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Tiki History - The Kalua Room, Hotel Windsor, Seattle

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Since we focused on Southern California last week, puamana and I decided to feature a long-gone tiki bar in her neck-of-woods this week - The Kalua Room.

I don't really know anything about this location except that it was located in the Hotel Windsor in Seattle and that it produced the nicest matchbook in my collection as well as one of my favorite postcards. I know puamana has a lot more paper from the Kalua Room and hopefully some more information as well.

Here's the matchbook; a nice little gem of graphic design:

And here's the postcard, showing a clamshell waterfall in the background. I love the bananas as well - I just can't tell if they're carved wooden ones, like they sell in Thailand today, or whether they actually brought in a real bunch for the postcard photograph:



Here's another postcard from the Kalua Room. I wonder if the leis were normally given away to restaurant patrons, or if it was just for the photo:

Following is a dinner menu from the Kalua Room:

No tropical drinks mentioned, ( must have been a separate menu, judging from the postcard photo). There were some nice little illustrations inside the menu, though:

Following is another matchcover... at one point, the Hotel Windsor was owned by Allied Hotels, Inc. , which also owned the Olympian and the Governor hotels in Olympia, WA. The back of the matchcover advertises a second location for the Kalua Room, which was at the Governor.

And last is an ad for the Kalua Room, from a 1957 Seattle Guide ( a weekly tourist flier featuring dining, dancing, theater, and sports info )

The Kalua Room / Windsor Hotel was on the corner of 6th & Union, just 6 blocks away from where the Outrigger was at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. Today there's a large shopping and restaurant complex on the site where the Windsor stood.

[ Edited by: puamana on 2003-06-11 12:53 ]

Well, that answers my question about the bananas. Puamana's postcard makes it look as though there were fresh bunches of bananas hung in the restaurant.

Here's a close-up of one of those mugs you can see in the postcard:

Midnight posted this to Mike's mug gallery back in January. Here's a link to the full description:

It's very similar to the mugs from the Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, and the Mauna Loa in Detroit:


Seriously, you guys should write a book or something. Thanks for putting up this information & pics for us. I thoroughly enjoy reading these posts!


a cocktail napkin!

I just got a couple of these Tiki towels from Cost Plus that use the Kalua Room logo.

I thought I would also do a little Red X updating from the lost Sabu and Puamana days.

Here is the menu with the same tiki figure.

The matchbook

On the postcard you can zoom in and see the menu being held by the lovely patron.

There are also some smaller drink menus on the tables. I had never seen one of those before until I went to Mimi Payne's website Akiva Tropika today. There it was - cool.

They did not quite copy this image over to the plates and napkins at Cost Plus as noted by Bigbro.

On 2009-05-12 19:37, bigbrotiki wrote:
And design-wise, for the plate and napkins they veered of the proven "3/4 Tiki on the side" composition, so they had to invent the other arm, which really doesn't fit with the original one. Tikis don't have pointy elbows like that. An those kinda hands...

They also flipped the image, and together with the added top and bottom parts, and the patterns on the side, this Tiki now looks more like a Roman column, plus with those sleepy eyes (from the original) he always reminded me more of a Frog, so forthwith I will lovingly call him the "Roman Frog Tiki"! :)


Here is the other postcard I have from the Kalua Room showing the Orchid/Clam shell Waterfall in the background.

I also saw a matchbook on ebay that had a different Tiki than the signature logo and advertised the Tapa Room.

Finally, here is a photo of the Kalua Room that Sabu had posted that was mislabeled as being from the Trader Vic's Outrigger in Seattle.


Looks like Seattle USED to be fun - too bad that joints gone. Check out the waitresses shoes! We've always believed in comfort over fashion here! Hell, folks wear jeans to the opera and ballet!


On 2010-06-29 18:05, Dustycajun wrote:

I'd kill for that sweet diver's helmet

"The local folk get a particular kick out of the two cinnamon, ring-tailed monkeys who regale the customers from behind the plate-glass of their air-conditioned cage." Bill Speidel, on the Kalua Room, in "You Can't Eat Mount Rainier" (1955)

Entrance to the Kalua Room, photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives, December 15, 1953.

aloha, tikicoma,

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2011-11-29 18:42 ]


Great photo find! So, the Tiki did exist in front of the entrance. And how about that Tapa design on the awning, don't remember ever seeing that before.

Makes you wonder if they had this other Tiki on the premises as well.


Yes, great find indeed! It not only confirms the logo Tiki status of this figure, but since the photo is dated 1953, makes the Kalua Room one of the earliest Polynesian joints to use the concept!


That's a great photo. Strangely, the Kalua Room tiki has always been appealing to me. Good to see it was actually on the side of the building.

Here's another modern item borrowing the tiki image, this time on a t-shirt I bought a few years ago. For this one, they oddly decided to give him a headdress and TWO drinks! :D


Dug up more from the same site, same date.

Pre sea grass matting on the walls. Cool Chinese tiles though.

The "windows" seem to have evolved to plants from the earlier exhibits. Interesting to see the evolution of this restaurant from these photos and the postcards! Does anyone know when the Kalua Room opened? These pics from '53 look like they may be from the opening?

aloha, tikicoma

Photos of the famous Kalua Room mug.

And a nice ashtray seen on ebay.



Photos of mugs from Windsor Hotel Kalua room.


Press photo from an internet auction.

With hula skirted waitresses-

...Recently we visited the refurbished Kalua Room in the Austin brothers Windsor Motor Hotel...But the Kalua Room -that's something else again!

"We wanted to establish a flavor or personality for the Windsor" Val Austin explained. "A downtown dining room with the same compelling power as a shipwreck or a ghost town." "Someplace where Mr. and Mrs., especially Mrs. Seattle, could get away from the monotony of the workaday-world a brief escape to glamorous and far-off Tahiti. In other words," Val said, leading us into a tiki-decorated and grass-matted labyrinth of low-ceilinged rooms with Polynesian decor, "Saturday night at Quinn's Bar in Papeete. You are in Tahiti, land of the grass skirts, and wonders and surprises."

We looked around- and liked what we saw. If this is typical of post fair Seattle, we won't miss the fairgrounds-not even the fast-wiggling Tahitian dancer at the Polynesian Playhouse.

Grass-skirted cocktail and food waitresses glided in and out of the various dining rooms, many of them small and delightfully cozy (the rooms, we mean), with tasty-looking strips of beef, charbroiled and served on a stick.

After six months of eating food on a stick at the fair, we acquired a taste for teriyaki, also a mental resolve to return to conventional knife and fork once the fair ended. But, after tasting the Kalua hors d'oeuvre on a stick, our postfair resolution went out the bamboo window.

Another delightful innovation on the Kalua menu is something called Mai-Tai, a Tahitian concoction with a delayed-action fuse, that is served in a take-away bamboo glass by a sarong-clad beauty. Again, we must make it clear that only the bamboo glass may be taken home as a souvenir.

Gwynne Austin spent 18 years with the Roy Kelly Scott chain, and managed the Kona Inn on the big island (hawaii), was general manager of Honolulu's Halekulani and, later presided at the opening of Henry Kaiser's posh Hawaiian Village.

So when Gwynne left Hawaii to take over Seattle's Windsor in 1954, he brought with him much of the warmth and graciousness of the Islands. The Austins are warm and gracious hosts, and succeed, the must!

aloha, tikicoma

p.s. The remodel of the Kalua Room was done by Roland Terry, the architect that did the interior designs (I believe) for the Seattle and Honolulu Canlis' and the remodel of Clarks Islander in Tacoma.

Tikicoma, thank you for your continued research into this place.

" ...If this is typical of post fair Seattle..." would mean that this article was written just after 1962, and that the refurbishment described in it took place then also.

This supports my nagging doubt of the date you found for the exterior you posted earlier:

"Entrance to the Kalua Room, photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives, December 15, 1953."

For the use of a Tiki as a logo, and such a cartoony one at that, 1953 sounds way too early. That would predate Steve Crane, Tiki Bob, and the Beverly Hills Trader Vic by several years. Considering that on stamps that are used on the backs of these press photos the "5" and the "6" are very similar, and archives are not exempt of human error, I wager that the date of the above pic is actually December 15, 1963


I still don't know Sven, but the exterior shot wasn't a press photo but a Seattle City Light photo. They took 24 pictures with 19 of them of the kitchen, all dated Dec. 15,1953. Maybe an early electric commercial kitchen? Most of their shots are of dams and transmission lines, that sort of stuff.
Also this matchbook with the cartoony tiki...

which appears to be an earlier matchbook with a 6 digit phone number than..

this one with a 7 digit number.

The press photo I just posted saw stamped Nov. 5, 1962 and had more information on the back including...
"Tony DelFierro, Philippine-born maitre'd... began his restaurant career at the Kalua Room in 1956, working first as busboy, then waiter, waiter captain and night maitre'd...

The Roland Terry plan drawing was dated May 1, 1958. I did see this drawing and I think it said remodel.

The logo tiki was still in use in 1967

in a Seattle visitors guide, with the "later matchbook number" MAIN 3-2920 phone number.

Hope this is of some help.

aloha, tikicoma

Dang, yeah, I had seen but forgotten about that it appeared in that series, and the photographer took THREE similar but different angles of the buidling - now all three can't be mislabeled, Sven !


And if they are all from one batch by the same company, they couldn't have been found somewhere else and added later, either.

The windshield makes the early date possible too:
"Though curved windshields appeared as early as 1934, it wasn’t until after World War II that many cars had them. By 1957, nearly all U. S. cars had windshields that curved four ways—not only at the sides but at the top and bottom as well. Curved rear windows, giving more styling freedom, were also introduced."

So I must revise my earlier post of doubt and concede, like I did the page before, that this is an incredibly early, perhaps the first, cartoony logo Tiki on the mainland!


Both fairly compelling theories on the dates, but I have one question. If Austin came from Hawaii in 1954, was the Kalua Room already opened? Also, being a car nut, I thought that tiny windshield glimpse looked 1955-1958ish to me. I very easily could be wrong. Just wondering. OGR

[ Edited by: Or Got Rum? 2013-04-27 07:07 ]


The Kalua Room is first listed in the 1954 Seattle Polk guide meaning it was open in 1953, it was in them until 1967 and gone in 1969 (the library didn't have the 1968 Polks). The Austin family had owned at least 5 hotels, 2 in Oregon, one in L.A. and at the time of the press photo, 2 in Seattle, having bought the Roosevelt the year before. Gwynne came over to run the Windsor, I assumed it meant he would be managing a property they already owned. As for the car window, I thought it was the rear window, the reason my mind went to that I decided had to do with the angle of the door pillar and a lack of a wing window. If my memory isn't failing me, I seem to remember quite a few early '50's cars with curved rear windows.

May as well put the up,

sugar packet from the Kalua Room.

aloha, tikicoma

I just picked up a nice drink and appetizer menu from the Kalua Room that provides some history of the drinks and unique crypto mugs used at the Kalua Room.

The cover with the signature Tiki.

The first page of drinks.

This page shows the PNG bird drum mug as their version of the fog cutter.

The Beachcomber's Grog appears to have used the Marc Bellaire ceramic (thanks to Bigbro for the ID).

No idea on the origins of the Black Pearl mug shown.

Second half of the first drink page.

Shows the Tonga Tabu mug that was posted by Koholacharms.

Second page of the drink menu.

Wonder if that Kalua Rum Bowl exists?

Second half of the second page.

Shows the Tiki Tiki mug posted by Hiltiki.

Another drink menu page.

Looks like another unique mug for the Dr. Fong drink.

The appetizer menu.

And the story of rum with some great literary imagery of getting away from it all, the classic Tiki restaurant escape story!

A great historical menu.



Dusty, as far as the mug for Dr. Fong drink, I have seen that design on and off on ebay on clear glass, maybe frosted glass but not on a mug. next time I see it will post it here.

GREAT post, DC! Like the olden days, when history mattered.

I am in ready to put the Kalua Room in line with Tiki Bob's, the Luau and the Trader's as THE pioneer places for the earliest use of the Tiki image in the mid-50s

Seattle - San Francisco - Los Angeles -The 3 West coast ports of departure to Hawaii

Just posting some random scraps I've found for the Kalua Room.

Well we have a date for the opening of the Kalua room, December 2nd 1953.

This is from ebay, unfortunately it doesn't say what magazine it was clipped from.

In 1955 Bill Speidel published the book "You Can't Eat Mount Rainier" in it he included the Kalua Room recipe for Teriyaki steak and his description of the restaurant.

The same year an ad was in a Seattle visitors guide for the Hawaiian Beachboys performing at the Kalua Room.

There seem to have been an unending supply of groups using this this name, including at least one recording in europe.

Speidel not only wrote but illustrated his books and In 1961's "You Still Can't Eat Mount Rainier" he added another recipe and reused his cool image of their signature fog cutter mug.

Lastly, a couple of years ago I saw this luncheon menu at the University of Washington special collections (no date).

I'll try find a better image of this menu I had one that was clearer but I can't find it now.

aloha, tikicoma


"Speidel not only wrote but illustrated his books and In 1961's "You Still Can't Eat Mount Rainier" he added another recipe and reused his cool image of their signature fog cutter mug."

Bob Cram did the illustrations for Bill Speidel's You Can't eat Mount Rainier books and his 1957 restaurant guidebook Be My Guest In The Pacific Northwest.*

Some of Bob Cram's illustration's were used, without credit, in Beachbum Berry's Intoxica! I made a list of the Cram illustrations in the post Intoxica!: Bob Cram's 1955 Illustrations

*Be My Guest In The Pacific Northwest is great book for anyone interested in NW restaurant history or restaurants of the late 50's. Bill Speidel's writing is so detailed it's pretty much the next best thing to having gone there.


Oops! Woof is right. Who would've thought that something you read on the internet could be wrong. I guess I could have looked at the cover of the book though.

mahalo to woofmutt and aloha, tikicoma

Fabric placemat


From the Lenggenhager collection (Seattle Public Library) the Kalua Room 1954 "new facade". No awning unlike the 12/15/53 photos but I'm wondering if this wasn't due to the photo not being developed until after the new year (they used to print the date developed on the pictures edge). Lenggenhager was a immigrant, Boeing worker and persistant amateur photographer.

A blow-up of the tiki "just because I can".

And last one of the street from 1959, the remodel was sometime between '58 and '62.


Another version of the Tiki-Tiki mug.



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