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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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W

I love the smell of old phone books. A recent round of research at the public library showed that in the early to late 60's the greater Seattle area had around a dozen Polynesian themed joints operating at once. At least 6 were within staggering distance of each other in the downtown area.
Except for flotsam and jetsam it's unlikely any trace of these places still exists. I've included addresses so any Jet City Tiki hunters can check out the locations if in the neigborhood.

The Polynesian Room/Outrigger/Trader Vics opereated from 1948 to 1991 in the Benjamin Franklin/Westin hotel. In 1991 the conglomerate that owns the Westin kicked TV's out, auctioned off the decor, and put a Japanese restaurant (Nikko, which is still there) in the spot. (Long description in Tiki Central archives on Yahoo)
The Kalua Room in the Hotel Windsor at 6th & Union. Designed by Ed Lawrence who, according to a Nov 15, 1953 Seattle Times blurb "conceived the idea for the famous Don the Beachcomber Restaurants." (Longe description in Tiki Central archives on Yahoo)
The Polynesia on Pier 51 was open from 1961 to 1981 when the State of Washington took over the Pier and literally kicked the Polynesia off. (Longer description right here at the NEW! Tiki Central)

Not much info on the following:

The Luau Barbecue Restaurant , 314 Broadway E, "Cocktails in a tropical hut"
The Trade Winds, 1st and Wall, had The Palm Room lounge.
Kau Kau, 1115 1/2 2nd, "Cocktails in the Polynesian Room"
The Golden Door near Pioneer Square had a live Polynesian dance show on weekends.
Lapu Lapu, 3296 Aurora N, "Exotic Tropical Cuisine"
Hula Hut, 7116 E Green Lake Dr
Tropics Restaurant 225 Auroar N
Tiki Hut, 544 Elliot N, "Exotic cocktails in the Shell Room"

Just outside of Seattle:

Porterhouse Restaurant, Bothel Hwy at Kenmore, "Superb buffet dining in a tropical atmosphere"
The Reef Restaurant, 1001 E Valley Hwy Kent, "Polynesian Atmosphere" "Cocktails in the Tiki Room"
Pantley's Pagan Room, 3201 156th SE Bellevue, "Exotic island atmosphere"
Clark's New Islander, 11th and A St Tacoma, (Long description in Tiki Central archives on Yahoo)

J
JTD posted on Sat, Dec 13, 2003 12:06 PM

As Woofmutt's ancient post is the only one in all of TC to mention the Kau Kau Polynesian Room, I thought this matchbook might interest those of you who collect the rare and exotic.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2209606083&category=477#ebayphotohosting

-JTD

p.s. Not my auction.

P

Thought I'd bump up this post from a few years ago, and add some eye candy from the Seattle tiki bars & restaurants that Woofmutt listed :

Outrigger postcard:

Ad for the Outrigger, from Seattle Magazine, August 1951:

Description of the Outrigger, from the 1955 book " You Can't Eat Mt. Rainier":

The book is a great guide to Seattle area restaurants of the time, many of which
are no longer around, and nice graphics on the cover:

Outrigger Matchcovers:

Description of the Kalua Room also from the book " You Can't Eat Mt. Rainier":

And recipe for the Kalua Room's Surf and Sand Cocktail:

Luau/ Tropic Hut matchcover:

Tropics matchcover:

Tiki Hut matchcover:

Tiki Hut ad from Seattle Magazine, March '67:

Canlis Matchcover:

Polynesia menu:

Islander, Tacoma menu :

The Islander was located in the Perkins Building, at the corner of 11th & A streets in Tacoma.

M

Z A Z Z !!!!!!

Fantastic work from puamana...the images could maybe benefit from some compression (guess who's on dial-up....ME!) but really, it's like a little Book of Tiki all served up in one jaw-dropping post! Amazing. Amazing.

M

Outstanding post! Many thanks.

great images. wow super clear and bright

T

To quote Jeff Spicoli...

"AWESOME...TOTALLY AWESOME !"

And BAM, there it is, right in the foreground of the first image, that tres moderne minimalist Tiki from Hawaii that Martin Denny poses with in this thread: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=17791&forum=1&8

Whoooo made those?

Anyway, yesss, that's the eye candy we like to see, Mimi! I love those illustrations for that restaurant book, especially that New Guinea drum mug one, does anybody have a pic of the actual mug (also seen in famous Kalua Room postcard on the table with guests)?
I will quote that description of the Kalua Room, together with another good one about it that woofmut found, in my new book. Original descriptions are always way better than anything I could write today, their tone transports one back just as the images do.

On 2006-01-30 22:51, bigbrotiki wrote:
And BAM, there it is, right in the foreground of the first image, that tres moderne minimalist Tiki from Hawaii that Martin Denny poses with in this thread: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=17791&forum=1&8

Whoooo made those?

...

Yeah it looks to be from the same carver, this variation is almost identical except it has no neck!
Here's a copy of the photo that Puamana posted in the thread you mentioned above.

and here's the Outrigger postcard.

Fantastic post as usual, Mimi. I love that Islander menu. Didn't know about that place. I'll see if I can add some more photos of Seattle locations in the next few days.

A question for Mimi or any other Washington tiki-historians - Which restaurant was the premiere Polynesian restaurant in the Seattle area at the time. Which was bigger, better, and most popular? Was it the Polynesia, the Canlis, or Trader Vic's?

Bigbro - here's a photo of that New Guinea Drum Mug from the Kahlua Room:

We should probably also add to Woofmutt's list; The Four Seas

Sabu

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2006-01-30 23:33 ]

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2006-01-30 23:41 ]

"Four Seas"? I thought there were 7 !? Maybe it was a low budget Chinese version of the "Four Seasons" :)

Also, Sabu, not to split this thread too much, but can you also post that small early recipe booklet/mini menu(?) rendering of Trader Vic's in Oakland, where you can clearly see the Hinky Dink's hut AND those two Tikis? (Not the one I used on p.82 of the BOT. They have the original of that lil' rendering hanging at the Emeryville Trader, if I remember correctly)

The Outrigger was just a bar at first (1949), and then in the early 50s Victor Bergeron built the restaurant onto it and renamed it Trader Vic's. That's where the "christening the Moai" photo on p. 87 is from. The Exterior above left is the NEW place, where on can see the OLD bar front in the back, as it is pictured in all it's glory on page 86 (and now on Puamana's matchbook above).

PS: I love how T.V. used the outrigger as a Pre-Tiki icon, first above the entrance, and then built into the bar, and in the graphics.
I still kick myself that I never made it up there before they tore it out! (and did not hear about the auction until after, sigh).

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2006-01-31 02:11 ]

G

I love this post! Great pictures. I'm putting together a drink menu at home and the menu here with the drink pictures is terrific. How could one resist ordering from a menu that looks like THAT?!

Much thanks for the post.

A few more images. I bet Puamana already has most of these, but here goes:

Some interior shots of the Tropics Motor Hotel on 225 Aurora, in Seattle:

Some more pics of the Seattle Canlis:


The Polynesia:

Is the shield a Witco? :down:

The Daffodil Parade in Tacoma :down:

But what's this bar behind all the people? :down:

And one of my favorite signs. The Trade Winds Motel in Spokane:

More in a day or so...

Sabu

H

Here's the same Trade Winds Motel as seen September 2005:

"It's getting better all the time" - John Lennon
NOT!

Sigh, yes, the demise of sign art from neon sculpture to plastic sheeted can. All in the name of the x-tra buck saved. That style of sign with its triple/quadruple native shields, double torches and Tiki head was used for other places too, as can be seen at the Kon-Tiki Tuscon and the Leilani Wisconsin...(there was another that I can't remember right now...not the Kapu Kai, that one is different...)

But I am happily amazed that they kept the Tiki and the torches as graphics on the sign at least!

Yep that big thing on the Polynesian is a Witco mask, there is a second, different one hidden by the porte cochere, on the other side. The trim on the the p.c. is Witco too, compare it to the Tiki Motor Inn Lake George on p.206 BOT.

Great posts, great images! Thanks, folks!

P

Sabu, that Polynesia postcard is one of of my favorite pieces of paper ephemera from there ! I've got to find one of those one day.

Here's a few more :

Page on Canlis, also from the "You Can't Eat Mt. Rainier" book :

Polynesia postcard:

Tropics postcard:

Molokai Apartments, on Capitol Hill :

This may be old news, but appropriate to this topic. Trader Vic's will have a new restaurant in Bellevue, WA, just 8 miles east of Seattle. I believe it's just a few weeks away from opening! Their website is: http://www.tradervicsbellevue.com

Sean
Double Crown Records / The Continental Magazine
P.O. Box 4336 - Bellingham, WA 98227-4336
http://www.dblcrown.com

I've devoted a complete thread to the Hawaii Pavillion at the Seattle World's Fair here:
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=19214&forum=1&start=last&

Sabu

W

A few years back I noticed an apartment building not far from me (West Seattle). The building itself was fairly nondescript midcentury but the fence surrounding it had molded concrete posts decorated with a tiki/primitive face. Somewhat crude, with the image slightly off center, the posts looked very DIY. Age had made them look much better. The place didn't have an exotic name or any other signs of once greater glory.

A while back they replaced the concrete fence posts with white picket. (Better yet: Plastic white picket!) But I was walking by the other day and saw that the lampo postst by the gate was still original. (Topped with clashing Victorian gas lamp style fixture.)

This lo-fi picture is a phone image. I had to hold the phone over a high gate.

The Tradewinds was before my time in Seattle, and it later became My Suzie's Lounge, and now the Pampas (Pompous) Room. Apparently there had been a fire in the place and most of The Tradewinds decor had been destroyed. I'm not sure how large The Tradewinds had been, as I know My Suzie's Lounge was fairly small, but The Pampas Room (Club), which is very large and has a stage, by-passes and goes below what was once My Suzie's Lounge, just below El Gaucho. Judging by the current structure and layout it's difficult to imagine what the space The Tradewinds occupied looked like, and if it went underground as The Pampas Room does. And to add confusion, there's a place, or used to be, called The Big Picture, which is accessible via the El Gaucho entrance, continuing underground round the North side of The Pampas Room and filling out directly underneath what was once My Suzie's Lounge.

The second time I met Otto Von Stroheim was here in Seattle in the mid-1990s and myself and a few friends, all of us dressed in vintage suits, took Otto round to a few places of potential interest to him, one of them being My Suzie's Lounge. Otto had his camera and was hoping to shoot a few shots of any remaining decor that had survived and been leftover from The Tradewinds, no doubt to include in Tiki News. I recall us walking into My Suzie's and seeing 3 or 4 motley, stereo-typically white-trash-looking patrons at the bar, who excitedly pleaded 'Hey, Guys! Come on in and have a drink!' We were all a bit uncomfortable and perhaps a little scared (believe me, if you saw these folks, you'd have been a bit scared, too!), and the place was dark and a total shambles, so we replied, almost in unison, 'No thanks. We're not stopping.' We did, however, inquire whether there was any decor left over from The Tradewinds, and to the left of the entrance (we noticed just as we were told) there was a large pile of Polynesian/Tiki items, bamboo, and decor. I believe there was some kind of waterfall and bridge or a pond or something. Otto took a snapshot or two. Perhaps he still has the shots? If so, now's an apt time to post 'em. 'Course, that was a while ago.

Has anyone on TC ever been to The Tradewinds in Seattle? It would certainly be interesting to hear about it, what it looked like, the drinks and food it served, etc. It would be even more interesting to see photos of the place.

[ Edited by: DJ Terence Gunn 2008-04-14 05:21 ]

T

I only recently got into tiki and Poly pop in a big way, but I've lived just outside Seattle for my entire 29 years. I can go check up on some of those listed addresses, bring my digital camera, and come report on what I find. Another friend of mine, who drives and has a car (unlike me) will love this idea! So far, here are a few things I know:

That motel, with the Space Needle in the background? Oh, how I wish it still had a tiki sign! But... it DOES have a very funky-looking pool building, and I've often considered going in to explore. This gives me a great excuse!

The Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition) Hawai'i Pavillion building survived into the early 90s in the Fun Forest amusement area. It was used as storage, and I was inside it a few times. It consisted of a circular roof, with peaks and carved wood top beams, walls... and not much else. Not even a light fixture hanging in the center.

No remains exist of anything Poly on Pier 51. I don't know exactly which pier that is, but I do know that building is no longer extant.

One bit of Seattle Tiki culture was Leilani Lanes, a spectacular bowling alley in the Greenwood area of north Seattle. It had, amoong other things, a lot of carved wood ceiling beams, a circular fountain in the lobby, a lunch counter with some wonderfully tacky 60s decor in gold and Chinese red, and a lounge complete with leather swivel bucket chairs, a carved tiki on the wall, and the coolest fireplace I've ever seen: a hammered copper hood on six chains, which hung further down to hold a thick wood frame surrounding a smoked glass pane on which sat a metal trough filled with lava rocks, with gas flames flickering through. Beneath it was a lava rock waterfall lit by a green spotlight, and one could stand directly in front of it and look down through the glass into the waterfall! Does anyone know whether these were actually as-built equipment: the many, many bowling lanes had the usual gold-and-white screens with lights to indicate which pins remained, and an oval with what would normally the the Brunswick crown, which lights up when a strike is hit... Instead, the light covers were tikis, all molded plastic and all identical. They definately LOOKED original!

I'm still kicking myself over this: it was running well, had great food and good (if ordinary) drinks, was popular... and then suddenly I find out it's gobne. It was all so fast. Closed-and-contents-auctioned-and-demolished, boom, just like that. That was over a year ago. Anyone guess what's there now? If you guessed a parking lot...

...it's worse. NOTHING is there. It's a vacant lot. The buyers (who paid a lot for it) did nothing.

I'll do some investigating and see what I can dig up. If I'm lucky, I'll find some tiki bits poking around... I'm already starting to get that hair-standing-on-end sensation I'm told is common when one pulls back some bushes or looks in a dusty corner of a bar and finds a mysterious, ancient-looking tiki carving glaring out at them.

I think I found a fresh discovery!!!!!! Its taken me about 1/2 hour to find this thread Im bumping it up so Its ready for the picture.
Yesterday Iggi and I were sailing in the hood. (West Seattle) and completely by accident we found a HUGE tiki face on the side of a mid century house. I could have kicked myself for not having my camera. Im going back this morning to snap a few shots and attempt to make contact with the native inhabitants of the dwelling. Wish me luck!!! at the very lest I will return with pics and post them shortly. Dawn

Ok here's the pics. Its kinda gloomy out today so the pics are on the dark side. If the sun goes out i will go back and re shoot. I left a note inquiring about the tikis origins and history. Hopefully i will get a call soon.

B

Sophista-tiki, Here is what looks to be the Origin of your Great find! Nice going.

Is the shield a Witco? :down:

sure looks like the same one. I guess I didn't make the connection because of the scale. The pics from the Polynesian dont really give you the sense of its actual size . In person its HUGE! and it also looks like the botton tips under the mouth were cut off. Ok, Ive been making comparisons to the 2 pics and its definatly the same one. The top points have also been cut off. but where the lines of the induvidual planks are match up perfectly. cant wait to find out how it ended up in a carport

[ Edited by: Sophista-tiki 2008-08-31 14:55 ]

[ Edited by: Sophista-tiki 2008-08-31 16:42 ]

[ Edited by: Sophista-tiki 2008-09-01 08:01 ]

OK, dont laugh at me but I just moved the page over to the left and NOW I can see the GIANT TIKI MASK ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING!!!!! I never saw it in the picture before because it was off my computer screen.

What a goob Im cracking up. so please ignore my previous comment about how I couldn't tell the size >...


https://tikicentral.com/uploads/3734/44e0b79e.jpg

[ Edited by: sophista-tiki 2008-09-01 07:50 ]

S

super cool Dawn!
Where is it?

Also, to answer about going to the Tradewinds, actually I did, still back in high school.
It was dark enough that we snuck in and no-one bothered to card me. The place was super cool, and the neon outside was fab! We were too worried about getting kicked out that we didnt order drinks, so no comment on those.

I made contact! The owner called me this morning and I immediately went over for a visit. we spent the whole morning chatting,as I suspected she had no idea that there was current interest in tiki history. She told me great stories about going to the Polynesian and how it really was the nicest restaurant in Seattle at the time.
Long story short, the giant mask was found floating in Elliot Bay. Apparently pieces of decor were being chucked in the water before they hauled the building away.

[ Edited by: sophista-tiki 2008-09-02 21:15 ]

On 2008-09-02 13:52, Sophista-tiki wrote:
Apparently pieces of decor were being chucked in the water before they hauled the building away.

That's quite a coincidence, as it was ON a piece of decor chucked from a Polynesian restaurant that I found my way eventually to Seattle! What a rocky ride THAT was!

Though this tiki statue may have absolutely nothing to do with Seattle's tiki past, if anyone who lives near me in West Seattle (woofmutt, sophista-tiki, tikiriviera -- I know all of you do) has a camera and the time (I have the time but no camera), go to the house on the NE corner of SW Holden and 31st Ave. SW. There's a fairly large wooden (cherry-stained?) tiki in the front yard. It looks to me to be unique; possibly home-made by an amateur carver. The word 'peace' or 'harmony' or 'life' or 'relax' or some such word is carved on the backside. The house in question has been bought and sold several times in the last 5 years, maybe even rented, so asking the current owners about the tiki may not provide any informative results to its history; but perhaps the agency who handled the property for years may be able to. The tiki statue -- despite the various owners and possible renters -- has been in the front yard for years and hasn't moved an inch.

I've always wanted to approach the current owners of the house and offer them $50 to take that hideous monstrosity away (hoping they didn't like it nor see the value in it, which I doubt they do), but never did.

[ Edited by: DJ Terence Gunn 2008-09-03 12:10 ]

Looks like the Roosevelt Hotel once has a Lanai Room with "Exotic Dancing to the Discotheque". Not sure of the Polynesian influence as the woman on the cover looks like a generic exotic waitress.

Here is a phone book cover from the Tropics Motor Hotel 225 Aurora Seattle, WA. Obviously a guest "borrowed" it from the motel because it holds a 1974 Portland OR phone book. The actual phone book has some great ads for Trader Vic's and the Kon Tiki which I will scan later.

M

I was trying to find some info on the Tropics Hotel, but realized quickly that there isn't much out there. Here's what I could find:

The hotel is now a Quality Inn Hotel. From the one postcard posted here earlier, you can see that the building still has the same shape, but has been heavily remodeled.

On the Quality Inn site, they have a blog that states that the Tropics was opened in 1956, and it was the host hotel for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

I looked at the address on google maps, and found a little something interesting. From the old postcard, you can see that the lobby and restaurant portion on the ground floor had what looks like lava rock walls. Looking at the current building, that portion of the hotel still has those same walls, and there are even a few photos on their website that show those same rocks inside other rooms. Now, if you zoom in on google maps, you can see 2 odd figures on this rock wall. Are these tikis, or more likely their 2 logo figures which you can see on the old matchbook?

Has anyone ever been there and seen these 2 images? Anything else original in this part of the building?

Tropics Motor Hotel matchbook.

A different matchbook for The Tropics Motor Hotel.

Nice! For the first time do we get to see what some of the sign statues looked like: Definitely African, as I suggested in the Safari thread.

Here a a copule of matchbooks from the Tiki Hut and Shell Room in Seattle.

DC

W

As was discovered in this thread here's the Tiki Hut today:

It seems the layout of Chen's hadn't been altered much (if at all) until they expanded the bar recently. Other than use of natural rock there are no signs of Tiki left. It's not noteworthy inside, but it does have an older restaurant vibe due to it's odd layout and minimal windows.

found on craigslist, one of the five original bar lights for sale from the Lynnwood Tiki Hut's Shell Room . I've seen so little from this place I thought I'd post this. tikicoma

I always appreciate the research and knowledge that comes together here. I recentely visited portland and seatle for the first time. I wasn't able to find a tiki bar in seatle, perhaps I wasnt looking hard enough?

I picked up this matchbook from the Tiki Hut and Shell Bar.

The back of the matchbook advertises the two locations; the more well known restaurant in Seattle and the second mystery location in Lynnwood that Tikicoma recently posted the light from.

DC

coaster from tiki hut in Lynnwood,

from a web autobiography of someone who worked in the huts' kitchen in the 1970's.

aloha, tikicoma...

supplying crumbs to the users on Tiki Central.

W

This ad was in the August 9, 1963 Seattle Times. As far as I can recall I've never come across a reference to the Reef. Kent is 14 miles south of Seattle and is essentially part of the greater Seattle area ("Seattle's" hockey team is based in Kent).

Tiki Kate posted this matchbook from Carroll's Reef and Tiki Room in the Locating Tiki forum.

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=34464&forum=2&hilite=reef kent

DC

T

More Lynnwood Tiki Hut crumbs from a 1973 newspaper ad,

aloha, tikicoma

interesting,,,,,

Groovy...

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