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Waikiki Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, San Francisco, CA (restaurant)

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Name:Waikiki Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge
Street:2741 Taylor Street
City:San Francisco


I scored this nice menu from the Waikiki Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge located on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco from Tiki Shaker at the last Original International Tiki Market Place. Love the graphics.

I have not been able to find much else on this establishment, although I do remember seeing a vintage photo of a Tiki hut building on Fisherman's Wharf.

Anybody got anything else on this one?



I agree, what a great design and color for a menu, loving it.

It’s mentioned very briefly in the Tiki Road Trip (2nd Edition) book. James Teitelbaum says the specific address no longer exists – and that this indicates the building containing the Waikiki was likely demolished.

I noticed Humuhumu created a Critiki entry to house your menu, DC.

It is a great drawing on the cover. Hope we learn more about the place.

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2016-02-10 13:37 ]

Yep, building is long gone and a modern one stands in its place:

That's a pretty modern building - I cannae imagine that it has been there for long. The Jack In The Box on the left side is 2739 Taylor Street.

This is the kind of stuff that's fascinating for me but nap-inducing for most others, so apologies if it's the latter for you.

PART 1 -

I was very intrigued by this comment I came across from an old eBay auction for this same menu:

I will be listing a total of 13 Vintage menu's from trips my family took in 1949 and early 1960's.


...and wondered if the Waikiki could possibly be as old as the 1940s. From the Nevada State Journal, dated Sunday June 13, 1943:

"McKeage also issued a probationary' suspension order against the Marine Fish and Oyster Grotto, 2741 Taylor Street, San Francisco."


Sometime in the mid- to late 1940s it changed to the Hi-Tide Fish Grotto:


On Famous Fisherman's Wharf


Telephone TUxedo 5-9946*


...and from the Police and Peace Officers Journal of the State of California, Jan. 1951 - Dec. 1951:



The last mention I could find for Hi-Tide was 1954, and I can find no specific reference to another business (aside from the Waikiki) at 2741 Taylor Street after that either.

PART 2 -

A search reveals that the property / parcel is listed as actually starting at that Jack In The Box at 2739 Taylor and wraps around the corner to encompass addresses up to 229 Jefferson Street. As you can see from the google screenshot, there are storefront doors on Taylor that are not in use which must be considered 2755 Taylor, as that is the other official address on the books.

However I found two dates for the build year: 1953 and 1967. I've a distinct feeling it existed sometime between these years.

For some reason this was all seeming familiar, but couldn't suss out why. All this "close but not quite" was very frustrating, especially considering the location: with the famous fish markets and restaurants like Alioto's across the street, the famous Fisherman's Wharf sign kitty corner, and the iconic Sabella Building across the street, the chances are you'd be standing on our corner taking a picture of one of the other three. There simply wasn't any reason to take a picture of our particular corner and lord knows I couldn't find one.

Until I stumbled across this.

I saw this in my desperate Fisherman's Wharf searches and was struck by the fact that 2795 Taylor (no longer extant but obviously at the end of the block) was listed on the same matchbook as 211 Jefferson - FAR too coincidental. Not to mention the fact that The Sea Captain's Chest is a brilliant name for a bar at Fisherman's Wharf.



Thanks to the brilliant folks at Reel SF, there's the building captured in the film "Experiment In Terror"! It was released in 1962. The Sea Captain's Chest is on the far right and the Sabella Building is on the far left. You remove this guy's head (hell, maybe even just his hat) and you've probably got the Waikiki right there!

After staring at that movie screenshot for ages and cursing my "even closer but STILL not there" luck, I finally twigged what was so damn familiar about all of this. To the right of the brim of his hat you see the right-hand side of a neon sign he's blocking. "yo" finishes the first line, "yaki" finishes the second, and "RANT" finishes the last. When I saw that, it immediately hit me - that's Tokyo Sukiyaki! A famous restaurant that was in the wharf area since the 50s. I went there a bunch of times as a kid and it was as awe inspiring as going to Trader Vic's in its own way.

So, all of this to say if anyone can watch and screenshot "Experiment In Terror" we might actually get a shot of the Waikiki.

Dang, HopeChest, you've been busy! Thank you for all the effort and for sharing the results.

So, it turns out there’s no need to watch “Experiment In Terror” from 1962 in the hopes of getting a screenshot of the front of the Waikiki.

In 1954, 2741 Taylor was occupied by Hi Tide Fish Grotto.

In 1955, 2741 Taylor was occupied by a place called either Casa Mia or Cara Mia (methinks, given the large Italian community in the immediate area, it’s the latter).

...and then...

Waikiki Beachcomber Inc.
Incorporation / business entity filed with the state 7/27/1956
Current status with the state: FTB Suspended (that means that they most likely didn’t pay their taxes)

A directory lists the following for 1957 and 1958:

Calvin W. Ontal, President
Clyde Kong, Vice President
Walton E. Wood, Secretary
Thomas McBryde, Treasurer
Ed M. Ball, Manager

The first three - Ontal, Kong, and Wood - have Hawaii connections. All lived in Hawaii at one point, and I believe it was Oahu for all as well. Ontal, and possibly Kong, were from Honolulu.

In 1959, a directory now lists:

Waikiki Beachcomber Inc.
Hal Wilkins, President
Thom Zane, Vice President
Your Hosts
Seafood At Its Best On Fisherman’s Wharf

Calvin Ontal is now listed at Tropical Hawaiian Wholesale Florists on Brannan St.

...and then in 1960 and 1961, 2741 Taylor is officially listed as vacant.

1956 to 1960 - there’s your timeline for the Waikiki.

An amazing bit of sleuthing, HopeChest. Thanks so much! So the change of officers in 1959... does that mean the place was sold to new owners then?

Yep, that's exactly what that means!

The original group of lads with Hawaii connections somehow all get together in SF in 1956 and decide to open the Waikiki, which is a distinct nod towards their Honolulu roots. It's a going concern for a few years, from 1956 to 1958. Then sometime in late 1958 / early 1959 Hal Wilkins (who up to this point has been over at the Eight O Eight Club on Sutter Street) takes over, and the "Seafood At Its Best On Fisherman's Wharf" tag appears for the first time. By 1960 the Waikiki is no more, Hal Wilkins is back at the Eight O Eight Club, and 2741 Taylor is officially listed as vacant.

I highlight the "Seafood At Its Best..." tag line because it just might be a good clue and perhaps DC can peruse his menu and enlighten us. One would naturally expect a Fisherman's Wharf restaurant to specialize in seafood. However, I can also envision a scenario where, when the Waikiki started, it was more in the Polynesian / Asian / Trader Vic's vein with a fairly varied menu, and when Wilkins took over he streamlined it to a seafood restaurant to be less niche and more competitive in the area, with the "Seafood At Its Best..." tag line an effort to advertise as much.

DC: would you mind terribly taking a look at your menu and letting us know what kind of fare they offered?


Hopechest, bravo on your detective work and urban archaeology! I love this stuff, especially the comparison screenshot to Street view.

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