One Hundred years ago the Cincinnati Redlegs won the World Series…
Long ago in the land of Columbus was a special place where visitors could take a journey to a far away land and experience the magic of the Island life, all with out leaving Ohio. The place was the Kahiki Supper Club. The largest Tiki themed restaurant in the country and it was a sight to see.
In the late 1940’s Servicemen returning from the war in the pacific brought back idealized stories of the island life. As the 1950’s economic boom spurred on the consumer culture, people began looking for things to do. With Hawaii on track to become a state, and the stories of the servicemen becoming more romanticized, Tiki culture was born. For a few dollars average citizens could escape to a far away island.
Lee Henry and Bill Sapp were looking to cash in on this cultural trend. They decided not only to make a themed restaurant, but to make one of the largest. The Kahiki Supper Club, 3583 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43213, was a landmark. The building was designed to look like a traditional men’s meeting house of new Zealand, but much, much larger. From the street the the complex looked like a Las Vegas resort. The building was at the center with a driveway leading past it to a parking lot. The light up signage was in a faux polynesian font. The landscaping was low and framed the building. To enter the restaurant guest passed to massive Heads. Beyond them was a moat and a small bridge. By the time visitors had even stepped inside they were already being transported away.
The lobby housed a fountain, with a gift shop and restrooms around the sides. George, the fountain, is now on display at Grass Skirt Tiki Room. Once inside the main dining room the true vision of the owners could be seen. The room was set up like a small Tahitian village. The lobby, bars, and side seating areas were separate buildings. One wall was aquatic with many fish tanks. The other wall was a rainforest with a thunderstorm brewing outside. Watching over the whole place was a giant tiki head fireplace. The fireplace became the icon of the restaurant ending up on menus, and almost anything it could be placed on in the gift shop.
One of the main aspects that drew people to tiki culture was the drinks. In traditional pacific culture rum was not used. In American Tiki culture the Caribbean island staple was added to almost every drink. The drink menu at the Kahiki was as large as the fireplace and as vast Pacific itself. The restaurant had not one but 3 bars, The Maui Bar and Cocktail lounge, The Outrigger Bar, and the Music Bar, where the Kahiki Beachcomber Trio would preform. They even recorded an album there.
In the 1970’s Tiki culture started to wain. Restaurants and buildings were starting to get old and in need of updating. Many tiki places were lost. The Kahiki was a landmark of Columbus and Ohio. It stayed strong. In 1988 the owners decided to sell to Michael Tsao. Tsao wanted to expand the brand and started a line of frozen food. Eventually in the late 90’s the building was in need of repair. The neighborhood had changed and the tiki culture was dying. Tsao decided to sell the land. He had hoped to rebuild in a new location, but died before any plans could be made. The Kahiki was torn down and a chain drugstore was put up in its place.
As the Tiki culture, and having a night out as an adventure, makes a comeback citizens of columbus and Ohio fondly remember back on the great restaurant of the islands.
Have a day to spend in Dayton? Want something to do, and You’ve already done The National Museum of The United States Air Force. Here are a few day trips you can take.
This is only a small idea of things to do in Dayton. As with most all in Ohio there is way more to do than can probably be done in a week.
Dayton has had an active arts scene since the end of the Civil war, probably since the first human stepped foot in the area. While the bigger Schuster, Victoria, or Loft get all the praise, the city has many, many little theaters too. The smaller theaters are sometimes just black rooms with an area for the audience to sit and an area for the performers to perform. These little spaces are known as Black Box Theaters.
This theater is housed inside the Dayton Metro Library’s Main branch. It was Built during the Major renovation (stay tuned for more on that) of the Main Branch. Almost not a theater, it is a large room with lights, space, and great views of the city. This one is more a multi use room than a dedicated theater. When they do have show they are mostly free, being a library and all.
This 54 person seat is run by the Human Race Theater Company. They mostly make it available to be rented. It is a good place to stage a one person show or other experiential work. While small it is large enough and has a lighting rigs and a good sound system. Shows are intimate but if designed for the space can be amazing.
The 200-seat theatre and Studio space is the newest arts venue in town. It is located across the street from the Schuster and the Arts Parking Garage. The space was built to take advantage of the unused property in the heart of Dayton’s “Theater District.” This space is used for more experimental productions, smaller local companies, and other events and productions. The space is more intimate than the Broadway style theater whose shadow it lives in, but has more equipment than the other Black Box theaters of the region.
A “56’ x 36’, 150-seat black box” in the heart of the Schuster Preforming Arts Center. The space is used as a rehearsal space mostly. It is then rented out of private events, like wedding receptions and the like. Due to the location, and the forethought of the Victoria Theater Association, it can actually be used along side the large Mead theater. Like the Bassani Theater off Third, it is mostly just a multi use room. However this one is backed by one of the best theater groups in the state.
Theater has a long history in the Buckeye state. in the early days it was preformed in city halls, churches, and living rooms. After the Civil War there was an explosion of theaters across the state and the country. The industrial revolution had made cities larger and with more people came more need for entertainment. Dayton was no different. In 1866 the Turner opera house opened.
After a few years it burned down and was rebuilt. This new theater lasted changed names a few times but lasted into the 20th century. In 1913 heavy rains flooded the city and the Victoria Theatre. The theater was rebuilt but only 5 years later a fire gutted it. After rebuilding again the theater found fame. Housing plays, orchestra concerts (even creating The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930), and movies, the theater was in its prime. With the spread of the suburbs in the late 1960’s the theater, and downtown Dayton, faced economic decline. In 1970’s it was scheduled to be torn down. Dayton citizens, with their history of saving classic old buildings, found a way to save the building by founding the Victory Theatre Association. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the theater and after $17.5 Million in renovations opened it as the Victoria Theatre. The organization did so well in bringing theater back downtown that it was able to open the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center across the street.
The Victoria Theatre is one of the state’s classic old theaters. Updated slightly, and modernized with new equipment, the feel is still that of the 1988 renovation, which harked back to the original look of the place. The lobby houses a small bar / concessions area and restrooms. At the end of the lobby are the doors to the main floor of the theater and the stairs to the upper lobby and balcony. Inside the theater the seats are comfortable and the view decent. The older style seating can lead to obstructed views depending on the people sitting in front of one. The 1154 seats themselves are comfortable and not to small. The balcony has a steep rise and most seats have a good view from it. The stage is large enough to not feel out of place in the venue.
The theater is smaller than some of the other venues in the state. While the Broadway touring productions have moved across the street to the large Schuster Center. The intimate size is not as well suited for the larger productions any more, as the shows get grander and grander. The venue is great for the smaller shows the theater preforms. Small musical groups, one man shows, and family theater are housed there and do quite well. The theater even returns to it’s movie palace heydays in the Summer with the Cool Film Series.
From its early days after the Civil War to its revitalization to its modern use, The Victoria Theater has become a main stay of the Dayton, and even Ohio, theater scene.
The Dayton area is no stranger to outdoor concert venues. Since 1991 there has been the Fraze Pavilion. Last year Levitt Pavilion in downtown opened for free concerts. The largest by far is the The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights.
The Rose Music Center is located north of town in the city of Hube Heights. The venue opened in 2015 and is the first in a group of building being developed in the area. It is right of the highway and very easy to spot standing by itself in a field. It also is one of the largest buildings in the area, which doesn’t hurt.
The Center has plenty of parking and is well suited for the crowds that it attracts. The interior is just a row of concession stands restrooms and the performance area. The concessions are standard concert venue far with hot dogs, sandwiches, and plenty to drink. Offerings are the same across the entire pavilion. No need to walk far distances for something special. The area around the center is also full of many options for a bite before the show, with more being built in the future. The restrooms are large and right next to the entrance of the seating area. They handle a lot of people and tend to back up very little at busy times.
The actual performance area is the main draw of the center. Unlike the Fraze all seats are covered. This roof covers the seats but is high enough not to block any views and to allow for ventilation on the hot summer nights. Containing 4,200 seat, it is one of larger venues in the county. The seating area is wide and deep angling toward the decently sized stage. Some of the back seats can be a little far from the stage, but are not too far to be able to enjoy the show. The back section is angled steep enough that views are not blocked too much. There are video screens and a good sound system to help make sure everyone has a good time, not just the people in front. The seats are comfortable without being anything to special. The Rose Center is located along a major highway (I-70). This makes for easy access to and from an event. This also means that during busy times some of the noise from the road will bleed into the venue. Any performance will usually drown this out.
The selection of acts are very similar to the ones at the Fraze. From well known new acts to older bands, The Rose has a little bit of something for everyone. While the Greater Dayton area seem too small to support two large venues, the differences between the more intimate feeling Fraze and the grand scale of the Rose set them apart enough for both venues to be supported and loved.
As the weather heats up so do the summer tours and The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights is a great place to see a loved band or find a new favorite.
All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues. One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.
The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.
The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is. Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.
The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.
Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state.
In the southwest corner of Ohio, about 1/4 of the way up the map is the region surrounding the county of Hocking. The county has less than 30,000 residents. The region is in a part of the state crisscrossed with back roads and no interstates. Yet despite it small size and out of the way location millions of people visit it each year. The big question is what do all these people do in Hocking County and the surrounding region?
For such a lightly populated place the region has a large number of museums. From the small museum with a great point to the giant washboard and its museum and factory How about the birthplace of a famous Civil War General, or a glass hot shop and museum. Like art? The region has many art museums too. A good list is available at http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/indoor-activities/arts/museums/
Paddling on the Hocking River or Lake Logan is always a popular option. They even have a water jetpack adventure. Biking, both mountain and road, are a good way to get exercise. Golf, both mini and big, is offered in the region. The area is known for its large forested hills and state parks. Hiking and simply enjoying nature seems to a very popular.
The region does not have many large big box chain stores, but makes up for it in the many little art studios and mom and pop shops dotting the region. A quick search on the internet, or with the help of the friendly staff at the regional welcome centers, will bring up a large list of places to find that unique item or gift.
The amount of free stuff to do in the area will make it a sure draw for people from all over the state. We tried to put a list together but found this one covered more than we could even imagine. http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/free-fun/
Special thanks to Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Their Website is overflowing with things to do in the region. Their Welcome Centers are a must stop for the beginning of any tour of the area.
The Scioto Mile is a collection of 9 parks along the Scioto River in the heart of Downtown Columbus. Started in 2015, this “mile” was a reworking of the land surrounding the river. Dams were removed. The area was taken back to a more natural state and the its beauty was emphasized. The mile has more than 175 acres of land, but is more than just a series of parks along a river.
The parks are connected by the Scioto Trail. The trail makes up the backbone of the system running from Scioto Audubon Park in the south to the Olentangy Trail in the north and on to the Ohio to Erie Trail. It follows the east side of the river winding from park to park. The parks are not just open green spaces with a few benches. Many of them are filled with sculptures and memorials. There is a center dedicated to the visual arts. More in to the performing arts? The trail has a place for them too. The variety of things to see and do is enormous.
Along the trail is Milestone 229. A restaurant for people on the trail. This is not a fast food joint but a comfort food joint for everyone. It “offers a kids’ menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.” The restaurant has great views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain. The fountain is a large interactive fountain that comes alive at night with lights and fog. A must see on the mile.
In the middle is the name sake that flows through the city. This section of the river has been improved to be a great water recreation venue. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can be seen on the river during the warmer months. Tours are even offered.
Along the west bank the trail goes through less parks but is no less as scenic. The trail ends up at the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum and one of the Greatest Science Museums in the nation.
The Scioto Mile is a great way to get out and see nature or to experience the city life, or do both at the same time. It is the variety that makes this state great all within the heart of its capital city.
For the last few years we have been doing a list of places to see in Ohio. This is our wish list of places to see for the year. There is no order or ranking. So, we hope you enjoy, 19 places to see in 2019.