Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tiki culture in KC

No, I'm not talking about the junk that passes for "Tiki" today. I'm talking about the mid-century-modern, polynesian popular movement that was born out of WWII veterans' desire to re-create the ideal of a South Seas paradise here at home. A time when themed restaurants and bars featured exotic and powerful rum concoctions served in beautiful and sometimes frightening drinking vessels, all in an environment filled with wondrous decor from primitive islands. And, if you were lucky, it was brought to you by beautiful Hula Girl waitresses.

Kansas City had more than a few such places, all gone now. Trader Vic's in Crown Center, the Kona Kai on the Plaza and at KCI, Brenton's Bali Hai downtown, and the Kon Tiki in midtown, just to name a few.

One that lasted but a short time was the Castaways at 4334 Main. This 12.5-inch matchbook is all that has yet been found from that interesting place. City Directories indicated that it may have opened in late 1959, and was open for business in 1960. Owned/founded by Frank Dunn and his wife Eve, the place featured "Authentic South Sea Island Enchantment"!

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