The Search for



: : One town down, a few to go. : :

: : Still searching for Tiki sightings in Ontario, I recently drove to Kitchener following a lead. I had a fun day-trip, but unfortunately, came up empty once again. Here’s a quick summary: : :

: : 1. Roll into town around 12:30 p.m. Park near city hall, where there’s a bunch of model-boat club guys driving their little things around in the pool out front. Ask old guy #1 about Tiki joints: looks at me like I’m from Mars. I say “You know, like Trader Vic’s...” Still looks at me like I’m crazy. : :

: : 2. Old guy #2: Knows nothing, and is far too interested in his model boat to talk to me. About 80% of his concentration is on manoevering his little battleship around some mini-buoys. : :

: : 3. Woman in cigar store: As I’m buying a Royal Jamaican, I question the woman at the cash. She says, “Oh, you must be talking about the ‘Charcoal Steak House’ up near the 401 exit.” Okay... the first real lead. I thank her and get back in the Cruising Vessel to head up there.  As I approach it, it don’t look good: too new. It’s a big complex with an Italian restaurant, the steakhouse, and a bar called ‘Martini’s’ all in one. Gotta be built in the mid to late 80s. Anyhow, I go in with the thought of having a little steak sandwich under a thatched roof and maybe a little Mai Tai to wash it all down. : :

: : 4. Hostess at the Charcoal Steak House: As I explain, she also looks at me like I’m from Mars. She points to a couple of fake palm trees in the martini bar. I say, “No, no. I’m looking for bamboo on the walls, blowfish lamps, Tiki totems... the whole bit.” She goes and gets the manager, whom she says has been in the restaurant biz a long time: he will know. : :

: : 5. A youngish guy, maybe 45, comes over. Has no idea what I’m talking about... “Sorry.”  I thank them for their time and leave. Just before I give up, I decide to drive to the adjoining town of Waterloo and ask some folks over there. : :

: : 6. I pull up at a bar called ‘Ethel‘s Lounge’ with a really cool sign of a pouring martini (I find out from the bartender that the sign is indeed vintage and was imported from New Orleans by the owner). The bartender cannot help me. She’s lived here all her life and has never heard of anything like what I describe. There is, however, one lone old-timer enjoying a drink at the bar and watching golf on the television. : :

: : “Oh yeah... you must be talking about that big Hawaiian place that burned down a long time ago.” : :

: : Finally... some answers! : :

: : “Do you remember what it was called?” : :

: : “Oh.... ahhh... I dunno... something like ‘The Hawaiian Lu’ or something like that.” : :

: : Lu? Loo? Liu? Leu? Christ, this guy’s either half in the bag or he’s got a terrible memory or both. : :

: : “When did it burn down, 20 years ago?” : :

: : “Naw, maybe about 10 or so.” : :

: : “What was it a restaurant... a nightclub... what?” : :

: : “A nightclub.” : :

: : “Can you remember what it looked like inside?” : :

: : “You know... Hawaiian... bamboo... all that kinda thing. It wasn’t doing very good business towards the end anyway... I guess the fad died out... like fads tend to do. When it burned down no one really cared. Probably a mess of condos up there in its place now. I’ll tell you what you could write about, though, instead of that old place, you should talk about how we seniors aren’t allowed to smoke anywhere any longer. It’s not democratic, I tell you. I can’t believe what discrimination it is... I’m 76 years old and I know what discrimination is, lemme tell you...” : :

: : Fifteen minutes later, I thanked them both for their time and went out into the brilliant sunshine, where the Cruising Vessel was waiting to take me home. Next stop, Hamilton. : :

Dave “Kalhaki-Aku” LeBlanc © 2000

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