Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Denver Tiki: Trader Vic's vs. Don the Beachcomber - Part 1

More information about Denver Tiki and the Kahanui.

The history of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber here in Denver is quite an interesting tale. These franchises’ complex history in this market are so intertwined, you have to tell the story of both of them to hear the full story. Our story starts at the Cosmopolitan Hotel…

The Cosmo was built in 1926 and was located at 1790 Broadway in downtown Denver. It was located directly across the street from one of our other historic hotels, The Brown Palace. This is the Cosmo when it was first built.

When the Polynesian Pop culture movement began heating up, Vic Bergeron opened an Outrigger Restaurant in the Cosmo in 1962. The promotional material for the Outrigger states that the restaurant is ‘created’ by Trader Vic, but the location is not considered a full blown Trader Vic’s (yet).

This is the Cosmo in 1957, looking north along Broadway. The Brown Palace is on the left and the Cosmo is on the right. The Outrigger will move into the red circled area 5 years after this photo was taken.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kona Kai,Philadelphia, PA - Part 3

From the architectural rendering below, you can see the planned exterior A-framed entrance to the Kona Kai in the lower right corner.

Then Armet & Davis created this beautiful set of detail drawings for the entrance, including a Papua New Guinea inspired Frigate bird to top out the front header beam.

When the Kona Kai was finally built, they did put the Frigate bird at the front, however, notice that the detailed patterns shown on the blueprint were placed on the interior of the A-frame, not the exterior. I assume this was done to protect the artwork from the Pennsylvania harsh winter weather.

At night, the entrance was even more grand when the lights and torches were turned on.

In December 2007, the Frigate bird was posted for sale on eBay for $3,500. I don't remember it selling and the auction details are long gone, but the piece still exists....somewhere...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kona Kai, Philadelphia, PA - Part 2

Today we continue examing more blueprints and drawings prepared by Armet & Davis for the Philidelphia Kona Kai. These plans were developed for the column tikis and carved wooden panels inside the restaurant.

The drawing above is interesting because it clearly shows two different design styles inside the restaurant, a cartoon "Disneyized" tiki on the left and a traditional Maori design for the panels.

Take a look at the carved Maori panel you can see on the interior picture of the restaurant I showed in Part 1 of this series and compare to the drawings, they were right on.

Architectural plans from the collection of Armet & Davis and Sven Kirsten.