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Opened in 1937
Closed in 1972
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
Nov 11, 2006
Postcard from Trader Vic's in Oakland
date unknown, from the collection of John S. james
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This Trader Vic's location is the original. It started out as Hinky Dink's, opened by Victor Bergeron a few years earlier in 1934. Hinky Dink's had some great atmosphere and cocktails, but wasn't Polynesian until Bergeron was inspired by a visit to Hollywood, where he experienced Seven Seas and Don the Beachcomber.
In 1949, Bergeron opened a second location, initially called The Outrigger but later becoming Trader Vic's, in Seattle. In 1951 a location opened in San Francisco that was considered a powerhouse in the restaurant scene for decades. From there, it exploded into a number of restaurants that still pepper the globe today.
Bergeron is credited with being among the first to incorporate actual tikis into a tropical bar/restaurant concept. Bamboo bars and tropical restaurants had been around for a long time, and folks like Eli Hedley and Don the Beachcomber had created a more gritty, flotsam & jetsam inspired "beachcomber" look, but Bergeron took that a step further into look that was both refined and primal at the same time. But most of all, he brought in the tikis. He also brought a focus to the food, innovative for its time, blending the exotic tastes of many ethnic cuisines and presenting them for the still-developing American palates.
In the mid-1990s, many Trader Vic's locations in the United States closed, including the San Francisco and Seattle locations. International locations, including many in the Middle East, continued opening. In more recent years, the number of Trader Vic's locations in the United States have been growing again, with mixed results.
The original Trader Vic's location closed in 1972, when the company shifted its flagship location to Emeryville.