BREAKING: Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s Has Closed – UPDATED

Beverly Hills Trader Vic's
Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s

Breaking news from Atomikitty: The Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s last day of operation could very well be Tuesday, May 1.

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.

This sucks.

15 thoughts on “BREAKING: Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s Has Closed – UPDATED

  1. Last I heard, they were “still looking” for a new location. I’m not hopeful, and I can’t help but wonder if it was just a line they spat out to placate the many Chicagoans who were distressed to see Trader Vic’s leaving. Even if they do eventually open in a new location, the new Trader Vic’s that have been opening are relatively blah, in terms of decor (and with spotty drinks & service, to boot).

    I’d rather they focused their efforts on just a couple new places and made them something special than totally water down the Trader Vic’s name.

    Between what happened in Chicago, what’s happened in Beverly Hills, the shoddy treatment of bartenders at the San Francisco location, and how very mediocre the new Trader Vic’s have been, Trader Vic’s integrity is looking pretty shabby, in my opinion.


  2. I live in the area and was just informed that T VIc’s is closed today, as they’re moving numerous supplies and fixtures, but WILL reopen tomorrow night on the pool level. Not sure what exactly that means, but I’m mighty tempted to hustle over there manana and find out!


  3. Have you been to the new Dallas location? Stumbled across it by accident while on a biz trip. The waiter told me it’s all the original decor that somehow got preserved, saved, when Trader Vics closed there years ago. No one can claim mediocrity in this place, it’s about as cool as it gets.

    Wasn’t it the hotel that closed TV in Beverly Hills, not the company? I hate that the old one closed, but looking forward to a mai tai in the new locale.


  4. They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With a pink hotel, a boutique
    And a swinging hot spot
    Dont it always seem to go
    That you dont know what youve got
    Till its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    They took all the trees
    Put em in a tree museum
    And they charged the people
    A dollar and a half just to see em
    Dont it always seem to go
    That you dont know what youve got
    Till its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Hey farmer farmer
    Put away that d.d.t. now
    Give me spots on my apples
    But leave me the birds and the bees
    Dont it always seem to go
    That you dont know what youve got
    Till its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Late last night
    I heard the screen door slam
    And a big yellow taxi
    Took away my old man
    Dont it always seem to go
    That you dont know what youve got
    Till its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot


  5. Damn, and I had been told this place had closed a few years ago. I can’t believe I could have gone back there, but now it’s too late!

    I have fond memories of the place because it was my granny’s favorite restaurant, and I’d take her there monthly in the 90’s. Besides loving the decor, all the pretty painted ladies in the bar were to drool over.


  6. Saucy Minx: The “relocation” is supposed to open tomorrow, May 3.

    Hulaboy: I haven’t made it to the new/old Dallas location yet, but I hope to soon. Here’s my post about the Dallas Trader Vic’s reopening:
    After 20 Years, the Triumphant Return of Trader Vic’s to Dallas!

    Boo!: Come on down from the ceiling, it’s going to be okay.

    JP: Totally.

    Rob: I bet you’re kicking yourself! You can pay your penance at Tiki-Ti. It’s totally different from Trader Vic’s, but the drinks are perfect for drowning your tiki sorrows.


  7. Went to the “New” trader Vics lounge at the Hilton near the pool,
    Not the same, but it is not terrible. Nice to have a little sun and sit by the pool sipping a Mai Tai. Prices have gone up though, Mai Tai is now $14 CRAZY!
    Sad that the original location is gone, but at least we still have a part of TraderVics around, same bartenders so that is a good thing.
    Oh well, what can we do? At least it did not close100%


  8. Sigh. My Dad has been going to that Traders since it first opened. In fact, he bought his house from the guy who used to be the host (Oswaldo). The current host, Chai, is like a friend of the family:

    I grew up visiting Traders, and it always feels like home to me (probably one reason why i’m always comfortable in a tiki bar). The Suffering Bastard became my drink of choice some years ago, and my Dad used to trade one of the bartenders mint for bottles of the Mai Tai mix (much different than what they sell in the store), so I have a large cache of said mix on hand.

    I made it a point to haul a group of colleagues off to Traders a couple of years ago after a meeting at UCLA:

    Amazingly, my Dad was there with my two boys (we had traveled down to LA separately), so we all sat together and had Sufferings. Well, the kids had fruit punch

    I’m happy to say that I was down visiting my Dad last month with my boys over spring break, and we made the trek to Traders. That was fortunate. Alas, apparently it’s a trek we’ll never have another opportunity to make.

    It was a good run while it lasted.


    p.s. my Dad, whose first name is Richard, wanted to buy everything inside of Traders, hire all the help, and open a new place called Trader Dicks. Probably he would have, given the chance.


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