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Tiki History - The Tahitian in Studio City and Pasadena, CA

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Page 152 of the Book of Tiki shows a great menu cover, exterior photo, and lamp from The Tahitian in Studio City. Its mascot was that great Bumatay-inspired tiki.

It turns out there was also a location in Pasadena. I've finally got postcards showing the interiors of both and thought y'all might like to see them. If puamana might be persuaded, I believe she has the menus to both locations and might show us the differences and what they looked like inside.

Here is the interior of the Studio City Tahitian:

The address on the back of the postcard is 12010 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, California. One Block East of Laurel Canyon. "Planning A Party - Banquet Rooms Accommodating from 30 to 225 Persons. Open Every Day. Complete Cantonese and American Luncheons Plus A Continental Buffet. Your Hosts: Don Avalier & Bill Dove".

I see a nice clamshell wall sconce and a lit-up tiki mask:

Next is the interior of the Pasadena location, showing a really fine cieling and clamshell waterfall.

In both postcards you can see plenty of those tiki lamps on the tables that are shown on pg 152 of the BOT:

A couple of matchbooks, (these seem to be fairly common and I've seen them often on Ebay. Futura-girl gave me one of these)

Doctor Z also has a nice glass ashtray from the Tahitian that he picked up for a buck at a local swapmeet.



Here's a lunch menu from the Tahitian's Pasadena location, at 137 S. Lake St.:

The cover has just a slight variation from the Studio City menus. The inside of this one is more plain than the Studio City versions, with just lunch selections offered, and no tropical drinks or illustrations on the pages.

A dinner menu for their Studio City location (w/ same cover as their drink menu below ) has some nice illustrations inside:

Following is an appetizer & drink menu for their Studio City location, at 12010 Ventura Blvd:

Its a little more elaborate inside, with lots of drinks & drink illustrations. There are 4 pages of cocktails, categorized in small ( Gardenia Cocktail, Angel's Snake Pit, Zambuonga, etc.), medium ( King Kamehameha, Pele's Kiss, Tiger's Tooth, Surf Rider, Satan's Fang, Tahitian Grog, Head Shrinker, Smog Cutter, Fires of Pele, Kanaka Boy Punch,etc. ), and large ( Stingray, Tahitian Barrel, Lapu Lapu, Stingray in a clam shell for 4)

A few closeups of the drink mugs:

Anyone have any of these ?

There's a story of the " Romance of Rum" on the inside back cover, giving the history of rum, explaining the wide varieties, noting Don the Beachcomber as the originator of many of their rum drinks, as well as Trader Vic's influence of both drinks & Polynesian style foods.

[ Edited by: puamana on 2003-06-25 12:27 ]

[ Edited by: puamana on 2003-12-11 08:09 ]


Nice stuff as always! Damn- I want a "Serpent Of Doom" right now! Killer drink name. I love how it's a Smog Cutter in So Cal. Were there original mugs from there?

Sabu - Any idea if the Royal Tahitian in Ontario was owned/operated by the same people? The font is exactly the same, but we all know there was lots of 'borrowing' of restaurant names, graphics, etc. going on at that time.

My pics from the front of the postcard came out too dark, I'll repost them later.

Thanks Zulu - I never noticed that before! It seems likely there was some connection with the Royal Tahitian in Ontario. I'm going to go look at my Royal Tahitian postcard and matchbook and see if I can find out anything more. Thanks for the tip!



On the subject of restaurants "borrowing" names & graphics from other restaurants, here's one that uses the Tahitian menu cover graphics :

No indication as to where the Mai Tai was. The inside of the menu is much more basic than the Tahitian, with a handwritten menu offering more basic fare.

Thank you for the very interesting posts.

Excellent historical urban archeology.

Here is a Coconut mug that I recently acquired from the Tahitian.


I guess the air quality was already suffering when the Tahitian was around, hence, the "Smog Cutter". The Satan's fang looks interesting too!


Sabu, keep posting pics like that, and you too may end up becoming a Tiki Special Agent. Thanks, they're very interesting.


Here is a pic of some Tahitian souvenirs my mom saved from a date she went on with my dad in 1964. It includes a napkin, the check stub, and a packet of sugar. I am sooo glad she is a packrat...


Wow, dig those drink prices! $5.00 for a Lapu Lapu for 4, $2.50 for a Serpent of Doom. Compare that to the $8 to $15 price range at Tiki-Ti today.


Like a lot of folks, I have the Tahitian matchbooks....

But today, at a currency exchange store I found a "souvenir" version of the Studio City menu:

It's about 5.5" high, about 4" wide - and the date on the interior says 6/1959. Here's a few more pix - not all of them, but it looks to replicate the big menu...

I'll probably never find a big one in the wild - so I'm happy with this little guy...


Nice find, Tangaroa !

Paipo posted on Fri, Jan 18, 2008 2:13 PM

I thought I'd bump this to see if anyone has a picture of the lamp pictured on page 152 of the BoT? The lamp looks ceramic - was there ever a mug of the same design? This is one of my favourite menu/logo tikis and I think I might have a crack at interpreting it in stone. Any other pics of ephemera with the logo tiki would be appreciated. Cheers!

Paipo posted on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 1:06 PM

anyone? I'd love to see a decent picture of the lamp....

Here's a "Tahitian" lamp that I picked up at the Oceanside swap meet many years ago, it's missing the shade part but it was only a dollar.


Paipo posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 1:54 AM

Thanks Bosko! I knew someone would have one somewhere!


I found a 1960 newspaper article about 1940s child film star Gloria Jean. Seems that once she got too old for kids' roles, she fell out of Hollywood favor, and was now working as the hostess of the Tahitian in Studio City, as an attempt to be around the movie industry people and get back into the business.


Here is a picture that mentions the Tahitian in Studio Coty; Photograph article dated February 17, 1962 partially reads, "'Polynesian Dream' will theme the annual fashion show and luncheon presented by Court Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Catholic Daughters of America, at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 24 at the Tahitian, 12010 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Mrs. Clayton Clarke, general chairman, said that fashions from Roxie of Encino, Northridge and Sun Valley will be displayed by professional models. Entertainment will be provided by members of the Girl Scout Troup [sic] 1838, Encino. They will do Polynesian, Hawaiian, Samoan and Tahitian dances." Linda Haas strikes a Polynesian dance pose as Mmes. Molinari, Sabol, Clarke, and Spitzer, seen left to right, watch.

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