Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kona Kai Kansas City's 8-foot Tikis

In case you didn't already know, Kansas City once had two Kona Kai restaurants; one just north of the Plaza at 45th and Main (now a Holiday Inn) and another near the KCI Airport. Both were classic Polynesian palaces full of carvings and custom decor, and both closed in the '80s. Here is the only known photo of the airport location's interior.

The "signature" decor piece at both locations was an 8-foot tall tiki carved by Oceanic Arts in Whittier, California (far right in the photo above). About seven years ago my friend Paul found the Plaza location's tiki outside of an oddities shop here in KC. It was in rough shape, but he stabilized it and it now stands in his fully decorated living room. This was the only 8-foot carving known to have survived.

Until last Thursday. That's when one of my RSS feeds picked up this photo from an ad on Craigslist.

My first thought was, HOLY CRAP! IT DOES EXIST! My first action was to call Paul. Within the next couple of hours he had settled on a price with the seller and made arrangements to pick it up.

It's a sizable carving, but it's palm so it's not as heavy as you might think. Getting it into my truck was fairly easy. Getting it into Paul's living room would be interesting, but do-able.

With the help of Paul's brother-in-law (a mover by trade) it was a pretty straightforward operation to get the new guy into place. It's really awesome to know they are both saved and appreciated now! I'll be going over to Paul's house soon to get some nice photos of them together.

1 comment:

  1. Cool story. Glad these wound up with someone who appreciates them.