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Ghosts of Tiki Bars Past... Wisconsin... Update!

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I'd like to post up on "Finding Tiki" so I was hoping James could paste in the info he had on Mai Kai on his pages... I'll share the photos...

Anyway... this deceased tiki bar was located in the city of West Allis, WI on 57th and Lincoln Avenue... the Mai Kai Lounge... its now a nasty sports bar and I have no idea what they are trying to do with the outside... or not trying to do... West Allis is in a bit of a blight these days...

Luckily there are still traces of the Mai Kai... the "burned in" image of the mask and letters of the sign...

The great entrance still exists too with the torches...

Like I said, I have no idea what they are going for with the exterior... the blue paint...?

A scarey man on his phone came out and started yelling at me for taking pictures... he demanded to know what they were for... I just said they were for a book and had to do with architecture and the bar that was there previously...

I remember as a youngster seeing the outside of this bar in the 80's and my mom had gone there many times while she was in nursing school in the late 60's... So close but so far...

Here's another long lost tiki establishment... it was a Polynesian themed hotel and eatery... I can't nail down the name of it but it was in Wauwatosa, WI on Bluemound Road... once again, in my younger years I remember the huge tiki torches sticking out from the pool building and large tikis and masks on the exterior...

It was sold to Days Inn and it looks like any old motel except for subtle traces of tiki architecture...

The back of the motel...

The old eatery was gutted and redone to its current form as Bluemound Gardens and it has no tiki what so ever these days... the existing frame of the building is for the most part still what the old eatery was if I remember correctly, but like I said that was at least 15 years ago I think...

I'd love to do some digging but I don't know how far I'd get... but just thought I'd share some pictures with you...

[ Edited by: Lake Surfer 2006-09-30 23:17 ]

Wonder where all the decor has gone. If I were you I'd be doing some searching around those parts, like in antique stores.
Thanks for the pics.


When I was at the former Mai Kai in the summer of 2001, the owner told me that all the decor was gone. It was hard to get more info out of her. I think some of it may have gone to a collector in Chicago named Laurie, but I cannot confirm it.

On 2003-12-07 16:02, Lake Surfer wrote:

A scarey man on his phone came out and started yelling at me for taking pictures... he demanded to know what they were for...

You blew your chance!

You should have told him you were "Alan Hicklesworth" from the city's "Department of Historic Preservation" and you are documenting the destruction of important artifacts in the area under city ordinance BS 65.22.7.

AND, if he did not stop interfering with you business you would be forced to call THAT police officer down the street so you could continue your important work. You should have also reminded him the penalty for screaming at a city employee while concurrently talking on a cell phone is a fine of not less then $6,000 or 60 days in the country prison, which, by the way, was constructed in 1902 and has not been renovated since 1947...


awesome shots.

There is something that really moves in me when I see these tiki ghosts. It's a bit depressing, yes, but its also like seeing a dinosaur fossil lodged into the strata of a hillside.

I have a few items from that particular Mai Kai. I can tell becuase the font was consistent on their promo stuff, and noticeably different from the font of the more famous Mai Kai in Ft. Laud. When I get my hands on them, I will post it here for you.

I know the feeling about having driven past a tiki place as a kid. I used to get shuttled past the Kon Tiki Hotel in what is now a rundown area of Phoenix. At the time the torches burned around the pool and I used to always want to know what was behind the tiki-masked fencing, and inside that giant triangle lobby...

[ Edited by: fatuhiva on 2003-12-08 19:02 ]

Great photos, LakeSurfer.

I agree with Fatuhiva. Don't know what it is about spotting an old A-frame like that that makes my pulse quicken. I usually swerve over to the side of the road, get out my digital camera and start shooting. I love those torches on the Mai Kai doorway. Do they ever still light them?

Here's the meager results of my "Wisconsin" page in my postcard folder. Thought these sites might be worth checking out to see if anything still exists:

Here's HAROLD'S LEILANI MOTEL at 18615 West Bluemound Road, Brookfield, WI 53005. "60 units in unique Polynesian decor, year round heated pool with outdoor sun-patio, queen size beds, continental breakfast, restaurant and cocktail lounge on premises. Most major credit cards accepted. Phone 414-786-7100"

HINANO TAHITIAN DRUM DANCERS - "Excitement from the South Pacific - Drums - Knives - Fire - Exotic Girls. Doug Alii and the Limbo. Freatured at TOMMY BARTLETT'S WATER SKI SHOW, Wisconsin Dells - Lake Delton, WI" Postcard is postmarked Jul 10 1969.

TIKI MOTEL - Wisconsin Dells, WI. "Relax amid 6 acres Polynesian Charm on Lake Delton in the heart of Wisconsin Dells. Aloha." Postmarked Oct 18, 1969.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2003-12-09 12:06 ]



What street was Kon Tiki on? Indian School? McDowell? What was the cross street (or avenue!) Wasn't it torn down in 97? Too many questions?

I lived there in 95-96. I vaguely remember sseing it, but I can't quite place it (not because of too many mai tais, either-I'm posting from work!)

Any other Phoenix tiki ghosts that you know of? There was one on Central-I have a mug from them-The Islands?




If I may:


Lisa Lisa

[ Edited by: Cultjam on 2003-12-09 17:38 ]

Great pics LakeSurfer...in stark contrast to Sabu's postcards shown below. I hate to say it, but this place looks bleak...it could definately stand a tiki makeover. It's too bad that doesn't appear to be the direction they're heading. I guess nowadays you gotta be like Clint Eastwood, Demi Moore or Sonny Bono and just go in and say "OK, I'm in charge now and this is what we're gonna do." It looks like West Allis is pretty close to Milwaukee (the American beer drinker's Mecca at one time). A coupla months ago when I was going through a "I'm fed up with my job and the sorry state of California" phase I applied for a job in Marinette, WI. which is north of Green Bay (BRRRR). I never heard anything back, so I guess they 1).didn't like my resume 2).thought I was totally insane for wanting to relocate from So. Cal to WI at the onset of winter, or 3).lost there there contract. Anyway, I'm gonna stick it out here and look forward to my next vacation in Chicago...one of the coolest cities I've ever been to.

That Tiki Motel looks so great! I'm sure there's no way it's still there.

Love this post, Lake....cool digs!


The kon tiki hotel was on 24th and Van Buren. There used to be alot of cool hotels/motels on VB back in the day. Now they are either torn down to build condos or they are hooker motels.

In college I was dragged along with some friends from the wrong side of the tracks to a room at the Kon Tiki they had booked. I was kinda trapped there, since I wasnt driving. Turns out they were using the room to buy a bunch of pot and divy it up to sell to other college kids.. I didn't see that one coming because I'm an idiot. But I did actually sorta get stay there.. if only for just a few lowbrow hours. Don't remember it much though. I kinda recall some glaring orange carpet in the hallways.

Last time I saw the KonTiki location it was an ugly duckling car lot.

The Aloha hotel was on 40th and VB which featured the "Samoan Village" It stood vacant and rundown for years- I broke in ther eone night and nosed around with a flashlight (VERY bad neighborhood to do this in at 1am but again im an idiot) there were still tiki-carved support poles holding up the roof. They tore it down, pulled out the poles and supposedly gave them away in a raffle at the community college expanding onto the site. I never got one.

There was a polynesian strip mall in scottsdale that was very tiki as well.

The islands stood on 7th st and camelback. I dont remember it at all- there is nothing but crap there now.

Great PC's sabu- neat way to organize them too.

if anyone living in phoenix reads this post and wants to get a little old-school tiki kick, check out this place i found when i used to live there:

Its a little apt complex called the Hawaiian Gardens. My memory of how to find it is a little hazy- but i remember there is a Taco Bell on Indian School and like 22nd or 24th or 32nd street. You turn off indian school on the street alongside the taco bell. Then you go north a little ways keeping your eyes open for this apt complex. In the front there is a tiki. or there was. Sometimes the bushes overgrew the tiki, so if you find the place check the bushes. One of my favorite tiki spots, because its such a hidden gem.

here is the map to the taco bell. The place is on that street just to the east of it. Happy hunting, and if anybody finds this place, snap a pic for us.

(link too big- use mapquest and address/zip below)

or you can go to http://viewers.globexplorer.com/prtViewer/2D3DViewer/Viewer.jsp

type in 2450 E Indian School Rd and zip 85016

you will see a satellite image come up. Then zoom out one level to zoom level 12. after that, click north one time and you will see the place's pool along the top just a little right of center

[ Edited by: fatuhiva on 2003-12-10 03:23 ]

On 2003-12-09 17:37, Cultjam wrote:
If I may:


Lisa Lisa

[ Edited by: Cultjam on 2003-12-09 17:38 ]

ummm... "Flaming Cabbage Head Weenies..."
"Pu Pu Sauce..."

great band names right there for you, folks...


Last year I posted a picture of "Harold's Leilani Motel" in Brookfield, Wisconsin:

Now take a gander at what the same place looked like in its heyday, as "THE LEILANI VILLAGE!"

The sign looks very reminiscent of the Kon Tiki signs in Phoenix and Tucson. Would have loved to have seen the torches blazing and the giant tikis out front, as I landed in my helicoptor. Wonder what became of them.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2004-09-21 17:21 ]

Very cool Sabu! And sad that it was around before my time here! We had so much potential as a tiki city with three or more tiki establishments!

Wow, a rendering! I loved that place ever since I discovered a matchbook of it in the wallpaper of "Neptune's Net" (?) in Seal Beach. I once called there and some guy said the restaurant was no more, but they (the Motel) had some slides of when they had the Tikis carved...and I never went there, sigh.

I especially like the helicopter landing pad, A MUST at a time when individual helicopter travel was IMMINENT!

Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:

The sign looks very reminiscent of the Kon Tiki signs in Phoenix and Tucson.

The Islander in LA had the same sort of sign in 1959, according to BoT, page 12. Kon Tiki in Tucson (1963) still has theirs and I've seen at least one other place somewhere in Locating Tiki that has the same sort of sign with parallel shields containing lettering, a mask overhead and torches angled at the sides. What establishment was the much-copied first user of this design. Bigbro?

[ Edited by: tikijackalope on 2004-09-22 01:23 ]

Bigbro - I found the matchbook in my collection too. Here's a pic:


This is all too strange. While I was just down at the Kon Tiki Tucson,for phase 1 of the Spruce Up, they were telling me that there was a ghost that hung out there. To keep the bar open while I was working, my hours where early AM a few days. Twice I saw a blue/black shadow move down this hallway.

I get goose bumps every time I see the picture or think of it. And no, I was not on booze, unless Circle K was spiking their coffee. A couple of the servers, bartenders, manager and owner have also seen the blue/black shadow moving down that side of the building. I wonder who it was? It wasn't scary, but rather a good feeling.

Earlier in this post Lake Surfer was talking about a restraunt called Bluemound Gardens that used to be the Leilani Village. I finally got up enough nerve to call the owner and ask him about it. He said he didn't know anything and gave me the number of the original owner. When I spoke with him he said that I had the wrong place and that the Leilani was further west on Bluemound Ave. So today I'm going exploring to see what I can find out on the old place. I'll check in later with my findings. Wish me luck!

On 2006-07-29 12:27, finkdaddy wrote:
Earlier in this post Lake Surfer was talking about a restaurant called Bluemound Gardens that used to be the Leilani Village. I finally got up enough nerve to call the owner and ask him about it. He said he didn't know anything and gave me the number of the original owner. When I spoke with him he said that I had the wrong place and that the Leilani was further west on Bluemound Ave. So today I'm going exploring to see what I can find out on the old place. I'll check in later with my findings. Wish me luck!

It turns out that the Leilani was a lot farther west on Bluemound rd. We drove around to find the adress it would have been at and I am sorry to report that there is nothing left at all of the original buildings. Nothing, zero, zip. The property now holds a new and very large Boston Store.

Any ideas on how to track down info on the old Leilani Village?

Spectacular! I'm making slow but sure discoveries on the Leilani that was located in Brookfield, WI.

Quick background on this find... the wife and I bought our first home a couple months ago... a ranch home built in 1965. There is some tiki in it. When we first viewed it there were a carved tiki spoon and fork on the wall of the kitchen. The owners said it was a gift they received. I guess they were not attached to them because after asking about them and expressing an interest through our realtor to purchase them, they were included in the purchase of the home along with some appliances.

I was getting my new carving studio set up in the basement this weekend and tearing out an old section of workbench. Under the top layer I found some old newspapers that may have been used as some sort of underlayment or cushion. The newspapers were Milwaukee Journals dated January 23 and 24, 1973. Born in 1970, the papers were still great little history for me as I flipped through marveling at prices of things then ( a new AMC Hornet for $2449.00... my family had one of those :wink: ) and new movies premiering at the time... Deliverance... 007, Diamonds Are Forever.

In the club and restaurant section were some ads... one jumped out at me... Gliles' Leilani! The address, probably right next door to the hotel as the numbers are very close.
I imagine it still having tiki decor as I remember seeing it with tiki as a child later on in the 70's. In '73 we had just moved from Downey, CA to Milwaukee, but being 3 I wouldn't have remembered seeing the Leilani that early.

Here's the ad...

So, tiki runs strong in our home already... and now there is a tiki carver living in it. And after Hukilau I will set up my tiki bar. The Leilani ad will hang in the bar framed, as will the tiki fork and spoon that was passed onto me.

I need to approach the cities of Brookfield and Wauwatosa and see if I can dig up some info there on all this...

The quest continues...

[ Edited by: Lake Surfer 2006-09-30 23:15 ]

Doing some more digging on Milwaukee's tiki past...

More on the Leilani...

Lardinois, Harold C.

Publication Date: Nov. 04, 2001

Entered Eternal Life on Nov. 1, age 85 years. Beloved husband of Emily (nee Jusczak). Much loved father of Karen (Henry) McFarland, Gloria (Jim) Holsen, and Mary Lynn (Joe) Abler. Dear grandfather of Paul (Kim) McFarland, Anne and Kathryn Holsen, Michael and Carolyn Abler. Harold is further survived by sister Gladys Kovnesky, brother Richard (Jennie) Lardinois, and many nieces and nephews. **Harold was the owner of the Leilani and Algiers Motels in Brookfield and was co-founder of North Avenue Appliance Company in Wauwatosa. Harold was a veteran of WWII, where he proudly served in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre. **As a final act of selflessness, Harold donated his body for medical research and education to the Medical College of Wisconsin. A memorial service will be held at 10 AM on Mon., Nov. 5 in the Chapel at Shorehaven Tower, 1305 W. Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc.

From a website on retro Milwaukee:

Nice job, Guys. I grew up in Milwaukee in the 50's and 60's - first on South 28th and Pierce, and then on Parnell Avenue off south 27th street. I firmly believe that was the best time and place to possibly grow up. Some memories: Impressing your date (and depleting your wallet) by taking her to the Leilani.

Other tidbits...

New Berlin Lions Club:

The dedication of Lions Park was held on July 1, 1962. A 1963 Ford truck was purchased for $5,998.13 and was christened "Leo the Lion" by Lion Jack O'Brien with a bottle of cheap champagne. A Post Prom Party sponsored by the New Berlin Lions was held at the Leilani Supper Club on May 17, 1963.

[ Edited by: Lake Surfer 2007-01-26 01:36 ]

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