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I

Earlier today I stopped at the Honolulu Resturant in nearby Alexandria, for a small celebration. It was on August 26, 1978 - 25 years ago today, that current owners David and Anna bought the Honolulu restaurant. I want to congratulate them here for the job they have done at keeping the restaurant, the best tiki place in the D.C. area, operating today.

David relayed me one of the low moments during those early years, shorty after he opened, when business was bad. and they were struggling. After closing time one day, they learned that they had only done $32 worth of business. This gives some perspective for why they are very appreciative for the recent surge of interest, perhaps inspired by the tiki revival, when David will find at the end of the day that he has served over 100 mai-tais.

I had a small anniversary card prepared for David and Anna today, and was pleased to discover when I approached the entrance, a special diamond shaped sign on the front door, recognizing them for their 25 years of being open. It had been created by another couple who greatly appreciate what David and Anna have done.

David presented me with a complimentary mai-tai, and a bit of sad news later in the evening. He was glad to be able to celebrate 25 years of his restaurant, but informed me that he did not expect the Honolulu to be open for a 26th anniversary.

The Honolulu Restaurant lies right off of the I-95 interstate/beltway that goes around the Washington D.C. area, about one mile west of the Potomac river. They are currently building a new bridge over the Potomac River, and along with that comes new exits, new road interchanges, and so on. Sadly, the Honolulu Restaurant lies near a busy intersection, and will likely be torn down within a year -- I am not sure of the dates involved. If it is any matter of consolation, I do feel better that the Honolulu will end as a result of a major, multi-billion dollar highway project, at the end of a long restaurant career ..... and that there will be no Walgreens built in its place.

It is a bittersweet moment. On the good side, it is nice to see the Honolulu being recognized in its final years. I wrote an article on the Honolulu for Tiki News a few years back, and shortly afterwards an article appeared in the Washington Post, and other recognition has since followed. The Honolulu will be a place that will be missed. As one friend told me, David is friends with several other restaurant owners in the area, some who also kept their restaurants open for many years, but were never recognized as the Honolulu has been. David is very proud, and has some respect and cachet, from his other restaurant friends, because the Honolulu has been recognised as it has.

Right at about the time of this year's Hukilau, I showed David the 'Tiki Road Trip' book, with the '3 tiki' description of the Honolulu inside. David was so proud. He told me then that he had been thinking about retiring, but he was so inspired about being mentioned in the book that he thought he might continue on for a few more years. Sadly, it looks as if other events have intervened, and perhaps David and Anna will now be able to retire, as originally planned, on a high note, at a peak period of recognition.

I feel very saddened. The Honolulu was the place where I loved to take both my closest friends and out-of-town visitors ... and more often than not, those people fit into both categories.

I don't know what the schedule for the Honolulu will be over the coming year but I will offer an invitation to those of you who are from out of town, and have either already visited or have not yet visited the Honolulu. Come to the D.C. area, for either your first, or perhaps your last farewell visit to the Honolulu. I would love to be able to share a mai-tai with you, mixed by David, the same person who made Navy Grogs for then President Nixon in the 70's, while working for the D.C. Trader Vics.... and perhaps others in the DC/Maryland area will want to share in those times also. I might even be able to provide lodging for you for a night or two, in my own personal tiki pad.

The Honolulu is smaller than the Mai-Kai, it is smaller than the Kon-Tiki, and it is smaller than any Trader Vics that ever existed, but it has a big spot in my heart, and I'd like to share some of that with you while we can.

Aloha David and Anna, and thank you for 25 years of keeping the spirit of tiki alive.

Vern

[ Edited by: ikitnrev on 2003-08-26 20:40 ]

[ Edited by: ikitnrev on 2003-08-26 20:44 ]

J

Vern, that is some terrible news! Honolulu is the best tiki bar/restaurant within a 300-mile radius of DC and being without it will put a big hole in all our hearts, especially those in the immediate area! Where will we go for a great Mai Tai or Suffering Bastard? (Don't even mention the Politiki!!)I've only been to Honolulu a couple times but I'm sure I'd be a local if it weren’t an hour and a half away! I will definitely make plans to attend a couple upcoming gatherings so that I can remember the decor, the excellent strong drinks, the super friendly owners and the future privilege of saying 'I remember when.'

That's a drag....Have you discussed a salvage operation for the decor inside? Saving the tikis would be a small victory.

I think Tiki Central should open they’re own bar. We should start collecting now. We find some Tiki Centralite who wants to open a bar, and then we send them donations (unused tikis, bamboo,etc) to decorate or help with the bar. Then by doing so, we become an official member of the "Tiki Central Lounge”! That may just mean, you'll get a free Mai Tai on your yearly visit.
Hanford, just to let you know, there will be no charge for this great idea!

Vern,
This is indeed sad news. I started going to the Honolulu Restaurant in 1982 when I moved into a townhouse down the street. I celebrated birthdays and anniversaries there, and re-connected with it during frequent trips to DC and awareness of the tiki revival scene.
David and Anna are not getting any younger - just like the rest of us -- so the eventual closing was inevitable. I agree it is far better that it be completely erased, rather than become a dry cleaning shop.
Would you please ask the Chan's if they would be willing to host a final night farewell party? Because the restaraunt is small it would have to be on somewhat of a private basis, but we would definitely come to say good-bye if invited
KG

We find some Tiki Centralite who wants to open a bar, and then we send them donations (unused tikis, bamboo,etc) to decorate or help with the bar.

Does the name "Hale Tiki" mean anything to you?
:roll:

[ Edited by: Kava King on 2003-08-27 12:37 ]

We find some Tiki Centralite who wants to open a bar, and then we send them donations (unused tikis, bamboo,etc) to decorate or help with the bar.

Does the name "Hale Tiki" mean anything to you?:roll:

Does the name "Hale Tiki" mean anything to you?:roll:

Is there an echo in here?
Is there an echo in here?
Relax KK, I was not serious.

Ikitnrev,
Thanks for the report.
Who knows, with any wild chance, someone could come along with a tiki place in their heart, and buy it.

AAAAAAGH!! I'm HEARTBROKEN! I made ikitnrev take me BACK there (a second time) on a 4 day visit, I loved it so. Ok, it didn't exactly take twisting his arm or anything!

Such wonderful decor, graciousness, not to mentions the drinks. sniff. The DC/Maryland/VA gang I associate with that place; where will we go now? Oh, and the flaming banana dessert!!

Where's Orbitz? I'm booking now!!

F
(Where will the 7-Suffering-Bastards-a-Day guy go????)

J

Formika - I completely forgot about the Banana Flambe!! What are we gonna do!?!?! Without a doubt one of the best deserts ever!!!!

F

Vern- does the Honolulu have it's own mug design?

I

A bit of an update here ....

There are still many uncertainties about the fate of the Honolulu.... it may possibly be resurrected at some other location, as there have been no formal meetings between the owners and the 'we need to buy this property so we can build the new bridge and its accompanying roads' people.

There are many variables involved, many which may center around $$ amounts, financial security, and other personal factors ... and I choose to allow the owners to keep those thoughts private among themselves.

I'm sure it is a difficult time for David and Anna .... after 25 years of running a restaurant, it has to be tough to hear that you might have to either close or relocate. All I can say is if they did decide to relocate, I would likely continue to frequent their new location, as much of the charm of the Honolulu comes through David and Anna, and of course, the drinks. If you have similar sentiments, let David and Anna know -- it could make a difference on whether they continue on at a new location.

I would say it is definitely premature to start haggling or positioning oneself for the physical decor of the Honolulu. If they did relocate, much of the decor would likely go to the new location. If they do decide to close, I'd like to think that much of the decor would stay within the family. Keeping a small, family owned tiki restaurant going for 25 years is a significant feat, and I like the idea of a big tiki carving being kept by one of David and Anna's grandchildren, who have memories of growing up as a child inside the restaurant, rather than ending up in the hands of some anonymous high bidder on ebay.

As for mugs, I don't believe the Honolulu ever had any unique 'Honolulu specific' mugs - they were too small of an business for this. If one does exist, it would immediately rise to the top of my 'most wanted' lists. And if anyone decides to ever design one, I'd like to be on the top of the waiting list.

All I can say for now is enjoy the Honolulu, as is, while one can. If it does move on, try to support David and Anna as they make the transition to a new place -- the drinks will likely be just as good.

It is too early to plan final parties yet, but in case one or more do happen - hopefully many many months ahead at the earliest - I'll keep you all informed.

Vern

very well stated, vern. while the situation leaves us all very sad, ultimately, david and anna must do what THEY need to do.

dan and i would like to come down a few more times, as we only had the opportunity to visit the honolulu once thus far. (and i really want to get myself a nixon navy grog!).

On 2003-08-31 08:47, modchick65 wrote:
very well stated, vern. while the situation leaves us all very sad, ultimately, david and anna must do what THEY need to do.

dan and i would like to come down a few more times, as we only had the opportunity to visit the honolulu once thus far. (and i really want to get myself a nixon navy grog!).

That Navy Grog is somthing else! I never had tried one or tried to mix one, but it seemed right when there last Saturday. Wow! Very different from all the other tropical drinks. Not a sweetie at all. My wahine tasted it and noted that it was somehow fitting for Nixon :P
Wonder what Agnew drank... a Mai Tai with a $100 bill stuck in the umbrella - ?

Peace to you all - let's make the next months be the best in the Honolulu's history!

j$

Aloha!
Between the 22nd and 30th of October, I'm going to be visiting my brother in Gaithersburg.
Having never been to a Tiki bar, the Honolulu is on the top of my Tiki priority list for this trip. I've never been to that part of the Continent, so I hope to bring a bit of Westcoast Canadian craziness with me! I'll try my best not to sample EVERY tasty item in one night, but I am getting pretty excited!
Does this sound like an excuse go get over there and enjoy the place? I hope so! :)

-Tikiwahine

It's so worth it!

I highly recommend the Pu-Pu's and the Bora Bora Fire Steak...

j$

hi ikitnrev,
would you possibly have any photos to post of your times there? i have never made it to D. C. to enjoy the Honolulu, and would love to see some images.

Here yah go TT,
http://www.marylanddctiki.com/honolulu_poli_tiki.htm



Tacky Techie Tiki Bar

[ Edited by: Turbogod on 2003-10-13 10:50 ]

Aloha Tikiwahine

For photos of the Honolulu stop by our web site and take a look at the photo event page.

Also stop by our message board you my be able to meet up with some locals at the Honolulu


powerofthetiki
http://www.marylanddctiki.com
http://marylanddctiki.proboards2.com/index.cgi

Thanks powerofthetiki!
I've been there and signed up, but have been too shy to post anything yet, at least until I knew exactly when I'd be in the area. Love the site by the way, it was the pictures that cemented my intent to visit!

I would love to meet some local Tiki enthusiasts! I also plan on checking out Politiki(since it's so close to the Smithsonian) and Good Eye gallery, even though I'm missing the Shag show by days :(

I hope to meet a few of you, and Johnny Dollar, maybe I'll see you there too! I at least promise to try your recommendations :)

Off I go to the Maryland DC Tiki site!

-Tikiwahine

On 2003-10-14 15:43, Tikiwahine wrote:
Thanks powerofthetiki!
I've been there and signed up, but have been too shy to post anything yet, at least until I knew exactly when I'd be in the area. Love the site by the way, it was the pictures that cemented my intent to visit!

I would love to meet some local Tiki enthusiasts! I also plan on checking out Politiki(since it's so close to the Smithsonian) and Good Eye gallery, even though I'm missing the Shag show by days :(

I hope to meet a few of you, and Johnny Dollar, maybe I'll see you there too! I at least promise to try your recommendations :)

Off I go to the Maryland DC Tiki site!

-Tikiwahine

Kewl, well we'll say hi to Shag for you :)
If anyone else is at the Shag show, I'll be one of the people wearing a vintage Shriner's fez. But I suspect I won't be the only one...
Johnny D

we went to honolulu last nite...

the word is that they are open until march AT THE LATEST...

i'm sure amongst ourselves local to honolulu will hear when the final days are... then we must mobilize to celebrate the greatness.

the bananas flambe ROCK!!!

mahalo, j$

Damn...

Just think, only two days after this place opened, I was born. Now, only a few days after discovering tiki, this place is closing. I was born 25 years too late, I think!

So sad...

Marian and I went to the Honolulu Restaurant last week and asked David Chan about the future of his business. He became fairly emotional about it and said he would be open until May at the very latest (at least I'm pretty sure that is what he said although an earlier post says March).
I asked him if he was going to have a final farewell party and he shook his head and said "No, I don't think so. It would be very sad."
We ate Bora-Bora Fire Steak and drank a few Fogcutter's in honor of what will probably be our last ever visit to a really wonderful little tiki restuarant.
If Vern or anyone else has anything more to report on the Chan's and the Honolulu, please let us know.
Mahalo,
KG

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2004-02-11 12:56 ]

my wahine and i are going for sure this friday. we will have many flaming drinks, foods and desserts... thanks for the info Kailuageoff... (sniff) j$


[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar on 2004-02-11 13:26 ]

N

ikitnrev:

Depending on the actual closing date, I might be able to get in toward the end of the Honolulu's greatness...

I will be in DC from the 16th-19th of May--possibly an extra day on one end or the other--

I'd love to check this great spot out at least once. Please keep us posted as to the schedule.

What a bummer.

Scott

Greetings All; I paid a visit to the Honolulu this evening with a coworker, and I'm sad to report that the demise of the Honolulu is now imminent. This was my first, and sadly, quite probably my last visit to the Restaurant since I am only working here in the D.C. area for a couple of days this time around.

David Chan and his wife were charming, the drinks were amazing (puca punch and mai-tai's), and the Peking Duck was a treat. The decor is ... well, it's classic. What can I say? The only thing marring the decor are sticky notes identifying each item in the Restaurant that will be sold by silent auction between March 3 and April 3 of this year. All items purchased must be picked up the week of April 11th, so the end is truly nigh.

I have a list of items that are up for auction, and will post the list online as soon as I get home. Probably over 100 items total, including the giant clamshell lights, the tikis (interior and exterior), the pufferfish lights, and the bar-set (top, bottom, and glass rack). I'm getting depressed just writing it down ...

If anyone is planning a first or last visit, or if someone wants to get a farewell dinner together, now is the time - drop me a line if something is planned and I'll see if I can organize some more jobs here in D.C.

Cheers!

I

I've been in a couple of times this past week and, yes, it is sad. I feel like my heart is being torn out. Mrs. Chan seems to have a good attitude about the closing (happy to be able to take a few months off), but reported that some of their customers have been stealing menus. That's such a repulsive thing to do and she seemed really hurt. I will totally kung fu somebody's ass if I see them slipping a menu in their jacket.

But shhhh.... about the auction. You probably just sunk my chances to pick up some decent items.

M

I think it would be great if these items ended up in other tiki-themed restaurants where everyone can enjoy them. Has anyone contacted other restaurants that might be interested?

T

Just called and sounds like the closing date is April 10th. I have to make it down there before it closes it's doors.

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