A fascinating bit of urban archaeology today –
My friend Sabu the Coconut Boy recently found an unusual item on eBay — some large doorhandles with only a blurry picture. He received them, and sure enough, they were a pair of hefty, old metal tiki doorpulls, likely from a restaurant. He set about trying to track down their provenance (the seller was in Florida), and had a few leads, but nothing solid. The tikis looked like those used in imagery from the Kon Tiki Ports, Kona Kai, and Sam’s Seafood restaurants.
Ultimately, he did what many tikiphiles seeking enlightenment do — paid a visit to our own Oracle at Delphi, Oceanic Arts in Whittier. Bob & Leroy there have been responsible for the majority of the decor in Polynesian restaurants over the years, and what they weren’t personally responsible for, they tend to at least have some memory for who was. They couldn’t immediately identify the doorpulls, and thought they predated when they began manufacturing them.
So Sabu turned to Tiki Central to see if anyone could crack the mystery. Sure enough upon seeing them I immediately thought of a pair of doorpulls I had photographed in Daytona Beach in January of 2004. I checked the entry for the Traders Restaurant in Critiki, and sure enough, those tikipulls sure looked like the ones now in Sabu’s possession.
The Traders Restaurant is attached to the Aku Tiki Inn, and nearly nextdoor to the Hawaiian Inn. The Aku Tiki Inn is instantly recognizable for their massive moai atop the hotel’s sign. This moai was damaged in last year’s hurricane, and the hotel had vowed to replace it, with assistance offered from local tiki carver Wayne Coombs. It seems a little strange that the Aku Tiki would be restoring tiki on one end of the property, while removing it at the other….
Kailuageoff, who visits the area regularly and has met the owner, also thinks it unlikely that the owner would willingly part with the doorhandles. So now, the mystery deepens… if these doorhandles were taken from the Traders Restaurant when they should not have been (i.e., stolen), Sabu of course will return them so they can be reinstalled where they belong.
Is it odd to be concerned about whether a restaurant on the other side of the country is missing its doorpulls?