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Friday, October 22, 2010

Tonga Room Execution Stayed. Does Anyone Care?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM

click to enlarge tonga_room.jpg

Like smoking at work, camel hair coats and a budget surplus, tiki bars are relics of a bygone era, of when Cesar Chavez Street was called Army, when nobody in San Francisco knew what a bike lane was, and organ meat was nothing more than fodder for the cows that we turned into delicious 15-cent hamburgers.

That's why we can't understand the flap over the Tonga Room. Sure, the Fairmont Hotel's tiki bar is... unique, but the hotel wants it out of its ground floor. Now. But this is San Francisco, and the Tiki Lounge was declared historic back in May, meaning all parts of it must be preserved. That didn't help the decision-making ability of the Planning Commission on Thursday, who booted a decision on what to do with the Polynesian Lounge until January 2011.

Evidently, enough people care to bother the Planning Commission with this issue for three hours yesterday. Members of the public issuing comment at public comment were roughly split on the issue, according to reports in our newspapers of record.

"We all know the Tonga Room is about as Polynesian as Hawaiian pizza," said one, according to the Chronicle's food blog.  This is true, because Hawaiian pizza was either invented in Canada or in Italy, and either way it has nothing to do with a historic preservation label slapped on postwar kitsch.

Whatever happens to the Tonga Room, it's going to happen somewhere else. The Fairmont's owners reiterated their desire to get the Tonga Room the hell out of its property. (There is a mystery benefactor who has claimed he or she will move the bar in its entirety to an undisclosed location in S.F., so there's that.)

So if you want to pay a cover in order to sit underneath a faux bamboo canopy and sip a Singapore Sling, now's the time. In the meantime, you can find us at Trad'r Sam's (shortly before you find us dead from alcohol poisoning), where you get a similar experience for 1/10 of the price.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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