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Name:Tonga Hut
Type:bar
Street:12808 Victory Blvd.
City:North Hollywood
State:CA
Zip:91606
country:USA
Phone:818-769-0708
Status:operational

Description:
The Tonga Hut is a small neighborhood bar that has been around since c.1959 The interior has changed little over the years. There are several large tikis on site and inside there are 2 waterfalls (however neither is currently working). The bar recently changed ownership. The new owner is curious to learn more about the tiki bar phenomenon. So please visit there and order a drink and encourage them to bring in exotic music and expand their tropical drink selection.

Tonga Hut is on the south side of Victory just east of Coldwater Canyon in the San Fernando Valley.

[ Edited by: Futura Girl on 2003-07-27 15:45 ]

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2003-07-28 12:03 ]

The Tonga Hut has a wonderfully large tiki on the outside and two large tikis on the inside (somewhat Easter Island style).

It also has some fake tropical decor and features inexpensive ($5.50 mai-tais).

I believe it is the only other classic tiki bar in the City of Los Angeles, other than the beloved TIKI-TI.

However, unlike Tiki-Ti, there is no scene, although it does have a loyal and very friendly group of regulars (some of whom appeared to be older than the bar).

The bar has great potential, but could use a little freshening up and a lot of airing out (Smoker's welcome, but my request if cigars were allowable met with a less than welcome reception).

M

My wife and I went to the Tonga Hut after looking up a web list of Tiki bars in the LA area. We are now Tonga Hut regulars and most people know us by name. Our first impression was ho-hum. However, after just a few minutes, we came to love this little "locals" bar. The decor is definately original late 50's early 60's Tiki and I mean original. It looks as if the origianl interior has servived from it's opening days. As posted earlier, this is definately not a "Scene" Tiki bar. It is a locals hang out. Most regulars are in their 40's or older. My wife and I are in our late 20's and we love it. If you are looking for an "LA - See & Be Seen" place, this is not it. However, if you are looking to have a quiet drink with very friendly working-class locals where you can actually hear eachother, this is the place. They even have Chet Baker & Billy Holiday in the jukebox. Believe me, it will grow on you!

[ Edited by: mriddle on 2003-09-15 15:07 ]

hey mriddle,
i stepped into the tonga hut the first time at the beginning of this year, after passing by it for about 5 years. i brought a coworker with me who was not particularly into tiki. he thought it was interesting, and more interesting when i explained some of the back history. unfortunately, the bartender on that evening did not know how to make a polynesian drink. i didnt try to order anything fancy, just a mai tai to test the waters, but to no avail. we ordered beers and relaxed. it is definitely worth checking out the bar for the old decorations, some things unique to that bar that i have never seen anywhere else.
are they serving tropical drinks now?
let me know when you guys go, maybe i can meet you there some time.

M

Tikitanked,
Yeah, It really does depend on the bartender there. I really wish they would play up the "tropical" aspect a little more. After all, they have quite a stock of flavored liquors behind the bar. I would imagine if more people came in and asked for torpical drinks, they would start making them. I must admit I'm not towing the Tiki line when I go-- I usually get Vodka&Cran. I was planning on going this Friday night (OCt 24th) but saddly, I have to go to San Diego on business. My wife and I are planning on going next Sat. Nov. 1

this trip to the Tonga Hut yeilded some photos and information. i asked the bartender, adelle, if she thought taking photos would be okay, to which she promptly replied no. she did, however, call the owner and leave a message asking permission. while waiting for a return answer, i ordered a beer and asked adelle if she could tell me about the bars history. her reply was that she did not know much about it. as she said this she was scanning the bar seats because there was one woman that did; she happened to be sitting next to me. the woman, i would put her in her 70's, indulged my questioning, though it was hard to hear what she had to say. i also never caught her name. she had been going to the bar since 1961.
two brothers had opened the bar in 1958. the place was usually packed and they served exotic tropical drinks in tiki mugs and bowls. from what i could gather, the brothers sold it in the 1990's. one brother moved to hawaii, where he lived out the rest of his life. the other brother remained here and passed away about two years ago. i think she said one of the brother's daughter sold it. it was being run by one of the former bartenders who sold it a few years ago. the current owner has been running it as a locals bar, and has sold it. in fact there was a declaration on the door about the sale. in one month the Tonga Hut will change hands again. i asked if adelle or the woman knew if the new buyers intended to keep it the same, and both ladies seemed to think that was there intent.
at that point adelle asked a guy at the bar about shooting photos, and he said it was alright as long as i did not shoot the patrons. it seemed odd that he could give the permission, but adelle said he was a former bartender and that if he sais it was okay, it was okay.
so here is my attempt to document the Tonga Hut, without being able to shoot any good wide shots of the bar.



7ft moai inside just inside the door

rt side of bar lined with green booths

past booths, alcove area with this rocky surfaced tiki fountain

palm leaf


behind the bar, four level fountain that started from ceiling, unfortunately no longer running, spotted omc bowl to the right of cash register

this lined the top of the bar, much more impressive in person, this rim was circular and wavy, not rectangular

behind the bar, there are many old statues and tikis

this carving was on the door to the stock room
as i left, adelle asked me if next time i was going to order the "fufu" drinks. i told her i would be back for one. i definitely want to find out more, get the names, and talk to the old bartender.

[ Edited by: tikitanked on 2004-01-19 23:24 ]

M

Ahhh, the Hut. I love that little place. The weekend bartender is name Carol and is very nice. She whipped up a Mai Tai on request fast. Unfortunately most people who go there don't order the "fu fu drinks". But the drinks and beer are cheap!!

Glorioius photos! Wonderful photodocumentary.

Next time just start shooting - It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

The Tonga Hut has improved greatly since my last visit (although the average age of the customer has not changed). Let's hope the new owner drops somemore cash and continues the improvement.

I will have to go beyond Trader Vics & the Purple Orchid to add it to the rotation.

this is bad news that it has been sold again... the female owner i spoke to a few months back said she had been thinking about selling it to some guy who owned another business in the neighborhood and was itching to turn it into a sports bar or something worse... we need to get contact info for this new owner asap and do some research and make sure it was sold to a tiki friendly sole OR do some baptising and converting the heathen ASAP!

futura,
i had not spoken to the bartender who sais she thought the new owner would not change the bar. if this is not the case, ill make every effort with a few other tc folks to educate the new owner. north hollywood does not need another sports bar. if they plan to change the decor, i am sure that mriddle or humu or weirduncle or christiki295 or i will find the tikis a new home. the large ones inside are carved, there being a couple i did not photograph when i was there because the camera died.
sad news, hope that it is not the case.

Tikitanked, thanks for the photos, me & the wife will check out this weekend.

Horrific News.

At first, I was just horrified the map of Tonga had been removed in favor of very, very ordinary & lame "art." After all, its not likes the "Flower Bar."

However, this is much worse. I look forward to an update if anyone has any info.

(PS - Smoking is no longer permitted inside, maybe that is why almost all of the over 60 set seemed to have vanished).

Here are a couple more photos from when TikiBird and I met up with Tikitanked last weekend.

Tiki just inside the door

Full-length shot of moai just inside the door (he has feet & hands!)

[ Edited by: UtopianDreem on 2004-02-05 20:08 ]

The Tonga Hut looks like if Moe from the Simpsons turned Moe's Tavern into a pseudo-tiki bar to drum up business. Maybe he would serve the "Flaming Moe". I do like the joint though, local yokels & all. It'd be a shame to see it turn into a...(shiver, shiver) sports bar!
(they'd probably give it a name like: El........or La.........or Mi.........)
I'm calling my congressman.

The Tonga Hut has been sold (by the mother of a regular who must at least be 60 herself).

However, when I was there on Saturday, not many new changes were apparent, except the smaller coconut tikis have disappeared along with the namesake map of Tonga.

Nevertheless, there have been some improvements:

I received an umbrella in my $5.50 MaiTai.

Also, the guests actually seem to know what tiki is, as evidenced by one regular who announced my arrival with "it must be one of those tiki fans - look he's all tiki'd out wearing a Hawaiian shirt."

It no longer smells of stale cigarretes from 50 years ago (although I can not light up my cigar).

It still has the cheers quality. All the patrons were there before I arrived and, except for one arrival, they all remained there after I left.

D

Christiki
Actually some of the tiki artifacts they had behind the bar have been stolen!

Horrors! First RiderSouth & now this.

May the tiki gods curse them, Pele style, until the day they die!

On Saturday, I learned that the Tonga Hut has been sold.
Cyn, a waitress, raised expectations by stating the new owner was going to fix the two fountains and ensure the tikiness is preserved.

Unfortunately, when I met the owner, he did not seem to be particularly interested in tiki. He refused to let me in, even though I showed him my TiKiTOny tiki lei and my tiki mug, claiming that it was a private party and patronizingly told me to come back the following night.

On 2005-11-10 18:25, christiki295 wrote:
On Saturday, I learned that the Tonga Hut has been sold.
Cyn, a waitress, raised expectations by stating the new owner was going to fix the two fountains and ensure the tikiness is preserved.

Unfortunately, when I met the owner, he did not seem to be particularly interested in tiki.

I love Tiki bars and I love Dive bars and The Tonga Hut is a Tiki Dive Bar, whaich is a double ZAZZ to me! I hope it sticks around!

I got an email from the new owners of the Tonga Hut, I'll relay part of it here

This is just a quick note to let you know that my partner and I just purchased the Tonga Hut in November 05 and we do intend to preserve the tiki vibe of the place.

We are not changing the name or the decor. We do intend to redecorate and replace the beer mirrors and neons with Polynesian art work (oil paintings, etc). And yes, we plan to fix the fountains. We cannot get it all done immediately, but we plan to work on restoring the place little by little.

The jukebox has been updated with a variety of music and there is one Martin Denny CD in rotation (more Exotica to come). The bartenders know how to make Mai Tais and we will be adding a handful of tropical drinks to the menu in the coming weeks.

If you feel it is appropriate, please pass this info on to your forum participants.

Thanks,

Tonga Hut Management

Interesting!

M

ZAZZ!!!

I LOVE the Tonga Hut--a tiki dive bar extraordinaire!!

K
kirby posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2006 5:33 PM

dear tonga hut managment,
If you need some awsome tiki art to hang up on the walls instead of the taki neon beer signs Id be happy offer some of my art.....thanx kirby

Mahalo for sharing, Hanford.

Maybe you could ask them to return the map of Tonga, which had been replaced with a generic flower print.

The Tonga Hut is on the road to glory.

Dramatic first steps have already been taken. Any fears that the Tonga Hut was going to become a sports bar can be laid aside. The owner, Jeremy, has very ambitious plans for re-tikification, which include placing OA art above all of the booths,restoring both fountains and creating a Tonga Hut mug.

Although it has just been approximately 3 months since the new ownership, there already is a marked improvement:

1.There are no more beer signs - I was there with TikiTanked and personally witnessed the owner, Jeremy, obliterate the last O'Douls sign.

  1. The map of the Kingdom of Tonga, has been restored, courtesy of Oriental Gifts on Washington in Culver City (where cost-effective Hawaiiana can be found).

3.The air no longer smells of stale smoke.

  1. A moai has been added to the rear entrance.

  2. Incredibly nice, and sexy, bartenders have been added, Taylor & Cyd.

  3. Most importantly, the palm-wood tikis are still there and in suprisingly good shape.

Time for all of those who have been away to revisit!

[ Edited by: christiki295 2006-01-24 18:41 ]

Chris,
A good time last night, thank you.
We need to get them them the Grog Log and Intoxica for sure!
I volunteered myself to do some restoration work on the fountains. May be relying on the knowledge of some TC ohana, so I will post progress as it goes. The bar area fountain "pool" is actually a large slab of rock. Lighting was dim, so i never noticed its actually rock, not painted fiberglass as many modern fountain pools are done. The surface sealer resin coat is flaking on, some it needs some work. Otherwise I believe it just calls for a new pump. i have to climb into the under crawl space to check the pvc for cracking, but at initial glance it appeared okay.
the beautiful 3 tiered fountain behind the bar is another story. i did not inspect it closely, but Jeremy mentioned cracks in the "bowls" and it will take some tweaking to get the bowls in the right position so they flow to the next level properly, As fas pumps go, i have no idea what shape it is in.
Things look optimistic. Jeremy definitely has his own vision for the interior, but they have the right roots and do not seem like they will ruin the previously established look. He is open to ideas and is interested in seeing and learning more.
This is definitely a "project" bar, and I know that TCers will be called into play as he builds reserves for preservation and new additions. Hopefully TCers in the area can put this on their route because, as Christiki has mentioned, Tonga has changed drastically in the short time since the ownership changed, and the revenue will go to speed up the bar's renewal.
TT

[ Edited by: tikitanked 2006-01-22 20:41 ]

D

It makes me very happy that Tonga is tiki-ing back up! My wife and I love that little bar but haven't been there in a couple of months due to vet bills (our dog has been seriously ill). But hearing that it has been purchased by someone interested in the tiki aspect of the bar is good news. We're definately going to have to go ack for a visit.

C
Cyd posted on Mon, Jan 23, 2006 10:11 AM

Just wanted to say thank you to... Christiki295, MrSmiley, TikiTanked, Kirby and of course Hanford that has been so helpful in spreading the news about all the changes that have been going on at the TONGA HUT, since the new owners took over in November.

I've been working there for almost three years now and three owners too - So, it is so nice to finally have owners that care!!! They have made tremendous strides in such a short time. They have great plans ahead, and are doing things as money permits... More People = More Money = Better TONGA HUT Faster!!!

Thank you again for spreading the word and also for your patronage. Oh... and thank you for your kind words about me too :)

Mahalo,
CYD
Bartender at the Tonga Hut

(Feel free to come see me on Saturday and Sunday nights... I make a mean Mai Tai - and tell me your from TikiCentral)

[ Edited by: Cyd 2006-01-23 18:30 ]

[ Edited by: Cyd 2006-01-23 18:32 ]

On 2006-01-23 10:11, Cyd wrote:

Feel free to come see me on Saturday and Sunday nights... I make a mean Mai Tai - and tell me your from TikiCentral

Nice first post, Cyd. I may see you Saturday.

a long long time ago i gave the BOT to the owner with doubtful wishful thinking.

this news just made my night. no. it made my month.

On 2006-01-23 23:08, Futura Girl wrote:
a long long time ago i gave the BOT to the owner with doubtful wishful thinking.

this news just made my night. no. it made my month.

Way to spread the tiki faith.

H

Just got back from Tonga Hut, I don't know, a lot of work needs to be done. I almost felt like I should start doing it myself just to help out. It a great small neighborhood bar, a true tiki bar.Lots of luck to the owners.

H

We poked our heads into the Tonga Hut on Tuesday to see for ourselves what's happened with the new ownership -- and we really liked what we saw!

http://photo.humuhumu.com/v/lafeb2006/tongahut/

The new owner, Jeremy, happened to be there, and we spent the whole night chatting with him. He's very new to tiki -- only started learning about it after buying the bar in November 2005 -- but he's got the bug, big time. He really wants to restore the bar to vintage brilliance, and while the steps taken so far may seem small (he says it's only "an eighth" of what he wants to do) it felt like a night & day difference to me. With the beer posters gone and the lighting now much dimmer, it feels like a whole different place. More changes are on the way (the televisions have been turned off, a big sign of things to come), but he's being smart about it and taking his time, making sure he can do good work, and also not freak out the loyal regulars that keep the place afloat. He's also serving a Trader Vic's recipe Mai Tai! If you've never been to the Tonga Hut before, be sure to pop in and see it. And if you have been there before, go check it out again -- and be sure to update your Critiki ratings accordingly!

The regulars are very camera shy, which inhibited my ability to get good photos:


:up: The new owner, Jeremy





Nice photos!

C
Cyd posted on Mon, Feb 13, 2006 1:52 PM

Hi There - I'm CYD...
(Bartender at the TONGA HUT)

I just wanted to say Thank you to HumuHumu for your kind words and photo update of our new & improving....TONGA HUT!

In addition, I thought I would share with you just some of our new drink specials.

THE "NEW" TONGA HUT TROPICAL DRINKS...

  • TONGA TEA
  • TONGATINI
  • RUMBOOGIE (my personal favorite)
  • TONGA JUICE

and THE CLASSICS...

  • ZOMBIE
  • BLUE HAWAIIAN
  • HURRICANE
  • ....... MAI TAI of course

Each Tropical Drink is served in our New Tiki Mugs. (here is just one of the designs)

Well... Thanks to all of you that have been spreading the word about the new & improved TONGA HUT. It's greatly appreciated!

Also, please feel free to say Hello... I work every Saturday & Sunday Night... and let me know that your a TikiCentral member.

Thanks Again - CYD


Mahalo
CYD

Bartender/Tonga Hut
12808 Victory Blvd.,
North Hollywood

[ Edited by: Cyd 2006-02-13 13:59 ]

Way to bring it, Cyd!

M

I remember Cyd from my first visit to the Tonga Hut 3 years ago. I asked he what tropical drinks she liked to make and she made (I think) a Blue Hawaiian. I was very impressed with the skill and thought she put into the drink! She also had a very friendly attitude and made me feel like a regular. Glad she is still there.

On 2006-02-13 13:52, Cyd wrote:

Each Tropical Drink is served in our New Tiki Mugs. (here is just one of the designs)

Wow, I missed the reference to the tiki mug!

Now, Tonga Hut proudly takes its place with Trader Vics, Purple Orchid & Lucky Tiki as one of the LA area tiki bars which serve their libations in tiki mugs.

N

Hubby and I are trying to get down to the LA area again soon. We will definitely be stopping by. I have passed by the place, but have never stopped. It's on the list now!

Wow, Cyd, I remember you too! I'm so glad you're posting!! Folks, I've been to the Tonga Hut ONCE and this sweet, friendly lady made me feel like a lifelong regular! Not to mention, she made me a killer drink. Now THAT'S a fine bartender.

I dig the Tonga Hut and have been thrilled to hear of the wonderful developments.

No matter how many fascinating new tiki bars open, the nearest and dearest to my heart are always the old ones, especially a humble little neighborhood tiki bar like the Tonga Hut. So much history, so many stories...you can't just install that stuff.

Can't wait to visit again! Thanks for the pics, Humu--I should look for my old ones...

C
Cyd posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2006 2:31 PM

On 2006-02-14 17:08, mrsmiley wrote:
I remember Cyd...

On 2006-02-16 00:17, tikivixen wrote:[/i]
Wow, Cyd, I remember you too!

Glad It Was Memorable! :)

M

Was there yesterday for a breakfast bloody mary and had a great visit. The place is looking great, and there's so much potential- can't wait to see the fountain running behind the bar. Really nice woman behind the bar as well- former owner I believe. The regulars were pretty chipper too, a pleasant surprise for a morning drinking crowd!

T

Thank you to everyone who is supporting Tonga Hut during its transition to its former glory. We appreciate your kind words and enthusiasm. Big Thanks to Hanford and Humuhumu for coming down and posting photos. We want to provide all of you with a comfortable and fun tiki bar that you can call your own. Let us know you're from Tiki Central when you come in. We'd love to meet all of you.

Ana and Jeremy
Tonga Hut Owners

Did I hear a rumour of an anniversay party?

On 2006-02-13 13:52, Cyd wrote:
Each Tropical Drink is served in our New Tiki Mugs. (here is just one of the designs)

T

The Fountain Is Running!!!!!

Come Check It Out!!

Tonga Tom has had a face lift!!And along with new landscaping (the jasmine will bloom in July), a new paint job and our new neon cocktail sign, the Tonga Hut is on its way to ushering in a new era for tiki lovers in the Valley!!

Much thanks to Greg McKinney for all his hard work with the interior and exterior and to Glenn Aldridge at Spic & Span Fountain Cleaning.

There's more new music in the jukebox including exotica, vintage jazz and loungcore!!

Hope to see you soon!

Ana & Jeremy

..looks like a great effort taking place...ya know, if all of us donated one tiki item, whatever we could spare, to places like these to help decorate them, we would never have to sit around in a lame tiki bar ever again!! ..think of it, we all have too much tiki crap to begin with, so we donate a mask here, or some mugs there...perhaps one of your own creations as an artist to help jazz up the walls....you could even write it off on your taxes as a donated item...all this talk about supporting a scene is simply that...talk!! I'm up for it.....i'm sending out some lamps....

On 2006-05-14 17:35, Tipsy McStagger wrote:
..ya know, if all of us donated one tiki item, whatever we could spare, to places like these to help decorate them, we would never have to sit around in a lame tiki bar ever again!! ..think of it, we all have too much tiki crap to begin with

I think that's a great idea. Forbidden Island will be donating an unused decor item.

M

On 2006-05-14 13:16, tongahut wrote:
The Fountain Is Running!!!!!

Come Check It Out!!

zazz!!!!

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