: : Things are tough here in The Big Smoke for a Tiki-freak like me. As readers of Mai Tai know, I recently moved from Montreal to Toronto, where I immediately appointed myself head of the Toronto chapter of the M.T.A.S. Well, little did I know that would be like appointing myself the head of a watersports club in the Sahara. To date, I have found nothing in Toronto worthy of the readership of Mai Tai. Not one bamboo pole, wooden mask, fake spear or hollowed out coconut shell filled with booze in the Megacity. Only rumours, false leads and speculation. : :

: : The problem, as I see it, is that Toronto became too damned successful. Since the mid-70s, when it developed into the country’s biggest city and economic engine, Toronto has seen a construction boom that makes Quebeckers blue-and-white with envy. But all of this success is not necessarily good. Cities that sputter and then stall economically are actually more favourable to the Tiki-god. Cities like Montreal still have Tiki restaurants because of the fact that they have experienced hard economic times. Like Wildwood, New Jersey, which is forever stuck in the Atomic Age (featured in issue #3), there is a precarious balance that must be achieved so that Tiki restaurants—which are horribly out of style—are able to continue to operate. They must be in an area where they do just enough business to pay the bills and make a tiny profit but this profit cannot be enough to enable them to renovate or change the menu. Therefore my goal (once I get a car to replace the one that just recently died) is to check out places outside of Toronto’s golden halo: Hamilton (which seems forever stuck in the 50’s), Guelph, London, Barrie, Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester, Niagara Falls… these are the kinds of places where I’d expect to find some left-over Tiki joints. : :

: : Already Montreal is recovering from its economic sleep and starting to regenerate itself, resulting in the death of certain establishments. It its short life, the M.T.A.S. has been witness to the closure of the Hawaii Kai Lounge a few years back and now the Tiki Doré (see John’s piece elsewhere in this issue) on the island of Montreal, leaving only the glorious Jardin Tiki to represent the city’s Tiki past. We can rest assured that the Jardin is relatively safe since it’s located in the nether-region of the Olympic Stadium, where it manages to do a fair business with a mostly Francophone crowd (who treat it like any other Chinese restaurant) and the occasional tourist who stops by after visiting the Botanical Gardens or the Biodome. : :

: : As for Toronto, this is all I’ve learned so far: there used to be a Trader Vic’s in a big downtown hotel near City Hall and a place called “The Ports of Call” near Summerhill subway station on Yonge Street. All I can remember about the Trader Vic’s is seeing the short grass-roofed entrance through which you could enter from a side street if, for some reason, you didn’t want to use the hotel lobby. I never went in though because I had no interest in that sort of thing at the time. The last memory I have of Trader Vic’s is from early 90’s, at which point it was turned into something less exotic, like a Ruth’s Chris or something similar. “The Ports of Call” was located in a fairly affluent area of Toronto (what would now be considered mid-town but, in the 60’s, was very, very uptown) and by all accounts it was a swinging place. This gigantic Hawaiian-inspired lounge/supper club featured live music (mostly crooners singing standards of the day like “Up, up and Away” and “The Candyman”), served good food, and was the very definition of adult sophistication. I only know this place existed because of a short blurb in Toronto Life magazine a few months back and the confirmation of a few long-time residents of the neighbourhood. : :

: : I hold on to the hope that there is a Tiki joint lurking in some corner of Toronto that meets the precarious economic conditions I put forth earlier... the Tiki Equation, I suppose you could call it. Perhaps Mai Tai will make its way to Toronto and other parts of Ontario and a reader will tell me about some long lost place within an hour’s drive of the Megacity. So, until I find something closer to home, I’m off to Montreal: there’s a wicker chair with my name on it at the Jardin Tiki. : :

: : Until next time, Bahooka! : :

Dave “Kalhaki-Aku” LeBlanc © 2000

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