When Jeremy Fleener purchased the Tonga Hut in 2005, he also bought a lot of history. The bar, with it’s Polynesian décor that was the trend in 1958 when the place first opened its doors, has endured a few rounds of generations rediscovering Tiki culture and coming to the otherwise sleepy strip mall in North Hollywood for fruity libations and a good dose of relaxed escapism. In the 10 years that Fleener has been in charge, the bar has grown in popularity, boosted by theme parties that include vendors and cookouots in the back parking lot, bands playing, a killer jukebox, great bartenders, and adding names to its Royal Order of the Drooling Bastard club who drink from the legendary “Grog Log.” They’ve even expanded to a Palm Springs location.
To celebrate the 10th year of its “reawakening,” Tonga had, what else, a big ol’ party with a parking lot vendor sale, coconut-themed art show, Durangos Tacos and DJ Tonga Tom spinning outside while DJ Dan Moses kicked off an evening 60s dance party inside. I went to check it out and came across some great Tiki fashion while hanging with pal and fellow writer Lina Lecaro. Check out the scene:
Tonga Hut is located 12808 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606
Tags: Kastle Waserman
, Lina Lecaro
, Los Angeles
, Stiletto City
, Tonga Hut
I love a good Tiki bar – the fruity cocktails, fun exotic décor and the groovy people who frequent the tiki scene. Sadly many of the good authentic Tiki bars of the ‘50s and ‘60s have met the wrecking ball, but still going strong after 55 years is the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood. Holding the prestigious title of being the oldest operating Tiki bar in Los Angeles, Tonga has seen many trends come and go, but Tiki is forever!
They celebrated their 55th Anniversary with a bash worthy of the place’s history and reputation. The place was PACKED! A commemorative, limited edition Tiki mug designed by renown Tiki artist Shag sold out in a flash and vendors in the back parking lot sold Tiki treasures and clothing as bands rocked the tiny stage inside for the enthusiastic crowd.
I got to chat for a bit with artist Shag, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, who I had the pleasure of interviewing at his home (which looks like a Shag painting BTW!) about his inspiration and success a couple of years ago (read here)
And I made lots of new friends in this crowd that just loves the retro spirit and tropical flair of Tiki, including Dollie the Rockabilly Socialite, who you may know from the brief reality show “Wives With Beehives.” She’s gorgeous in person!
The owner of Tonga Hut got up and thanked the crowd and announced a new partnership with Kevin and Claudia Murphy to open the second Tonga Hut in Palm Springs. Yay!
What a fantastic party! See more party pix below.
Thanks to the Tonga Hut for 55 fabulous years and I wish you 55 more!
Tonga Hut is located at 12808 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606.
Tags: Dollie DeVille
, Tonga Hut