Aku Aku

Bar & Restaurant
1111 West Bancroft St.
Toledo, Ohio, United States
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Opened in 1960
Closed in 1970
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
Mai Kai Lounge, Tecumseh 31.4 mi
50.5 km
Chin's Chop Suey, Livonia 50.5 mi
81.3 km
Jade Tiki, Bloomfield Hills 68.5 mi
110.2 km
Porco Lounge & Tiki Room, Cleveland 97.7 mi
157.2 km
Grass Skirt Tiki Room, Columbus 121.3 mi
195.2 km
Menu from Aku Aku in Toledo
date unknown, from the collection of Tattoo
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Humuhumu’s description:
Aku Aku was a "Polynesian Room" located in the Town House Motel, and hosted major acts between its opening in 1960 and its closure in 1970. Performers included Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Duke Ellington, Henny Youngman, and Phyllis Diller. The Glen Covington Trio was the house band in the early 1960s. The club was owned by Irving "Slick" Shapiro, a bookmaker with a number of arrests under his belt by the time the Aku-Aku opened. The club was popular with both city leaders and the mob.

While the Aku Aku has an impressive history, and some stunning use of tiki iconography, the room itself was actually streamlined modern, and not the themed, immersive faux paradise more commonly aspired to in the '60s.

There are 4 comments.
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November 5, 2008, 4:37 AM
The Aku Aku Polynesian Room at the Town House Motel was indeed "the" place to be in the 1960's. Many famous name acts that typically would play the really big venues appeared there due to it's owner, Irv Shapiro's, connection to the mob. Toledo was considered a safe haven for mobsters and they often attended the Aku Aku being seated behind a curtained off section of the dining room so as not to draw attention to themselves while they watched the show. Among the performers were Count Basie who made four appearances from 1966-1970, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra Jr. (not Frank Sr.) who made two appearances 1968-1969, Phyllis Diller, Henny Youngman, Buddy Rich, Harry James, The Glen Miller Orchestra and many others. Technically the place did not close at the end of 1970. The hotel section never made money and was constantly the target of thieves and vandals. It was built for some strange reason in an already declining neighborhood which has only gotten worse with time. Due to it's lack of revenue the entire complex went into receivership around 1972. From 1971 through 1972 the Aku Aku was still open but no longer featured name entertainers as it came under new management. It closed in 1973 and was reopened as a trucker's hotel until it's final closure in 1984. It was demolished in 1989. I found someone who is a friend of one of Irv Shapiro's sons and had her ask if he had any photos of the place. Not even Irv's own son has any memorabilia of the place. A Rally's drive thru restaurant now sits on the site.
bztenorsaxman was a semi-regular at Aku Aku.

January 25, 2009, 6:37 PM
my step father Ed Johnson worked at the Town House until it closed in th 70's..... we were always told it wasn't a mob place....LOL....

September 2, 2012, 5:24 PM
I worked at the motel from 1965-1968. I was a House Boy. I was thirteen when I started. My Mom also worked there as the Assistant House Keeper.
And I remember Ed Johnson with his gruff voice and Dock Worker style hat. He was the maintenance man and he taught me a lot.
If I remember right the owners name was Richard Schear.
I remember Irv Shapiro. It was wise to stay on his good side. And that's all that I will say about that.
I remember them bringing in the gambling equipment once a year.
I can still remember Rusty Warren running around the 3rd floor nude. She was there doing her Knockers Up gig.
I also remember Frank Sinatra Jr. he looked down on everybody.
I had to take Jack E. Leonard'S luggage up to the 3rd floor while he was appearing at the Aku Aku Room. It took me three trips. He gave me a quarter tip. (I gave it back)
I got to meet Johnny Weissmuller. He was at the Toledo Zoo as Jungle Jim. He was very nice to me.
I have a Aku Aku room coin that they use to hand out.

October 17, 2012, 5:05 AM
Thanks for the comments houseboy. It was nice to hear your stories about the place. Do you have any other recollections of entertainers? While they were excavating the property for a Family Dollar store this past summer I found a chunk of the swimming pool wall still painted blue and a piece of the decorative brick from an outside wall.
bztenorsaxman was a semi-regular at Aku Aku.

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