tiki

Kahiki Supper Club

Kahiki Supper Club

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.

Kahiki Menu Picture

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.

Kahiki drink menu

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.

 

Grass Skirt Tiki Room

img_0362This is going to be a mini celebration review.

105 N. Grant Ave, Columbus, Ohio

http://grassskirttiki.com

The Grass Skirt Tiki Room is one of those fun places to eat, drink, and discover. The atmosphere is matched by the great food and drinks. This restaurant is not huge, so it could get busy. We went in the late afternoon on a summer day and the place was not crowded. So if crowded is not your thing middle of the afternoons are good. The Grass Skirt is a bar type of restaurant, so late nights could be fun with a group of friends.

If you loved the Kahiki, and are looking for something to fill its place, this is it. The whole place, as the name suggests, is tiki themed. Very tiki themed. It is fun and festive. The decor is almost over the top, but stops at just the right point. There is a real laid back feeling to it. This does not mean you are treated poorly. We were treated professional and the staff was attentive. This place is one where you really feel like you want to hang out.

The menu fits the theme and the food was good. Not overpriced or over sized. The portions fit the price. The drinks are island style and come in fancy themed glasses. This is the type of place that one will stop in for a crazy drink and end up grabbing a bite to eat.

So, give The Grass Skirt Tiki room a try.

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THE ISLANDS IN COLUMBUS – Part II

Along with the great article is some videos of the legendary place.

The interior

Kahiki Restaurant, Columbus Ohio 1999


Saving the Fireplace.

Kahiki Moai Fireplace Salvage


But whatever happened to the Fireplace?

Whatever Happened to the Kahiki Fireplace? A Tiki Mystery!


or the Fountain?

Kahiki Fountain


And the food?
The official channel of the frozen food company. (only 2 videos posted over 6 years ago)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEyxOKNY3xngqx8bidejFmg