Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Pages: 1 11 replies

Name:Steak Island
Type:restaurant
Street:600 E. Riverside
City:Austin
State:TX
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
The name exudes a haunting and mysterious experience... come to enchanting Steak Island on the lake, Austin's most "Exotic Restaurant"!

I have collected two matchbooks from the Steak Island restaurant in Austin that depict a round thatched hut UFO building similar in style to the Marina Del Rey and Santa Clara Don the Beachcomber buildings.


I also have a menu that depicts two Witco carvings on the front entrance door.

Some history of the Steak Island restaurant:

Steak Island started as the Lahala House (now Joe’s Crab Shack on Riverside), a partnership between Corpus Christi restaurateur Harry Porter and G. Jim Hasslocher of Jim’s Restaurants fame. Porter eventually sold his interest to Hasslocher, who renamed the restaurant Steak Island. The thatched-roof establishment billed itself as “Austin’s Most Exotic Restaurant,” and was built on the shores of Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) at a time when there weren’t many businesses on the water. Though the Steak Island menu was more steak and seafood than pupu platter, the decor and sarong-wrapped waitresses were definitively tiki. It was considered fine dining by Austin standards of the time and was a favorite haunt of President Johnson when he visited Austin.

Trader Vic's in DC may have had President Nixon, but Steak Island had LBJ!

DC

Wow, thanks for posting! I ate at that Joe's Crab Shack once when we first moved to Austin like 8 years ago. From what I remember Joe's was more inland overlooking the lake whereas this rendering has Steak Island literally sitting on the water. Pretty sure that structure is gone. Wonder if anything was salvaged. Any idea when they closed and if there was other businesses at that location before Joe's opened?

Mike,

Here is a current aerial photo of Joe's Crab Shack. Looks like a portion of the old Steak Island UFO building is still there, but it has been added onto. Also looks like the lake shore had been expanded in this area with a more land, landscaping and a boardwalk. Did not see when Steak Island closed. You can check the old phone books at the Austin library to see what the ads looked like and when they stopped running.

DC

This is really interesting, and I would love to know more. Since Joe's or a previous owner obviously re-modeled the building I would imagine that they might have blueprints and even possibly elevation drawings on hand. With that in mind I just sent this letter to Joe's Crab Shack corporate:

"Hello, Please let me first introduce myself. My name is Karl Holbert and I belong to a group that is interested in the Polynesian pop (Tiki) movement of the middle part of the 20th century. I am contacting you today about your above location because when it was originally built in the early 60's it was a Tiki Bar/ Restaurant called the "Lahala House" and then a short time later "Steak Island". It was supposedly a favorite haunt of President LBJ as well and was one of the only a hand full (if that) of such establishments to ever be built in Austin. Very little is known about the Lahala House as almost no material about it, aside from a few old match books and a menu, seem to still exist. Thus, I was wondering as the buildings current occupant / owner if you might have or know where I might be able to find copies of original blueprints or architectural drawings. It would be fantastic to see and learn more about such a unique Austin establishment. Thank you for your time. I hope to hear back from you soon.

Sincerely,
Karl Holbert"

These days I don't expect much from corporate type folks but every now and then I am surprised. Let's hope this is one of those occasions. I will keep y'all posted on what I hear. Hope this helps. :)

F

Mockingbird,

Looking forward to any response.

As well if anyone is interested I pass by this place nearly everyday if new images are wanted.

F

The other night I was going through some old finds that I had picked up in an Estate Sale that was near South Congress over a year ago... I dig old swizzles, and matchbook covers so I had a little pile I forgot about. Well I found two Steak Island swizzle sticks. The building as you can see on the top. its raised but faint as there is no paint unlike the address. I wonder if there was ever any mugs or other items of collectable interest.

F

First and foremost I apologize if the link is not "hot"... I am having issues with staying logged in, and I haven't seen an unborken image in weeks.

Anyhow... Check out this great footage I just came across!

I have emailed the person who posted it for any and all inf he can share. I will post what I learn as soon as I have it.

https://youtu.be/zek3L4g58tE

Freeland - great find!

Hope the original poster gets back to you with more info.

That video confirms the two Witco carvings on the doors as seen on Dusty Cajun's menu.

On 2015-01-10 11:49, Dustycajun wrote:
Name:Steak Island
Type:restaurant
Street:600 E. Riverside
City:Austin
State:TX
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
The name exudes a haunting and mysterious experience... come to enchanting Steak Island on the lake, Austin's most "Exotic Restaurant"!

I have collected two matchbooks from the Steak Island restaurant in Austin that depict a round thatched hut UFO building similar in style to the Marina Del Rey and Santa Clara Don the Beachcomber buildings.


I also have a menu that depicts two Witco carvings on the front entrance door.

Some history of the Steak Island restaurant:

Steak Island started as the Lahala House (now Joe’s Crab Shack on Riverside), a partnership between Corpus Christi restaurateur Harry Porter and G. Jim Hasslocher of Jim’s Restaurants fame. Porter eventually sold his interest to Hasslocher, who renamed the restaurant Steak Island. The thatched-roof establishment billed itself as “Austin’s Most Exotic Restaurant,” and was built on the shores of Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) at a time when there weren’t many businesses on the water. Though the Steak Island menu was more steak and seafood than pupu platter, the decor and sarong-wrapped waitresses were definitively tiki. It was considered fine dining by Austin standards of the time and was a favorite haunt of President Johnson when he visited Austin.

Trader Vic's in DC may have had President Nixon, but Steak Island had LBJ!

DC

DC any way you might be willing to share some inside pics of the menu. Any Drinks or just food items?

Okay, prior to Joe's Crab Shack, this location was a Landry's for much of the 1990s (which was Joe's parent company until they sold off the chain around 2008 or so). Prior to that, Steak Island was converted into a location of the infamous Magic Time Machine chain sometime in the early 1970s, of which only two locations remain--San Antonio and Dallas.

https://austin.eater.com/2015/1/29/7947535/take-a-disco-trip-back-in-time-with-austins-magic-time-machine

Okay, this isn't as sexy as other stuff posted in this thread, but we're completests, right? I found Austin City Council minutes from their July 2, 1964 meeting, which addresses a signage request from Lahala House. It also firms up the origin date for the restaurant that became Steak Island:

LAHALA HOUSE
The Building Official had received a request for a sign to be placed on Riverside Drive and the entrance to the Lahala House property. The sign is to be a plastic oval with electric interior lighting and will be 16' high, the oval being 8' wide.

Councilman Shanks moved that the Council sustain the recommendation of the Town Lake Committee and approve the request. The motion, seconded by Councilman White, was carried by the following vote:

Ayes: Councilmen LaRue, Long, Shanks, White, Mayor Palmer
Noes: None

Below is part of the first page of the council meeting agenda for historical reference. Within a couple of years, San Antonio's Jim Hasslocher bought out Corpus Christi's Harry Porter and rebranded the restaurant as Steak Island.

I also found a couple of scans from the 1965 Austin City Directory on Archive.org. It is my understanding that Lahala House started out with a thatch roof, but it appears this was done away with by 1965.

Pages: 1 11 replies