Giveaway + Tonga Hut’s 55th Anniversary Celebration

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Last Sunday the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood celebrated its 55th anniversary with an art show, live music and the debut of new merch, including t-shirts, Mai Tai glasses and tiki mugs. (They also took this opportunity to announce that Tonga Hut will open a new location in Palm Springs!

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Since one of the mugs was designed by Shag — and limited to 155 — a considerable line for the merch table had already formed when we arrived a little after the noon start time.

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Shag’s elongated design ($85) is inspired by the tiki near the entrance to the bar, while the open-edition Drooling Bastard mug ($60, included a drink) pays tribute to the fountain inside.

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The art show is always a highlight at these special events at the Tonga Hut. This one included submissions from Doug Horne, Eric October, Philippe Tilikete and other creative folks.

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The bands Casino 66 and Creepxotica performed inside while the parking lot behind the bar featured a bunch of tiki and vintage vendors.

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Deadhead Rum had set up a thatched hut booth that showed off custom decorated “tsantsa” (shrunken head) bottles of their rum. They were also offering free samples of their rum and tequila.

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Just one of the many neat things for sale were these Pyrates of Lana Pua bottles. Each was decorated with a combination of shells, nautical charms and authentic African trading beads.

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I was also enamored with these bejeweled bracelets from Amy, co-owner of the Tonga Hut. I couldn’t resist getting this one…(As if I needed more Enchanted Tiki Room stuff, right? Oh well.)

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Meanwhile, Eric October had designed a print for the Tonga Hut — and Drooling Bastard buttons to boot — and Tiki Val turned the fabric into shirts and other wearable art. (They had also done the same for Bahooka when it closed.)

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The first 200 people at the event received a goodie bag filled with Tonga Hut swizzles, coasters, matchbooks, stickers and bookmark with Shag’s mug design on one side and the recipe for Tonga Hut’s Hawaiian Eye on the other.

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Mr. Hockey has graciously donated his swag bag to be awarded to one lucky reader! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post with a happy birthday message for the Tonga Hut. (Bonus entries can be earned by liking The Tiki Chick on Facebook or following me on Twitter — just leave a comment letting me you’ve done so.) I’ll randomly choose a winner by Tuesday, August 6. (Comments have to be approved on this blog, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t appear right away.)

Related Posts:
Reviews of Tiki Bars in Los Angeles
Tiki Bob Art Show at Tonga Hut
Tonga Hut’s Halloween Art Show

Saying Goodbye to Bahooka

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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).

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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.)

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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…)

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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Behind them was a pile of plastic parrots waiting to be adopted into new homes for $20 each.

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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.

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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.

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I couldn’t resist giving a goodbye kiss to that famous fishy face. Here’s hoping our currents cross again someday…

Related Posts:
Bahooka Ribs & Grog Review
Tiki Treasures & Polynesian Pin-Ups Event

Christmas Tiki-Ti Tiki Mug by Derek Yaniger

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I usually would say it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but this is a special case. The Tiki-Ti has just released their second signature tiki mug, a festive little number designed by Derek Yaniger and produced by Tiki Farm. “Kahuna Kalikimaka” has a silver jingle bell on his Santa cap, a red and green gift and “Tiki Ti” embossed on the back. The beard and expression remind me of Kon-Tiki.

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Around 500 of these mugs were produced — they cost $25 each and are only available at the Tiki-Ti (and surely eBay eventually). However the Buhens are about to close up shop for their holiday break, so Saturday night is your last chance to get one until they re-open the bar on December 12.

UPDATE: Kahuna Kalikimaka mugs are now available for shipping. Check out the Tiki-Ti’s Facebook page for details.

Related Posts:
Our First Trip to the Tiki-Ti
Holiday Drinks & Decor at Trader Sam’s
Tiki Wonderland at the Tonga Hut