I just finished up my bartending shift at Saints and Sinners, and one of my customers happened to be a bartender over at Trader Vics Beverly Hills. This person (who asked to not be named) told me that the staff has a ‘meeting’ tomorrow @ 10am, but as of now, the last day on the schedule is this Tuesday May 1st!
That certainly doesn’t bode well. It sounds as if the bartender was fairly convinced that this is the end for the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. While it could be quite some time before any construction starts on the new tower at the Beverly Hilton, there’s nothing stopping them from shutting down the restaurant now. Doing so sooner rather than later lets them do it relatively quietly, and makes one of the arguments against this very unpopular development moot.
More updates as more information comes out (particularly after tomorrow’s meeting with staff), but it doesn’t look good — I’d suggest heading there tonight to pay final respects and get your last good Navy Grog.
UPDATE @ 11:55: Brain says in the comments:
Trader Vics is closed. Last night was the end.
If true, this morning’s meeting is likely all about final paychecks. Still waiting to hear confirmation, but it doesn’t look good. Stay tuned…
UPDATE @ 12:05: I just got off the phone with the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. I spoke to a very flustered woman, who clearly didn’t know what she was supposed to say. When I asked if they were open, she said “no.” When I asked if they were closed forever, she became even more uncomfortable, and stammered out that they were closed “for renovations.” When I asked if it was still going to be Trader Vic’s, she hemmed and hawed and said something about the bar moving to the hotel, and that she didn’t know if it was still going to be Trader Vic’s. That sounds to me that after 50+ years, Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills is gone.
UPDATE @ 12:35: Eater LA has heard similar rumblings…
UPDATE @ 1:10: When Eater LA called Trader Vic’s, they got the same spiel, and were told that Trader Vic’s specialty cocktails will possibly be available at Circa 55, which is a newer restaurant near the pool.
If Trader Vic’s veteran bartenders decide to make the move to Circa 55, the drinks should still be pretty good, but if the bartenders decide they’re done with the Hilton, I’d guess the drinks would be iffy. Some of the Trader Vic’s bartenders have been there for a very, very long time, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some of them opted to retire instead.
I would love it if some of the bartenders decided they’d like to semi-retire in the Bay Area and sling Mai Tais at the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s part-time, but I’m not holding my breath.
UPDATE @ 3:45: An eyewitness report from Tom Slick:
I just got back from Trader Vic’s, and I can confirm with authority they are no longer open to the public. I took a few photos, and was immediately sweated by the beverly hills hilton police as to why was I taking pictures. I told them I was an urban archeologist taking pictures of americas mid century architecture.haha, well they were very uneasy, and asked me to leave the property and to take pictures from the sidewalk. I asked if I were doing something wrong, and the suit told me not really, but the (get this!)owner doesn’t want anyone on Trader Vics property other than the people setting up a private party & private party invitees. I can only assume from this point that it is an employee farewell party.
I asked if I could come to dinner tomorrow night instead of tonight…”probably not”…..
The 2 black suits with ear pieces were guarding the entrance to Trader Vic’s. There WAS activity going on inside, and I did see toolkits. Setting up for a private party seemed to be legit, but the suit wasn’t saying who the party was for…I can only guess…
UPDATE @ 5:45: Eater LA has a press release from Trader Vic’s:
From the press release: “The new Trader Vic’s Lounge will be located next to the new Circa 55 restaurant and the Aqua Star pool area. The menu will feature Trader Vic’s signature drinks including the world-famous Mai Tai, invented by Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, the Scorpion Bowl and appetizer plates that are ideal for sharing with friends. … ‘We are pleased that the popularity of Trader Vic’s continues to grow around the globe,’ said Robert Davies, President and CEO of Trader Vic’s. ‘Our loyal patrons and hotel guests can be assured that while the atmosphere may be more casual, our new Beverly Hills offering will continue to reflect the finest of our company’s island-style service and culinary quality.’ ”
By “more casual” he must mean smaller and less, um, tiki. Sure, some of the decor will be moved over, but it’s still basically a renovated lounge filled with Trader Vic’s memorabilia. Nonetheless, the new lounge will reopen on May 3. We’re told GM Chai Rojana will still be running the show, and many of the bartenders will move to the new digs.
The word that the bartenders and GM are being retained is good, but contradicts what Atomikitty had heard — that the bartenders were worried about their ability to find new jobs. Eater LA is waiting to hear solid confirmation that indeed the highly-skilled bartenders — who should be treated as the treasures they are — have not lost their jobs. It would be shameful if they were given reason to suddenly worry about their livelihood.
- Trader Vic’s Bev Hills closing THIS TUESDAY???!!! . . . [Tiki Central]
- Latest News on Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills [Critiki News]
- Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills [Critiki]