Bamboo Ben’s Hut – Huntington Beach, CA

Back in August, Mr. Hockey and I headed down to Huntington Beach to visit the “hut” of Bamboo Ben, the man behind the look of such spots as Forbidden Island, Tucson’s Kon Tiki, the Tonga Lei Room, and Tiki No.

He also happens to be the grandson of Eli Hedley, an originator of the “beachcomber” style (using found objects like driftwood) who worked on tiki heyday spots like the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, the original Luau in Beverly Hills and even Disneyland’s Adventureland.

It was sort of like getting to see Santa’s workshop—but tiki! This was a bittersweet day, though, because Ben was leaving the space after 10 years. They were already in the process of moving out, but you can still get an idea of how neat it was with its A-frame peak, thatch overhang and fish float lamp.

Lining the back of the wall were a bunch of tiki mugs, including trophies from still more places Bamboo Ben’s had a hand in, like Don the Beachcomber, with a lower shelf practically devoted to Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas.

In the corner there was a cool lava rock-style fountain with very ambient lighting and a couple tiki mugs helping to direct the water flow.

And in true beachcomber style, Ben often uses the bamboo and lauhala matting leftover from tiki bars and other installations (and also aloha shirts as in the pic above) to make frames and affordable art objects for purchase.

They’re not pictured here, but for my own tiki room we bought a bamboo mug shelf, two lamps and a few bamboo frames. It was quite tempting to take home more but we only had so much room in the Prius.

If he’s not too busy building the next awesome tiki bar of tomorrow, he’ll do custom work — tiki bars, signs, shelves, tables, basically whatever you can think of that can be constructed out of bamboo — or trick out a room in your house into something truly magical.


Master of My Own Domain (Name)

My dear Mr. Hockey is pretty impatient, so Christmas has come early ’round here! First, he ordered me Phillip Roberts’ new tiki book: Waikiki Tiki: Art, History & Photographs. Very cool, can’t wait to make a trip out to Hawaii and see all this stuff in person. (Well, what’s left of it, anyway.)

And, second, he got me my very own domain name: (Apparently somebody already registered and is doing nothing with it. Jerk!) Anyway, this is all very exciting and official so I had to share.

Also, I might as well announce two new pages that I made a couple weeks back in honor of my 100th post:

Tiki Wonderland at the Tonga Hut

Tiki Wonderland flyer

It was sort of surreal to sit in a tiki bar and listen to Bing Crosby’s rendition of “Let it Snow” while it was over 70 degrees outside. But that’s what we were doing on Saturday at the annual Tiki Wonderland event at the Tonga Hut.

Tiki Wonderland cocktail at the Tonga Hut

Every person that brought a gift to donate to the Toys for Tots drive got a free Tiki Wonderland cocktail garnished with a mini candy cane. Later I ordered the Little Buddy, which Kelly created last month in honor of “Gilligan’s Island,” and it was all kinds of deliciousness. I hope it keeps making encore appearances!

Tonga Hut tiki mugs

The real hot ticket were these Tonga Hut tiki mugs, made by Kirby and Grog, that made their debut that night. (The two artist proofs are shown above.) They’re based on the moai that stands at the entrance, cracks and all.

Mele Kalikimaka signs by Lake Surfer

Lake Surfer (who hails from Wisconsin, hence the alias) had these very cool carved Mele Kalikimaka signs, and I snapped one up for the tiki room, along with a tiki ornament. I can’t help but adore tiki-holiday mashups.

Tonga Hut fountain

Even the Tonga Hut’s fountain was in a festive spirit and donned one of Eric October‘s Tiki Bob Santa hats, complete with a fluffy green fish float on the end.