Last night, we were fortunate to be invited to a special preview event at a new tiki bar in Oakland, Kona Club. Doug Miller, who also owns the semi-tiki Club Mallard in nearby Albany, has wanted to open a tiki bar for some years now. The location of Kona Club is special — it’s very near to Conga Lounge, and closer still to the final resting place of none other than Victor Bergeron, creator of the Trader Vic’s chain. Oakland was once a power center of tiki, and it’s appropriate that the tiki is rising in Oakland once more.
Kona Club is absolutely gorgeous, thanks to the efforts of Bamboo Ben, and materials from Oceanic Arts. Ben has been slaving away at Kona Club for some time now, with periodic assistance from Crazy Al Evans. The love shows, and this space is the best public showcase of Ben’s work that I’ve ever seen. The place is a cozy shell of tapa and bamboo, with highlights including a life-size bronze hula girl with mechanical hips, and a smoke-spewing volcano behind the bar.
After the event last night, Doug invited Ben, his wife, Hanford and me to stay a bit later, and I got to make a few drinks behind the bar for the group. The drinks I made were frankly not very good — I was pretty toasted — but it sure was a treat to be behind such a beautiful bar. I’m looking forward to more time spent at the Kona Club. There is so much quality tiki here in the Bay Area these days, it’s so good to be able to soak it up.
The Grand Opening party for Kona Club is this Saturday night, December 17.