It’s always a bummer when tiki bars shut down, but hearing last month that Bahooka would be closing was a particularly tough blow (as you might have been able to tell from all my tweets on the subject).
It was such a unique place with its mazelike corridors and intimate booths surrounded by fish tanks. (See my previous review for more photos of their nautical style.)
The owners said they wanted to sell due to an illness in the family and wanting to retire. Word on the street is the space is going to be turned into a new restaurant, which would be better than a parking lot as was also rumored. The fish tanks are supposed to stay but the tiki stuff is going. The Bahooka owners are also keeping the rights to the name with the intent to start selling their signature salad dressing. (UPDATE: The building’s fate is apparently in limbo again…)
Bahooka had long been a special occasion spot for local families, and they turned out in full force to say farewell. The response was so great that the restaurant stopped taking reservations a few days after announcing the closing. I snagged one for Saturday, March 9th, the night before they were supposed to officially close. (Although they ended up deciding not to re-open the next day.)
These fellows donned their best “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” attire to pay tribute to Bahooka’s cameo in the movie. Probably not a coincidence that they were standing next to the framed film stills of Johnny Depp.
As the kitchen was running through the last of the food supplies, they were serving a limited menu of sandwiches, teriyaki chicken, fried shrimp and ribs. (Glad I got my fill of crab puffs and stuffed shrimp on a previous visit.) But more importantly, all their cocktails were still available so we shared a couple of Honey Bowls.
They’ve been selling off bits and pieces of the decor for the past couple weeks, but I’ve heard the big stuff will be sold in a yard sale on March 17th. The details are supposed to be announced on Bahooka’s Facebook page. (UPDATE: Andrew Meieran purchased many of the iconic items for his upcoming relaunch of Clifton’s Cafeteria. Los Angeles magazine has more on the story.)
By the entrance they had a table where they were selling those glowing tikis in the photo above ($75 & $100), wine glasses ($2), drinking goblets ($5) and this 46-year-old paiting ($100), which Mr. Baseball saw somebody later purchase.
Behind them was a pile of plastic parrots waiting to be adopted into new homes for $20 each.
Some tiki artists were inspired to create commemorative items for Bahooka’s closing, like these tiki pendants ($40) made by Tiki Al. “Goodbye Bahooka – 2013” was written on the back.
Also on offer were postcards featuring Eric October‘s drawing “Last Bowl at Bahooka.” I love how it captures so many iconic things about Bahooka, including tikis based on ones in the restaurant, bucket lamps, parrots, a chain running through the table, and of course Ruffus noshing on a carrot.
I couldn’t resist giving a goodbye kiss to that famous fishy face. Here’s hoping our currents cross again someday…
Bahooka Ribs & Grog Review
Tiki Treasures & Polynesian Pin-Ups Event
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Wonderful tribute to a great place, Tiki Chick! I was lucky to have visited Bahooka a few times over the last few years and stopped by its last weeks for some photo ops and of course to visit Rufus. Thanks for sharing your story and photos. Here are a few of mine from my last visit:
Terrific photos, Scott! Almost makes me feel like I’m back there.
Thanks Tiki Chick! My wife and I love the Tiki culture here and have been to Tiki Oasis for the past couple of years! It’s one of our favorite weekender events. Here’s a couple of links to my photo albums from the past two years. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely a must and the room crawls are AMAZING!
2012 Tiki Oasis:
2011 Tiki Oasis: