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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

The Love Shack, Milwaukee, WI (restaurant)

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Name:The Love Shack
Street:106 W Seeboth

Looks like downtown Milwaukee is getting another go at a Polynesian establishment.

Here's another one with more info:


Says this:

What The Love Shack won't be, Shaver notes, is a simplistic caricature of Polynesian culture. In fact, its goal is to pay tribute to long-standing traditions in a fun and engaging way.

"We're not exaggerating the culture or the style," he says. "We're honoring it and embracing it. It's not going to be campy or kitschy. Envision that it's 1968 and the Beach Boys are flying to Hawaii to play a show in a small, upscale club. This is that place."

Sounds a lot like what the Lost Lake guy said. My bet is another Tiki bar with no Tiki.


Sounds like what a lot of proprietors are saying that want to re-invent Tiki. Basically, they don't know what they are talking about.

This is not an isolated occurrence: All the lingo here has repeated itself again and again. More and more, especially since the craft cocktail revival, places open whose owners are aware that Tiki is a "thing", but who generally have a very vague idea of what defines the style. They only know it's "fun", but also know it's complicated and daring in taste terms. So they shy away from investing into something they see as risky. What they are NOT aware of is that by using the term Tiki but not fulfilling its promise they misinform the public into believing it to be something that it is not. Eventually, That way, Tiki will become identified as a generic island style the way it was in the 70s, and fade away the same way. They're not aware of that (or care) - but we do!

Their ignorance is based on the one-sided belief that Tiki is kitschy = ironic. Yes, Tiki is all about artifice, but to me artifice is an art form. It can be as great as the original. Yes, what some American artists did in the mid-century might seem funny to us now, but they did it with an amazing amount of skill and creativity. They took something old and made it new, made it their own, creating a genre of its own that deserves recognition. People cannot wrap their head around the fact that something can be in-authentic and authentic at the same time.


Well said Sven...f'in amazing how they are able to take a minute sliver of something and declare..."this is it". I just want to Bitch-Slap them.

Heath posted on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 6:16 PM

According to the articles, it's more in the planning stages than having a projected opening date.
So wouldn't it make more sense to try to reach out to them, offer some input and try to help create a place that everyone will want to go.
That seems more beneficial than grabbing torches and pitchforks and prejudging.
Who knows, maybe they have already been told about Tiki-Central and are doing undercover research.

Just my two cents.


Not a bad idea...I hadn't taken my pain pills yet. :) Although, I do like pitchforks....

[ Edited by: Or Got Rum? 2017-04-13 05:01 ]


Here's More Info:

Opening next week 6/24


[ Edited by: Kootiki 2017-06-20 10:27 ]

“It's not going to be campy or kitschy.”

Said the man with The custom-made handles that say “Bang Bang” and the shark mug from the bar named “Love Shack”

With a name like “Love Shack” you know it’s going to be…
“a classy spot where they can get away from the grind, relax and have fun.”

“its goal is to pay tribute to long-standing traditions in a fun and engaging way.”

That says “this will have very little to do with traditional tiki or Trader Vic’s version of tiki”.

“The idea came to Shaver while he was sweating it out during an intense cardio session sometime last year.”

How douchey, Sounds like he may get lots of people who want water with a lemon in it.

Please forgive my ignorance. I'm new here and I'm from Canada (so there's a fair amount of disadvantage going on), but I do like to learn...

Do people consider tiki kitsch because they equate kitsch with anything from the 50s? I don't think MCM is at all kitsch (but I could be wrong there too). Is that kitsch idea so ingrained that people just assume that 50s = tiki = kitsch and they walk away? And should I correct people when they tell me how kitschy tiki is?

I actually did look up the definition of kitsch because I thought maybe my own understanding of it was way off.

Definition of kitsch (Merriam-Webster)
: something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality
: a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition

There's not a lot on this site that I would consider poor quality (look at the handmade lamps for Pete's sake), it's popular among the few (not the masses), and after looking up the definition of lowbrow, I don't think that most of the art here is that either (that's probably subjective though).

I'm actually a lover of kitsch, always have been. In fact, some kitschy glasses brought me to tiki (believe me pint glasses with 1/2 naked hula girls on them is fairly lowbrow). But it took about 10 minutes on the internet to find Tiki Central and another hour of roaming around in here looking at the pictures (I didn't need to actually read any words) to figure out that tiki does not fit my understanding of kitsch. I actually use the idea of kitsch when I'm shopping. If I decide that something is kitsch, I generally won't buy it to put in my tiki space.

This thread probably isn't the best place to ask this, but they brought up kitschy...so am I in the ballpark of understanding?


You would get ten different answers to what is kitsch is if you asked ten different people I would bet.
Would also bet that many people would say that the Maki Kai and even the Kahiki are/were kitschy and have heard people say this about those places.

Now people here don't feel that way about those places for sure.
With that said I have seen a small bit of kitsch in most home tiki bars I have been to.
Homer Simpson in a hula skirt, Barbie and ken dolls and those smoking tiki fountain's
But then that is what I find to be kitsch.

It does not kill the space if in small amounts.

If you look at the Mai Kai or Tiki Ti this is the style that most here would call not kitschy.

The Indonesian tiki that many people put in their bars kinda mess the space up to me, the first thing they say is how inexpensive they were.
They never use the word cheap.

It's kinda the difference between hanging a "hang in there baby" cat poster and a good painting.

For my bar I look at it as a pirate looting around the world picking up cool stuff and bringing it home.

People just have different ideas of what is cool I guess.

Hmmmm that's a very good point. I was looking at my understanding of the definition of kitschy, and everyone else's would be different.

So to me, even if they are trying for not kitschy, I might find it kitschy anyway. I never thought about it that way. Thanks for making me think (in a good way)!

Now if I could somehow figure out what to do with the entire set of Star Wars tiki mugs that my brother in law gave me...yup the entire set...because to him it's the bees knees :/

I think we all get those not so great tiki gifts.
I say display them and let him think they are ok.

Yup that's for sure what will happen :)


On 2017-06-21 12:48, Piddersthecat wrote:
Yup that's for sure what will happen :)

Like this...

That's exactly what would happen...although I might like the lighthouse lamp with the light! Lol


"If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says..."

15 miles to love shack...

I think I can still remember most of the lyrics lol

Apparently I've been tiki since 1989 :wink: who knew

i think most new bar owners are just plain cheap and dont want to shell out for all the decor - they can't commit fully because they aren't commited to the theme. they hedge their bet assuming its just a trend and when it passes they don't want to be stuck with a theme bar.

now as far as love shack, i believe its the same owner of joes tiki bar that closed in milwaiukee some time ago - so they know whats involved. they where there before but chose not to return to being a tiki bar per se.

We haven't made it here yet (and... frankly based on the pictures of the inside, I'm not really jonesing to go anytime soon, but will stop in if we're in the neighborhood.) I do know some folks who have walked through it before it opened and they know the owners.

From what I heard, it is very clean and very safe in terms of decor... the pictures I've seen remind me of a hotel bar at a brand new Hilton in Hawaii or something. Or like what Best Western did to completely bastardize the Islands at the Hanalei (only without the handful of remaining Tiki elements from the Islands that are still clinging on there.)

The food menu looks wonderful, actually, and one of the owners (and I believe the chef) also owns Black Sheep here in town, which has good food. The drink menu also seems well researched, mostly, from what I can tell.

But yeah... the decor... is kinda non existent from what I've been able to surmise, insofar as what makes Tiki TIKI. This seems to look/feel more like Roy's in Chicago (high-end Hawaiian restaurant... wonderful food, not a Tiki bar) or a place like Bob Chinn's with better drinks (where they do have the "Bob Chinn's Mai Tai" which is very fruity and sweet, and they've made them, served in big plastic Tiki cups for probably 30+ years.) Again... not a Tiki bar.

The owners here are totally different from Lucky Joe's. The main man, in terms of Tiki, from there, Lee, now owns/operates Lucky Joe's Alchemy & Eatery in Wauwatosa (not a Tiki bar... more of a higher end craft cocktail place.) He's also starting up a Tiki Tuesday deal at Boone & Crockett in Bay View (a great craft cocktail bar) that just had its inaugural run last night... Dave Hansen was there carving Tikis, and it sounds like it was a great time (I was working, so I didn't go.)

We'll give a full run-down when we visit here - I suspect I'll feel almost identical to how I felt about Wauwatiki when they opened - Good food, decent drinks... not a Tiki bar, and (for me at least) not really worth the effort to go all the way there if I want an actual Tiki experience.

For that, we have Foundation.

And our basement.


I would like to hear your thoughts after a visit.

From looking at their website and fb pics, the theme seems disjointed (at first glance of course), but that could be my own bias about Love Shack the song :). So I'd be interested to hear how it all comes together in person.

No matter what, I hope that you enjoy your visit and that the food and drinks are tasty :wink:

I've been here once. I know the owners wife from college which is why we came. The drinks we ordered were awful. Watered down and spendy. I am not sure what is worse, this place or Wauwatiki. I honestly don't even waste my time or money at either of these two bush league "tiki" bars. If I have friends from out of town visit I bring them to Foundation.


First Labeled "Mug"

They're in...Our first of three custom Love Shack Tiki mugs! Now on sale at the 'Shack! Now on sale al my with other classic mugs!
Image may contain: flower, drink, plant and indoor


Must be some of that new fangled see-through ceramic that I've been hearing.....absolutely nothing about ever.


In response to above, they claim 2 ceramics are enroute.

Long lead time from design to production and/or delivery.

Just an FYI

I have no affiliation, nor have I been in the establishment yet.

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