Thursday, December 9, 2010

Denver Tiki: Trader Vic's vs. Don the Beachcomber - Part 5

More information about Denver Tiki and the Kahanui.

Trader Vic's moved out of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1978 and into the Hilton. Then in 1985 they moved out of the Hilton and left Denver. But wait, that’s not the end of the story.

When Vic’s moved out of the Cosmo, they dismantled their signature Chinese ovens, so the new restaurant tenant would not be able to duplicate their food that they would be serving over in the Hilton. But they left all of the interior wall decor in place (e.g., bamboo, thatch, Chinese tiles, etc.). Can you guess who moved in? Don the Beachcomber. Yes that’s right, they moved in and opened in 1979.

An article from September 1978 discussing Don the Beachcomber moving into the former Trader Vic’s location in the Cosmopolitan Hotel (click to enlarge and you can read most of the text).

I find the title interesting ‘Take 15’, I assume the Cosmo locale was the 15th in the franchise at that time?

Don the Beachcomber Cosmo locale ad from 1981.

The Cosmo hosted a Trader Vic’s and a Don the Beachcomber in the exact same place. Unfortunately for the Beachcomber, the Cosmo was on her last leg and the hotel was sold in 1982. The new owner planned to demolish the Cosmo and build a new office building in its place. Don wasn’t there for long (1979-1982). But here is a shot taken in 1982 shortly before they closed.

I reversed this detail shot and compared it against the drawing for the Trader Vic's entrance, it is the same (click to enlarge a little).

You can make out the two large exterior tikis and the hanging outrigger canoe.

The article above says that all of the restaurant fixtures were owned by the Cosmo, so Vic's could not take them when they left. When Don the Beachcomber stepped in, they had a ready made tiki bar, tikis and all. All they had to do was change the sign out front.

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