonial piece.
  7. Fijian war club made from lignum vitae.
  8. Fijian war club.
  9. Very rare New Hebrides war club. Hand fashioned handle and volcanic pierced rock.
  10. Ceremonial piece from Gilbert Islands.
  11. Very rare Tongan shield used outside of hut to keep evil spirits away.
  12. Ceremonial piece from Gilbert Islands.
  13. Chieftain's piece from Marshall Islands.
  14. Very old Fijian hand war club.
  15. Modern Samoan carving.
  16. Good specimen of ancient New Hebrides war club.
  17. Canoe baler used throughout Polynesia.
  18. Fijian war club with lauhala weaving.
  19. Very old carving of crocodile. A messenger of war used by Sepik River natives of New Guinea to indicate to another tribe that war was being declared.
  20. Island of Rapa chief's war club.
  21. Samoan fly swatter. Village chief usually had two or three girls around near him to beat off flies with his hand made [monocle?].
  22. Native hoe used by early Polynesians in planting their crops.
  23. Rare specimen of New Guinea war spear used in battle at close range. Carved bone tips usually contained deadly poison.
  24. Hand made man's comb -- Fiji.
  25. Hand made man's comb -- Fiji.
  26. Old war canoe carved paddle from Cook Islands.
  27. Old war canoe paddle from Island of Rapa.
  28. New Guinea throwing spear. Very old and rare.
  29. Ceremonial piece from Gilbert Islands.
  30. New Guinea war canoe paddle used by Sepik River tribes.
  31. War canoe paddle from Gilbert Islands.
  32. War club from Island of Marquesas.
  33. Ceremonial piece from Island of Marquesas.
  34. Throwing war club from Gilbert Islands.
  35. Carved Cocoanut [sic?] seat with mother of pearl grater. Used throughout Micronesia and Polynesia by natives in grating cocoanuts.
  36. Tapa beater from Samoa used in manufacture of tapa cloth.
  37. Tahitian tapa board. Very old and rare.
  38. Poi pounder. Very old.
  39. Kava bowl from Samoa.
  40. Large Japanese fish float with hand made net.



Another menu from the Waikiki Room.
I want the mandarin duck!

[ Edited by: Murph 2013-03-26 11:40 ]

Murph posted on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 4:43 PM

Here's a fun image of the construction in 1953 of the Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicollet in Minneapolis MN

Here are a few ads from the Waikiki Room grand opening which was on February 21, 1953.

Also an article stating that Don the Beachcomber would be attending the Grand Opening, now that's pretty cool!


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