The Last Vestiges Of Beverly Hills' Trader Vic's Fade Out
Trader Vic's, which had survived in the form of a poolside lounge inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel, has closed, according to L.A. Magazine. With the last vestiges of the long-standing tiki bar now vanished from Los Angeles, you'll have to get your tiki fix elsewhere.
The very first Trader Vic's was opened by Victor Bergeron in Oakland in 1934, where it was originally called Hinky Dink's. In 1940, a second Trader Vic's was opened in Seattle. The Polynesian restaurants soon became a big hit, and the Beverly Hills location opened in the Beverly Hilton in 1955. In those halcyon days, the restaurant was a regular hangout for various celebrities, including the Rat Pack. By some accounts, Bergeron invented the rum-based mai tai in 1944, yet Don the Beachcomber has also claimed to have invented it (but 11 years earlier).
According to the L.A. Times, the decision to turn the restaurant into a more diminutive poolside lounge was made after Hilton owner Benny Alagem bought the hotel from Merv Griffin in 2003. Griffin had purchased the hotel in the late 80s.
Trader Vic's would ultimately close in 2007. However, an iteration of the restaurant re-emerged via a poolside lounge that retained certain menu items and cocktails. Those items are now gone, and the lounge will close in May to be remodeled into something else entirely.
Of the several Trader Vic's that opened in the United States following the original one in San Francisco, only two remain: one in Emeryville, where the franchise is headquartered, and one in Atlanta. There are other outposts in London, Tokyo, Bangkok, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There was a version of Trader Vic's at L.A. Live that opened in 2009, but that closed down in 2014, according to Eater.