Saturday, April 01, 2006

Perhaps the most lamentable development to have happened to American culture in he last 50 years is the decline of the Polynesian themed restaurant. There are plenty of places you can go to eat that have the garage sale decor, or are decked out in a Mexican theme, or have the look of an Italian villa. But nowhere can you go where you're instantly transported to the South Pacific. I don't think anyone has attempted to update this theme for modern times and franchise it. Why is that?

It's sad because clearly at one time people were nuts for Polynesia. Michener and the musical South Pacific got people's juices flowing. Then of course the nuclear bomb tests, Bikini Atoll, and subsequently the popularization of the word bikini all have their origins from the Pacific. Then of course there's the popular fascination with Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki voyage, the show Hawaii Five-O, and the music of Don Ho and enough Elvis in Hawaii movies to take up the day. Oh yeah, and don't forget the hula hoop. We could not get enough of the South Pacific!

It's sad to go to a long standing Asian restaurant and see the dusty remnants of this once popular fascination. The booths framed in bamboo. Velvet paintings of girls in grass skirts. And the aged drink menu listing Headhunters and the venerable (and mostly ignored) Mai Tai, a tasty drink served in a tiki idol. This stuff needs to come back!! I mean, with all of the theme restaurants to choose from, why isn't there an effort by the chains to bring back the grass skirted kitsch? Give me pineapples! Give me torches, bamboo, palm fronds, and Hawaiian steel guitar. Give me tiki idols, coconut shell bikinis, fire dancing, and drums. Going to the Outback for a steak is BORING! Australia is not exotic. There's only so much yard sale stuff on the walls that I can look at. A sombrero can be worn only so many times. We need a new theme! I mean, we did it up Polynesian style once before. Let's do it again.


At 12:17 AM, Blogger gagknee said...

I think the demise of Polynesian themed restaurants is directly related to the absence of Gilligan's Island on television.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger carpoolguy said...

I lived in Goffstown for a long time, but I only ventured into the fabled Polynesian restaurant, the Wa Toy, on one or two occasions. It had beaded curtains, kitschy decorations, drinks served in ceramic totems and a menu that was not Chinese. In trying to research it on the web, I see now that it's now called the New Wa Toy and it lists under Chinese restaurant categories. It just plays to your theory that nobody goes Polynesian anymore. However, if you are rich and desparate, you can still catch the luau at the Polynesian Resort at Disney World. It comes complete with fire dancing, tiki torches and pineapple cake for desert. Mickey used to show up, but I guess he's found a better gig these days.

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Jack Diederich said...

Alas, ever since the Brady Cursed Tiki incident the public at large has lost their appetite.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Jeff C. said...

In Dedham, Mass. we grew up on a restaurant called "The Tahiti". This was the essence of fine dining at 6 years old. This restaurant us still there, you might have to make a trip...I might have to make a pilgrimage.

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to the New Wa-Toy restaurante in Goffstown NH....its been closed for 2 weeks, is it gone permanently? Were they at the cats again?


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