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

Pages: 1 25 replies

This has been bugging me for a while. In the 1970's there was a 1 story, flying saucer shaped building with no windows, covered in overlapping shingles, and it was a then-new Tiki bar. I don't think it was Trader Vics. It was on either El Camino Real or Stevens Creek Expwy near the Lawrence overpass as I recall. It was originally built as a tiki bar, eventually went out of business, and some other restaurant took over the building for a few years before going out of business. The building has since been torn down. It was right next to another restauarant in another bizarre 2+ story split level construction building which I believe still stands.

Thanks.

Interesting ... I remember as recently as 10 years ago a round 1 story building on Stevens Creek and Lawrence Expwy, but it had windows. I'm not sure if I'm thinking of the same building you're talking about.

One place to check out would be the Santra Clara library, it's quite possible they have archives of it. I know that the Mountain View library has a whole "Mountain View Historical Society" section with tons of photos of the town over the years.

Bamzeno: This is the place we need to go to find pictures of the menu tree.

~Hanford

[ Edited by: hanford_lemoore on 2003-10-19 14:13 ]

I am not exactly sure about the name of this place to which you are referring, but my mother seems to believe it was called Capt'n Hook's or Cook's or Captain something. However, she does remember getting ill after eating some very rich seafood dinner there.

Hanford:
Re: the Menu Tree
I do have some pics of this place back in California. My memory of the place is dim except for donuts, cigarettes and skateboards. It used to be the place for recharging our batteries after expending them at the Aladdin's Castle arcade up the way. It was packed with a lot of decorations. Could it be that the decor was Tiki? I think I remember birdcages and lots of plants.
Here is a link I found while trying to find some pics of Mayfield Mall, a place I used to roam a child.

http://members.aol.com/MVNick/malls.htm

[ Edited by: Primo Kimo on 2003-10-19 15:06 ]

B

On 2003-10-19 14:13, hanford_lemoore wrote:
Bamzeno: This is the place we need to go to find pictures of the menu tree.

~Hanford

Hanford - My cousin did some extensive research a few years ago which included the Mountain View Library. (I'll try to get him on here to elaborate on any info he found) Mysteriously enough, the Menu Tree has eluded any means of photography from anyone we've ever contacted. My mother and aunt even worked in the Menu Tree during their teen years and neither has any type of photo to prove it.(maybe that's a good thing for them)

Upon meeting SHAG for the first time a few years ago, we tried to describe the Menu Tree to him and tell him how his art is the closest thing to any type of picture which captures our memory of this fine establishment where fake birds would add to the ambiance while you enjoyed your food-court-type-meal on the mezzanine level which surrounded a large tree. His response was "WOW, where is this place?" Sadly enough, we had to tell him it was a place from the past which had a heavy impact on our childhood. Who knew a wacky food court could have such an impact on two little boys?

Primo Kimo - If you have any photos of the Menu Tree, we'd love to see them. We even encountered another lost soul on Craig's List recently who was also looking for photos.

Ottomatik - I'm sorry to detract from your post about this place in Santa Clara, but unfortunately I'm not familiar with it either.

I think Captain Hooks or whatever was the next to last occupant. I can't prove it of course but I'm standing by my story that the original round building, covered with shingles on all surfaces, was some sort of chain Tiki Bar. I'm pretty sure the other buildings in the chain looked the same way. The entire outer surface was smooth and curved and came to a center projection at the top that was cylindrical, which is where I think some of the cooking exhaust were. There was a partial veranda around the outside, which would be within the volume of the building: sections of the curved, shingle covered wall were sort of removed to expose the inner walkway.

Heck, now I'll have to drive down that way this week to confirm or deny if the building is still there, and get an address.

"The Menu Tree" sounds familiar. I'm sure we stopped there for food as a kid somewhere in California, on one of our summer driving vacations...

On 2003-10-19 14:45, Primo Kimo wrote:
My memory of the place is dim except for donuts, cigarettes and skateboards.

Welcome to my life!!

L

Regarding the round place in Santa Clara- It was on Stevens Creek Blvd. but I don't remember the original business, it definitely went through at least 3 differnt names and by the time I made it in there it was a horrible 80's type place with no nautical or tiki to be found. Cool building though.

T

It was Don the Beachcomber. Here's a recent article that mentions it:

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/2002/02/24/living/2736923.htm

I had to dig back in my old saved emails from the Yahoo Tiki Central Group to find this one.

Good dig there, jab, I always have been fascinated with the Beachcomber UFOs, but have been unable to find out how many were actually built. The Marina Del Rey one was the most spectacular (BOT p.76/77), and I saw a rendering of one in Dallas, but I am not sure if it ever got built. These must have been popping up as the chain was on it's way out, in the 70s, but how many, and where?

Any Dallas members ever heard of one like that? One of my matchbooks lists it, and also one in Houston, and one in San Jose (of the non-Hotel affiliated ones), but none in Santa Clara.

Wonder if the library there would have any local mags with photos.

The Menu Tree was not tiki, but Bamzeno and I have been very interested in digging up photos of it becuase it was wild. I only have vague memories of the place, and to me it was always kind of "It's a Small World" meets a Sid & Marty Kroftt TV show, like the Bugaloos or something. It was themed with a giant cookoo clock with birds all over the place.

PS ... Before it was Aladdin's Castle, it was called "The Time Zone". I can't believe there were 3 malls right next to each other (Mayfield, Old Mill, San Antonio). Thanks for sharing that link on the malls.

[ Edited by: hanford_lemoore on 2003-10-22 01:37 ]

A

Hanford, Bamzeno, I remember talking to you guys at TVics that one time about the Menu Tree. Lots of childhood memories about that place, and holding Y-Indian Guides events there and stuff like that. I remember the birds and the long ramp to the upstairs balcony seating. Yet another task on my "to-procrastinate" list is to go through my parents' old slides for any pics of gems like that. Hope you guys let us know (or me at least!) if you find anything about the place.

Another peninsula / south bay area gem I'd like to see pics of is the Futurama Bowl (? was that the name) before it became a Safeway. Actually, at least Safeway kept the googie sign, but it's not the same.

-Randy

On 2003-10-22 14:34, aquarj wrote:
Another peninsula / south bay area gem I'd like to see pics of is the Futurama Bowl (? was that the name) before it became a Safeway. Actually, at least Safeway kept the googie sign, but it's not the same.

Is that the one on Stevens Creek near 280?

A

Regarding the Safeway/Futurama, I dunno the exact location off the cuff, but that sounds about right, and you can still see it from the freeway. Thought Roadside Peek might have a photo, and sure enough:

http://roadsidepeek.com/roadusa/southwest/california/nocal/nocalsign/nocalneonsign/index.htm

It's also in the Googie book, captured before the Safeway transformation.

-Randy

B

On 2003-10-22 14:48, cynfulcynner wrote:
Is that the one on Stevens Creek near 280?

Yes, it's at the intersection of Stevens Creek and Lawrence Expressway, about a hundred yards from 280 and quite visible.

On 2003-10-22 22:35, bamzeno wrote:

Yes, it's at the intersection of Stevens Creek and Lawrence Expressway, about a hundred yards from 280 and quite visible.

I thought that looked odd for a Safeway sign! It's good to see that the old bowling alley sign lives on.....

sorry to dig up an old topic here but i felt compelled to post! all of these places were my old stomping grounds and reading this post brought back so many wonderful memories! i think i found tc a few weeks after this thread was posted...so i never got a chance to get first crack on identifying the location.

yes! the circular building was a don the beachcomber, and the building next door to it was captain cooks (a south seas-esque seafood restaurant). don the beachcomber had a real neat building, with a moat around it. it always had torches lit at night too. it did get bought out and changed to a horrid club in the 80's. i think it was called the oasis or something to that nature (because they still had palms in the front). the business clientele spiraled downward (it became seedy) and the place closed because one of the owners was murdered (supposedly by the other owner!) both buildings were destroyed for mammoth sized apartment buildings that cost a bundle to live in.

and yes, on the other side of 280 was the futurama bowling alley. my mom described it as concrete, round, and very futuristic looking. i remember when they put the safeway in and took down the sign. from my recollection, they put up a totally new retro styled sign. they completely ripped down the old one.

and finally, the menu tree! oh my goodness, i had completely forgotten about this place! my grandparents took my brother and i there and to the old mill ALL THE TIME. i will have to raid our photos during the holidays to see if we have any pictures. i remember how we would insist that we would not leave san antonio mall until we heard the birds sing. my grandparents finally smartened up and took us there 10 till the hour so they wouldnt have to wait around forever. ah yes, the big cuckcoo clock, the huge tree, the garish fake birds, the long curvy ramp to go upstairs. wow, i know this may sound dorky to others and sickly sentimental, but those truly were some of my best memories of my grandparents.

this thread really brought back some great memories i had long forgotten about.

mahalo :)

Thanks Tikicleen,

I love hearing other members' first-hand accounts of visiting these tiki-haunts and other restaurants in their childhoods. They seem to match so closely with my own. Plus, now I'll start looking for postcards from Captain Cook's on ebay. You've given me a new search-word.

Sabu

T

Thanks for the contribution Tikicleen. It seems that the Peninsula/Silicon Valley (the area between San Francisco and San Jose for folks who don't live in the bay area) was an amazing place to live in the 1950s and 1960s. Eichler developments, Polynesian restaurants, and googie architecture was everywhere. Almost all the googie buildings are gone (one exception is Bel-Mateo Bowl), and many of the Eichlers have been drastically remodeled (though a few remain intact especially in Palo Alto). Too bad.

A

Dean, you're right, the googie stuff keeps disappearing, literally as we speak. Naomi and I were just out of town for 11 days, and when we got back, one of our favorite little local bank structures was ruined. It used to have these tall "swiss cheese" concrete walls, and it was one of the last tiny examples of googie style around here, right on a main commercial road. Well, they filled in all the holes and repainted the walls a dull grey. Some numbskull must have actually decided to spend the money on this. Why why why? Those holes weren't hurting anybody!

Luckily we took a few pictures there, but there's still a few more places to capture before something happens. In just the last 3 years I've seen car washes, rock facades, and beautiful signs get the deep six. The sad thing is that I think it's actually pretty dubious that there's any valid marketing data to support these kinds of "upgrades" - just marketing consultant busybodies getting their palms greased by offering half-baked solutions to non-existant problems.

But in some surprising news, since thejab mentioned Bel-Mateo Bowl, I was stunned to see that they recently fixed their beautiful sign. For the last couple years it read "Bel at " Bowl at night, but now someone got it fully lit again. Now bowlers can enjoy it when they are fully lit too.

-Randy

T

Randy-

Was that the bank with the large plate glass windows? I remember driving by a great-looking modern bank in Belmont or San Mateo last year.

In downtown San Rafael the Wells Fargo branch is amazing. There's a courtyard with tropical plants that can be viewed through large windows from inside the bank.

M

Randy sez " Naomi and I were just out of town for 11 days,
and when we got back, one of our favorite little local bank
structures was ruined. It used to have these tall "swiss cheese"
concrete walls, and it was one of the last tiny examples of googie
style around here, right on a main commercial road."

it sounds like you are talking about the Bank Of America by Hillsdale Mall--what a drag!!! I used to climb those swiss cheese walls as a kid.----bruce

A

Exactly Bruce - that's the one. I was gonna try to post a pic some evening this week if I can find one. But I don't want to violate the religion taboo by talking about something hole-y!

-Randy

A Don the Beachcomber used to exist in my own backyard?

Damn my youth!

Slightly more information and another picture of the new Futurama sign:
http://www.sjunderbelly.com/unbelly/Sanjose/sjsigns/signs2.html

http://www.sjunderbelly.com is an interesting site in general for those of us who live in this town, lots of local history and photos.

[ Edited by: tiki-oski on 2003-12-17 11:26 ]

A

OK, so this thread got old a month ago, but for what it's worth, here is the photo of the "swiss cheese" bank in San Mateo, BEFORE the holes were filled. This is just one wall of several on three sides of the bank like this. It actually used to be something else too, before the newer BofA part was glued on.

-Randy

Hey here's my first post, mainly i signed up to touch on the menu tree topic. I was the guy looking for the menu tree photos on Craigslist that was mentioned earlier in the thread. I talked to one of the main people behind the Mountain View Historical Society and he told me there were no Menu Tree photos in the archive. He also pointed me to the holding company that owned the menu tree (or was it san antonio mall) and i called them up. They were very kind and helpful but they too had no photos of the menu tree. They just had aerial photos of the mall when it was new.

I hope to see some photos as this place was one of my favorite places to go as a kid. Actually the birds of menu tree have influenced a major portion of my artwork. Check out my website http://www.girlsbike.com and look for the birds in the gallery.

Pages: 1 25 replies