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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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K

Well, I'm not sure if anyone posted this before, but I have confirmation that Frances Langford's (sp?) Outrigger is very much still open for business in Jensen Beach, Florida. The bar is called the Dolphin, but the restaurant is still called the Outrigger, and there are at least 2 very large tikis within.

I can go next weekend, or stay home and type 31 soul-numbingly boring freelance articles. Hmmm, choices....

The Outrigger lives!

Kentiki

Great job! I say forget the articles.

The Outrigger restaurant in Jensen Beach, Florida is now called the Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House and looks from the outside like a New England seafood joint instead of a Polynesian palace. Thankfully a couple we stopped and asked for directions knew what we were looking for, or we might have missed it.
The only really good news about this place is the owner has created a small shrine to Frances and her restaurant in an passage way between the main dining rooms and the lobby. The cover of an original menu and a number of photos are displayed on the walls. Some of these show the Outrigger in its prime. Others are of Frances hanging out with various celebrities, including our favorite presidential patron of Trader Vic's; Richard Nixon. A smallish tiki mask looks down from one wall and there are some war clubs hanging above a door. There also is a nice three foot tall tiki in the room, but on closer examination I found out it was polystyrene, not Polynesian, so it couldn't have been an original fixture. Suspended from the ceiling is the long and large (and rotten) hull of a canoe. I assumed this might have hung in the main dining room, although it was missing the appendage that qualifies it as an outrigger. It may also have sat on the front lawn, as I can just barely make one out in a postacard that I have.
The basic layout of the restaurant -- including two bars (one in bamboo)-- is preserved and you can still see many of the carved wooden beams. There also is a huge limestone fireplace that looks original and the surroundings of palm trees and tropical plants look about the same as in the old postcards.
The setting for this restaurant is as magnificent as looks in the pictures. It sits next to a pretty sailing marina and the outside bar and decks overlook a very wide stretch of the Indian River (Intercoastal Waterway).
The current menu had about forty different shrimp dishes --- none of them grabbing our attention -- and the bar menu was similarly unexceptional, although I did have a "double daiquiri", which they claimed was Hemingway's favorite drink.
It was very disappointing that they did not have any classic Polynesian beverages listed on their bar menu and they definitely did not have tiki mugs. On the other hand, it was kind of cool to be on hallowed tiki ground and to see the various momentos.
Unfortunately, I think I knew more about Frances and the original restaurant than did anyone I talked to on the staff. But here's an interesting side note: at another bar we visited called Conchey Joe's (which had a huge thatched roof that looked like the one on the Outrigger) we met a bartender that told us more about the change in ownership at the Outrigger. She said the Outrigger was sold to a guy in the 1980's who stripped the building of all its tiki trappings, and then whitewashed all of the woodwork, inside and out. His new restaurant was called Key West and it had a Jimmy Buffett theme. To make a long story short, the man and his wife were killed in a boating accident a few years later and the restaurant was then tied up in their estate for five years, until the present owner bought it. The current owner had all of the whitewash striped off the building and tried to line up whatever objects he could find from the original restaurant. So I guess he's not such a bad guy.
I took some photos which are on my Yahoo page: http://photos.yahoo.com/kailuageoff

T

kailuageoff wrote re. the Otrigger in Jensen Beach, Fl.:
"She said the Outrigger was sold to a guy in the 1980's who stripped the building of all its tiki trappings, and then whitewashed all of the woodwork, inside and out. His new restaurant was called Key West and it had a Jimmy Buffett theme. To make a long story short, the man and his wife were killed in a boating accident a few years later"

Ahh, sweet revenge!

Thanks for that long-awaited review. I don't feel so bad now that I missed it when I was in Florida last Winter.

Funny how things work out. The old Polynesian buffet (Yes, it really was a buffet) in Tarpon Springs blew up and burned to the ground after new owners turned it into a country western bar....

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