Rethinking Leilani Lanes

On a recent return visit to my hometown, Seattle, I happened to pop into Leilani Lanes, an old bowling alley in the north end of town. I’d spent many a tipsy early-20s evening at Leilani Lanes, and for years I’ve been steering tikiphiles away from it, saying any cool stuff must have been torn out.

Boy, was I wrong: the building itself is actually pretty impressive, not showy by Southern California standards, but considering its location and how far away from the city center it was when it was built in the ’60s, it’s not bad at all. The fountain in the lobby is still nicely tiled and working. Most amazingly, I’d totally missed the tikis on site. There is a large tiki bolted right to the front entrance, and a matching one just behind the fountain after entering. There are a couple of tiki masks mounted on the front desk where you get your shoes. There are two purple painted crapola tikis on either side of the lanes, but the bar is the real prize: the bathroom hallway on that side has three large Witco tiki pieces. Even beyond this, the bar area is pretty darned cool. The seats are in decent shape, the hammered-metal freestanding fireplace was in use, and it even had a semi-hidden water feature still operating underneath it.

It seems, though, that the bar at Leilani Lanes has been mounting some sort of World Record attempt for longest karaoke night — I think they’ve been having someone in there singing nonstop since 1994. This, combined with the wretched carpet, is the only reason I can think of that made me think it wasn’t a worthwhile tiki location. Regardless, I’ve changed my tune, and updated Critiki accordingly.

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