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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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M

Name:Omni Hut
Type:restaurant
Street:HWY 41 & 70
City:Smyrna
State:TN
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:(615) 459-4870
Status: Closed

Description:
http://www.omnihut.com/history.html

Established 1960
Created in a MILLION MILES OF TRAVEL!!

Size: Two large dining areas
Type: Tiki restaurant (BYOB)
Staff: Friendly staff dressed in mumu's and aloha shirts
Condition: Very clean and neatly kept
Decor: Many great things to look at. (Tikies, Orchids of Hawaii resin lamps, Water fall, Maori panels, Neon flower wall, Aquariums)
Atmosphere: Family oriented
Days open: Tues-Sat. 5:30pm-10:00pm

Message from the owner:
While traveling over a million miles as an Air Force Pilot, I continuously pursued my hobby of Polyasian cookery. Good food, good chefs, and good recipes have always intrigued me. In Alaska, they say "gold is where you find it!" Good food, like gold, is where you find it! My recipes have come from many small, obscure, owner-operated restaurants...from friends...from Hong Kong to Panama...from Hawaii to Alaska. The adventure of seeking out better recipes and palatable dishes continuous.

The theme for the artistic drawings on the cover of this menu was conceived when I saw two Polynesian stone carvings--one the Goddess of Hula, the other, the God of Harvest. The Artist, Stephen Shively of Peoria, Illinois, did a magnificent job in expressing something I envisioned.

James F. Walls
Major U.S.A.F. Retired

[ Edited by: MTKahuna on 2003-08-01 15:19 ]

[ Edited by: Hakalugi 2018-10-25 06:57 ]

M

I had a great time at the Omni hut.
It's about 30 minutes South of Nashville and well worth the trip.

Polly, daughter of 86 year old owner James, was very hospitable. I told her that I had read about the restaurant in the TRT.
She was so delighted that she sat with us for a while and gave us the story behind the place. She also gave me and my friends a copy of their menus. (The artwork is very impressive).

The food was good and the drinks were super strong. (Actually, that's because I made them that way.)
If your looking for a great cocktail mixer, order the Hawaiian tea. It consist of various fruit juices and goes well with rum.

For dessert, I recommend the flamming chocolate volcano cake/sundae. It comes complete with fire. mmm... mmm... good

One of the best-est things about the place are the Orchids of Hawaii resin lamps. Polly said that they ordered the lamps from Orchids in the late 60's and actually did not receive them until the early 70's.

They consist of starfish, seahorses, and glass floats all imbedded in resin and colored glass.
Tiki faces and palm trees also adorn some of the light fixtures. They are a true pleasure to look at. :tiki:

S

Some pictures:





Your key to Beachbum Berry's books. Login and start concocting!

[ Edited by: Swanky 2009-01-31 05:22 ]

S




Your key to Beachbum Berry's books. Login and start concocting!

[ Edited by: Swanky 2009-01-31 05:22 ]

On Memorial Day weekend we grabbed a couple of friends and drove from central Kansas to Nashville for dinner (the open road is a seductive mistress, eh?). In addition to other cool establishments (Elliston Place Soda Shop, Brown's Diner, Pancake Pantry) we dined at Omni Hut.


Great product placement from two TC authors in the front hallway; in the last few months I've also seen BoT at Bali Hai in San Diego and Kon Tiki in Tucson:

The walls of the South dining room are lit with black lights and much of the decor is florescent:


Here are a couple of those Orchids of Hawaii lamps. I'd love to know how much these things go for if they ever come up for sale:


These pics are from the North dining room:


Polly Walls, manager and daughter of owner, James Walls, told us that soon Omni Hut teriyaki sauce will be available in 40 central TN Wal-Marts.

T

[ Edited by: TNTiki on 2004-11-06 18:12 ]

I went to the Omni Hut tonight...It was AWESOME!!!

Wow, that's cool.

I saw an add for the place in Tiki Magazine and wondered what it was like, and...there it is.

Thanks for posting

M

On 2005-06-04 08:37, Gigantalope wrote:
Wow, that's cool.

I saw an add for the place in Tiki Magazine and wondered what it was like, and...there it is.

Thanks for posting

It's even nicer in person... Plan a trip.

S

I had the most fantastic tiki nerd trip on Friday at the Omni Hut! I got to meet and interview Jim Walls, the nman who searched the world for those recipes and created the Omni Hut. Look for my other post about all that. For this I just wanted to review my experience.

This was my second trip to the Omni Hut. The first was a few years ago when I was a tiki neophyte. The place is full of Orchids of Hawaii stuff from lamps and masks to silverware (though the silverware is no longer used to serve with.)

The food is just great. The ribs on the pupu platter were tender and juicy. The staff (wait staff is all asian or polynesian if possible, wearing muumuus) was attentive and efficient. The egg rolls are great. The Hawiian Tea which is a fruit drink you are really meant to add liquor too, is good. Real fruit puree that is not over sweet. I can't recommend it enough.

The place had a kitchen fire about 5 years ago and I thought maybe everythign was replaced. Nope. They closed the doors and the staff came in without pay and worked 6 months to dismantle and clean everything and put it back. Even the fish nets! They treat their staff like family (true aloha) and they stay around for decades because of it. I can't say enough how wonderful they are. A real grassroots place that survives because they make great food, treat everyone well and they want to do it. I saw 5th generations there eating that food last night!


There used to be large tikis out front, but someone ripped them out of the ground and stole them long ago.


Wall behind the restaurant with lights on the chain.


Orchids tiki lamp.


Home made fish float lamps and Orchids.





Maori panel originally in the MahiMahi/Blue Hawaii. More on that in my other post.


Witco inspired Orchids piece.

Orchids piece

Some unknown (remembered) Floridian carved this palm tiki incorporated into the waterfall.

Orchids lamp.

I can't recommend this place enough!

T

Thanks for the update Swanky. I'm looking forward to having dinner there on September 30th. during my Southern tiki road trip!

M

I am so there in July 2006...

In Nashville on business and heading to the Omni Hut for dinner tonight.

S

On 2009-01-30 15:26, rugbymatt wrote:
In Nashville on business and heading to the Omni Hut for dinner tonight.

I'm sure Polly made you feel right at home.

Restored my pictures on this thread this morning.

I just picked up a very nice old Omni Hut menu.

Has anyone been lately?

DC

[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-01-18 18:39 ]

Ha ha, I was bidding for that one too on the bay! Nice score! :)

S

On 2010-01-18 18:37, Dustycajun wrote:
I just picked up a very nice old Omni Hut menu.

Has anyone been lately?

DC

[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-01-18 18:39 ]

Seeing that menu inside made me regret not looking through the giant stack of all their menus when I had the chance!

Have not been lately, but we are thinking of having a Grogalizer release party there soon.

Swanky,

Here is the inside of the menu from Mimi's website circa 1999.

Way different the the 1960s version from my menu

The matchbook.

Wow, they stay open all the way to 11:30 PM on Saturday nights!

You guys down there in Tennessee really know how to party!

DC

S

DC, one day, when they get liquor, they may stay open later... Some day....

On 2010-01-26 09:19, Swanky wrote:
DC, one day, when they get liquor, they may stay open later... Some day....

WTF They don't have liquor? That is bass ackwards. What gives, State laws?

DC

S

On 2010-01-26 16:58, Dustycajun wrote:

On 2010-01-26 09:19, Swanky wrote:
DC, one day, when they get liquor, they may stay open later... Some day....

WTF They don't have liquor? That is bass ackwards. What gives, State laws?

DC

Sort of. Recently (last 5 years) the city approved liquor by the drink. But, Col Walls is still around and says no to it. Polly isn't clear why, but he thinks it's a way for employees to steal. Polly says once Mr. Walls is gone, she will be putting in a bar and a second bathroom. I have offered to help get it done and decorated.

Swanky,

Here is a blow up of the rendering from the menu. The place looked pretty austere when it first opened.

DC

Their logo was also "borrowed" for this short 1970s bondage film, titled "The Trouble With Tikis"

K
Kenike posted on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 6:53 AM

Stopped by while traveling through Nashville and took these shots. Loved this place...

Z
Zeta posted on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 7:26 AM

Great pictures Kenike! Sharp colors!

T

Ran across this 1960s ad for the Omni Hut while rummaging thru personal memorabilia...

The Nashville Banner June 24, 1969

I picked up two of these these nice double old fashion glasses from the Omni Hut.

Anybody seen these before? New or vintage?

Thanks,

DC

T

Jim Walls, founder of the Omni Hut, passed away on March 4, 2012...

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal March 5, 2012

The Murfreesboro Post March 12, 2012


I learned this from my Mt. Juliet, Tennessee cousin, Bob, who had dinner there several weeks ago. Being from the Nashville area, he recalls both the Ports of Paradise and Mahi Mahi restaurants along White Bridge Road that Jim Walls once owned. I've seen posts on Tiki Cental by Swanky about the Mahi Mahi, but never anything about Ports of Paradise. Bob remembers that Ports of Paradise had no windows, but had a diorama(s) that simulated rain on windows.

So we've lost another of Tiki's legendary characters...

-Tom

T

Found this anecdote about James Walls (Omni Hut) and Don May (Leilani Hut) in a California newspaper...

Long Beach Press Telegram February 3, 1966


-Tom

Those nutty Tiki hut proprietors!

What a great story!

Here is the 30th anniversary matchbook from the Omni Hut.

Drummer, a roasted pig and the Zombie Witch Doctor!

DC

K
kiara posted on Sun, Dec 30, 2012 7:25 PM

Here's an old flyer for a nudist convention that used the omni hut tiki.
I'm not sure how old this is, but the rules on the back say "no bobby pins or hair lacquer in the pool." It's prob from the 60's/70's. Just a guess.

Now that would have been a sight to behold! I am a big fan of the nudism/Tiki combination - the meeting of two escapist "back to Eden" life styles. Unfortunately, these kind of occasions were probably less photographed than other social get-togethers at Tiki Lounges, for privacy concerns. So far, Nudist magazines haven't yielded that many examples, either, considering how many nudist mags were published back in the day

I've got to remember not to come here before breakfast. I just thank Ku that male pubic hair hasn't become part of the standard carving repertoire.

Reminds me of the story about nudist colony that bought a South Sea island!

DC

Found some more interesting tid-bits of information on the Omni Hut. In 1968 the Omni Hut corporation when into the franchise mode.


One of the first concepts to open was a fast-food take out version called the Omni Hut-et which was located in the Madison Square Shopping Center.

The grand plans never came to fruition as it was too late in the Tiki game by then.

Here is a photo of Major Wallis at the restaurant.

DC

Losing another one. Omni Hut announced that it will be closing for good. Their last day open will be this Friday, October 12th. Here's a screencap from their facebook post. I was planning on going for the first time next Spring. Get out and support the old places while you still can!

On 2018-10-09 18:17, HillbillyBaggy wrote:
Losing another one. Omni Hut announced that it will be closing for good. Their last day open will be this Friday, October 12th. Here's a screencap from their facebook post. I was planning on going for the first time next Spring. Get out and support the old places while you still can!

oh no! I was afraid of that. I moved across the country this summer and tried to stop there on the way from NC to AZ by they were on hiatus. What a bummer.

Just my luck. I was 100% gonna go on Monday or Tuesday (for my first time!). Getting to Smyrna is not an easy feat for me since I live in Canada...this sucks. Literally missing it by a few days.

I made it to see it a year ago. Its not really a tiki bar since they don't sell cocktails. They don't have a liquor license. The decor was nice.

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