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Trader Vic's Portland Oregon (New), Portland, OR (restaurant) FIRE March 2, 2016. Closed permanently

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Name:Trader Vic's Portland Oregon (New)
Street:1203 NW Gleason Street (at 12th)
Phone:503 467 2277
Status: Fire on March 2, 2016. Location now defunct.

Forgive me if this is already posted, I searched and searched and did not find anything on the new location, only the old one at Benson Hotel, thus the (New) in the location name to differentiate it.

Website: http://tradervicspdx.com/

Personal description from my visit on June 3 2012:
Two large tiki's guard the entrance to the door, so imposing they can be seen from well across the street. Flanking the sides of the building are two flame torches artistically encased in wire mesh and glass. Upon entering through the doors the first thing you see is a rock wall with a thin sheet of water cascading down it and over the metal lettering that spells out "Trader Vic's". Once past this if you turn to your left there is a very large and almost comical looking tiki mask surrounded by tea light candles that are set in niches in the rock wall around it. If you are looking at this mask, you are walking on a small arched bridge beneath which water gently flows. Walk farther across the bridge and you will enter the wooden floored area of the restaurant where they serve "Happy Hour" prices. Small tables are arranged all over this area with plush seat booths backing one side of the tables, and hard wood/bamboo chairs backing the other sides. There are various tiki masks on the walls, and colored glass floats hanging from the ceiling. If you face straight forwards there is a giant wood KU tiki statue. Walking past the KU, you will enter a narrower sort of "hallway" dining area above which hangs a tiki style canoe. Take another left past another smaller tiki statue and you will enter a narrow dimly lit hall that leads to the bathrooms, and set in a alcove and lit from above is a large tiki mask. If you go back to the main "hallway" and continue forwards you will see another "totem" style tiki, and then turn to another dining area on carpeting (no happy hour prices on the carpeted areas, they are mainly for dinner dining). There are two large and wonderfully lit booth areas with some kind of jade looking designs roped together forming part of the partition. Both have seashell lamps, and various tiki brica brac that are very nice. Back around this booth area (as in behind it) is the entrance to the kitchen, and glass walls through which you can see the famous custom built Chinese wood fired oven in action making delicious smoked meats. If you turn and face forwards you will continue to go back towards the entrance doors (the path of the restaurant is in a general square so we are going back towards where we started at this point). There is a wide open dining area on carpeting here, with tables on the side with the windows, and booths opposite. Behind the booths is a bamboo frame partition that essentially makes this space more enclosed and "cozy" feeling, on this frame hangs about 6 tiki masks and various tiki sundries. If you continue forwards and go down one step you will make it back to the front desk which is kitty corner to the water bridge at the beginning. Now if you go straight forwards without turning the main "island" bar surrounded with bar stools and a few tables and mini booths will come into view. Over top the bar "island" is a bamboo rack containing all the famous Trader Vick's mugs and bowls in which your tropical libations are served.

[ Edited by: Hakalugi - changed status and title - 2016-03-16 22:53 ]

[ Edited by: Hakalugi 2016-03-22 14:15 ]


Hmm thanks for that... I really cannot understand why my searches don't seem to turn up things correctly I looked in all threads and then focused particularly on locating tiki. The only thing I found in the other threads was about it coming and rumors so its possible I may have glossed over that one discounting it as yet another "unfulfilled" thread. Well, whatever... anyone can feel free to merge the threads or whatever works best for TC, I was just trying to contribute. :)

Considering that the other extensive thread is in General and not in Locating.
I don't think that its bad to have this thread here.



On 2012-06-06 15:47, bigtikidude wrote:
Considering that the other extensive thread is in General and not in Locating. I don't think that its bad to have this thread here.

I feel the same. I wanted to add it mostly so that the two threads were connected.

Tigertail - I simply used the "Search" function linked in the upper right of the page and typed in "Vic's Portland" (no quotations) and it popped right up. Thanks for adding all these photos, by the way. Looks great

[ Edited by: arriano 2012-06-07 08:08 ]

Glad you liked it and thanks for posting. We just finished a blog entry with some information on some of the items on display at Trader Vic's Portland we thought you might want to check out.


Thanks TraderVicsPDX, very cool to hear more about the different pieces. I was sort of hoping for some kind of printed piece that did this when I went into the place, a placemat or booklet or something so I am gratified you have it on the site now. I had a wonderful time, it was my first visit ever to ANY Vic's and it was very generous of your establishment to not only give me a free drink, but also a free dessert. This really put a lasting and happy impression in my mind of the place thanks to your manager. I just wish the special anniversary mugs had not sold out, but you can't win 'em all. I'll always remember my 40th Birthday fondly thanks to the kind folks at Vic's. :)

You can find the LE mug on ebay from time to time. Keep an eye on the Facebook page as well, as a new LE mug will be coming out Augustish.

A couple of weeks ago Val and I traveled to Portland for the second time and made a couple of return visits to Trader Vic's Portland. Looking back over this thread and the one in General Tiki, I'm a little surprised that I hadn't posted any of my photos from 2011. In any case, our return in 2012 was just as nice as our 2011 visit...maybe even a bit better. We went for happy hour on a Monday, and then returned Tuesday for happy hour/dinner/night cap on Tuesday (as you do). Courtney was our bartender both Monday and Tuesday and she was awesome (she even gets a mention in James Teitelbaum's new book "Destination Cocktails"). Courtney had a keen interest in matching people to drinks they'd like if they were undecided, and an enthusiasm for talking about tiki cocktails in particular.

October is Zombie month at Trader VIc's Portland and we navigated though most of their Zombie offering between the 2 nights. The Zombie menu included a couple of variations I had not seen before and they were interesting takes on the drink. The vibe at this Trader Vic's is what I'd like them all to be. I'm happy to have a Trader Vic's close to me (LA Live) at all, but the differences between the two are vast. A DJ was spinning exotica and hawaiian music all night on Tuesday (I believe that's a regular Tuesday happening). It was a great way for us to spend our anniversary.

Keep up the good work, Trader Vic's Portland people! We hope to be able to visit you many more times in the future.

Higher resolution versions, and some from 2011, are available on Flickr.



Trader Vic's Portland suffered damage from a fire that happened at the beginning of the month. They closed for a few weeks for repairs, but ultimately they have decided to close up shop for good.


Bad news... Two things come to mind -- that I got to eat and drink there, and that there are other places in Portland who will continue to carry the tiki torch.

I read on Facebook that there is a rumor of a hipster's beard having caught fire and burning the place down. I'm sure it's true, lol...

So sad! I loved going here when we lived up in Portland.


What a huge bummer! I never even made it there.

According to the article it was done-in not so much by the fire, whose damage is covered by insurance, but by poor business.

I've been in there about five nights a week for four+ years. I don't know what I'm going to do.

I guess everyone should post the photos you have for all to see in the future

"I remember when..."


AdamAkuAku: glad you were able to go so often

[ Edited by: hang10tiki 2016-03-16 07:50 ]


Once they start making more on the trademark name stuff they sell on the side
beating your head on a wall serving the public does not seem like the best
way to make money anymore.

It's the egg rolls that killed Kahiki.

And dam if it was a franchise the corp takes like 9% to 11% every week, the rent on that
place would start at Ten thousand per month and that's a low low guess.
Plus new leases take a percent of what you make as well.
NOW if you had some money after all that the government is going to bend you over
and take what you made and more!
All this after you put like a quarter to half a million dollars in the place just to open.

Don't know why anybody would do the franchisee thing.

Trader Vic's franchisee took the money and run

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

tikiskip, according the article I posted, the rent was $20k a month and Trader Vic's corporate was charging them $6k a month for the use of the TV name, logos, etc. Supposedly the owners were putting in $25k a month of their own money just to keep the place open -- which they had been willingly doing (up until now) because they wanted to see it kept open. It's hard to be mad at someone for not wanting to lose $25k a month. It's pretty impressive (to me anyway) that someone can even HAVE $25k to lose a month.

Business might not have been that bad. It just wasn't good enough to support the costs. I guess this is why most new tiki bars these days are tiny little places. I've heard the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas is rather an exception.

Here's the article again with the numbers. It sort of got left behind on the previous page.

The business model for Vic's franchises in the U.S. has been outdated for a long time. Too ambitious. That's probably why you see so many of them fail. They should go back to hotels and work on a scaled-back lounge concept along the lines of Latitude 29.

"the rent was $20k a month"

That is nutz!
Man the liquor license, taxes, rent, wages all go up while you can only
raise your prices so much.

$20k would have been a year of rent almost when I started.
Then you see these corp offices for like f-ing Wendy's and they are huge.
All that fat and BS management paid for by a hamburger and low paid workers.

So, who gets all the undamaged décor and glassware and bar mats and all the other cool stuff?

I'm guessing a corporate warehouse somewhere...

cy posted on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 3:43 PM

The lack of people in your pictures speaks volumes Hang10, I am sorry to see it go.


On 2016-03-16 10:46, AceExplorer wrote:
So, who gets all the undamaged décor and glassware and bar mats and all the other cool stuff?

I'm guessing a corporate warehouse somewhere...

I was thinking the same thing......I'm really bummed I didn't go as planned last month and that I'll never see it open but I'll be more than happy to help clean it out :)

Cy- actually we were so excited to be there that
almost every time we went, we were the 1st ones in

Some more info on the fire over here:

So sad. Tried to stop by just after New Years after fleeing the in-laws and heading home but they were closed due to inclement weather according to a note on the door.

hang10, thanks for posting all those pics. I never got to make it to this TV since the last time I was in Portland was right before this opened, but now I want to get back to the Emeryville location even MORE since you never know when things like this are going to happen.

I got to experience recent (and now departed) TV incarnations in Chicago, Scottsdale, Vegas, and Downtown LA and the drinks were usually good with great décor pieces (even if the overall atmosphere and dining crowd was decidedly "modern" for poly-pop.)

I guess with monthly expenses like TV Portland had in the Pearl, you REALLY gotta do brisk, high-dollar busy to stay in the black.

Raising a mai tai glass to Trader Vic's Portland.

Terrible news, I enjoyed Trader Vic's on my visit to Portland back in November. We stayed at the Benson Hotel, the home of the original Portland Trader Vic's.


Here are some of the commemorative mugs:

The one on the left was for the opening followed by the 1, 2 and 3 year anniversary. I wasn't able to get the 4th year mug,


The corporate office in Emeryville will most likely take the furnishings back with them. When Trader Vic's L.A. Live closed down, they came down and took the stuff back up to Emeryville with them.

Thanks, Fez. That brings up the question --- when someone opens a new TV's franchise, are they also required to obtain their décor from the corporation? That would explain all the stuff going back to the home base when a restaurant shuts down. Now with Palo Alto and Portland having recently closed, there must be a very nice collection in the corporate warehouse.

Can any TV's insider offer more insight? How about offering a tour? Or offering a garage sale? Heh, can't hurt to ask --- the recent developments are likely to make it a whole lot harder for TV's to recruit new franchisees. Do they really want to pay for storage for all that stuff for what could be many, many years when a few of us would be happy to take some of it off their hands now? I'm certain that some of that stuff would love to remain in Portland with local collectors, tiki bars, and tikiphiles.

Inquiring tiki minds are hard at work.....

On 2016-03-19 06:10, AceExplorer wrote:
... Or offering a garage sale? ...

It wouldn't be the first time:

Dusty- Lookin good Bruddah
Mauka- nice to see all the mugs, every time we went, we just missed em :(
Hauka- would be nice

I don't post really anymore, but I do lurk.... I forgot I posted this, and am very sad about the demise of Portland Vic's. I truly had a magical time there and will greatly miss it. :(

Mahalos to Hang10 for the great set of photos. It is now as close to being there as we who missed out can get.

Just some perspective on the rent costs. From what I have read, this unit was 8,000 square ft, which breaks down to $30 per sq. ft. Rates are very, very relative. Around my area, DC suburbs, that would be on the low end of average for the trendy neighborhoods. Looking at commercial real estate listings for Portland, $30 looks to be on the high side of average.

As for the 6K to Vic's, not knowing all the details about a TV franchise, I'd have to say that something is fundamentally flawed with their franchise arrangement. In the US since 2000, 10 Trader Vic's were optioned. With Portland's closing, not a single one of them remain open. The longest run was Palo Alto that lasted 11 years, and the overall average is 4 years from open to closing (worth noting because a lot of initial lease terms are for 5 years - it suggests that many of these locations folded their tents rather than renew their leases).

It is sobering to see such a failure rate. Trader Vic's has probably reached a tipping point where anyone even thinking about franchising in the US would see that and run. Unless TVHQ really overhauls their business model with something that has a greater chance of success, and it may be too late already, I doubt we will ever see another location ever open in the US.

On 2016-03-20 11:27, Dr. Coruba wrote:
It is sobering to see such a failure rate.

I really like your analysis. It makes me wonder who is running the TV's organization -- elementary school kids? Are they in business to really be in business? It certainly doesn't seem like it -- they are trashing their reputation and track record.

The other side of the coin is that franchisees typically do a lot of research before making a commitment. They also typically see TV's side-by-side with many other businesses at trade shows, in trade magazines etc. So what is it that makes someone decide to open a TV's franchise in the face of such grim performance and such steep cash outflows to the parent company?

It's puzzling...

The tikis that Tiki Diablo carved for the LA Live location went to the new location in Seychelles.

On 2016-03-22 17:49, tikilongbeach wrote:
The tikis that Tiki Diablo carved for the LA Live location went to the new location in Seychelles.

Now THAT is cool!

Sad it costs so much to run one
When will they realize that

Zero percent of Zero is Zero

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